Tue Jun 12, 2012, 11:35 AM
seabeyond (89,571 posts)
REDSTOCKINGS MANIFESTO-July 7, 1969 [View all]
II Women are an oppressed class. Our oppression is total, affecting every facet of our lives. We are exploited as sex objects, breeders, domestic servants, and cheap labor. We are considered inferior beings, whose only purpose is to enhance men's lives. Our humanity is denied. Our prescribed behavior is enforced by the threat of physical violence. Because we have lived so intimately with our oppressors, in isolation from each other, we have been kept from seeing our personal suffering as a political condition. This creates the illusion that a woman's relationship with her man is a matter of interplay between two unique personalities, and can be worked out individually. In reality, every such relationship is a class relationship, and the conflicts between individual men and women are political conflicts that can only be solved collectively.
III We identify the agents of our oppression as men. Male supremacy is the oldest, most basic form of domination. All other forms of exploitation and oppression (racism, capitalism, imperialism, etc.) are extensions of male supremacy: men dominate women, a few men dominate the rest. All power structures throughout history have been male-dominated and male-oriented. Men have controlled all political, economic and cultural institutions and backed up this control with physical force. They have used their power to keep women in an inferior position. All men receive economic, sexual, and psychological benefits from male supremacy. All men have oppressed women.
IV Attempts have been made to shift the burden of responsibility from men to institutions or to women themselves. We condemn these arguments as evasions. Institutions alone do not oppress; they are merely tools of the oppressor. To blame institutions implies that men and women are equally victimized, obscures the fact that men benefit from the subordination of women, and gives men the excuse that they are forced to be oppressors. On the contrary, any man is free to renounce his superior position, provided that he is willing to be treated like a woman by other men.
V We regard our personal experience, and our feelings about that experience, as the basis for an analysis of our common situation. We cannot rely on existing ideologies as they are all products of male supremacist culture. We question every generalization and accept none that are not confirmed by our experience. Our chief task at present is to develop female class consciousness through sharing experience and publicly exposing the sexist foundation of all our institutions. Consciousness-raising is not "therapy," which implies the existence of individual solutions and falsely assumes that the male-female relationship is purely personal, but the only method by which we can ensure that our program for liberation is based on the concrete realities of our lives. The first requirement for raising class consciousness is honesty, in private and in public, with ourselves and other women.
July 7, 1969
more at link.
For example, in 1969 Redstockings held the first speakout on abortion. Women testified about their then-illegal abortions. Redstockings handed out a flyer that said women were the experts on their experience. Young women defied both custom and law to speak out publicly about their illegal abortions. One young woman, unable to get an abortion, spoke out about enduring the pain, danger and stigma of childbirth and then giving the child up for adoption. By speaking out, these women dramatized and launched women's liberation organizing tactics and ideas. I learned that these strategies were instrumental in bringing about the Roe v. Wade decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973.
Instead, the women's liberation movement argued that all women must have the right to abortion for any reason. Following the strategy pioneered by Lucinda Cisler, active in NOW and New York Radical Women, activists opposed reform of the abortion law and argued for repeal of all laws. They knew from their experiences doing consciousness-raising that the kinds of reforms being brought to the table wouldn't help them or most women. Most women needed abortions because they didn't want to be forced to have a kid when they didn't want to -- it wasn't only women in extreme cases. In 1970, New York State passed the most liberal abortion law in the country, legalizing abortion through the second trimester in most cases.
Before I began working on the Redstockings archives, I thought we had abortion today simply because of these Supreme Court justices who determined in Roe v. Wade that a woman should have this right. I had no idea that there was a movement pushing for repeal of all abortion laws; that women in New York were breaking up state assembly hearings of so-called experts on abortion reform, saying that reforms weren't good enough and wouldn't serve all women. Until I read it in the Redstockings publication, Feminist Revolution, I didn't realize how the combination of protests, speak-outs and legal action forced politicians into a corner. And when the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v Wade, it used the New York State law as its model.
I learned that a movement must go for what it really wants – in fact, that was the title of an article in Feminist Revolution. Because Redstockings and other feminists were pushing for repeal of all abortion laws, they were going for what they really wanted -- the best case. They weren't wheeling and dealing, compromising and strategizing about reforms that weren't good for all women. This set a standard. Later, after a newly liberalized law was passed in New York State, a proposal was made to add restrictions. Governor Nelson Rockefeller opposed rolling back the liberal abortion law and adding restrictions, warning conservatives that it would further mobilize the forces for repeal and result in no law at all. We didn't get repeal, but we did get something better than if the movement had sat politely and pushed for less.
A movement of women pushing and fighting for this change that I benefit from is far more exciting and powerful to me than Supreme Court justices laying down the law. This history makes me want to get involved. And it makes me understand better the power of the union of women to advance our rights and win full liberation.
I am here presenting the full text of a classic early feminist document called The Redstockings Manifesto.
This document, in its own way, is every bit as important and interesting as the more notorious SCUM Manifesto. Certainly, it ought to be equally well-known, for it is richly revealing of feminism in its entirety. Moreover, the SCUM Manifesto is commonly disowned nowadays by feminists, as being a non-feminist work. That assertion is disputable, but let it rest. My point here is that nobody can plausibly assert the same of the Redstockings Manifesto, for it is manifestly feminist through and through.
The Redstockings Manifesto is useful to the historically-minded MRA because it is a virtual smoking gun indicator of what early women's liberationists had in mind for the future of their movement, and the future of us all. It is similar to the SCUM Manifesto in that it sketches and foreshadows many things, but unlike that better known work the Redstockings Manifesto is written in a serious, down-to-earth style that cannot be explained away as artistic exaggeration, metaphor, fantasy, rhapsody, poetic license, or the like.
In this work we find many seeds that sprouted and grew luxuriantly in the years following its 1969 publication - for example, the idea that "the personal is the political", or the idea that "a woman's feelings" are specially sanctified and privileged, or the overarching assumption that "men are the problem". It's all in there! Well, quite a bit of it is, at any rate.
note: i was very young at this time, and much of the stuff that happened in the 60's and 70's are not on my radar. but, i have been thinking. on du i have learned that Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon are throw away feminist because there are our feminist men that have spoken loud and clear they are bat shit crazy. i listened to Catharine MacKinnon and read her stuff. i threw her away (how arrogant of me and appeasing the misogyny) when she has accomplished so very much and totally successful in life helping women and her own personal accomplishments. http://www.democraticunderground.com/12552704 . a thread on her. Dworkin is going to be the next feminist i educate myself on, even though she is used to vilify feminism. who am i to allow this when i don't even know the truth of her? who am i to buy into the crap that we are fed about her from people with an agenda?
the uproar to read SCUM here on du. the vast majority of us knew nothing about the document. all that was asked was to read the history of feminism and give views. the demand we not be allowed something so simple.
this document. another one in the same category. i could not find a lot of information or the significance of it. anyone of the time, that is familiar with this manifesto, i would appreciate your knowledge so we can discuss.
this is History of Feminism. this is part of the history. and anyone can damn well forget me being shamed, intimidated, defined because i choose to learn and discuss the history of feminism.
i have thought about it for a week or more. i have thought about it before the scum document when a handful of duers were going around the board calling three of us "dworkinnites" as an insult. the control and manipulation to shut women up with insults, by using feminist women. the whole thing bothers me.
what other feminists and documents do our feminist men demand we throw away. steinman? boreman? (i don't know who she is, but she supported dworkin).
"If ye love...the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."
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REDSTOCKINGS MANIFESTO-July 7, 1969 [View all]