Jan 1969 Page 1
At National Council Meeting (NC)
Eileen Klehr, Chicago
At the December NC, SDS, a well known male chauvinist organization, passed a proposal dealing directly with the question of Women's Liberation. The original proposal was written by a man, Noel Ignatin. At a woman's caucus, called soon after the NC had begun, the majority of women felt that, while Noel's proposal had many good points, it was still incomplete and needed re-writing. From that point on, women devoted their time to ideological arguments around how the new proposal was to be written.
To understand the basis of the women's arguments, it is important to have some knowledge of the current SDS situation. The action at the NC greatly consisted of debate between two factions engaged in a power struggle. One of these factions is the Progressive Labor Party and friends; the other is known as the National Collective or "Klonskyites".
The main argument centered around what were called "primary" and "secondary" contradiction. The ''primary" contradiction in capitalist society is between the social nature of production and the private ownership of the means of production. (cont. p. 7)
Marlene Dixon, assistant professor at the University of Chicago has not been offered a 3 year appointment to the university faculty, the polite term universities use when firing people. Following standard university policy, reasons for the decision have not been disclosed. Large numbers of students and faculty are speculating that Marlene was fired because she is a woman, a political activist, a Marxist, and a devoted teacher.
Marlene holds a unique joint appointment from the Department of Sociology (DoS) and the Committee on Human Development (HD). Recommendation for reappointment first came from HD but was denied by the DoS, a more powerful department. Although HD pays Marlene's full salary, the word of DoS was final. HD chairman William Henry stated, "I think it was certainly a clear straight forward recommendation. HD regrets very much that this was the outcome. This was not our recommendation. We have always looked upon her teaching with considerable enthusiasm. (cont. p. 2)
The Southern Students' Organizing Committee (P.0, Box 6403, Nashville, Tenn. 37212) has made women's liberation one of the topics covered by their speakers bureau., Lynn Wells of SSOC is tentatively calling a Southern Radical Women's Conference in February,
The Women's Revolutionary Liberation Front in Boston has set up a female cooperative commune. Roxanne Dunbar reports that "we plan to analyze and act upon our analysis of societies which base their assumptions about human behavior on caste differences. We assume that the basic and oldest caste distinction is the subordination of the female to the male. We are going to set up a fully automated community as a model of the new society.
Lost and found at the national conferenceone long, left-handed, black leather glove and a wooden barrett. They can be claimed by writing the VWLM,
The Southern Conference Educational Fund will provide subsistence to Carol Hanisch, formerly of the New York Radical Women's Group, for six months this year to "explore the organizing potentials in the South for Women"s liberation. Her work will include. 1) talking to other movement women informally and in conference; 2) experimenting with a caucus in existing SCEF projects; 3) initiating a women's project--probably with poor white and black women.
Pacifica Radio WBAI in New York has produced a series of five hour-long programs on abortion which were broadcast during December and January, Tapes of the programs can be borrowed by groups for a small deposit. Contact James Clapp, 607 E. 12th St. , NYC 10009-To inquire about broadcasting the series on other stations., contact Kay Lindsey, WBAI, 30 E. 39th St. , NYC 10016.
