Controversy and Coalition: The New Feminist Movement across Three Decades of Change

By Myra Marx Ferree; Beth B. Hess | Go to book overview

Chapter 5

Feminist Organizations in Transition, 1973-1982

As the New Feminist Movement grew, its organizational life expanded and became more diverse. By 1973, the New Women’s Survival Catalog listed hundreds of groups around the country. The next edition, in 1975, already called itself a “sourcebook” rather than a catalog, since it was no longer possible to list all the rape crisis centers, health clinics, art galleries, theatre groups, credit unions, child-care facilities, research libraries, bookstores, restaurants, self-defense studios, lobbying organizations, task forces, therapy collectives, retreat houses, record companies, women’s studies programs, career counseling enterprises, and other business and services through which the movement established a local and national presence.

Not all of them survived the decade, and even those that did underwent substantial changes. In the first part of this chapter we look at the diversity of feminist organizations that emerged in the 1970s and at the conflicts and challenges they faced in the following decade. While the abundance and variety of feminist groups continues to defy efforts at cataloging, it is possible to identify three broad organizational strategies for challenging male domination: direct action/self-help groups, educational/political associations, and cultural/entrepreneurial organizations. Each of these forms has drawn on both the bureaucratic and the collectivist strands of feminism in shaping its internal structure and external policies, but each has blended them in different proportions and patterns. Because of this interweaving, by the end of

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