Dear Sisters: Dispatches from the Women's Liberation Movement

By Linda Gordon; Rosalyn Baxandall | Go to book overview

Another major victory of the women's movement was defining a new crime: sexual harassment. The range of behaviors included in this category--from whistles to "compliments" on women's figures, to indecent exposure and grabbing women, to offering favors in return for sex--would previously have been considered harmless "boys-will-be-boys" play, flirtation, or even flattery. Women had been pressed into accepting these definitions and pretending they didn't mind or didn't notice. In fact, these supposedly harmless acts of male aggression make women alienated from or even hostile to their own bodies, fearful of exploring the world on their own and, ironically, dependent on male protection against men. In entitling this selection "Little Rapes," the authors invoke a continuum between objectification of women's bodies and violent assaults.

There is probably no woman in American who has not experienced street harassment--wolf whistles, obscene remarks, quick grabs of breast or butt. But this endeavor is difficult to control by law without making our streets unfree. So in 1970 women's liberation in several locales conducted "Ogle-Ins," turning the tables on the guys by directing whistles, animal noises, and evaluations of sexual organs against obnoxious men, even grabbing crotches. As Susan Brownmiller recounts in her recent memoir, In Our Time, Los Angeles feminists were stimulated by an official Chamber of Commerce "Girl-Watching Week." Activist carried tape measures, shouted "too small" and "Hey, fella, can you type, file, and make coffe?" The campaign turned to legal remedies against workplace harassament, but only after extensive educational work. In Ithaca, New York, women's liberation conducted what was probably the first speak-out on sexual harassment in 1975. At this extraordinary public even women who had never dared complain before-- waitresses, administrators, clerks, factory workers, an assistant professor, a filmmaker--told of threats, exposure, and propositions to barter sex for jobs. Eleanor Holmes Norton, then New York City's commissioner on human rights, included testimony on sexual harassment in public hearings she was conducting on sex discrimination in employment, and it was because of her doing so that the national press first reported on the issue (see chapter 9).

Criminalizing sexual harassment has not been an uncomplicated or a perfect process. By the beginning of the 1990s consciousness had been raised to the extent that 21 percent of women said that had been harassed at work. But some encounters rest on the boundary between pleasurable flirtation and harassment, and sometimes women make false charges, so that there are legitimate differences of opinion about what constitutes harassment. Antifeminist libertarians of the 1980s and 1990s found and publicized a few cases in which efforts to protect women resulted in prudish overreactinos. By contrast antifeminist conservatives of a more repressive bent reinterpreted sexual harassment, changing its meaning in both the courts and public opinions to focus on sex rather than discrimination or exploitation. Today it remains the case, however, that only about 6 percent of harassment victims ever file formal legal complaints, in part because of fear of retaliation, and even the most serious harassment commonly goes unpunished.


Little Rapes

1977

Has a man ever whistled at you while you were walking down the street?

Has a man ever made comments about your body while you stood at the busstop, minding your own business?

Has a man ever exposed himself to you while you were reading a book on the beach?

When a man sits next to you on the bus and presses his leg against you, are you afraid to say anything for fear that he will deny what he is doing, accuse you of flattering yourself, and call you paranoid?

Have you ever told a lover that you weren't in the mood, only to have him ignore your feelings and insist on making love?

Then you have been raped. Surprised? Don't be. If we define rape as "any sexual intimacy, whether by direct physical contact or not, that is forced on one person by another," it becomes clear that a woman can be raped in a situation that does not involve the stereotypical gang of Hell's Angels carrying knives, chains and guns. Sexual violence can take many forms:

-192-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Dear Sisters: Dispatches from the Women's Liberation Movement
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • A Note on the Text IX
  • Contents xi
  • Introduction 1
  • I - Origins 19
  • 1 - A Movement Arises 21
  • Sex and Caste 21
  • We Don't Need the Men 23
  • An Appeal to Mothers, Black and White 24
  • Burial of Weeping Womanhood 25
  • What Concrete Steps Can Be Taken to Further the Homophile Movement 26
  • Lesbianism and Feminism 27
  • To the Women of the Left 28
  • Principles 34
  • Outreach Leaflet 35
  • Angry Notes from a Black Feminist 37
  • 2 - The New Left 41
  • Underground Woman 42
  • Women Unite! Free the Panthers! 44
  • Declaration of Women's Independence 45
  • Women Shake Up SDS Session 48
  • Letter to the Left 51
  • Sisters in Struggle 1970 52
  • Goodbye to All That 53
  • Unite to Win: - Chicago Women's Graphics Collective 58
  • Pissed Off About the War in Cambodia 1970 59
  • WUNTRAC 61
  • Cartoon and Letter Criticizing Sexist Cartoon 63
  • Platform 64
  • Statement 65
  • 3 - New Organization Forms 67
  • The Small Group Process 67
  • Gainesville Women's Liberation 1970 70
  • Analysis of Chicago Women's Liberation School 82
  • 4 - Feminist Theory 84
  • What Is a Woman? 84
  • Are Men Really the Enemy? 88
  • Manifesto 90
  • A Historical and Critical Essay for Black Women 93
  • Socialist Feminism 96
  • On Separatism 111
  • I Am What I Am 112
  • II - Bodies 115
  • 5 - Health 117
  • 5 - Health 118
  • She Loves Rape 118
  • Wonder Woman 123
  • Self-Help Clinic 124
  • Brochure 126
  • Using a Natural Sponge 1976 127
  • Breastfeeding Successfully in Spite of Doctors and Hospitals 128
  • HR 1504 130
  • Breathing Life into Ourselves: The Evolution of the National Black Women's Health Project 131
  • 6 - Reproductive Rights 134
  • Women Must Control the Means of Reproduction 134
  • Poor Black Women 135
  • Off the Pill 136
  • On Abortion and Abortion Law 140
  • Hernia: A Satire on Abortion Law Repeal 144
  • Women Learn to Perform Abortions 145
  • Who Needs a Shepherd? 147
  • Friends of the Fetus 148
  • An African American Woman Speaks Out for Abortion Rights 149
  • Sterilization: Rights and Abuse of Rights 150
  • Posters Against Sterilization Abuse 1973 152
  • Starting Over 154
  • 7 - Sexuality 155
  • Venus Observed 155
  • The Happiest Day of My Life 163
  • Workshop Resolutions 166
  • Smash Phallic Imperialism 169
  • HIRE (Hooking Is Real Employment) 173
  • 8 - Objectification, Harassment, Violence 175
  • Death in the Spectacle 175
  • Body Odor and Social Order 181
  • No More Miss America 184
  • Excerpt from a Critique of the Miss America Protest 185
  • Antes de hacer dieta . . . 189
  • Fat Liberation Manifesto 191
  • Little Rapes 192
  • Rape: The All American Crime 195
  • The Case of Inez Garcia 201
  • The Sexual Abuse of Children 204
  • Women's Martial Arts Demonstrations 206
  • Karate as Self-Defense for Women 207
  • La Virgen de Guadalupe Defendiendo los Derechos de los Xicanos - [The Virgin of Guadalupe Defending the Rights of Chicanos] 209
  • III - Institutions 211
  • 9 - Family 213
  • For Sadie and Maud 213
  • What's in a Name? 216
  • Machismo 217
  • Communal Living 221
  • The Five of Us (With a Little Help from Our Friends) 222
  • Hippie Communes 225
  • The Single Mother Experience 229
  • Lesbian Mothers and Their Children 233
  • Why Day Care? 234
  • 10 - Education 237
  • 10 - Education 237
  • Consciousness Razors 237
  • What Every Young Girl Should Ask! 242
  • Testimony of a High School Pitcher 243
  • Courses, Spring 1973 246
  • Library Sit-in for Women's History 249
  • Dear Sisters 250
  • 11 - Work 254
  • The Politics of Housework 255
  • Wages for Housework 258
  • Wages Against Housework 259
  • Margaret F. Stewart, Our Lady of Guadalupe 261
  • Luring Women into the Armed Forces 262
  • AFT Resolution on Women's Rights 1970 263
  • Learning Auto Repair 264
  • Open Letter to Local #1299 265
  • The Era of Tokenism and the Role Model Trap 267
  • Women Unionize Office Jobs 270
  • TWA Stewardesses on Strike 273
  • Sexual Harassment: Working Women's Dilemma 274
  • Every Mother a Working Mother 278
  • Welfare Is a Women's Issue 279
  • 12 - Culture 282
  • At Home in San José 282
  • Samplers: One of the Lesser American Arts 283
  • How to Name Baby 285
  • Anatomy Is Destiny or . . . Just Like Daddy 286
  • Pregnant Woman in a Ball of Yarn 291
  • Linen Closet 292
  • "There Was a Young Woman Who Swallowed a Lie . . . ," 293
  • Breaking Out 295
  • Witch 296
  • Medusa 297
  • The Young Warrior 298
  • Mountain-Moving Day 299
  • Women Invade The Boston Globe 300
  • I've Been in Her Shoes 302
  • Portrait of the Artist as the Virgin of Guadalupe 309
  • Among the Things That Use to Be 310
  • In the Beauty Parlor 311
  • Sources 313
  • Further Reading 318
  • Acknowledgments 319
  • Index of Contributors 321
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 324

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.