Karen Genter reports that women in the the Ohio State University SDS have formed a women's liberation group. "Having male chauvinism problems and many female organizational problems, at this point internal education is where we are at." Interested women can reach her at 1305 Neil Ave. , Columbus, Ohio 43201. Other new chapters and contacts are: Charlotte Weeks, 1751 Bryn Mawr, #1, East Cleveland, Ohio 44112 (216-268-5131); Connie Ciulla, 355 Colvin, Buffalo, NY 14216; Sally Pollak, 365 Madisop., Albany, NY 12210; Sidney Sharpe, Box 113, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Cont, P. 7)
DIXON (From P. 1),
The Chicago Maroon, 1/7/69, reported that: ''Marlene Dixon has held her joint appointment for the last 3 years; this was her first teaching position. She received her BA and PhD from the University of California at Los Angeles, She has made no secret of her new left political persuasion. She has been active in women s liberation groups and most recently in the New University Ccnference., "
The pat official comment for such occasions was given by Morris Janowitz., Chairman of the DoS, "Pecple come here for 3 or 4 years not necessarily expecting reappointment. A decision of nonreappointment is not a blow professionally. "
What is not mentioned in the Maroon or in much of the discussion are the kinds of pressures Marlene faced, As the first woman hired by the DoS in 15 years, Marlene was at once a token and lucky and never allowed to forget it. She felt a pressure to publish because she wanted to prove that a woman could make it, But she felt more strongly the need to be responsible to herself and to be a good teacher as well as a competent scholar, She was always available to her students, often sacrificing time she needed for writing and research. She influenced her students not to be mere academicians, but to use their skills to force
change in this country, (Cont. P. 7)
I used to teach art in a private home for unwed mothers, most of them. twenty year old, white middle-class women from small towns who had come to the city to hide and put their babies up for adoption. The fund raising brochure lists one of the main functions of the Home as helping to "conceal an unwanted pregnancy from the community", This is one of the unexamined. unconvincing explanations the house gives for its existance--unconvincing, when you consider fact that the mothers are not accepted into the home until they they four to five months pregnantIn maternity clothes some with legs already swathed in Dr. Scholl's flesh colored stockings for varicose veins and tired muscles, In general everyone in their hometowns already knows that they are pregnant, especially their fathers who have been told that they are studying fashion design in New York city.
The motives of the Methodist chewing gum manufacturer who first endowed the home sixty years ago, and whose trust fund is still called The Fund for Fallen Women w ere probably suspect as hell. He's not, alone. There are hundreds of similar institutions across the country respectable staffed with concerned social
workers, psychiatrists, nurses, dieticians, pediatricians obstreticians and volunteer Republican club women.. All their statements of purpose sound relatively harm less; they assure good prenatal care in a controlled environment, carefully chosen adoptive homes therapy is offered, usually insisted upon, it doesn't sound any more paternalistic and authoritarian than most social welfare institutions, but it is a good example of the particular way institutions oppress women in our society. What must be seer is that the basic reason for the existence of *his institution is punishment of ''fallen women ".
Consider the unnatural situation the uncomplaining woman finds herself in. In,, ing in an alien, isolated. crummy Victorian mansion with twenty other women, each with a belly as full as hers, with back aches varicose veins, stretch marks, piles, and a matching story of failure and loss. People at times of birth, sickness and death are probably their most vulnerable and most in need of their community friends and family for support. These young women go to give birth to a baby without without a friend or relative to hold their hands, and they give up that baby without the support and understanding of the people who love them. They aren't even allowed to grieve properly because it might endanger the morale of the institution as it certainly would, because only a hererogeneous community can absorb grief naturally.
My job at the home was peripheral, I taught arts and crafts a few hours a week, In the beginning. when I didn't it all too clearly I could, deliver a sincere and sensible decision to give up their babies for adoption. My program was to provi,de them with a sublimation of their condition, They conceive an idea, nurture it. and finally produce an object d'art they could appropriately return home with—this wa's to make up for the baby. This justified my job to the director. The problem was that it didn't work. Very little the mothers did was important to them. They really took little interest in keeping what they had made. Lining the shelves of the craftsroom like a tiny motley parade were dozens of their rejects--funny, lumpy clay forms, some woodcuts and a few paintings of the most aggressive, spikey butterflies I've ever seen. The little figures they modeled were very poignant to me. They made nude women of clay with strangely distorted breasts and bellies, perhaps revealing fear and the lack of control the pregnant women felt over their bodies. Cont. p. 5 )
Some male reactions to keep women's consciousness down:
The Laugh: Dismissing the issue without even discussing it. This puts all the burden of proof on you.
Your Fault-It's your personal problem. Not a social, political one. "Something in your life must have screwed you all up so you hate men. See a psychiatrist. This is the technique of trying to isolate you.
Women are 'Different': The separate but-equal argument based upon biological data. "You're not inferior, just different. I love women. " This technique uses physiology, which obviously' cannot be changed, as proof positive of the validity of the status quo. Most oppressed groups in the world have some physiological argument tacked on to them.
Women's rights were won 40 years ago:Recognizes the problem as a past one, but denies that it still exists.
The Male Liberal: "I'm all for it, but what about the children, etc, " The technique works to agree there's a "problem, then tries to steer you back to the traditional role by specific guilt manipulations,
The Super-Feminist: Having accepted the issue superficially or actually, but still needs to one-up you. So he becomes the super feminist, moralizing to you about how you haven't quite made it yet, etc. Helping the little woman with her problem, This maintains the control over the process and also intimidates the woman.
