Class-Action Lawsuit in the Land of Falling Prices
As several news outlets reported last week, six women filed a lawsuit in federal court against Wal-Mart, alleging sex discrimination in pay and promotion practices. The women are seeking class-action status for the 700,000+ current and former female employees of the store (which is the nation’s largest private employer).

At the heart of the women’s complaint is the claim that Wal-Mart funneled them into certain departments (baby clothes rather than hardware, for example). But as one Wal-Mart spokesman told the New York Times, women’s and men’s different interests led them to seek work in some departments rather than others. “Societal issues should not be confused with Wal-Mart practices,” he said. Unfortunately for Wal-Mart, this defense has not proven successful in such cases.

How to Stage a Proper Catfight!
Anyone who has spent time in a women’s studies classroom knows the excessive concern for student self-esteem — a concern that leads to constant reminders to treat all other points of view, no matter how questionable, with respect.

But what about academics themselves? Evidently the gals are in need of some manners training: the Chronicle of Higher Education (from the issue dated June 22), reports that University of California philosophy professor Ann Garry has penned a missive offering advice on how to criticize properly a fellow femme. Sporting the unwieldy title, “Ms. Feminist Philosopher Manners’ Guide to Respectful Critical Sisterly Behavior,” Garry includes reminders that one should “not consider it a career move to criticize other feminists severely in public” and to “consider carefully your “location,” with respect to the person you are criticizing,” especially if that person is a member of a “marginalized” group. Most importantly, Garry says, one should remember that “feminists “catfighting” brings “pleasure” only to “sexist voyeurs,” and thus should be avoided if at all possible. Meow.

Wrestling (and Singing and Dancing) with the Gender Wardens
Confusing times in the world of extracurricular activities. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports in its June 22 issue on a dispute involving the University of California at Davis’ wrestling team. Until recently, the men’s wrestling team included a few women who considered themselves full-fledged members of the men’s squad. But in order to meet the stringent federal gender-equity requirements of Title IX, UC Davis had to cap its roster of wrestlers. They decided to jettison the girls, offering them their own separate wrestling team since the female wrestlers “were unable to beat not only current [male] team members, but even male wrestlers who were cut from the squad following tryouts.” One of the female wrestlers is considering legal action against the university.

Lest one think such nonsense is confined to our shores, a story last month in the British Telegraph told of the travails of 28-year old actress Bethany Halliday. Halliday is suing the D’Oyly Carte Opera company for sex discrimination because directors refused to cast her as one of the singing daughters of Major General Stanley in a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance. The opera company’s managers felt the dramatic impact of the virginal daughters (who scream at the very sight of a man) might be lessened by Halliday’s obvious pregnancy; Halliday believes she’s been victimized. If her suit is successful, perhaps we’ll eventually see rousing Royal Shakespeare renditions of Romeo and Juliet featuring pregnant Juliets and cross-dressing Romeos.

New Website Answers Women’s Questions About Social Security
The Social Security Administration has launched a new website ( to answer women’s questions about Social Security. The site features retirement calculators and practical tips on how to obtain information about your future benefits. For IWF’s take on the issue of women and retirement, see our booklet, “Women and Retirement: Securing Your Financial Future,” written by IWF Advisory Board member Meredith Leyva.