Yesterday the National Organization for Women elected a new President. Ho-hum. Here’s a portion of the NOW press release:
This weekend members of the National Organization for Women (NOW) cast their votes for a new team of leaders to direct the largest grassroots feminist organization in the country over the next four years. NOW delegates elected Terry O’Neill, who served as the group’s membership vice president from 2001 to 2005, to succeed President Kim Gandy.
Gandy will retire from her office on July 20 due to the organization’s term limits; she has been a leader in NOW for 36 years, with 22 years of service at the national level, including the last eight as president.
“NOW is the organization that fights for the rights of all women no matter the circumstances of their birth, their race or sexual orientation, no matter if they live in poverty or are trying to escape violence,” said NOW President-Elect Terry
O’Neill. “My experience with domestic violence, as an abused wife left me humiliated and embarrassed. I only began to talk about this publically five years ago as I realized that to keep quiet was to continue the abuse. I want to empower women and telling my story does just that. Women are fed up with persistent inequality and are ready for change. I am honored and eager to lead NOW in making that change.” ***
I wish NOW every success. The group has an informative website (here). The group has an illustrious past. But of all the many women I know, I can’t name five who are members of NOW. Or if I do know five NOW members, their affiliation has never come up in conversation. Why is that? Is it because NOW is still dominated by feminists over 50? Is it because NOW isn’t visible in my part of the country? (I live in New York City.) Is it because NOW’s advocacy is more “high-level” than grassroots, so NOW’s work is not as visible as some other groups’ work?
Has NOW lost its relevance? Has institutional advocacy and legal advocacy lost their relevance? It seems to me that this advocacy (and thus, NOW?) holds less promise than it once did as a vehicle for changing the status quo of gender relations.