Pat Schroeder on Kate Millett
Patricia Schroeder, B.A. ’61, history; J.D., Harvard, was the first female Congress member from Colorado, elected in 1973 to represent the Denver area. Women were rare in the House at that time. One male colleague told her, “This is about Chivas Regal, thousand-dollar bills, Lear jets and beautiful women. Why are you here?” She was a moving force behind the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 and a strong proponent for women’s reproductive rights.
Kate Millett’s book, Sexual Politics, was published in 1970. Her main thesis was that sex was a frequently neglected political aspect. She pointed out that all modern states were patriarchal, which isn’t shocking today but sure was then. She also tied in literature and fingered famous authors that she felt were very sexist.
I ran for office in 1972 in Colorado. This was a whole new awakening; women had been left behind since Abigail Adams’s famous plea to her husband to remember the ladies went unanswered.
Very few people have had their thesis become a best-selling book. Kate became a huge celebrity and many writers she fingered punched back. A huge back-and-forth followed and she must have felt very targeted at times.
Nevertheless, she sure began a real awakening among many women that they were going to have to fight hard to get a place at the table. The “guys” weren’t going to give it away!