On Women's Liberation *
The first national gathering of militant women's groups since Seneca Falls met during Thanksgiving 1968 at a YMCA summer camp outside Chicago. The conference began in an atmosphere of organizational chaos. The clash of political interests, groups vying for ideological influence, proselytizing for one or the other's vision of truth and the overriding suspicion of "heavies" and "elitists" marked it as a Movement gathering. The ideology of sisterly unity was often invoked vertically but one saw little of it in practice. As the conference continued, however, the surface resemblance to a typical conference began to show itself illusory.
What marked the significant conference workshops was not the rhetoric, but the intensity of the participants, the electric current of anger and outrage that coursed beneath the surface of the driest discussions of "women and capitalism" or "marriage and new life-styles." As the conference progressed, old rhetoric gave way to originality in language and politics. The charismatic quality of the WITCH group with its wild and inspired poetic imagery of Kings and Fairies, Witches and Powers invoked a litany of oppression and rebellion. There was also the impassioned messianic prophecy of the New York women committed to "consciousness raising," a form of organizing that calls upon women to recognize at the deepest emotional level their own contained resentment flowing from frustrated aspirations, their loneliness as the givers of understanding who are themselves not understood. Many of the con-____________________