ArticlesVolume 20, Number 2 (2011)

Unsex CEDAW, or What’s Wrong with Women’s Rights


Before I go on, I want to tell a story. During high school, I had an English teacher who often wore a pendant from the National Organization of Women. I asked her about it and we began a conversation that continued for years as she fed my voracious mind with Gloria Steinem, Alice Walker and other feminist literature. One day, on my way home from a meeting of Gay and Lesbian Youth of New York, I picked up the Village Voice and saw an announcement for a women’s rights conference. My dad drove me into the city for the conference, which well over a thousand people attended. As part of the forum, individuals reported back from the 1985 World Conference on Women held in Nairobi. As people entered the hall, a slide show of conference photos ran alongside Helen Reddy’s “I am Woman.” Perhaps two or three men were there.¬†Throughout the day, attendees approached me to inquire where they could find coffee or if I was in the right place. As a sixteen- year old boy with darker-than-average skin, I must have struck the attendees as some sort of coffee bo’. Why else would I be there?