by Eleanor J. Bader

Meredith Tax Tackles the Silence of Women

Women’s World Organization for Rights, Literature and Development—Women’s WORLD—is a small organization with an enormous goal. “In far too many countries, women who try to have a public voice are met with hatred, contempt, suppression, exile or death. Whether the agency of suppression is the state, the publishing industry, religious authority, or the family, all forms of silencing and exclusion must be seen as censorship,” declares their May 1996 mission statement. Women’s WORLD chair Meredith Tax, a long-time feminist activist and author of four books, knows first-hand about both censorship and sexism. A 1994 campaign orchestrated by the Christian Coalition targeted Tax’s book, Families, for allegedly undermining “traditional” values. She also has repeatedly encountered hostility and dismissal from male writers. She recalls the 1986 conference of PEN, the international writers’ organization, which was held in New York and chaired by Norman Mailer: “This was supposedly a gathering of the best writers in the world, but when I got there I noticed how few women were on the panels, something like 17 out of 140.

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