(1969) This play was performed at the founding convention of the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. A play performed by an entire audience, and by Marylee A., Ellen A., Amy C., Pat M. Sherry Jenkins, Amy Kesselman, Naomi Weisstein (1969)
(Editors Note:This play was first performed at the founding conference of the Chicago Women's Liberation Union in 1969.)
The play is in three parts basically. The first is a little comic relief skit, to be played very broadly and lightly by the witches. Witch Number 1 is endearing, frenzied, distracted, and generally cheerful; Witch Number Two is more experienced, a little pompous, but also good-hearted. Nothing heavy.
he second part involves the audience, with the two witches calling out the names of parts to be read, so as to pace the play and not allow it to drag. One copy of the script is cut up into parts and distributed to women to the audience in advance of the play. The witches call the parts of women throughout the play, and make some side comments. The person called Narrator in the play is one or the other witch. This is a typographical error. The third part of the play involves the two witches, reading who they are (we are all women, etc.). This calls for a change of tone on the part of the witches; from broad comedy to dead seriousness. One of the ways to change this tone is to have the witches get more and more serious throughout the course of the play.
The way the play was originally performed is as follows:
The witches were wearing witchlike costumes with various implements of oppression tied to them (which they later threw into the cauldron), e.g., falsies, coffee can (symbolizing American Imperialism), etc. A theatrical smoke bomb was used when the cauldron exploded. It was very effective and pretty smoky. The sound of the explosion was made by hitting the amps which were used by the singers. Another way the play was paced was by the songs. These are very important.
A few people had the complete skit (besides the witches) to help read some of the more difficult parts, and to keep the play going. The words and music to most of the songs are available from the 1st People's Songbook which can be found in most old left bookstores. We tried to supply you with the words to most of the songs at the back of the script. There are a couple of changes that have been made since the play was performed:
p-16: Witch #1: Hey, that's great. What are we doing here in these sillyass costumes, when we should be out there fighting with the men? That's where the real revolution is. With the men. We're nothing but a bunch of hysterical silly women. If socialism comes, if the men achieve their victory, then we'll automatically achieve ours.
p. 19: paragraph 5 (begins with: I am with the woman who never sees the light outside her kitchen I am with the groupies following the rock bands, whose every song is a triumphant celebration of women's degradation; I am with the women who wanted to be scientists and architects and engineers and poets, and ended up being scientist's wives, and architects wives, and engineers wives, and poet's wives;
paragraph 6, last line: the racism of their institutions
paragraph 10 (begins with I am with the contacts in the Latin American cities indifferent legislators. I am with the women who have loved other women, as sisters, as lovers.
Another name for the play is Everywoman, Past Present and Future.
Our experience performing this play is that it has to be successful: it involves the whole audience, and involves them in a way which is very dramatic, especially if the place where it is performed is dark. As different voices begin to speak, and to recite this history of fighting and honor, this history of women dying for the revolution, it becomes very suspenseful; especially since most of us didn't even know that half these women existed (not of course our fault; we it has been suppressed). So it is a very effective play. If you perform it, drop us a line and give us hints on how to make it better, and how it went in your performance.
EVERYWOMAN aka THE LAST OF THE RED HOT MAMMAS, OR, THE LIBERATION OF WOMEN AS PERFORMED BY THE INMATES OF THE WORLD
Witch #1 stumbles on stage awkwardly
"This is my first week as a witch, you know. I suppose you can tell. You can tell, can't you? It's not that I don't want to be a witch. I want to be a witch, I'll be ..... witch. I'll be the - greatest goddamned witch ever. I'll be the witch that starts the revolution -- oops.
I don't mean to be individualistic. I'll be the witch that collectively starts the revolution. It's just that it's hard for me to be a witch: I used to be a bunny.
0, I'm the last of the red hot mammas
They've all died out but me.
A funny thing happened in my hotel suite
it dozen firemen were overcome by heat,
0, I'm the last of the......
Witch #2 comes on unnoticed stands in corner, then walks up, taps #1 on shoulder, says; "What are you doing?
# 1: Yessir right on certainly. Well I don't know what I'm doing.
# 2: We have a lot of work to do.
# 1: (breathlessly) I know. O I know, don't I know. We're going to make the revolution. One hundred million women, (tremulously) in America alone. Marching. Singing. Their banners high and full in the wind. it new day. (sings):
United women on the march, their flags unfurled, together fight
# 2: You have spirit ... but you just don't make a revolution like that. I mean, that's not the way you do it. I mean, like, you just don't go out and make a revolution. You need:
A strategy it program
# 1: I have an idea.
# 2: (turning around, walking away) O no, she has an idea.
# 1: (taps her on shoulder) Get the pot.
# 2: (wheels around) Get the what?
# 1: The pan, the cauldron The cauldron. I'm going to throw in everything I hate, and then the revolution will happen.
# 2: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Two steps backward, one step forward.
# 1: All right. (goes 2 steps backward, 1 step forward)
# 2: That's a metaphor.
# 1: O hee hee heeee...... a metaphor. Well, I don't care what she says. I'm going to throw in everything. Here's my earrings. Here's my shoes. Here's my little girl doll that cries real tears. Here's my flowered stationery. Here's my padded bra .......
# 2: Your padded bra? Here's my girdle. My high heeled shoes. My false eyelashes.
# l: (backing up with each imprecation) my hair spray, my skin spray, my breath spray, my underarm spray, my douche.
# 2: what about the things basic to woman's oppression? Capitalism, private property, imperialism, the family, the state, private ownership of children.
# 1: Listen. We'll throw in everything in, and then we'll have to have thrown in imperialism and capitalism and the family....
# 2: (Muttering) voluntarism, tailism, adventurism, infantile leftism, economism, schachtmanism.
# l: continues throwing things in:
The industrial revolution (throws typewriter)
capitalism (one dollar)
the family (baby carriage)
imperialism (coffee can)
war (emblem of lost son in Vietnam)
#1: O, I hate this fucking pot I hate it I hate it (runs up with flying kick)
Both witches kick pot at same time.
What is the revolution? When did it begin? It began a long time ago. And as with all revolutions, there were women who were there who we don't know about. We don't know how they lived or how they died, The history of women has not been written. The history of women's resistance has been hidden from us. Women have cried out against oppression and THEIR VOICES WILL NOT BE STILLED LISTEN.