Seducer: Having been unable to argue or intimidate the woman, he tries to re-establish the conventional role by having sex with her, It's a conquest. This area is very subtle, since he may agree with you verbally, may recognize you as a formidable, strong woman, etc, , but that just makes the conquest all the more challenging.
Women Don't Want Freedom:. The oppressor turns on the oppressed, blames her for her own oppression. Since one can always find
Aunt Toms, scared women, etc. , this argument can seem real if one does not distinguish between who is the victim and who is the perpetrator.
I'll Accept Women's Freedom if. .: women will go to Vietnam, pay alimony, etc. This is a very intimidating tactic because it is a threat that if women want to free them -selves the few privileges they have will be taken away from them.
She's Only a Feminist Because She's a Bitch Who Can't Get a Man: And you don't want to be like that, do you? Third person son tactic used to persuade women that the worse thing that could happen to them is to lose their oppressors.
The "Political Programme of Viet Nam Alliance of National, Democratic and Peace Forces" recently received from the NLF office in Czechoslovakia, has a provision in it pledging "to enforce equal rights, political, economic, cultural and social, for men and women. " The United States Declaration of Independence says only that "all men are created equal."
Our best to Lenny Heller for his consistently disgusting reporting for the San Francisco Express Times. (see 10/68 issue of VWLM)
FALLEN WOMEN (From P. 3)
Every three months I received a new group of women. I would talk about the aesthetics of the 20th century--the new imagery of speed, light gleaming chrome, polished, throbbing machinery, the rhythm of expressways and the Jefferson Airplane. They would sit politely, smoothing the cloth over their bellies, and then proceed mindlessly to carve and color their fear totems, their butterflies and their flowers. (Cont. on P. 6)
PLAN NOW TO CELEBRATE- MARCH 8
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY!
FALLEN WOMEN (cont. from p. 5)
In my class there was one girl who showed a great deal of interest. We became fairly close. She was tough, outspoken and very talented. She came fro a working class Italian family and had al ways wanted to be an artist. Since this was her second pregnancy (her first was at 16), she had never finished high school E. told me matter of factly that her family always figured that she would grow up to be a whore. It was apparent that she was not a typical dutiful daughter. She was strong, wilful, intense, sensual, and could never --she was that straight-say what she didn't mean. She was also very smart but she believed the whore image anyway. One thing that E. possessed that seemed rather remarkable to me was a real interest in and an ability to personalize her baby. Since the girls were all going to give up their babies, there was an unspoken kind of agreement about how you were to handle references to the baby. Whereas in a normal pregnancy a pregnant woman would complain about how strongly her baby was kicking or how fat and heavy the thing was getting the unwed mothers spoke only of backache or gaining weight. E. was comfortable in her relationship with her unborn. She wasn't going to keep it but she didn't have to pretend it didn't exist. She told me that she knew that she would think occasionally about the. child throughout her life and this would hurt. She wanted to see her baby when it was born and this need landed her temporarily in the psycho ward of the hospital. They had to place her there when she couldn't control her reaction after the hospital staff told her she would not be allowed to see her baby. Sinai Hospital in Chicago has a policy for the preservation of the emotional tranquility of the unwed mother. They feel it would be too upsetting for her to see the baby she has already signed over for adoption.
This woman was a classic victim of an oppression known generally only to women.
Basically she was disapproved of by her family from the time she was small for the same characteristics they would have applauded in a son. Their whore image of her is so pervasive, especially since it is unanimously back ed by society, that even after being placed in a punitive institution, suffering a subtle torture under the name of benevolent protection, she will continue through life with only a vague feeling that society has screwed her. (ed. note: We would like to print similar articles which point to instances of institutional oppression of women.)
