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What’s YOUR favourite decade?

I think the 70s is my favourite decade. Feminism was HOT then–the 70s was when women started rape crisis centres and transition houses–and they were meant to be hubs of feminist political activity. Some became that, too. Take Back the Night, for example, was invented by anti-male-violence feminists. Radical feminists. That didn’t last long, unfortunately, by the 80s, battered and raped women were labeled  “sick”, and rape crisis workers were (big “P”) Professionals. the gap between them and us widened, even though there is no gap. The Man imposed it. Saw that we were serious, and gaining strength–and took measures, both subtle and drastic, to slow the movement of women.

“oh, those plucky girls, look how hard they’re working! How serious and earnest they are!”  The Man didn’t realize what a threat we were at first, and for a while there was a little room for women to move. Move into a bit of power. And those that did, made room for other women. And found money for each other. Soon the centres, the resource centres,  transition houses and rape crisis lines were funded. Under funded, mind you, but still. A wedge. But that wedge, that little bit of money that kept the lines and doors open, it came at a cost. The State began to ask for statistics, credentials, proof that this was necessary, and proof that ordinary women were the women to do this work.

“Aren’t you girls over-reacting just a bit?”

No. We are not. 40 years ago we were not overreacting, either.

Some women’s groups capitulated. slowly, slowly, though. It became important to hire women with University degrees. It became important to talk to women about “the cycle of violence” and the variety of syndromes and disorders that they might have: Post-traumatic stress disorder; battered wife syndrome; false memory syndrome; borderline personality disorder; pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder; Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy; obsessive compulsive disorder; etcetera etcetera, ad nauseum, syndrome disorder ad infinitum. At first women just told The Man what he wanted to hear, so he would keep tossing us crumbs of cash.

But some of us started to believe it. And some women started making money. Capitalism is Patriarchy’s best friend. Money does talk. And it drowns out women’s voices, even when women are the only ones speaking. We started placating the man, trying to get around him, but still keep the money flowing to the women who needed it, but gradually we had to work harder and harder to get the money, and it started to eat into the time we had to connect with other ordinary women–the women in trouble;  the women The Man had an even greater stranglehold on.

Take Back the Night prevailed, though, in some places. It was an exciting, vibrant, strident gathering of angry loving hopeful enraged impatient women. No men. Not at the back of the march, not in it–women only. Do you remember? Maybe we were mad at each other, maybe we had disagreements about how things should be done, and maybe we were making mistakes all over the place, but those nights, those raucous gatherings mended us together. We raised our voices together into the night, and we took it together. Protecting each other, standing shoulder to shoulder marching through the city streets, we said with one voice, “Enough!”

Though there were often many, there were never enough of us, not really. But wow, they were grand events. We would sing and chant and shout and clap our hands and raise a right ruckus–the sounds of women’s rage was amplified by the tall buildings. We’d spray paint on porn shops and sidewalks,  while other women in the march covered us. Women at work would stand at the doors of their shops and restaurants and wave their fists in solidarity, jump for joy. Some would join us.

but now it’s become a frail and fussy distant relative, whimpering about ‘violence’ as if it’s a mysterious virus that can be inoculated against. there are men in the marches now, a lot of them. They are no longer part of the women’s liberation movement.

sigh.

But they were the tactic of another time.  And maybe they will be of a future time. Maybe we will revive Take Back the Night. We will be Women Occupying. Not Women Occupied.  been there, done that.

ah. Today I worked at the transition house in the morning. Women talked about the violence men have done to them. the controlling, the manipulations, the withholding of money and kindness. Women said, “I am glad there’s a place like this. I’m glad to be here.”

In the 1970s, my mom applied for a credit card. There was a section where her husband was to sign.  She said, “He’s not applying for a credit card, I am.” the person taking her application told her that she had to get him to sign it. She said, “why?”

There was, of course, no answer that satisfied her. She walked away. She decided she didn’t need a credit card after all.

Capitalism is Patriarchy’s best friend.  Credit cards are evil anyway. But women need access to our own money, for sure we do, ’cause we live in capitalism. and patriarchy.

is having a credit card like telling ‘the man’ what he wants to hear? “sure honey, i’ll pay you back…”

so many contradictions….

anyhow. i’m running outta steam here. The 70s, though. Favourite decade. the rising of the second wave. Thrilling.

I was a child then, though, I didn’t pay the enormous price those early feminists did.  They opened a path.