"In our age of generalized decolonization, the immense feminine world actually remains in many regards a colony. Generally exploited in spite of laws, sold sometimes, often beaten, constrained to forced labor, assassinated almost with impunity. The Mediterranean woman is one of the serfs of the contemporary world."
ABIGAIL ADAMS 1776:
"If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold our selves bound to obey any laws in which we have no voice or representation."
FACTORY GIRLS ASSOCIATION 1835:
"As our fathers resisted unto blood the lordly avarice of the British ministry, so we their daughters will never wear the yoke which has been prepared for us. We would rather die in the almshouses than yield to the wicked oppression which has been prepared for us."
SENECA FALLS WOMAN'S RIGHTS CONVENTION 1848:
"The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of absolute tyranny over her...He has endeavored in every way that he could to destroy her confidence and her power, to lessen her self-respect and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life."
LUCY STONE 1855:
"In education, in marriage, in everything, disappointment is the lot of woman. It shall be the business of my life to deepen this disappointment in every woman's heart until she bows down to it no longer."
MARY ELIZABETH LEASE 1890:
"What you farmers need to do is raise less corn and more hell."
DOLORES IBARRURI 1936:
"It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees."
BERNADETTE DEVLIN 1969:
"I intend to fight to the last. I will hold out indefinitely. The gas is killing us, but we intend to fight on."
MAC TIM BUOI 1953: tortured to death by the French
"I know that you cowardly bandits are going to kill me but I also know that you can never kill all of us, our party, and our people. Soon our party and our people will reduce you and your oppressive masters to naught."
Singers: Song of the French Partisan
My name is Louise Michel. I was born in France in 1830 and was trained to be a school teacher. Very early I dedicated my life to the liberation of the working people of France and to me women have always seemed to be one of the most oppressed groups of people. "Just as I cannot accept the miseries of animals or the poverty of peasants, I cannot accept the condition of women." In return for my continued resistance to the role of wife and mother that was prepared for me, I was kicked out of my house at the age of 20. 1 devoted my life to organizing a system of schools for working women. In 1870 the schools allied themselves with other revolutionary forces in Paris to form the Paris Commune which held Paris in the face of the assault of the reactionary government forces. In this the women of our school became the women's brigade, playing a key role in the defense of the commune. When the commune was smashed I was exiled from my country for my role as leader of the women's brigade.
Singers: Oh, Mary Don't You Weep
Akron, Ohio, 1851. Fugitives were everywhere. A white face could not be trusted. Friend? Enemy? Will they help me to Canada or sell me back into slavery? Free blacks were not safe in Ohio. No black was safe south of Canada.
Singers: Song to Oh Susanna
That song was by Sojourner Truth. Who was Sojourner Truth? There was a meeting of the Ohio Woman's Association. At this convention appeared Sojourner Truth, a tall gaunt black woman in a gray dress and white turban. She had been born a slave in New York and had published a narrative of her life as a slave. Her entry caused consternation in the convention, for the women were finding it rough going in the storm of protest and criticism raised by members of the clergy who had invaded the meeting and were monopolizing the discussion. But SOJOURNER DELIVERED THEM FR0M THEIR ADVERSARIES.
" ... I want women to have their rights, and while the water is stirring- I'll step into the pool. Now that there's a stir about colored men's rights is the time for women to get theirs. I'm sometimes told women ain't fit to vote. Don't you know every woman had seven devils in her?" Seven devils ain't no account. A man had a legion in him.
I think that 'twixt the niggers of the South and the women in the North all a talking 'bout rights, the white man will be in a fix pretty soon.
.....But what's all this here talking about? That man over there says that women needs to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages or over mud puddles, or gives me any best place -- ain't I a Woman? Look at met Look at my arm! I've plowed and planted and gathered into barns and no man could head me. Aren't I a woman? I could work as much as a man and eat as much, when I could get it, and bear the lash as well. And aren't I a woman? They talks about this thing in the head-what's this they call it?
"That's it honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or niggers' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint and your'n holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let no have my little half measure full? Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men "cause Christ warn't a woman. Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man didn't have nothing to do with it!"
Witch # l: This is a definite mindblow. The way I was taught, the only women who existed in history were the suffragettes, and that didn't turn me on, 'cause what's so good about the vote anyway?
# 2: Vote, schmote .... you think they just wanted the vote, 'cause that's what you were taught. Let me tell you, little sister, they raised a lot of heavy questions. Listen:
In 1895 a book was published called the Woman's Bible, which was a series of commentaries on those parts of the Bible which deal with women, exposing the Bible to be a chauvinist document. Righteous indignation poured in upon the woman's movement.
ELIZABETH CADY STANTON REPLIES:
"Reading the book with our own unassisted common sense we do not find that the mother of the race is exalted and dignified in the Old Testament. The female half of humanity rests under the ban of general uncleanness. Even a female kid is not fit for a burnt offering to the gods. Women are denied the consecrated bread and meat, and not allowed to enter the holy places in the temples. It is very depressing to read such sentiments emanating from the brain of man. But to be told that the good Lord said and did all the monstrous things described in the Old Testament makes woman's position sorrowful and helpless...The first step in the elevation of women under all systems of religion is to convince them that the great spirit of the universe is in no way responsible for any of these absurdities. If the Bible is a message from heaven to humanity, neither language nor meaning should be equivocal. If the salvation of our souls depends on obedience to its commands, it is rank injustice to make scholars and scientists the only medium of communication between God and the mass of the people. The Woman's Bible comes to women like a real benediction. It tells her the good Lord did not write the book; that the garden scene is a fake; that she is in no way responsible for the laws of the universe. The Christian scholars and scientists will not tell her this, for they see she is the key to the situation. Take the snake, the fruit tree, and the woman from the tableau, and we have no Fall, nor frowning Judge, no Inferno, no everlasting punishment,...hence, no need of a Savior. Thus, the bottom falls out of the whole Christian theology. Here is the reason why in all the Biblical researches and higher criticisms, the scholars never touch the position of women."
Witch #1: (Chanting in a mixture of witchiness and bunniness) "Religion is a tool of the ruling class. Take your opiate and shove it up your ass! Religion is a tool ...... "
Witch #2: "Shhhh. You might alienate someone. Anyway, that's not all they did. Then they went on to attack the traditional definition of (in a loud whisper) THE FAMILY. (Everyone on stage covers her head.) And traditional ideas about love and marriage.
