16 May 2012

The Sweet Relief of Missing Children & The New Feminist Agenda on WSR

Sarah Braunstein (photo WWNorton)
This week on Woman-Stirred Radio we look at the work of  writer Sarah Braunstein and former
U. S. ambassador and Vermont Governor Madeline May Kunin---two women of different generations and professions, who articulate the realities of women, children, and families in 21st-century American culture and social policy.

Goddard President Barbara Vacarr will join Madeline Kunin for a dialogue on how Goddard College is one of the "smart institutions" Governor Kunin believes are necessary, if not essential components in nurturing and supporting social change.

At 4:15, I welcome Sarah Braunstein, whose debut novel,  The Sweet Relief of Missing Children, has been re-released in paperback. Braunstein's narrative is dense in detail and cold reality but keeps the reader engaged with animated and expansive prose. here's the opening of Part 2, entitled "Leonora":

"What a day! What a day! Not sunny but wickedly bright, the sky white as snow and silver at the horizon, the tree's all elbows and knuckles, the bark like cashmere. The birds hovered but did not land. Leonora tried to breathe deep, to inhale the silvery air, but its coldness was the cold of a coin placed firmly in your palm while you're waiting for a bus in the heart of winter" (73).

The energy in "What a day! What a day!" kick-starts the section, makes us look around at the grand light of the "white sky" and the "silver at the horizon," and then, when the tone begins to turn, the enthusiasm fades; the reader is hooked. We keep reading. The Sweet Relief of Missing Children is a novel that pivots all the fine rhetoric of childhood and our hypocrisy in "protecting" childhood, delving into the "terror and transcendence of our most central experiences: childhood, parenthood, sex, [and] love."

So please tune in at 4:15 for an conversation with Sarah Braunstein.  Want to join the conversation? The air studio phone is 802.454.7762.

Madeline M. Kunin (photo Paul Boisvert)
At 5:00, former ambassador and Vermont Governor Madeline Kunin joins us to talk about The New Feminist Agenda: defining the next revolution for women, work, and family (Chelsea Green, 2012).

Hilary Clinton, Robert Reich, former U. S. Secretary of Labor says: "Women's social and economic gains over the past thirty years has been staggering---but equally staggering is how little America has changed in response."  And Reich has zeroed in on one of Kunin's most salient points as she articulates a roadmap of sorts as to rally women and men to join a new social revolution, one that reconfigures and then protects the equal rights and quality of life of all Americans.

In a straightforward and organized voice, Governor Kunin calls for a change of attitude and position, for women to focus on involvement in the processes of the American political landscape.

"Politics is about competition," Kunin writes. "The first round... is obvious---getting elected. The second round ... is less visible---how to deal with competing interests, how to find a spot near the top of the agenda. That's where democracy's toughest battles are fought: in determining what will get done" (245).  [emphasis mine].
Barbara Vacarr

Kunin's agenda is one of foresight and possibility: by focusing collectively on how America had reclaim its dignity and moral courage when it comes to the responsiveness of policymakers.  Kunin calls for workplace flexibility, paid family leave, paid sick leave, and early childhood education---all of which are paltry or nonexistent for the 99%.

"It's time," Kunin says, "to change all that. Looking back over five decades of advocacy, she analyzes where progress stalled, looks at the successes of other countries, and charts the course for the next feminist revolution---one that mobilizes women, and men, to call for the kind of government and workplace policies that can improve the lives of women and strengthen their families" (CG).

The last segment of our discussion will open up to include Goddard College President, Barbara Vacarr, who will give perspective
on how Goddard programs contribute to a vision such as Kunin's, and her perspective on the future of women in America


Woman-Stirred Radio is underwritten by Sinister Wisdom, celebrating 35 years of  lesbian-feminist arts and letters. Woman-Stirred Radio broadcasts live on WGDR 91.1 fm and WGDH 91.7 fm, Goddard College's community radio station located in Plainfield, Vermont.