You know who you are.

Thank you.

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About easilyriled

My mom was Edith, my dad was John. I have a brother, who is Shawn. I have many friends and allies and mentors in my life. I'm white, over-educated, under-employed, messy, funny, smart, lesbian, feminist "Not the fun kind", as Andrea Dworkin said. But I, like the feminists I hang with, ARE fun. I play accordion better than I did, and i'm learning the concertina. Slowly.

12 responses »

  1. 70’s definitely. I was so fortunate to have been there as a young woman. Women’s lives *can* be transformed. But the word “woman” has now been stolen from us. Now we need to use the word “female”.

    Females Occupy Take Back The Night!

    Reply
    • I took my daughter on the last TBTN I attended. We put our coats on and walked abut an hour to get to the meeting place. A freezing cold night. I talked to her all the way about why we were doing this. That we had to STAND and be seen to stand. That she was old enough now to come with me. Fourteen. All through the march, the women I knew, we fought with the Marxists who wanted to break things, get themselves in jail and perform ‘revolution’. They weren’t feminists. Half way through our march, about 200 women, we saw a media van pull up. We were thrilled. TBTN was going to get some publicity. Next day we ran out to get the papers: It was my beautiful green-eyed blonde daughter in every shot. I never attended another march.

      Reply
      • Citizen Taqueau

        That story made my blood run cold.

        I for one blame porn. I loathe what it has done to my world. We live under the constant expectation that not only media, but public life of any kind, will and must supply men with an endless stream of titillating material. TBTN targeted porn, targeted capitalism’s theft of our natural erotic bodies, and boy did the empire fight back against us. The more porn is out there, the more distorted and disgusting the men’s vision becomes. It’s like the story of the little boy who got a shard of magic mirror in his eye, so that everything he saw was ugly and vile. A little girl child cannot exist in public any longer. Her most innocent behaviors have all been copied by older girls and women in porn, coached by woman-hating directors. A girl child’s public existence is a come-on. It’s so horrifying, I can’t imagine what it must be like to have a daughter to protect. It makes me want to cry.

  2. Erin, what is the point of this? You weren’t there for the 70’s and you are denigrating what you were there for, the work you did do, the fight you were part of. Too easy too defeatist, and to what effect?

    Reply
  3. I vote for the 70s, too. But not the music! 🙂

    Reply
  4. For sure we do…we need money. And a room of our own.
    We need to question, and to listen.
    To remember the wisdom and knowing that women have always had, generations before it ever had to be ‘taught’ to us.
    Before caring became big P professional and regulated, before those in need had to prove
    they were eligible and worthy.
    Before we became so entrenched in the capitalism that causes us to question what we are willing to risk before we help one another.
    It is so hard to reach out when we get stuck holding on.

    Ya…maybe it was back in the 70’s, when Canadians still believed that we would take care of each other.
    Or was it Just My Imaginaaation?

    Thank you for this Erin.
    And for that.
    And the other.
    S

    Reply
  5. strictly for the music, my favorite decade was the 90s but honestly i think *this* is my favorite decade so far. because BLOGS. no, i am not kidding. this is really good stuff. 🙂

    Reply
  6. one of the few things i remember about the 70s is starting kindergarten, and coming home sobbing bc everyone there treated me like i was stupid. i didnt know it at the time, but surely it was my first real experience being treated as a *girl*. i didnt like it. and it went downhill from there. i didnt even know the 80s and 90s were decades of “anti-feminist backlash” to me, at the time, it was just normal. women in their 30s largely share this experience. what do you think about that?

    Reply
    • I think that the backlash is a sign that we’re successful. We were making big demands, big changes, and the world will never be the same. I think you’re right, FCM, the punishment of the backlash did become “just normal” — but it’s not inevitable, or natural. like porn and prostitition, eh–“normal” — but we’re not settling. Thank you for this thought-provoking comment. and blogs–good point. They are a kind of glue, aren’t they?

      Reply
  7. ((( Citizen Tacqueau ))), I feel exactly the same way. Female children are 100% unsafe in this world of males.

    Reply
  8. I loved the seventies too. I lived them. Wonderful times for dykes. Your blog is wonderfull. So glad I found it.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Liza, glad you found it too. And thanks for your blog, too–i’m buried in other work at present, but i’ll get to the blog world again soon (i hope).

      Reply

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