My reading of Dean Kotlowski’s Nixon’s Civil Rights covered a variety of women’s issues, and President Richard Nixon’s stances on them.
There was federal support for child care facilities. As I talked about yesterday, Nixon was for it, before he was against it. In the end, Nixon arrived at a middle ground, for he signed a bill that gave tax deductions for child care expenses, and his Health, Education, and Welfare Secretary, Casper Weinberger, “issued day care rules with a sliding fee for low- and medium-income families” (page 250).
There was abortion, which many feminists believed provided women with a sense of self-determination. Nixon opposed abortion, but he refused to challenge Roe vs. Wade, and in 1990 he criticized the Republican Party for what he considered to be its obsession with the abortion issue.
There was Title IX. According to Kotlowski, liberal feminists wanted colleges to fund male and female sports teams equally, and to make certain teams integrated by sex. The NCAA did not approve of this, one reason being that it would reduce dramatically athletic scholarships for males. Nixon, a sports fan, ardently supported the NCAA in this. But Nixon’s Administration arrived at a middle ground, which “did not mandate equality of expenditures on collegiate athletics”, but rather “permitted single-sex teams so long as schools funded separate sports teams for men and women” (page 253). That resolution did not satisfy a lot of people, but Title IX under Nixon did open up sports to women, and columnist E.J. Dionne states that this encouraged “less teenage pregnancy, higher high school graduation rates, the avoidance of abusive relationships, and success in later life” (page 254, Dionne’s words).
On some issues, Nixon came out rather strong, as when he supported legislation that “promoted equal access to credit, regardless of gender or marital status” (page 255).
For Kotlowski, there was a downside to Nixon’s murky approach to women’s rights. Kotlowski states on page 256: “The Nixon administration’s skittish response to the women’s movement is mirrored in the ambiguous status of American women today. Females enjoy greater opportunities in the workplace, but continue to face constraints both at the office and at home. Federal policy recognizes women as breadwinners, but it does not provide them the means to advance as quickly or as far as men.”