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TIME FOR MEN TO CATCH ON TO FEMINISM, WRITER ARGUES

The women's movement is not dead, it has just become mainstream, Anna Quindlen assures us. There are girls in Little League, women on the Supreme Court. Feminist ideas considered "utopian" 30 years ago are as widely accepted as butter on toast.

Now it's men's turn. If they will just throw off their behavioral chains and meet women halfway, the world will truly become a better place for both sexes, the Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper columnist and author said Wednesday in Kleinhans Music Hall.

"The part of the women's movement I want to see follow in the 21st century is the liberation of men," she said.

She believes the change already has begun in the most important incubator -- the home.

"Men are growing up with women who are strong and outspoken, and parents who both work as professionals," she said.

As eloquent, sensible and wry on stage as she has been in print for nearly a quarter-century, Quindlen thoroughly captivated an audience celebrating Buffalo Seminary's sesquicentennial.

Looking back at her own family history, the writer, who is of Irish and Italian descent, speculated that had she lived 150 years ago, she might have been a potato farmer's wife in County Mayo; or a century ago, a parlor maid in Manhattan.

And if six female employees had not filed a sex discrimination suit against the New York Times in 1975, she mused, she might not have become the widely read writer she is today.

"I was hired at the Times in 1977. It was a tremendous time for women. I was promoted because of those opportunities. I'm what affirmative action looks like," she said.

When she left the newspaper five years ago, it was by choice -- the sort of career move unavailable to women a generation ago. By then, she had been working at home for 10 years, while raising three children.

"It was not an estrogen surge. I have no estrogen left," she said, drawing a roar from the largely female crowd.

She may consider herself a feminist, but Quindlen, fashionably attired in a gray suit and red scarf, clearly loves going against type.

"I'm not real strong, I love men, and here I am in my lipstick and mascara, telling you this is what feminism looks like," she quipped.

Beyond "changing the arena" in the battle of the sexes, Quindlen believes people must develop the ability "to see one another as human beings -- not a pile of demographic statistics," which she said is how such professionals as lawyers, doctors and reporters too often treat them.

Then, she said, "we can think of the 21st century as a time when we became an adult nation."

Looking out at the Buffalo Seminary students and alumnae, Quind-len added: "What a great time to be a girl. What a trip."

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