Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Guest Post by Anna: A Feminist Literary Canon, Part Five: 1966-1969

(Echidne's note:  Part Four is here.  It links to earlier parts.)

Gloria Steinem (born 1934) is an feminist, journalist, and political activist, and is widely known as a spokesperson for feminism.  In 1969 she published the article, "After Black Power, Women's Liberation" which, along with her early support of abortion rights, brought her to national fame as a feminist leader. This article describes early feminist actions (such as demonstrations in favor of coed dorms and against bridal fairs) and how sexism in left wing movements led to second-wave feminism ass a separate and distinct movement, and sparked women thinking of themselves as a minority group, just as African-Americans are. The article concludes, however, with the assurance that "women's liberation will be men's liberation too", perhaps an acknowledgement that if feminism could not be made appealing to the men in charge it would not advance.

"After Black Power, Women's Liberation" can be read in its entirety here.

Naomi Weisstein (born 1939) is a psychology professor, and a cofounder of American Women in Psychology,  now Division 35 of the American Psychological Association.

She is probably best known for her pioneering essay, "Kinder, Küche, Kirche as Scientific Law: Psychology Constructs the Female," which was first published in 1968, and was read by activists throughout the feminist movement, as well as psychologists.
The title is taken from the German slogan Kinder, Küche, Kürche (meaning children, kitchen, church), describing what the Nazis believed was the proper domain of a woman. The paper, which has been reprinted over 42 times in six different languages, is a seminal paper in feminist psychology, criticizing psychologists for promoting stereotypes about women, and buttressing its conclusions with unproven theories and inapplicable biological research (shades of evolutionary psychology.) " It further criticizes psychology in general for not taking into account how much social context affects a person's feelings and actions.

 "Kinder, Küche, Kirche as Scientific Law: Psychology Constructs the Female" can be read in its entirety here.

Frances M. Beal (born 1940) is a political activist. She is perhaps best known for writing  "Double Jeopardy: To Be Black & Female," first published in 1969. This paper criticizes the oppression of all black people by racism, but also criticizes the oppression of black women by sexism, even within the the civil rights movement, which often tried to build black men up by putting women down.

Beal declared that this was a "counter-revolutionary position" and that blacks should be fighting for the end of all kinds of oppression, an endeavor which she notes will require everyone's help, women as well as men. She also blames capitalist exploitation for keeping black men in menial jobs and encouraging black women to strive for the life of a full-time housewife. She ends by declaring that revolutionaries against racism and capitalism must treat each other as equals, and that all are needed in the struggle.

 "Double Jeopardy: To Be Black & Female" can be read in its entirety here.

The National Organization for Women (founded 1966) adopted the "National Organization for Women (N.O.W.) Bill of Rights" at its national conference in 1967, and published it in 1968.

It is a sweeping document that shows how ambitious the feminist movement had become, and advocates for many things (such as removing all laws limiting access to contraceptive information and devices and laws governing abortion, and establishing national child care facilities) that still have not become law. An extended analysis of the "National Organization for Women (N.O.W.) Bill of Rights", also written by me, can be read here.

The "National Organization for Women (N.O.W.) Bill of Rights" can be read in its entirety here.