Women's liberation movement

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The women's liberation movement was a loose agreement of women and feminist thinking that emerged in the United States and other developed countries during the late 1960s and persisted throughout the 1970s.[1]

In June, 1967 Jo Freeman attended a "free school" course on women at the University of Chicago led by Heather Booth[2] and Naomi Weisstein. Freeman invited them to organize a woman’s workshop at the National Conference of New Politics (NCNP), to be held in Chicago over Labor Day weekend in 1967. At the conference a woman's caucus was formed, and it (led by Freeman and Shulamith Firestone) presented its own demands to the plenary session.[3] In response to their demands, the women were told their resolution was not important enough for a floor discussion. While threatening to tie up the convention with procedural motions they succeeded in having their statement tacked on to the end of the agenda. Through that effort their demands were never discussed.[4] Towards the end of the conference, National Conference for New Politics Director William F. Pepper refused to recognize any of the women waiting to speak and instead called on someone to speak about the American Indians. Five women, including Firestone, rushed the podium to demand to know why.[4] William F. Pepper then patted Firestone on the head and said, "Move on little girl; we have more important issues to talk about here than women's liberation", or possibly, "Cool down, little girl. We have more important things to talk about than women's problems."[3][4] A meeting was called together by Freeman and Firestone for all of the women who had been at the "free school" course and the women’s workshop during the conference. This meeting spawned the first Chicago women’s liberation group. This group was known as the Westside group because it met weekly in Freeman’s apartment on Chicago’s west side. After a few months of meeting, Freeman started the newsletter called Voice of the women’s liberation movement. This newsletter circulated across the country (and in a few foreign countries), and gave the women's liberation movement its name. Many of the women in the Westside group went on to start other feminist organizations, including the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. Within the year, women's liberation groups sprang up all over America.[5]

In 1968, the first American national gathering of women's liberation activists was held in Lake Villa, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois.[6] That same year, at the University of Washington, a Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) organizer reflected on a meeting about white college men working with poor white men, and "noted that sometimes after analyzing societal ills, the men shared leisure time by 'balling a chick together.' He pointed out that such activities did much to enhance the political consciousness of poor white youth. A woman in the audience asked, 'And what did it do for the consciousness of the chick?'"[7][4] After the meeting, a handful of women formed Seattle's first women's liberation group.[4] Also in 1968, 100 women protested the Miss America Beauty Pageant because it promoted "physical attractiveness and charm as the primary measures of a woman’s worth," especially the swimsuit portion of the contest (Echols, Alice "Nothing Distant About It", 1994, pg 149). Also in 1968, Notes from the First Year, a women's liberation theoretical journal, was published by New York Radical Women.[8]

The first Women's Liberation Conference took place in Britain, during 1970, at Ruskin College.[9] Also in 1970, Australian feminist Germaine Greer published her book, The Female Eunuch.[10] Also in 1970, Sisterhood Is Powerful, An Anthology of Writings from the Women's Liberation Movement edited by the American feminist Robin Morgan, was published.[11]

In 1970, in Ireland, the Irish Women's Liberation Movement published a manifesto for women and conducted protests and activism such as the Contraceptive Train.[12] The first women's liberation march in London occurred in 1971.[13]

The ideology of radical feminism in the United States developed as a component of the women's liberation movement. Within groups such as New York Radical Women (1967–1969), (no relation to Radical Women, a present-day socialist feminist organization), which Ellen Willis characterized as "the first women's liberation group in New York City",[14] a radical feminist ideology began to emerge that declared that "the personal is political"[14] and "sisterhood is powerful",[14] formulations that arose from these consciousness-raising sessions.

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  1. ^ Weinstein, Jon (2013-03-18). "Women's History Month: Leading Author In Women's Liberation Movement Continues Fight For Equality". NY1. Retrieved 2014-07-22. 
  2. ^ "Heather Booth". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 2014-07-22. 
  3. ^ a b Hall, Simon (2011). American Patriotism, American Protest: Social Movements Since the Sixties. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-8122-0365-3. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Freeman, Jo (1999). "On the Origins of Social Movements". Waves of Protest: Social Movements Since the Sixties. Rowman and Littlefield. pp. 7–24. 
  5. ^ "The Women's Liberation Movement". Jofreeman.com. Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  6. ^ Kesselman, Amy (1973-01-01). "Our Gang of Four". Uic.edu. Retrieved 2012-10-31. 
  7. ^ (Hole, Judith, and Ellen Levine, Rebirth of Feminism, 1971, pg. 120)
  8. ^ "Notes from the First Year - Documents from the Women's Liberation Movement". Library.duke.edu. Retrieved 2014-05-12. 
  9. ^ Cochrane, Kira (February 25, 2010). "Forty years of women's liberation". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-07-22. 
  10. ^ Wilde, W H; Hooton, Joy and Andrews, Barry (1994) [1985]. The Oxford companion to Australian Literature (2nd ed.). Melbourne: Oxford University Press. p. 271. ISBN 0-19-553381-X. "... the book became almost a sacred text for the international women's liberation movement of the 1970s, notwithstanding sporadic criticism of aspects of its ideology from some feminists."
  11. ^ "Sisterhood Is Powerful - The Influential Feminist Anthology Sisterhood Is Powerful". Womenshistory.about.com. Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  12. ^ Franks, Jill (2013). British and Irish Women Writers and the Women's Movement: Six Literary Voices of Their Time. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 46. ISBN 9780786474080. 
  13. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - Woman's Hour - Women's History Timeline: 1960–1969". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-10-31. 
  14. ^ a b c Willis, "Radical Feminism and Feminist Radicalism", p. 118.

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