erik lundegaard

Trashing, 1970s-Style

The following is from Jill Lepore's much-recommended “The Secret History of Wonder Woman,” after the author details the successes of the women's movement in 1972, including:

  • the first issue of Ms. magazine
  • Shirley Chisholm running for president
  • the ERA passing the Senate
  • Title IX signed into law

The Secret History of Wonder WomanTwo steps forward, meet the step back:

“Who'd be against equal rights for women?” Bella Abzug asked in 1972. A lot of people. In the late 1970s and 1980s, the women's movement stalled. Wages never reached parity; social and economic gains were rolled back; political and legal victories seemingly within sight were never achieved.

Then, too, feminists were divided, radicals attacking liberals and liberals attacking radicals in a phenomenon so widespread it even had a name: “trashing.”

As early as 1970, the founder of the New Feminist Theater warned, in a letter of resignation from the Congress to Unite Women, that feminist “rage, masquerading as a pseudo-egalitarian radicalism,” was becoming “frighteningly vicious anti-intellectual fascism.”

The divided feminists? Radicals attacking liberals? Anyone else flash on the Democrats in 2016? You could say the same about rage turning into “anti-intellectual fascism.”

Lepore adds this about one radical group's attack on liberal feminism:

In May 1975 ...the Redstockings held a press conference to announce the release of a sixteen-page report. It purported to prove (1) that Gloria Steinem was a CIA agent; (2) that Ms. was both a capitalist manifesto and part of a CIA strategy to destroy the women's movement; and (3) that Wonder Woman was a symbol of the ruination of feminism. The report, printed as a broadside, was illustrated by a drawing of Wonder Woman with Steinem's head.

Everything old is new again.

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Posted at 06:10 PM on Wed. Feb 21, 2018 in category Books  


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