NATIONAL NEWS ( From p.2)
Wouldn't you know it; the newspapers are fighting the law. Rather than submit to the ruling of the Equal Employment Opportunities Com-mission to desegregate their want-ads by December 1, 1968, the American Newspaper Publishers Association and the Washington Star filed suit in federal court, ANPA claims that the EEOC has no authority to make such a regulation, that compliance would hurt job seekers employers and newspapers and that "newspaper and their advertisers are unwilling to depart so radically from a successful system," (Sucessful for whom?) ANPA lost the first round but did get the court to enjoin the EEOC from enforcing the ruling while they appeal the decision. This could take from six months to a year
In the meantime . the only newspaper in the country to desegregate was the stodgy New York Times . This is in part due to the announcement in November by the New York City Dept. for Consumer Affairs that they would enforce the EEOC's ruling by revoking the license of any violator. We suspect it is also due to the fact that local NOW and WLM women have been picketing the Times for weeks.
Shirley Chisholm of Brooklyn took office this month as the first black woman ever elected to the US Congress, A devoted feminist , she said she is going to continue to address herself to the concerns of women. "The rest of the world has to be done by women across the U.S .. particularly the mobilizing of pressure groups, The pressure has to be a relentless pressure; otherwise the men in Congress feel they don't have to pay much attention to women, Women must be dedicated and aggressive because America is a society where if you are not aggressive.. you are left behind."
Revolutionary Age , a quarterly published by Freedom Socialist Publications, has put out a Special issue on "American Women and the Radical Movement." It can be purchased from them for 60 cents at 3117 E. Thomas, Seattle, Washington 98102.
S D S (From P. 1)
Men and women labor collectively, but for the benefit of the few. The "primary" oppression in our society is that of the working class by the ruling class.
This conflict is primary because unless it is resolved, no others can be resolved. Yet there are other forms of oppression in our society, named "secondary contradictions" by the NC . For example, the oppression of blacks by whites, young people by adults, women by men. No one denied that adult paternalism, racism., male chauvinism exist. But the argument between PL and many non-PL types centers around how much the"secondary" contradictions take on a life of their own. PL believes that the liberation of youth and women (Their argument with respect to blacks is less clear) will take place as a natural by-product of a successful working-class revolution, They stress that adults.. whites. men, are not the real enemy; the ruling class is.
Everyone agreed that the ruling class is the ultimate enemy., But many women felt that a socialist revolution did not necessarily liberate women, They argued that men are are in fact opp- (Cont, p . 9)
DIXON (From P. 2)
Even those who disagreed with her felt she was a challenging teacher.
Marlene was isolated from the mainstream, careerist University of Chicago faculty both by the type of work that she did and her attitudes toward her role as a teacher, She did much research but because of its antiestablishment nature, it was not welcomed in the proper professional journals. Besides her regular teaching load and her research, Marlene held special study groups for those interested. attended political meetings, organized a group of graduate women into a women's group, and helped to organize and maintain the women's caucus of the New University Conference. (Cont. p. 8)
NATIONAL NEWS ( From p.7)
If you want to read a book of statistics that will raise your blood pressure, ask the Women's Bureau of the U. S. Dept. of Labor to send you their Handbook on Women Workers. It shows precisely how bad women's situation is. The Women's Bureau, set up in 1920 after the adoption of the 19th Amendment, also puts out a whole slew of other pamphlets on all aspects of women's position. A list of publications and single copies of any of them can be obtained free from regional bureaus in Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco and Dallas,
The most thorough bibliography on women to date has been compiled by Cindy Cisler of the New York groups. It is 11 pages long, partially annotated, and can be purchased from her for 25 cents at 102 W. 80th St. , NYC 10024. She is also distributing a devastating booklet produced by New York NOW on "Token Learning: A Study of Women's Higher Education in America. " Students, 50 cents Others $1, 00.
The Women's Majority Union of Seattle has put out the first issue of Lilith, a magazine which will be published whenever there is sufficient material available. It is named for the woman God made before Eve, and to find out more about that story you'll have to send 50 cents to 2021 E. Lynn, Seattle 98102 for a copy. This issue contains several excellent articles and a groovy back cover, # # #
Amy Kesselman and Kathy Kearney suggest a handshake for our movement: Cross hands (left over right, of course) and lock thumbs as al shaking (official international struggle sign), then break apart and make fist,
A wide group of students and faculty are supporting her with the demand "Rehire Marlene. " These groups consist of SDS, NUC, Women's Radical Action Project (WRAP), Concerned Scientists, and a group of biology students. The grad student associations in sociology, human development, political science and other departments are working to support her
These groups are raising more than questions about elitist and secretive hiring and firing practices. They are challenging the substantive content of their academic disciplines, and are claiming the right to be taught by those who do not hold the establishment point of view. The active concern shown by the usually passive grad students shows that they are finally getting fed up with the sterile, competitive nature of grad school.