Witch #1: (Meanwhile muttering) Alienate somebody? I wouldn't want to do that. Oh no.
Witch #2: "And then there was Victoria Woodhull. She and her sister Tennie Claflin used their newsweekly "Woodhull's and Claflin's Weekly" to expose the hypocrisy of marriage. Victorian America, male Victorian America was scandalized.
Sherry & Kathy Sing: Love and Marriage
Witch #2: "and they were imprisoned for using the mail to transmit obscenity."
Witch #1: "tsk, tsk, shame on them."
Witch 2: "Then in 1871 Victoria goes before Congress and says that women should be guaranteed the right to vote under the 14th amendment. In an orgy of prurient curiosity, thousands of people crowd in to hear the "scarlet woman" talk. PEOPLE SAY THAT SHE IS FOR FREE LOVE!!! "
"The law cannot compel two to love ... Two people are sexually united, married by nature, united by God.... Suppose a separation is desired because one of the two loves and is loved elsewhere? If the union is maintained by force at least two of them, probably three, are unhappy. It is better to break a bad bargain than to keep it. All that is good commendable now existing would continue to exist if all marriage laws were repealed tomorrow..,"Yes, I am a free lover. I have an inalienable, constitutional and natural right to love whom I may, to love as long or as short a period as I can, to change that love every day if I please. And with that right, neither you nor any law you can frame, have any right to interfere; and I have the further right to demand a free and unrestricted exercise of that right, and it is your duty not only to accord it, but as a community, to see that I am protected in it.... I deem it a false and perverse modesty that shuts off discussion and consequently knowledge upon these subjects.
"So long as women know nothing but a blind and servile obedience to the will and wish of men, they did not rebel; but the time has arrived wherein they rebel, demanding freedom, freedom to hold their own lives and bodies from the demoralizing influence of sexual relations that are not founded in and maintained by love. The marriage law is the most damnable outrage upon women that was ever conceived."
Witch #2: "In 1872 a third party was formed. The Equal Rights Party. They ran a write-in campaign for Victoria Woodhull, a woman, for President, and Frederick Douglass, a black man, for Vice-President.
Singers Campaign Song
Witch #1:"There she is, making a campaign speech."
"A Vanderbilt may sit in his office and manipulate stocks or declare dividends by which in a few years he amasses fifty million dollars from the industries of the country, and he is one of the remarkable men of the age. But if a poor, half-starved child should take a loaf of bread from his cupboard to appease her hunger, she would be sent to the tombs. .....An Astor may sit in his sumptuous apartment and watch the property bequested to him rise in value from one to fifty million, and everybody bows to his immense power. But if a tenant of his, whose employer had discharged him because he did not vote the Republican ticket, fails to pay his months rent to Mr. Astor, the law sets him and his family into the street. ... Mr. Stewart, by business tact and the various practices known to trade, succeeds in twenty years in obtaining from customers, whom he entraps into purchasing from him, fifty million dollars and ... he builds costly public beneficiaries, and straightway the world makes him a philanthropist. But a poor man who should come along with a bolt of cloth which he had smuggled into the country and which consequently he could sell at a lower price than Mr. Stewart who paid the tariff, and is therefore authorized by law to add that sum to the price, would be cast into prison. ... Now these three individuals represent three of the principal methods that the privileged classes have invented, by which to monopolize the accumulated wealth of the country."
Singers: UNION MAID
Witch #2: From the late eighteen hundreds on through the early years of this century there emerged another kind of woman in this country to fight for the rights of women, and of all oppressed peoples. The countless unknown women who fought with the Wobblies, in the strikes, in the Free Speech battles, who were arrested and beaten countless times. The great organizers Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Ella Reeve Bloor, Mother Jones. -when Gurley Flynn was sixteen, an article about her appeared in 'Theodore Dreiser's magazine. It said in part:
"They call her Comrade Elizabeth Flynn, and she is only a girl just turned sixteen, as sweet a sixteen as ever bloomed, with a sensitive, flower face. But she is also an ardent Socialist orator, one of the most active workers in the cause in New York City. In was on January last (1906) that she first made her appearance on the lecture platform and electrified her audience with her eloquence, her youth and her loveliness. Since then she has been in demand as a speaker wherever in the city there has been a Socialist gathering, at Cooper Union or at Carnegie Hall or on the street corners of the East Side."
Witch #1: "What did he look like, this Dreiser? I bet he was ugly."
E.G FLYNN :
"It is symbolic, at the least, to note that the first public speech I ever made was titled: "What Socialism Will Do For Women." Among the points I tried to make starting from that first speech and continuing through my life were to the effect that: The state should provide for the maintenance of every child so that the individual woman shall not be compelled to depend for support on the individual man, while bearing the child. The barter and sale that goes on under the name of love is highly obnoxious. . The one system of economics that gives every human being an equal opportunity is Socialism.
The wage earning class the world over are the victims of society. From 1906 on, I was almost constantly on the road; speaking, organizing, fighting, meeting, and going in and out of jail. In my many years with the Wobblies, I participated in almost all the major strikes and demonstrations of those years, and they were bloody ones. Many of my friends and co-workers were framed on murder charges resulting from these battles -- some served long sentences, like Tom Mooney, some, like Joe Hill, were murdered by the bosses. In 1915, 1 received a postmarked letter, 10:00 p.m., from Salt Lake City, November 18. It was from Joe Hill, written a few hours before he was shot.
In part, he said:
"Dear friend Gurley I have been saying good-bye so much now that it is becoming monotonous, but I just cannot help to send you a few more lines because you have been more to me than a Fellow Worker. You have been an inspiration, and when I composed The Rebel Girl, you was right there and with me all the time be sure to locate a few more Rebel Girls like yourself be cause they are needed, and needed badly .... with a warm hand shake across the continent and a last fond goodbye to all, I remain yours as ever, Joe Hill."
Many of my arrests and charges were under the blanket of seditious conspiracy, a charge with which I am sure you are all familiar. My mother was interested all her life in the liberation of women. I can honestly say that whatever battles I was in, as an as a member of the Workers Defense League, as a Communist, as a member of Women's Groups, I was fighting for the liberation of women along with my battle for Socialism."
