Why I gave up feminist activism
Sorting through some old boxes in the basement, I ran across a manila envelope stuffed with 40-year-old women’s-lib literature. It was right under the Earth Shoes. Forty years ago, I was a Mother Earth–type hippie and an enthusiastic “women’s libber” (then the term of choice). In the envelope I found an assortment of leaflets protesting the nuclear family (inherently oppressive) and warning against “female hygiene deodorant,” “the myth of the vaginal orgasm,” and other threats to womankind. There were some huffy letters I’d written to the campus newspaper, and mimeographed flyers for the campus women’s group. The pride of the collection was a 1971 copy of the classic feminist guide to health and sexuality, Our Bodies, Ourselves. This was the pre-mainstream edition, published by the New England Free Press, stapled together and priced at 40 cents.
Most revealing, though, was an old issue of Off Our Backs, the underground newspaper of the radical feminists of Washington, D.C. I was briefly a volunteer on the staff and helped lay out this issue. I saved it because it carried my review of a movie titled “La Salamandre,” which I hadn’t thought about since.