WRAP women and others, in WITCH's garb, hexed the head of the DoS, Morris Janowitz, twice on Thursday, 1/16. That evening, the NUC sponsored a symposium on radical sociology at which Marlene spoke.
The DoS has called a mass meeting for Friday, 1/17 to explain its general policies of hiring and firing. Students are demanding that this meeting be run and chaired by students and that they discuss Marlene's case specifically. At the meeting they will also demand that she be rehired.
There are other projected plans including possible sit-ins, more symposiums and more "terrorist" activity, Nothing has been finalized. But Marlene's case has been the first thing to shake the complacent U of C campus in a long time, forcing large numbers of students to deal with a lot of questions in a real way,
Chicago: FRED, the Socialist Press & Information Service (7642 N. Paulina/761-1984) offers the WLM and others in the city inside news and services (weekly calendar, citywide organizational list and more). He just can't keep a secret, Tell him your plans and the whole movement in Chicago will know.
SDS ( From p.7)
oppressors of women because they hold dominant positions over women and because they help to perpetuate that dominance. They argued that "secondary" contradictions are often those most sharply felt by people and that to organize around felt oppression contributes to the general class struggle. In the course of the debate, many non-PL women decided that the term "male supremacy" was better than "male chauvinism"-since the latter term merely indicates a mental attitude. "Male supremacy" indicates that men are actually in a superior position in a society which oppresses women in every facet of their lives.
A new proposal, containing, the above non-PL arguments, was finally written but not un til after a group of PL women had walked out of the caucus. The proposal in its final form was quite good--it was in two parts. The first, an analysis of women's s oppression, deals with male chauvinism and the material basis of women's oppression. The second part was a formal proposal calling for an end to male supremacy in SDS and calling for SDS to organize towards a raise in wages of women university employees, equality of women in educational institutions (high schools, colleges, trade school etc. ) and for the relation of the struggle for women's liberation in schools to the women of the working class, including institutions that oppress working class women: juvenile court, girls' homes, women's prisons, family court, welfare, and labor battles.
This proposal was presented at the NC after women fought to have it moved from the end of the agenda to the beginning. The debate was excellent: most of those who spoke against the proposal were PL women who felt that it had serious political shortcomings. Particularly excellent in their speeches for the proposal were Margie Haile, who spoke about haw the. American dream victimizes women and how we should fight against that, and Barbara Riley, from West Berlin and Columbia SDS, who spoke about the #
creation of new socialist forms. Both women received standing ovations from the audience. It didn't seem, for the most part, that the enthusiastic response to the proposal was patronizing. It was obvious that the women were not saying, "Listen to us or we'll quit SDS and not fuck you anymore". What we did say was "you must listen to us if you advocate a truly socialist revolution. " It was unfortunate that the women's debate had to be held in the context of the PL-anti PL struggle. But I think it is significant that the proposal was debated seriously by the entire body and that it passed. What remains now is to see if the proposal will be implemented on that same level of seriousness. ##
I ve long intended to write a harsh polemic like the one that follows, but never finished it. However; your most recent mailing that asked for my opinions prompted me to give you them.
To begin with, the Thanksgiving Conference. If the conference itself was on as low a level as the summary report,-I'm glad to have missed the former and sorry not to have missed the latter. It sounded like a Brownie outing instead of a nationwide gathering of conscious-militant women A little more than a, year ago, I attended months of meetings of the NY Radical Women, The same damn debate was going on (and on) at every meeting "persuasive. intellectual work and analysis, . . (vs. ) personal experiences-" So far, not only has the intellect not moved into the stomach, but it has fled even the brain,
I do not deny the therapeutic effect of the I confess-I accuse sessions, but anyone who attends even one meeting or reads even one newsletter knows all the themes and variations. Now what? Play workshop, of course.-What could be more relevant? Marx and Engels analyzed the oppression of women in the middle of the last century, so it isn't that much of a revelation. And now our 20th century sisters advance such revolutionary notions as groping and fondling and "rationalizing the pursuit of men,-"
To deal the death blow to barbarous American capitalism we turn to the Alternative Life Styles workshops. Stressing "new life styles within our present situations" rather than "after the revolution" makes this project a natural for Ford Foundation funding, Not surprising that none of these workshops reached any conclusions--not even the most obvious conclusion that these workshops are a waste of time
It seems fairly obvious from all of this that personal experiences lead to nothing but more personal experiences. Instincts, no matter how good, do not give any more than a scant clue to how the world does work or can work. How about a bit of science ? A bit of creativity ?
