There was a lot of talk about We and It going on. A lot of talk about Women and Nuclear War.
Much of it was done by a lineup of well-known talkers: Rosalynn Carter, Coretta Scott King, Jane Alexander and Joanne Woodward.
Jane Alexander, who starred in "Testament," a not-so-big box-office movie last year about what the world will look like after a nuclear war, spoke last night of nightmares. They happened six years ago. She started dreaming the same horrible nightmare every night. It was about her children and how they were slowly dying from radiation.
Her nightmares were a premonition of "Testament." "So I called Helen Caldicott, founder of WAND, Women's Action for Nuclear Disarmament. I said, 'Count me in,' and the nightmare stopped immediately," Alexander said.
Carter, King, Alexander and Woodward were the main event, constantly surrounded by reporters or appreciative fans at last night's reception and dinner for the first National Women's Conference to Prevent Nuclear War. About 200 women from various organizations across the country met to kick off a day-long conference today packed with lectures and forums on everything from "What About the Russians?" to "International Cooperation Between Women Leaders."
The purpose of the conference is to draft a plan of action, with specific tactics, to reduce the possibility of nuclear war and to increase women's participation in the decision-making on arms issues.
A funny thing happened as Carter and Woodward were walking into the reception room. They took a wrong turn and walked into a gathering for Sen. Charles Percy (R-Ill.). Senate Majority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr. (Tenn.) met Carter and Woodward in the hallway and TV cameras swooped on Baker and Carter as they exchanged "How are yous?" before moving on.
Sens. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and Paul Laxalt (R-Nev.) met Carter at the door, where she stopped to talk to former New York senator Jacob Javits, who was in a wheelchair. Realizing they had hit on the wrong reception, Carter and Woodward left, followed by about five Secret Service agents.
"Was that a planned visit to that reception?" one of the agents was asked."
"No, that was a mistake."
Film producer Nancy Dickerson stood outside the right reception room. She said she's been interested in Woodward's cause for some time.
Dickerson said she'll appear in a Home Box Office movie scheduled to air in October titled "Countdown to the Looking Glass." Dickerson said the point of the movie is "atomic war, nuclear war and the possibility of it happening by mistake."
Woodward and Carter, now on track, were met by Bella Abzug, the former congresswoman from New York, and Caldicott, who described the conference as "a referendum on the fate of the earth -- no more, no less."
And the reason for the "It's Up to the Women" motto on the program was simple. "The guys haven't done it," said Alexander.
Or as Woodward put it: "Men have had their chance for peace for the last 6,000 years or so. It's up to women now."
Carter, who explained her participation at the conference by the fact that she happened to be in Washington, spoke of the need for everyone to understand the force of women.
"In this election year, nothing could help us more than to vote for public officials with the same national security policies -- those that reject nuclear weapons."
King echoed her, but on a broader scale. "I somehow feel that we have been called as women to find a way toward a negotiated peace that can be a lasting peace . . . Let there be peace on Earth. Let it begin at this meeting."