I was known as Mother Jones to thousands of workers. I was born in Ireland, in 1830. My family was poor. They had fought for generations in the struggle for Ireland's freedom. Many of them died in that fight.
When I came to America, I first lived in Toronto. After finishing school, I began teaching in a convent in Michigan. Later, I came to Chicago and opened a dressmaking establishment. However, I went back to teaching again, this time in Memphis, Tenn. Here I was married in 1861. My husband was an iron moulder and a staunch member of the Iron Moulder's Union.
In 1867, a yellow fever epidemic swept Memphis. Its victims were mainly among the -poor and the workers. The rich fled the city. Schools and churches were closed. People were not permitted to enter the house of a yellow fever victim without a permit. The poor could not afford nurses. Across the street from me, tEn persons lay dead from the plague. The dead surrounded us. They were buried at night quickly and without ceremony. All about my house I could hear weeping and the cries of delirium. One by one my four little children sickened and died. I washed their little bodies and got them ready for burial. My husband caught the fever and died. I sat alone through nights of grief. No one came to me. No one could. Other homes were as stricken as mine. All day long, all night long, I heard the grating of the wheels of the death carts.
After the union had buried my husband, I got a permit to nurse the sufferers. This I did until the plague was stamped out. I returned to Chicago and went back into dressmaking, which I continued until my shop was burned down in the Chicago fire. Next door to my shop was the hall of the Knights of Labor, and I used to spend my evenings after work listening to the speeches. After the fire, I decided to devote my time to the struggle of the working people to better the conditions under which they lived. I joined the Knights of Labor. I was particularly concerned with the miners and their conditions. I participated in strike after strike of the minors in Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. It got so that when the local sheriff heard I was on my way, he's begin to groan. In Coaldale, I got into a conversation with the sheriff, without his knowing who I was. :Oh, Lord," he said, "that Mother Jones is sure a dangerous woman." "Why don't you arrest her?'' I asked. "Oh, Lord, I couldn't do that - I'd have that mob of women with their mops and brooms after me and the jail ain't big enough to hold them all. They'd mop the life out of a follow."
Later, I was active in the strikes and organizing in Arizona and Colorado. After being arrested and removed from one strike zone, I was taken to see the Governor of Colorado. He said to me, "I am going to turn you free, but you must not go back to the strike zone." "Governor," I said, "I'm going back." "I think you ought to take my advice," he said, "and do what I think you ought to do." "Governor," said I, "if Washington took instructions from such as you, we would be under King George's descendants yet. If Lincoln took orders from you, Grant would never have gone to Gettysburg. I think I had better not take your orders...
And so it went; in and out of jail. I spent twenty-six days as a military prisoner in a cellar under the courthouse. I slept in my clothes by day, and I fought great big sewer rats by night with a beer bottle. I told myself that if I were out of the dungeon, I would have been fighting human sewer rats. I could have boon released at any tine, had I promised not to return to the strike zone, but this I couldn't do.
Men's hearts arc cold. They are indifferent. Not all the coal that is dug warms the world. It remains indifferent to the lives of those who risk their life and crawl through dark, choking crevices with only a bit of lamp on their caps to light their silent way; whose backs are bent with toil, whose very bones ache, whose happiness is sleep, and whose peace is death.
Five hundred women got together and had a dinner and asked me to speak. Most of the women were crazy about women suffrage. They thought that Kingdom come would follow the enfranchisement of women.
"You must stand for free speech in the streets," I told them."How can we?" piped a woman, "when we haven't a vote?" "I have never had a vote, said I, "and I have raised hell all over this country. You don't need a vote to raise hell. You need convictions and a voice.... No matter what your fight, don't be ladylike. God Almighty made women and the Rockefeller gang of thieves made the ladies. I have just fought through sixteen months of bitter warfare in Colorado. I have been up against armed mercenaries, but this old woman. without a vote. and with nothing but a hatpin has scared them.
SINGERS: Viva la Quince Brigada
My name is Dolores Ibarruri, and I was called La Passionara, the passion flower, for in Spain, where I grow up, poor people were taught to submerge their passion in Catholic piety. But where I saw injustice I fought it. I became a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Spain. During the Civil War I was a leader of the forces fighting to defend the Republic.
I was the wife of a poor miner. One day a missionary came to visit to berate me for siding with the revolutionary miners. "God will punish you," she said. "God punish me? Even more? In my house there is one illness after another. My husband and my son work like burros and they earn a pittance. You think that's not enough punishment? Look, I'll toll you.... at times even I begin to doubt God's existence. I've never said this before to anyone; I tell you know so that you will know that it is poverty that turns us into unbelievers. God? 'Where is he when we're dying of hunger, when we don't have a crust of broad to put in our mouths? If God exists, he is blind and deaf to the poor. You think that talking like this is a sin? The devil with sin. When our men come home from the mines covered with mud, wet to the bone, dog-tired and there's only a pot of garlic soup ado with a lot of water and a little broad, and the house is dark and cold - then we curse heaven and earth, and we feel that hell itself can't be worse than our lives on earth.
When the demand for ore fell off and there was an excess of manpower, women were no longer hired. This discriminatory act was carried out under the hypocritical cloak of solicitude for the mother, the woman, the family and the home. Women were freed from brutalizing mine work only to be consciousness into domestic slaves, deprived of all rights. In the mine, the woman was a worker and, as such, she could protest exploitation together with other workers. In the hone, she was stripped of her social identity; she was committed to sacrifice, to privation, to all manner of service by which her husband's and her children's lives wore made more bearable. Thus her own needs wore negligible; her own personality was nullified; in tine she became "the old lady" who "doesn't" understand," who was in the way, whose role eventually became that of a servant to her household and a nursermaid to her grandchildren. This was the tradition of generations.
I began to read Marxist literature and for me it was a window opening on life. My ideas and sentiments began to change and take concrete form, although there was much I did not yet understand. My former Catholic beliefs began to dwindle, although not without resistance, as if they were determined to leave a shadow, a fear, a doubt in the depths of my consciousness. The struggle for a Socialist society - even though it was clearly not imminent -began to give content and substance to my life; it was the force that sustained no under the oppressive conditions of our pariah-like conditions. The more I learned about Socialism, the more reconciled I was to life, which I no longer saw as a swamp, but as a gaining daily victories battlefield on which an immense army of workers was advancing even through its defeats.
