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Excerpt from
Profiles in Change:
1983, Alaska Commission on the Status of Women
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Rosita Worl

Women of Alaska:

Alaska women have the ability, power and strength to overcome the social, political and economic obstacles to equality. As a group we are formidable! Yet our group is comprised of individuals like yourself. Standing together is our source of strength. Alaska women need each other to help each other.

People often ask how Alaska Natives and American Indians have survived the centuries of oppression and deprivation encountered with discrimination. The answer lies in their socialization patterns and value system. From earliest childhood, they are trained to consider the group. They are taught to view themselves as a member of the group. Individual success is group success. Individual failure is perceived as the failure of the group.

Women, on the other hand, have not been socialized to consider themselves as members of a group. Many women do not identify with other women. As a consequence, some women do not view the inequality encountered by other women as relevant to them. Many women do not even perceive that they are the objects of sexual discrimination. They fail to recognize that sexual inequality is systematically perpetuated by our institutions and ideologies.

Many of these women are lulled into a passive and sometimes unconscious acceptance of sexual inequality. Unfortunately, other women may actively renounce the efforts of women who are promoting sexual equality. While we decry the actions of these women, we must not become embroiled in conflicts with them. Neither should we acquiesce to their criticisms.

Our efforts to overcome sexual inequality must be a positive and unified response. We must seek ways to reveal how our beliefs and attitudes are used to structure inequality in our social, economic and political systems.

Striving for sexual equality does not mean that we are seeking to destroy the family unit. We seek only to end patriarchal domination and the subordination of women. We seek to have equal opportunities.

Rosita F. Worl is editor and publisher of Alaska Native News. She is a former professor of anthropology with the University of Alaska.

We can each in our own way promote sexual equality. The first step, of course, must be to identify areas of sexual inequality. We must assess the reasons and basis for this unequal state. We must then initiate some action if we seek a better tomorrow for women. Ideally we should join women's organizations which are striving to enhance the status of women.

Sexual equality will not occur independent of action. We cannot accept that the benevolence of others will change our state. The greatest improvements will come with the coalescence of women into a unified action-oriented group.

— Rosita F. Worl

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