“A classic example of liberal mother-daughter conflict”
… The movement’s various factions had little in common. The reformers did not want to overthrow the existing system — they wanted to throw open the gates so that women could become part of it. And they had little interest in changing the rules for private relationships between men and women… They envisioned themselves — and their daughters — marrying and having children while also sitting in corporate boardrooms or running for Congress. The leaders of the radical wing of the women’s movement wanted to go much further than simply leveling the playing field when it came to things like job opportunities. They were going to examine everything about American womanhood — in fact, about womanhood back to the time of the pharaohs.. And they were going to free women to be all they could be, even if that meant getting rid of capitalism or the nuclear family or the Judeo-Christian tradition, or anything else that got in the way.
Anybody else here remember Rita Mae Brown’s In Her Day fondly? When it first came out (from a small-press womyn’s publisher, of course), I found it both hilarious and true to life. My college dorm mates who were still part of the aspiring lesbian-separatist-marxist collective that had rejected me for insufficient seriousness were scandalized that the celebrated author of Rubyfruit Jungle should lower herself to washing The Movement’s dirty linen in public. Multiple meetings were held, to discuss whether Brown had sold out for the corporatist dollar, or if she had merely been driven temporarily insane by some cruel setback in her personal life; and if so, could the collective still support Rubyfruit as an acceptable softcore entertainment, or must it be discarded with extreme prejudice to demonstrate a commitment to revolutionary seriousness?
Boy, were we young and innocent, in those days.
The Atlantic City demonstration was, in retrospect, a huge success — after all, we’re still talking about it now as the moment when the women’s movement made its debut on the national stage. But when it was over, some of the protestors expressed regret about the tone of the event and said they should have been expressing solidarity with the sisters who were being paraded around in their bathing suits, not making fun of them. (Morgan herself called the sheep “not my finest hour”.) And everyone quickly grew to despise the term “bra burning”. The demonstration captured traits that would come to define the movement. It was didactic and playful, smart and sometimes sophomoric. The women who participated succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, then disagreed about whether or not the message was appropriate…