WITCH # 1: Perhaps the group of women most difficult to discover information about are the women of Latin America. With the exceptions of the few who are known, such as Haydee Santamaria, the brave women who fought in the revolutions of Latin America are virtually unknown to their sisters throughout the world. Ono such woman was Juana Azurduy do Padilla.
I organized the Indians of my town, Moromor, Bolivia to support the South American independence struggle. In 1809 some students and professors at Chuquisaca, now called Sucre, had seized the capital city and imprisoned the Spanish-appointed governor. The Spanish troops were paying local Indian chiefs to bring their tribes into the fight on- the royalist side against the rebels. My husband and I explained the justice of the revolution to the Indians, who then killed their chief and fled with us into the mountains. This was the beginning of the South American war of independence.
SINGERS: Nigeria chant...
I am a Nigerian woman. When the English stuck their money-grubbing blood-stained fingers into my country, they found us hard to subdue, especially the women. Unlike other African countries, we have no local chieftains whom the British could manipulate into leading our population into submission. So, in order to collect taxes, the British Governor, Ferguson, appointed squads of men and women to raise the money. In 1929 we women had had enough of oppressive British imperialism, and our blood had begun to rise.. Tightly organized we led the ABA riots, chanting "Beat Ferguson, Beat Ferguson." Our menfolk stood back in admiration as we took the first stop in throwing off Britain's yoke.
Our struggle wasn't over, though. The British were trying to rob us also of our education and made the schools a luxury for those few who could pay. In 1958 when the British government in our country claimed they had run out of money to run schools, we called their bluff. We forced shut all the schools and beat any teacher who tried to teach. We bombed the houses of members of Parliament and hijacked a train to bring us to the government to demand free education. The British capitulated and gave free education for the first three grades.
SINGERS: Chee Lai
Witch #2: Listen now to our Chinese sisters. Here is a young woman whose name we have no record of, who is retelling her experiences. Listen.
In the past, the goal of my life was to please my future husband and raise my future children, to manage a household, to serve as a model for "a kind mother and a good wife." Mother taught me the "three obedience's and four virtues" and other ethical rules of good womanhood. I was a good girl of the traditional type who never ventured out of the door. I remember that at the age of ten I still had to have the maid dress me, and at twelve I still had to have the maid accompany me to school. I was such a weak, helpless, temperamental burden on others.
At seventeen, I stepped out of the family to go to school and began to take my first breath of freedom. Throughout my middle school period, though I was able to get out of the control of the feudalistic family authority, my life was so decadent. I fell into the abyss of love. I pursued happiness. Hypnotized in the clutch of love, I was wasting my youth away.
The gongs and drums of the "liberation" woke me up like thunder in spring, and I began to crawl out of the dirt. In September of 1950 still with dirt on my body, I entered the university. The school was like a big family of revolutionists, making me feel strange at every step. I was groping around and made some trials. I wished to wipe the dirt off my clothes, but my hands were so weak and tired.
One after another, the high tides of social and political movements passed before my eyes, marching columns paraded beside me, and the soaring notes of group singing rang in my ears. I felt alone, I felt the pressure of solitude. I was perplexed. Sometimes I sat alone on the lawn and cried, and sometimes I cried under the covers in bed. When schoolmates asked me why my eyes were so red, I failed to answer. As the days flew by, the "old" and the "new" were battling in my mind. In that battle, time & again, the "new" fell down and the "old" stood up with renewed arrogance. I was spiritually tortured.
I will eternally remember my roommate, little Woi. She was younger than I and called me Big Sister. I was very grateful for her help, but she also put me to shame. She could take hardship and was a person of action. She was very progressive, good at revolutionary doctrine, and lived very actively and happily. When she did things, she was a systematic as a nature adult. I often laughed at her for resembling a boy, and she always answered proudly, "In the ago of Mao-tse-Tung women will never trail behind men." She surely had a deep effect on me. She was a member of the Young Communist League. Her every act and her work made me so ashamed of myself and made me feel like a weakling.
Last November (1950), I began to change. I made a resolution not to imagine things and not to linger with the "old" any longer. I started out to catch up with little Wei, retracing her past footsteps. I took action. I came to hate my birdlike coiffeur and I cut it off. Now my short and straight hair looks as beautiful as that of Wei. I tore off my once-fashionable cowboy pants; humans do not wear dog's clothing. Now I wear the cotton clothes and cotton shoes of the laboring people, and when I walk side by side with Wei people say: "You two look like sisters, so thrifty and solid. This pleases me.
That was my first victory in the new direction.
Then came the movement to join the armed forces under the "Resist America, Aid Korea" campaign. I pushed aside my mother's objections. I wanted to offer my life to the fatherland, to the people. Big red flowers were pinned on me They symbolized the redness of my heart. I felt so honored and proud. When the students threw me up in the air, I was so very happy. That was my second victory in my battle of thought.
Now I have gone one stop further and joined the Now Democratic Youth League Through education by the League I have come to recognize clearly the two divergent roads. One leads to decadence and decline, filled with lifeless atmosphere, darkness and death. The other loads to happiness, activity, hope, light, and now life.
I anticipate Woman's Day this year with enthusiasm, I have prepared my uniform. I am going to throw myself into the human current and follow the flag and march forward bravely. I want to shout with millions of sisters and let the shouting become a strong current.
We want to be masters of the new society. We are the nurses of mankind. We bear the mission of mankind's prosperity. We have to break the chains on our hands and create the garden of happiness for humanity.
My name is Chiu Chin. I was born in 1875 to a wealthy family in Southern China. At 22 my parents married me to a minor government official in Peking. I saw the foreign imperialists ravaging my country with no resistance from the Manchu government. I witnessed many heroic but shortlived revolutionary movements.
In 1904 I determined to leave my two children with my conservative husband and I sailed to Japan. There I spoke to Chinese students, especially the women, about the worsening situation in China and the need for revolution. One organization that I founded, the Society of Universal Love, later pioneered women's political activity in China.
When I first applied to join the Restoration League, I was denied because it was thought improper for a woman to mix with the working men members. They admitted me later after my revolutionary activities convinced them of my seriousness. When the Restoration League was incorporated into Sun Yat Son's United Revolutionary League called the Kuo Ming Tang in 1905, I was put in charge of the Chekiang branch.
