Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Q&A with Muriel Fox


Photo by Dorothy Hong



Muriel Fox is the author of the new book The Women's Revolution: How We Changed Your Life. Fox co-founded the National Organization for Women (NOW) and The Women's Forum, and also was executive vice president of the public relations firm Carl Byoir & Associates. She graduated from Barnard College in 1948.


Q: What inspired you to write this book?


A: After making my voluminous files available to numerous writers, I finally decided to write my own book because I was angry about the Dobbs decision on abortion rights. 


And I wanted to reach all the young people who said they’d never heard of NOW, never heard of Betty Friedan. I knew we had to tell them what we’d accomplished, so they’d carry on our work.


Q: What do you think are some of the most common perceptions and misconceptions about the Second Wave women’s movement?


A: Some educators who should know better pooh-pooh our victories as middle-class job gains for elite women. We changed the world for all women and girls. We won our first lawsuits on behalf of working women in factories. We got Title IX passed and enforced so that all girls could get a decent education, and all teachers had a right to be hired and promoted.

Q: NOW president Christian F. Nunes said of the book, “Finally, a much-needed book documenting the untold stories of NOW and feminists who relentlessly fought to transform lives, disrupt oppression by changing laws, and advocate for equality and justice from the streets to the courtrooms.” What do you think of that assessment?


A: She’s absolutely right! A few prominent feminists have been widely honored. But I list 29 women and one man who should also be recognized. There isn’t one hero whom I’d drop from the list. History should not forget them.


Q: What do you see looking ahead when it comes to women's rights in this country?


A: If we organize and fight to elect a feminist president and a feminist Congress, and feminist leaders in state and local government, we can win the right to abortion and we can ratify the Equal Rights Amendment and we can continue to advance our revolution. It all depends on politics.  This year!


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Frankly, I’m working hard to spread the word about my book and about our movement. And I’m doing everything I can to get feminists elected to national and local governments. So much depends on our success!


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I hope people will realize that the modern women’s movement was new and revolutionary and untried when we founded NOW in 1966. We made mistakes and learned a lot and evolved.


I hope people will read the NOW Statement of Purpose on the NOW website, so they’ll realize how much we had to do to change the world. After thousands of years when women were second-class human beings.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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