Idealizing the Vietnamese or Guatemalan woman is a positive insult to every woman who dreams of (and works for) a new kind of world-It is nothing but ignorance to believe that these women are liberated in any real way. Read the program of the National Liberation Front or Sue Munaker's" The Women of Vietnam" in the August Voice of the WLM,, They are permitted to fight because the NLF needs soldiers and will be sent to the factories when the NLF needs workers and sent back home and hearth when the NLF needs babies, All the gains made by Russian women in 1917 were lost by 1930 Like elitist little American and European Maoists, you imply that (romanticized) oppression is good for the Chinese (read Vietnamese, Cuban, etc.) but heavens) not for us'
I entirely agree that "we fight at home in the stomach of the monster, while our Vietnamese and Guatemalan sisters fight its head. " We throw stink bombs at Miss America and heroically destroy our charge accounts. Fortunately for the survival of the Vietnamese people, they have devised better tactics.
The women', s liberation movement could become just that. However, right now it is an irrelevant (albeit pleasant) pastime for the benefit of that infinitesimal portion of the world's population that finds comfort in it. Unless we concern ourselves with the realities faced by the rest of humanity, nobody's oppression will disappear--including that of 200 white, educated, under 30, semi-liberated American women,
Fern Levine New York, 12/30/68
Several women at the Women's Liberation Conference in Chicago over the Thanksgiving holiday expressed an interest in a book called "Mothers and Amazons" written by Helen Diner This s book has been for me a starting point into a completely new understanding of female cultural history I was stimulated by the insights and relevency of the book to the WLM because it pointed in several unexpected directions which furthered my research studies on Women and Myth,
Editor's note: Sorry...we are missing the rest of this letter. Someone cut up this page of our original copy. If anyone would like to send us a xerox of page 11 of this issue, we'll fill in the blank space.
A group of (so far) about ten women has begun meeting in S F --started originally for women around resistance and facing the situation of their husbands/lovers going to jail-But although we have only met twice, we've gone far beyond talking about "what we do for X number of years while cur men are in. jail, " Women are desperate to talk and to work things out, or at least to try to begin working things out and both times we have talked for like six hours And good discussions both in terms of what was said and also how we say things-Good things, and honest, and not playing games of who can say the most radical thing or who can talk the most We worry about having everyone speak and not having a few people monopolize the time, but so far that hasn't seemed to be a real problem, both because we're trying to be considerate, and because everyone has so much to say. Will keep you posted.
Pat Hansen, San Francisco
Editor's note: Sorry...we are missing the rest of this page. Someone cut up this page of our original copy. If anyone would like to send us a xerox of page 11 of this issue, we'll fill in the blank space.
Up From Ridicule: A Position Paper
On Radical Women/ Marlene Dixon
Towards a Radical Women's Movement/
Women in the Radical Movement: A Reply to Ramparts/ Evelyn Goldfield, Heather Booth, Sue Munaker
The Look is You: Towards a Strategy
for Radical Women/Naomi Jaffe and Bernadine Dohrn
A Call for Women"s Liberation/
Women: An Essential Force for Change/
The Sexual Caste System: On Passing
Two whores and a nun/Heather Dean
Sisters, Brothers, Lovers...Listen/Judi
Bernstein Peggy Morton, Linda
Seese. Myrna Wood
An Introduction to the Boston Regional Meeting/
Excerpts from an Interview with
Pam Allen and Julius Lester
Some Proposals for Radical women/
Sue Cloke (free)
Towards a Female Liberation Movement/'
Beverly Jones and Judith Brown (50 cents)
Kinder, Kuche, Kirche,as scientific law:
Psychology constructs the female/
Naomi Weisstein-,.(35 cents)
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