I was especially concerned about the positions of women. Under the names of Chin-hsiung, meaning "Compete with men", and Chien Hu Nu Hsia, or "Woman outlaw from Shaohsing," I wrote articles and poems as a "Woman's Champion." Ono of those I entitled "Strive for Woman's Power:''
May Heaven bestow equal power on men and women.
Is it sweet to live lower than cattle?
We would rise in flight, yes, drag ourselves up.
In 1906 I organized a group of Chinese students in Japan to return home to fight the reactionary government. I bought a knife to defend myself and learned to use it. At the final meeting before sailing, I said, "Whoever dares to surrender to the Manchu lackeys and whoever cares to sell out his country for personal advancement will receive death from my dagger." On the long trip home I wrote''
riding on the wind I return once more,
From the eastern sea I come clasping spring thunder.
I cannot sit by and watch the maps change color.
I cannot sit by and lot our country turn to ashes.
The turbid wine cannot chase away tears of anxiety.
To save the country we must get able people.
If we must shed the blood of a hundred thousand heads
We will do it - to win back our land.
I taught, and in 1907 founded the Chinese Women's Journal with a follow teacher and revolutionary in Shanghai. This was the first newspaper in all of Chinese history to be published by women. We refused to run the customary government announcements and sensational news. Instead we devoted out space entirely to stories on patriotism and the emancipation of women. Unfortunately, we were only able to print two issues. My poem entitled "Women's Rights" appeared here.
We want our emancipation.
For our liberty we'll drink a cup.
Men and women were born equal.
Shy should we let the men hold sway.
We will rise and save ourselves,
Ridding the nation of all her shame.
In the steps of Joan of Arc
With our own hands we will regain our land.
I became principal of the Tatung College of Physical Culture in Shaohsing. With Hsu Hsi-lin, principal of another school, I began to train the students in marksmanship, military tactics, and bomb making to enable them to make a democratic revolution for China. We set July 19, 1907 as the date for the uprising, but rebel troops began massing early, thereby alerting the Manchu authorities. So Hsu assassinated the governor of Anhwoi province on July 7 and started the rebellion. The revolutionaries took the provincial arsenal, but were eventually beaten back. My follow editor of the Chinese Women's Journal died here. Hsu was arrested and executed. I knew we would be defeated now, but I remained at school to destroy the lists of names and other documents incriminating the revolutionary students, teachers, and their supporters. On July 13 the Manchu army captured the school and arrested me and seven others after a short but fierce battle. They tortured me to tell the names of my comrades, and when I refused, I was executed early on the morning of July 14, 1907. I was 32 years old.
Witch # 2: Here arc the sisters of the Algerian revolution.
I, Djamila Douhirod, joined the terrorist network in the Casbah at the age of 22. One night, while carrying out my mission of planting bombs at the Milk Bar and the Brasserie Coq Harde, the French captured me. The bombs went off, however, killing many French civilians. The French wanted to kill me because fighting for liberation in Algeria especially as a woman was a capital crime. I was condemned to death on July 15, 1957, but the execution was stayed. French Communist supporters of the Algerian Revolution, Georges Arnaud and Jacques Verges, brought my case before the world as an symbol of Algeria's struggle for freedom.
The French carted me off to prison in Rheims for the duration of the war in the hopes of silencing the furor that arose over my case. But on May 25, 1959, El El Moudjahid (the organ of the FLN) declared me the best known Algerian woman. Algeria did not forget its women.
I, Djamila, Doupacha, also joined the terrorist network in Algeria. The French used torture to try and make no submit, but this I could never do, because through my allegiance and struggle with the FIN, I was throwing off my oppression as a woman. In France, the Djamila Boupacha Committee was formed in my defense, and my picture, drawn by Picasso, appeared on many magazine covers. To Algerians and French supporters, my resistance became a symbol of Algeria's revolution.
My name is Defissa Lalliam. I was President of the National Union of Algerian Women after independence. During the revolution, I also joined the FLN fighting corps and was entrusted with organizing the health service. The French arrested me but because of my status as a doctor I was granted provisional liberty, so I immediately returned to fighting with the FLN. In the battle of Setif I was arrested and held till the end of the revolution.
SINGERS: Brave Man
Witch #2: The women of Vietnam have been struggling for many centuries. In the year 248, Thrieu Thi Trinh, a 23 year old Vietnamese peasant woman, led thousands of guerillas against the Chinese feudal governors and drove them out of her country. But the enemy brought in powerful reinforcements, and after six months of heroic struggle, she took her own life, preferring death to the slavery of colonialism. "I want to drive the enemy away to save our people," she said. "I will not resign myself to the usual lot of women who bow their heads and become concubines."
Witch #1: Yeah, they sure did start early. My favorite is a lot more recent, though. Her name was Nguyen Thi Vinh, better known as Ming Khai, the first leader of the Vietnamese Woman's Movement. She was executed by the French in 1941. She wrote with her own blood on the wall of her cell: "A rosy cheeked woman, here I am fighting side by side with you men. On my shoulders weighs that hatred which is common to us. The prison is my school, its inmates -my friends. The sword is my child, the gun my husband."
Witch # 2: Now let's hear from a woman of South Vietnam. Nguyen Thi Ut of Tam Ngai Village, South Vietnam.
NGUYEN THI UT: I was hired as a servant in 1943 at the age of 8. Four years later my mistress started to beat me for eating some fish saved for my employers son. But I grabbed a knife and defended myself. When I was 14, my mistress again took a stick to beat me. This time I threw red pepper in her eyes and ran away. I joined the rebel army, which freed me, my mother and 2 sisters by paying off our debt.
At 17 1 was a liason agent and later a scout for the Resistance. I married Tich, another soldier, on the condition that our marriage would automatically be broken if either of us surrendered to the French. Tich and I lived in an area where Diem was forcing the villagers to build so-called prosperity zones. When the officials came for Tich, I pretended to be sick, thus excusing Tich from this forced labor. All the other people of Tam Ngai village followed my example.
