WMST-L logo

Consciousness Raising Groups

This WMST-L discussion from February 2010 concerns consciousness-raising groups
of the 1960s and '70s, including participants' recollections and ways in which
people are using c.r. groups today in the classroom or elsewhere.  The
discussion also considers the allegation that c.r. groups in the past were
"essentialist."  For more WMST-L files now available on the Web, see the
WMST-L File Collection.
Date: Wed, 3 Feb 2010 09:23:38 -0500
From: Juli L. Parker <jparker AT UMASSD.EDU>
Subject: Consciousness Raising Groups
[NOTE: this message was written by Janet Freedman and sent to WMST-L on her behalf by Juli Parker]

Dearest Colleagues, 

The small consciousness raising (c.r.) group, ubiquitous in the late 1960s 
and early '70s was the vehicle through which many women came to identify 
as feminists. But because c.r. is associated with the essentialism of its 
early practitioners, a potentially valuable tool has been discredited or 
overlooked in exploring ways to link new theoretical insights to feminist 

Yet bell hooks, while sharply criticizing false universalizing, remains 
committed to c.r. Estelle Freedman, director of Women's Studies at 
Stanford also continues to advocate consciousness-raising and has 
developed an approach for students to engage in dialogue outside the 
formal classroom.  In But Some of Us are Brave, Tia Cross, Feada Klein, 
Barbara Smith and Beverly Smith outline a model for race consciousness 
based on the assumption that "as a person you simply cannot do political 
action without personal interaction".  A transnational example of the 
effectiveness of the small group in is offered by Kathy Davis in her study 
of how feminists around the globe used the consciousness raising process 
to adapt Our Bodies Ourselves, to the unique needs of widely diverse 

I would like to hear from WMST-L participants who have had experience in 
c.r. groups (and may have continued to utilize such approaches in other 
groups), who utilize c.r. in the classroom or in women's centers on campus 
and in the community. 

I am preparing a proposal for the 2010 NWSA conference advancing the 
notion that the small consciousness raising group can provide structure 
for even contentious debate and facilitate meaningful collaboration across 
difference to advance feminist activist projects on campus and in the 
wider community.  I am interested in joining other potential presenters 
who are advocates of consciousness raising or other specific practices 
that can link theoretical insights to activism. 

Best - 

janet freedman 
Visiting Research Associate 
Brandeis University Women's Studies Research Center 
Professor Emerita and former Director, Women's Studies, UMass Dartmouth 
jfreedman AT umassd.edu 

"Feminism is the radical notion that women are people." 

[posted on WMST-L by:]
Juli Parker, Ph.D. 
Director, Women's Resource Center 
Affiliate Faculty, Women's Studies Program 
UMass Dartmouth 
Date: Wed, 3 Feb 2010 10:31:23 -0800
From: Wendy Griffin <wgriffin AT CSULB.EDU>
Subject: Re: Consciousness Raising Groups
We use cr groups led by trained peer facilitators in our lower
division class Women and Their Bodies. It is very successful.  Contact
me off-list if you want more information.

Wendy Griffin
wgriffin AT csulb.edu, 
Date: Thu, 4 Feb 2010 01:14:08 -0500
From: Cynthia Harrison <harrison AT GWU.EDU>
Subject: Re: Consciousness Raising Groups
I'm not familiar with the "essentialism of . . . early practitioners" of
c.r. -- in my experience the enterprise was designed to undermine, not
reinforce, what we referred to as sex stereotyping.

In any case, I use a c.r. exercise with my undergrads, which I include here.
It's not perfect; it doesn't deal explicitly with race or class. I was
trying hard to pick a topic that would resonate with students without
encouraging too much intrusion into their lives. No one is required to
participate. But the responses I've gotten have been very positive.


Brief guidelines and a sample set of questions

[This exercise is modeled on the CR guidelines of the modern women's

Cynthia Harrison


A consciousness-raising group is a safe place for women [and men] to examine
and share their own experiences and to come to understand what is common in
their experience and what is specific.

Everyone must be given an opportunity to talk before anyone gets to speak
When your turn comes, you may pass if you wish. No one has to talk.

Everyone is the judge of her [or his] own experience. No one in the group
shall criticize or judge anyone's assessment or recollection. 
Anyone may address any of the questions or none of them and anyone may raise
other questions related to the topic.


Topic: Transportation

When you were a kid . . .

Did your family own a car or did you rely on public transportation?

If you relied on public transportation:

At what age were you allowed to travel alone? Was it the same age as a
sibling of the opposite sex?

Were there specific instructions you received as a girl [or a boy] to deal
with potentially disturbing experiences?

Did you have disturbing experiences in using public transportation?

Do you believe you would have had such experiences if you had been a boy [or
a girl]?

If you reported such experiences, to whom did you report them and what was
the response?

If your family did own a car . . . .

Who in your family drove and when?

How was the decision made about who drove when?

Who drove the carpools among your friends' families?

When one of your parents went out with a person of the opposite sex, who

When an adult male was driving, did anyone make comments on his driving?

When an adult woman was driving, did anyone make comments on her driving?

Did children ever comment about the competence of the driver?

Were the comments different depending on whether a man or a woman was

When your family was driving on a long trip, if someone needed to stop to
use the bathroom facilities, were the comments the same no matter who needed
to stop?

Were there places or times that you knew about that an adult woman was
afraid to drive?

