Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook

By Jennifer Scanlon | Go to book overview

KATE MILLETT
(1934- )

Nancy McCampbell Grace

Considered by many to be one of the most important founding members of the contemporary feminist movement, Kate Millett has had a profound impact on the development of feminism internationally and in the United States. Her career as a teacher and literary scholar, beginning with the publication of Sexual Politics in 1970, paved the way for an enormous proliferation of feminist scholarship in the United States and advanced the restructuring of the academy itself. Since then, as political activist, artist, and writer, Millett has continued to play a major role in advocating for victims' rights, the end of political terrorism, and the advancement of all women.

Katherine Murray Millet was born into an Irish-Catholic family in St. Paul, Minnesota, on September 14, 1934. She and her two sisters, Mallory and Sally, attended parochial schools. Their father, James Albert Millett, was an engineer who deserted his wife, Helen Feely Millett, in 1945. To support her family, Helen Millett began to search for employment, but despite the fact that she had a college degree and had been a teacher before her marriage, she had difficulty finding work and finally had to take a job selling insurance. But even this did not ease the family's burden, since unlike her male coworkers, Helen Millett was not paid weekly wages but had to work on a commission basis. Her perseverance paid off, however, and she was able to send her seventeen-year-old daughter Kate to the University of Minnesota, where Kate graduated magna cum laude and was elected into Phi Beta Kappa in 1956. Following Kate's commencement, Dorothy Millett Hill, the wealthy sister of Kate's father (and affectionately called A. D. for "Anno Domina" by the three Millett sisters), offered to fund Millett's graduate education at Oxford--but only if Millett agreed to sever her relationship with a woman whom her aunt considered a bad influence. Millett was in awe of her aunt, who was a leading figure in St. Paul and knew F. Scott Fitzgerald, but this reverence did not stop Millett from lying to A. D. As she wrote years later, "Being twenty-one and good at school I thought I was entitled both to a lover

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Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Editorial Board ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Bella Abzug (1920-1998) 1
  • Paula Gunn Allen (1939-) 8
  • Gloria AnzaldÚa (1942-) 14
  • Frances Beale (1940-) 22
  • Rita Mae Brown (1944-) 28
  • Charlotte Bunch (1944-) 36
  • Pat Califia (1954-) 44
  • Judy Chicago (1939-) 51
  • Shirley Chisholm (1924-) 55
  • Esther Ngan-Ling Chow (1943-) 60
  • Pearl Cleage (1948-) 66
  • Kate Clinton (1945- ) 73
  • Mary Daly (1928- ) 79
  • Angela Davis (1944-) 86
  • Shulamith Firestone (1945-) 98
  • Jo Freeman (1945-) 104
  • Betty Friedan (1921-) 111
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-) 118
  • Bell Hooks (1952- ) 125
  • Dolores Huerta (1930-) 133
  • June Jordan (1936-) 138
  • Evelyn Fox Keller (1936-) 145
  • Florynce Kennedy (1916-) 150
  • Audre Lorde (1934-1992) 156
  • Catharine Mackinnon (1946-) 163
  • Olga Madar (1915-1996) 174
  • Wilma Mankiller (1945-) 181
  • Del Martin (1921-) 188
  • Kate Millett (1934- ) 194
  • CherrÍe Moraga (1952- ) 201
  • Robin Morgan (1941-) 206
  • Pauli Murray (1910-1985) 213
  • Eleanor Holmes Norton (1937-) 218
  • Alice Paul (1885-1977) 223
  • Anna Quindlen (1952-) 231
  • Adrienne Rich (1929-) 238
  • Faith Ringgold (1930-) 245
  • Rosemary Ruether (1936-) 251
  • Joanna Russ (1937-) 257
  • Patricia Schroeder (1940-) 264
  • Eleanor Smeal (1939-) 271
  • Barbara Smith (1946-) 279
  • Gloria Steinem (1934-) 283
  • Margo St. James (1937-) 290
  • Alice Walker (1944- ) 297
  • Rebecca Walker (1969-) 305
  • Michele Wallace (1952-) 311
  • Sarah Weddington (1945-) 317
  • Ellen Willis (1941-) 327
  • Selected Bibliography 335
  • Index 341
  • About the Editor and Contributors 355
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