I devised a plan whereby 2 other women and I captured an army post. We invited all the soldiers to a banquet. The commander left only one man to watch the post. I went and told him: "Your chief wants some more wine. Give me your rifle, I'll replace you." 'When I got the gun safely in my hands, I let the waiting NLF guerillas into the fort. Together we captured the drunk commander and the rest of his men without firing a shot.
In 1964 1 became the assistant commander of the village guerilla force and began to organize a women's militia. My NLF activities took all my time. I was never home before midnight and then only to go out again at dawn. Tich was just as busy, so our 6 children had to take care of themselves the whole day. But thanks to sympathetic neighbors and our girl Be, the oldest child, everything was all right. The children, who hated the American imperialists, understand that their parents were out to fight their enemies and drive them away. At times helicopters flew close overhead, and puppet soldiers shouted for the NLF soldiers to surrender. The children would shout back: "The Liberation Front troops are out attacking the army post. Only little Liberation soldiers are at home."
Twice the NLF has honored me. Once I was awarded a carbine and 15 meters of cloth at a ceremony attended by over 3,000 people. And then I was chosen to attend the Congress of Heroes and Elite Fighters of the Liberation Armed Forces. The whole village turned out to congratulate me. Leading the joyful procession was 14 year old Be, who had just been selected to represent the local women's militia group at the regional military conference.
Witch #l: Hey, that's great. What are we doing here in these silly costumes, blah blah .......
Witch #2: Wait a minute. Unfortunately, the victory of the Vietnamese People's Revolution in 1945 did not automatically achieve the liberation and equality of women in the new socialist society in the North. This is despite the inclusion of the struggle for equality of the sexes among the 10 principal tasks of the Revolution by the first Indochinese Communist Party Plenum in October, 1930. For centuries, feudal ideology had built up the idea that women must live under the protection of men because they are basically weak and helpless creatures. According to Confucius:
lst voice: The populace and women are ignorant, filled with bad instincts, and hard to educate ... Morals forbid women to step out of their room. Their only business is the kitchen.
Witch #2: Women's lives were ruled by the three obediences: to the father before marriage, then to the husband, and after his death to the oldest son. From the day of her birth a girl was coldly received by her father, for she could not continue the family line or inherit property. It was commonly said:
Voice #2: If you have a son, you can say you have a descendant. But you cannot say so even if you have 10 daughters.
Witch #2: Many folksongs also reflected the heavy oppression of women's lives
Voice #3: A woman is like a drop of rain;
No one knows whether it will fall into a palace or the mud of the ricefield
Voice #4: The evening star is at the zenith,
But I am still toiling hard to make Father richer.
The inheritance will be divided into several parts
Of which I, as a girl, will receive the tiniest.
SINGERS: Hard is the Fortune
Voice #5: From the market she comes back late.
For the children she has bought a few rice cakes.
Poor kids. How they have cried and wailed.
Not a drop of water to wash them.
Her husband has loafed the whole day away,
Smoking his waterpipe and chewing his betel quid.
Witch #2: But whenever there is oppression there is resistance. Women wrote folksongs ridiculing the supremacy of men:
Voice #6: For three coins one can get a whole host of men.
One can put them in cages and abandon them to the ants.
But one single woman is worth 300 coins.
For her to sit let's spread a flowered mat.
Witch #2: Listen to Nugyen Thi Khiu of Baoninh Village, North
NGUYEN THI KHIU
As of 1971, 7 years after the victory of the Revolution, only the men of Baoninh went fishing. Most of the women stayed home and looked after the children, cooked, and did housework. We also took our husbands catch to market. I was one of only a few women who went to sea with the men. But these women didn't fish. We did "women's work"' mending nets, cleaning the boats, and cooking. The fisherman earned 10 work points a day, but we women only got 5.
When the management committee decided to send the boats further out, the women who had gone to sea couldn't go because of our children. We had a meeting to discuss the situation. I said that the solution was to form a women's fishing team with its own boats. The other women hesitated. "We can neither swim nor dive nor cast nets,'' they said. "Besides, what would become of us in case of storms?" I encouraged them. "We shall learn. Come with me to sea tomorrow." I taught the women to run the boat, swim, dive and cast nets; and the management committee gave a boat to our new Minh Khai fishing team, named after the first leader of the Vietnamese Women's Movement.
Our team consistently came home with our boat full of fish before ne men, and so the management committee rewarded us with 3 boats and then 6. In 1964 the Minh Khai team overfulfilled our production quota and broke the village fishing record. The men's teams acknowledged their defeat in the emulation movement.
The women continued fishing even after the U.S. bombing raids began in 1965. The Minh Khai team is still going to sea. I am still at the helm as its leader. More than ever now I concentrate on my work. I know I am only 35, and my -life still lies ahead. I can still fight. The French colonialists and the landlords caused the death of my father. Now the American imperialists have killed my husband. The enemy's cries only deepen my hatred and strengthen my resolution. I direct the fisherwomen to mobilize the people to turn their hatred into greater force fighting the imperialist enemy. When the bombings have been especially heavy, the villagers often ask our team: "Tomorrow will you continue fishing?" "Of course," we always answer with one voice.
NU OF BUI VILLAGE:
My name is Nu and I am from Bui Village, North Vietnam. In 1958, 4 years after the NLF had liberated the North, I was married by my father against my will. I was 13 years old. I locked myself up in my husband's house and refused to eat until my weakened condition and public opinion shamed my father into taking me back into the family home. To emancipate ourselves and give full play to our abilities we women of Bui and many other villages have had to go through thousands of hard trials, as is shown in the story of my life When 2 years later I was one of the first women in the village to learn plow ing, my father said "From now on I disown this degenerate daughter." But my determination and achievements once more made him change his mind.
In 1961 the village militia was reorganized. It had been disbanded on the victory of the NIF 7 years earlier. I added 2 years to my age in order to meet the 18 year required age. I soon distinguished myself by my intelligence and military abilities, and was appointed section commander. When my section was lined up for march, I had to crane my neck to review my comrades. "You are a queer sort of commander. You barely reach my shoulder," one man said. Ignoring him, I shouted my orders and made myself obeyed.
As section commander I was sent to the provincial capital for a military training course when I was 17. When I reported to the cadre teaching the course, he cried out "Good Heavens. Is there no adult left in Bui? How can you carry a rifle?" I was the only woman among 100 students. The men often teased me, saying "When you throw a grenade, it will fall right back on your head." In class I had to sit in the front row in order to see because I was so short. The other students shouted, "Impudent girl. How dare you sit in front of men?" But I didn't let them discourage me. I worked hard and became head of my class and earned its members respect. I passed my exam brilliantly and nobody dared to ridicule me any longer.
