This post includes information about a conference scheduled for next spring at Boston University: A Revolutionary Moment: Women’s Liberation in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Call for Papers is due July 1st – just two days away!
I remember how Mary Daly used to ask me where the feminists were – what were they up to today? I would try to update her on the things I was aware of here in Boston, events at the Women’s Center in Cambridge, conferences by Women, Action, and the Media, the latest publication of Rain and Thunder: A Radical Feminist Journal of Activism and Discussion, and the myriad of things happening within feminist theology with which I was most familiar. Nonetheless, Mary was never satisfied with my responses, “Where is the revolution?” she would ask. At the time, I didn’t quite understand her disappointment. I could tell she wanted me to update her on something big – she wanted to hear of sweeping changes, lots of them. I often thought that the changes were already there, that big things had taken place and were incorporated into the daily life of society. I was always vexed that I couldn’t give her the answer she was looking for – but also, I didn’t know exactly what she was looking for. Then one day she asked me to find her a book that was on one of her shelves – she didn’t know which shelf – so I went searching, and in that search I discovered a world that gave me a glimpse of the revolution Mary wanted and I understood a little bit more why Mary was dissatisfied with feminism today.
On the shelves I found journals galore – magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, and all kinds of publications that evidenced a mass grassroots movement. Political, spiritual, literary, artistic, academic – you name it and there was a publication about it from the standpoint of women’s liberation. The titles speak for themselves and tell part of the story of Mary’s experience of feminism. Few of these titles are still in publication today, but below is the list, representing only the titles that were on Mary’s shelves. Read them out loud and remember them…
- MAENAD: a women’s literary journal
- A Journal of Female Liberation
- SIGNS: Journal of Women in Culture and Society
- QUEST: a feminist quarterly
- SINISTER WISDOM: A Journal of Words and Pictures for the Lesbian Imagination in All Women
- Common Lives/Lesbian Lives: a lesbian quarterly
- AMAZON QUARTERLY
- Conditions: a magazine of writing by women with an emphasis on writing by lesbians
- The Lesbian Insighter Insider Inciter
- SOJOURNER: The New England Women’s Journal of News, Opinions, and the Arts
- off our backs: a women’s news journal
- FEMINIST REVOLUTION, published by Redstockings
- FRONTIERS: a journal of women studies
- Chrysalis: a magazine of women’s culture
- HERESIES: A Feminist Publication on Art and Politics
- the second wave: a magazine of the new feminism
- Country Women Magazine
- Woman of Power: a magazine of feminism, spirituality, and politics
- Women’s Liberation: Major Writings of the Radical Feminists
The Women’s Liberation Movement was clearly a revolutionary time. As recently described in the New York Times’ article following Shulamith Firestone’s death: “the radical edge of the movement profoundly changed American society…”
At the time, women held almost no major elected positions, nearly every prestigious profession was a male preserve, homemaking was women’s highest calling, abortion was virtually illegal, and rape was a stigma to be borne in silence.
The women’s movement exploded with grassroots organizing and action that resulted in very material differences for all, especially for the women, and the few men, who were directly involved. This is the answer Mary had been wanting from me – to hear that women, and ‘men if there are any’ (as she said on occasion), were actively effecting material change for human liberation; change that sparked new life and new creations in people’s lives, in culture, and in society.
Mary was not the only one remembering the revolution though. Deborah Belle, Director of Boston University’s Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program, is organizing a conference scheduled for next spring: A Revolutionary Moment: Women’s Liberation in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The conference is set for March 28-29, 2014 at Boston University and the deadline for the Call for Papers is just two days away! Please find it here and consider submitting a proposal. Individual 15-minute presentations, complete panels, and also alternative presentations by activists, artists, and non-academics, including art installations, performances, workshops, film screenings, and more are all welcome.
I’m a believer in the revolution. At first I didn’t ‘get it’ the way Mary Daly wanted me to, and in many ways I never will, but I have definitely gotten a glimpse, and I have been more than inspired. Remembering, reflecting, and building on the work that has already been done is a necessary endeavor, and one to which I am committed. I invite you all to be courageous and jump in!
Xochitl Alvizo is a feminist Christian-identified woman and a Ph.D. candidate in Practical Theology at Boston University School of Theology. She loves all things feminist. Finding herself on the boundary of different social and cultural contexts, she works to develop her voice and to hear and encourage the voice of others. Her work is inspired by the conviction that all people are inextricably connected and what we do, down to the smallest thing, matters.