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A Conversation With Ellen Goodman

Posted on 01/04/2013

The Huffington Post: TARA: The first thing I wanted to ask you about is a quote that comes from one of your columns that just made me exclaim, ‘how does she just capture the spirit of a whole movement or a whole moment so succinctly and so beautifully?’

You said, “My generation of women thought the women’s movement would advance on two legs. With one, we would kick down the doors closed to us. With the other, we would walk through changing society for men and women. It turned out that it was easier to kick down the doors than to change society.”

Can you share a little bit more about that?

ELLEN: I think when we first began the women’s movement, there was this sense that the women’s movement was kind of 10-point program. It would be reproductive rights. It would be equal pay for women. It would be childcare. When we checked off that list, we would be done. But as you discover, every change that you make makes for more changes that are needed. Also, I think that it was easier to open up college and law school and medical school to women than it was to transform the way that those institutions work.

You have a situation where as long as women’s lives are exactly like those of men, you can have equal pay but in fact women’s lives generally aren’t exactly like those of men. You have a situation for example where as long as nobody is a caregiver, you’re all treated equally. But when men and women want to take care of their children or increasingly their parents, they run into that other wall which is the social change wall. That one example of caregiving can be repeated across the spectrum of a million different things.

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