Getting even in 5 minutes each day Book lists tips to fight sexism ANNAPOLIS/SOUTH COUNTY -- Davidsonville * Edgewater * Shady Side * Deale

October 12, 1992|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writer

Donna Jackson used to get mad when she walked past the popular poster with "U.S.D.A. Choice" stamped across a naked woman. Then she got even.

She learned to slap a "This Insults Women" sticker on blatantly sexist advertisements, and passed on the hint in a handbook she wrote for women. Called "How to Make the World a Better Place for Women in Five Minutes a Day," the little guide is filled with helpful tips to stop sexism, sexual harassment, unequal pay and poor health care for women.

It grew, she said, out of her lingering anger over the way Anita Hill was treated during the televised Senate confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Ms. Jackson, an editor-at-large for the national magazine New Woman, watched in shock last October as Ms. Hill came under fire for alleging that Judge Thomas had sexually harassed her during the 1980s. A feminist since childhood, Ms. Jackson could not believe the polls that showed the majority of Americans believed Judge Thomas.

"I was on the phone with lots and lots of friends who were frustrated and upset but kept saying, 'I can't do anything,' " said Ms. Jackson, who grew up in Annapolis and now lives in a three-story Victorian house in the historic district. "I began to think women have gotten too busy to help themselves."

Galvanized by the hearings, Ms. Jackson set out to find ways for women to make a difference without necessarily dedicating their lives to a feminist cause. She was writing an article on sexism in advertising and decided to expand it. Within weeks, she realized she had a book.

The 147-page handbook published last month contains "five-minute solutions" to 53 problems, from sexual harassment to violence against women.

Some are simple, such as donating old clothing to a battered women's shelter or registering a daughter in "Operation Smart," a free national program to help girls excel in science and math.

Others require direct action, such as raising men's awareness about rape, or contacting a legislator about voting on women's issues. Ms. Jackson spent months researching the voting records of the nation's 100 senators and rated each on a women's issues score card.

Her pink-and-black handbook has received wide attention. In recent months, Ms. Jackson has traveled to eight cities to promote her book.

Radio personalities have talked to her about violence against women and The Clothesline Project, a national project that strings up a giant clothesline with embroidered shirts and blouses from women who have been raped, sexually abused or assaulted. Locally, she will sign more copies of her book Oct. 21 at the Officers Club at the U.S. Naval Academy.

She traces her interest in women's issues to her childhood, when she read books by Willa Cather and watched her mother struggle to pay the mortgage after the death of her father, Jay Jackson, who was editor of the Evening Capital.

"I'm really proud of all of this," she said, flipping through her handbook. "I think this is the Year of the Woman. People are ready to hear it."

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