When I returned to Bui, my success in the military training course made me ask, "Why couldn't other girls do like me?" So I began organizing a women's militia. But most of the Bui women refused to join it at first. "We feel shy in front of the men. We are clumsy with our hands. If we miss the target, how ashamed we will be." I convinced them by arguing "Everything men can do, we can do. We work in the fields as well as they do, don't we? Anyway, lets have a try." The Bui women did well in theory, better than many of the men. But they were still afraid when the time came to begin target practice. We were very proud when all the members of the women's militia passed this test.
In 1964 the Bui co-operative had trouble with poachers stealing fish at night in our rice fields. The militia women caught these men and ordered them to go out of the paddies. When the marauders realized that the militia was all women, they insolently replied "We can't get out. We're stark naked." Our young militiawomen clicked the bolts of their guns and shouted "Get out or we'll shoot." Panic-stricken, the poachers hastily obeyed their orders. Since then no marauders have dared to come to Bui again.
CROWD BEGINS TO SHOUT: Who are YOU? Yeah, who are you, anyway? Who are you supposed to be, etc....
THE TWO WITCHES RESPOND BY TAKING TURNS SAYING THE FOLLOWING THINGS:
I am all women, I am every woman. Wherever women are suffering, I am there. Wherever women are struggling, I am there. Wherever women are fighting for the their liberation, I am there.
I am at the bedside of the woman giving birth, screaming in labor; I am with the woman selling her body in Vietnam so that her children may eat. I am with the woman selling her body in the streets of American cities to feed the habit she acquired from her boyfriend.
I am with the woman who never sees the light outside her kitchen; I am with the woman who never sees the light outside her factory; I am with the woman who's fingers are stiff from endless typing and whose legs ache from the high heels that she must wear to please her boss; I am with the groupies following the rock bands __ what monstrous liars convinced them that this is their liberation.
I am with the woman bleeding to death on the kitchen table of a quack abortionist; I am with the woman answering endless questions of the inquisitive caseworkers; and I am with the caseworkers, whose dreams of making a new social order have long been smothered in the endless bureaucracy, the endless forms, the racism of their superiors.
I am with the beauty queen painting her face and spraying her hair with poison; I am with the black prostitute straightening her hair and lightening her skin; I am with the young child for whom an apron is the only thing she has been taught to dream of; I am at the hospital where a beaten child is being treated for wounds caused by a mother driven by desperation past sanity, past compassion; I am with the forty-five year old file clerk, raped and strangled in her one room walkup.
I am with all women; I am all women, and our struggle grows.
I am with the Vietnamese guerillas, fighting for the right to control their country; I am with the women in Ireland, living on the streets of Derry with their children because their houses have been burned or they have been evicted.
I am with the contacts in the Latin American cities, arranging supplies for the guerillas, hearing the secret police in every footstep. I am with the welfare mothers in New York and Hartford and Wisconsin who will not be turned away by the indifferent legislators.
I am with the airlIne stewardesses fighting to retain their jobs after they reach thirty and their market value has decreased; I am with the witches hexing Wall Street and the bridal fairs and the beauty contests; I am with women struggling everywhere.
THE TWO WITCHES IN UNISON:
And where there are women too beaten down to fight, I will be there; and we will take strength together. Everywhere; for we will have a new world, a just world, a world without oppression and degradation!
SONGS USED IN EVERYWOMAN
Song of a French Partisan
(this song is sung on one of Leonard Cohen's albums and you can get the melody from that)
As they poured across the border we were cautioned to surrender this I could not do. I took my gun and vanished.
I have changed my name so often I have lost my wife and children But I've many friends Some of them are with me.
An old woman gave us shelter, kept us hidden in a garret Then the soldiers came. She died without a whimper.
There were three of us this morning I'm the only one this evening but I must go on the frontiers are my prison
Oh the wind the wind is blowing, through the graves the wind is blowing freedom soon will come; then we'll come out of the shadows.
Oh Mary Don' t You Weep
Oh Mary don't you weep don't you mourn (three times) 'cause Pharoah's army got drownded, oh Mary don't you weep
If I could I surely would Stand on the rock where Moses stood 'cause Pharoah's army got drownded Oh, Mary don't you weep
One of these times in the middle of the night A woman's army's gonna set things right 'cause Pharoah's army got drownded Oh, Mary don't you weep
Campaign Song (sung to tune of Coming Through the Rye)
Yes, Victoria we've selected for
our chosen head.
With Fred Douglas on our ticket we
will raise the dead.
Sojourner Truth's Song, (sung to tune of O Susannah
I'm on my way to Canada
That cold but friendly land
The dire effects of slavery
I can no longer stand.
Oh righteous father
Do look down on me
I'm on my way to Canada
Where colored folks are free.
The Queen is standing on the shore
Her arms extended wide
To welcome us poor fugitives
On to Freedom's side.
There once was a union maid
Who never was afraid
Of goons and ginks and company finks
And the deputy sheriffs who made the raid
She went to the union hall
When a meeting it was called
And when the company guys came around
She always stood her ground
You can't scare me I'm sticking to the union (three times) 'til the day I die.
(There are more verses you may want to use. They can be found in any book of old union songs or in Peoples' Songbook)
We never could find the words to this song, so it was just hummed.
You can use any African song or chant that you know or can learn.
Hard is the Fortune (old Amer. folksong)
Hard is the fortune of all womankind
She's always controlled; she's always confined.
Controlled by her father until she is wed
Controlled by her husband until she is dead.*
Love and Marriage
Love and Marriage, love and marriage
Go together like a horse and carriage
This I tell you brother
You can't have one without the other
This is an original song written by a woman in Chicago which would be impossible for you to use without the music. In the place of this song, can be sung any anti-war song which can apply to American genocide in Vietnam. You might want to use Saigon Bride which is sung by Joan Baez on one of her albums.
Vive La Quince Brigada
Words and music in the People's Songbook
The hex is an original one written by a woman in Chicago. You can write your own and use any hex which can dramatically deal with women's oppression and you can use any witchy background music.