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Feminists Outraged by Regan Comment on Women and Summit

November 19, 1985

WASHINGTON (AP) _ White House chief of staff Donald Regan struck a nerve Tuesday among feminists outraged by his comment that most women wouldn’t understand the issues at stake at the U.S-Soviet summit in Geneva.

Regan said he expects the activities of first ladies Nancy Reagan and Raisa Gorbachev to hold high appeal, especially among women.

″They’re not ... going to understand (missile) throw-weights or what is happening in Afghanistan or what is happening in human rights,″ Regan told a Washington Post reporter in Geneva on Sunday. ″Some women will, but most women - believe me, your readers for the most part if you took a poll - would rather read the human-interest stuff of what happened.″

″Absolutely unbelievable,″ said Rep. Patricia Schroeder, D-Colo., a 13- year veteran of the House Armed Services Committee who said she could probably teach Regan a thing or two about defense.

″It’s hard not to laugh,″ said Irene Natividad, chairwoman of the National Women’s Political Caucus. ″All the gender gap polls in ’84 showed that peace was the No. 1 women’s issue. We’re the ones bearing the sons who would go to war.″

Arden Cummings, executive director of Peace Links, an anti-nuclear group, said if the 40,000-plus members of her group ″are any example of the rest of the women in the United States, Mr. Regan certainly is not educated about American women.″

Shireen Miles, California coordinator of the National Organization for Women, said women have a firm grasp of the issues.

″We are not interested in Nancy Reagan having brought her California hairdresser to do her hair three times a day,″ she said. ″We are interested in the issues discussed at that table, and the only reason we are not sitting there is two centuries of discrimination.″

Mrs. Schroeder noted that women’s anti-nuclear groups have traveled to Geneva for the summit, and she said women legislators from five continents asked for and were denied a meeting with President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

She said it was insulting that Regan should intimate women would be interested in little more than what Nancy Reagan and Raisa Gorbachev were wearing or saying at tea.

″I think it’s a real insult and women deserve an apology,″ she said.

The White House said it had not received any complaints in Washington about Regan’s comment.

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