Were there places or times that you knew about that an adult man was afraid
to drive?

Where were the women afraid to drive? Why?

Where were the men afraid to drive? Why?

Who taught you to drive?

Can you change a tire?

Who do you know who can change a tire? Is there a difference by sex? Why?

How are you treated when you take your car in for repairs?

Do you know how cars work?

Did anyone in your family know how cars work?

Have you ever bought a car?

Did you go by yourself? If not, whom did you take with you? Why?

Have you ever helped anyone else buy a car? Why?

How were you treated by the sales person?

Were you allowed to test drive the car by yourself?

When you go out with a friend of the opposite sex, who drives?

Who picks the other person up? Why?

Do you drive all over?

Are there any places or any times you won't drive? Why?

Cynthia Harrison
Associate Professor of History, Women's Studies, and Public Policy
George Washington University
837 22nd Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052
Email: harrison AT gwu.edu
Date: Fri, 5 Feb 2010 15:29:22 -0700
From: Eileen Bresnahan <EBresnahan AT COLORADOCOLLEGE.EDU>
Subject: Re: Consciousness Raising Groups
Juli L. Parker on Wednesday, February 03, 2010 7:24 AM, wrote:
"consciousness raising...is associated with the essentialism of its early

Excuse me, Juli?  As an "early practitioner" of CR, I have to correct your
statement.  I am no essentialist and neither were the anarchist-radical
feminists with whom I participated in CR in the late 1960's and early
1970's.  Cultural (radical) feminist were essentialists; we were not.
There is more that one kind of radical feminist.

The women I did CR with understood Marxism, and constructed human nature,
and species being.  We held gender to be WHOLLY a social construction.  We
rejected a lot of Mary Daly exactly because it was so essentialist.  But
we still called ourselves radical feminists -- as did the many other women
across the US with whom we exchanged publications and information.

We did CR precisely because we trying to understand the power and the
processes of gender construction and reconstruction.  If you're an
essentialist, what is CR for?  Self-help?  Radical feminists were always
very clear to say that CR is not about "personal solutions" or "therapy."
It is about understanding the power of men and their power of naming.  It
is about understanding the reality of women's situation in the world,
without all the masculinist ideology that at the time infected all works
about women (and good luck finding a work about women BY a woman).  It is
about taking the epistemological position that such a collective process
can be the source of real and valuable POLITICAL knowledge about women.  

Eileen Bresnahan
Associate Professor
Feminist and Gender Studies
Colorado College
14 East Cache la Poudre
Colorado Springs, CO  80903
ebresnahan AT coloradocollege.edu
Date: Sat, 6 Feb 2010 09:07:28 -0500
From: Hagolem <hagolem AT C4.NET>
Subject: Re: Consciousness Raising Groups
Essentialism had nothing to do with any CR groups I started out of the
women's center in NYC and then later on Cape Cod. They were always aimed at
understanding our commonalities and differences and how they were
influenced by our socioeconomic situations and how we might bring out change
politically and economically.  They were strong tools for internal and
external change.  It was out of CR groups that we began to be aware of how
common rape was and to treat it not as personal tragedy or shame but as
something we could move against politically. In discussing or teaching the
history of the second wave of the women's movement, it is historically
incorrect to associate CR with essentialism.

marge piercy
Date: Sat, 6 Feb 2010 09:49:29 -0500
From: "Oboler, Regina" <roboler AT URSINUS.EDU>
Subject: Re: Consciousness Raising Groups
I was also involved with CR during the Second Wave, and FWIW, I totally
agree with what Marge Piercy said.  I was working on how to make the

	Gina Oboler <roboler AT ursinus.edu>
Date: Sat, 6 Feb 2010 13:43:37 -0500
From: "Pilardi, Jo-Ann" <jpilardi AT TOWSON.EDU>
Subject: Re: Consciousness Raising Groups
Thank you Gina Oboler, Marge Piercy, and Eileen Bresnahan.  That a c-r
group would be called "essentialist" is bizarre.  Nothing was more
intensely personal, and brilliantly interpersonal.  "Essentialist"
defines it just about as well as "nonessentialist." But now it's
beginning to sound like c-r groups were just one more sin of the
Second Wave--now blithely defined as a "victimization movement" by

Second Wave history is becoming *painfully* distorted.  A few
months ago I heard a lecture by the noted author of a book on feminist
thought who told undergraduates that radical feminists were
"libertarians." I waited for her to explain her peculiar choice of
terminology.  She never did, implying that radical feminists used the
term and/or saw themselves that way.  Nor did she seem interested in
discussing it during the Q and A, when I called her on it.

"Libertarians"? We know scholars have the right to make their own
evaluations and critiques of a political movement. But to apply a term
with a specific current meaning to a historical movement, without
clearly explaining (and arguing for) your own idiomatic usage and
perspective, to an audience of undergraduates with a specific
understanding of a term like "libertarian," is bad history and worse
politics.  Even if one granted (hard to do) that there might be some
way to validly apply the label "libertarian" to radical feminism (in
all its variations), using such a recognizable and definitive label
does great injustice to both its theory and practice.

  Jo-Ann Pilardi
  Prof. Emerita, PHIL/WMST, Towson Univ., MD   jpilardi AT towson.edu
Date: Sat, 6 Feb 2010 14:17:49 -0500
From: shilyh warren <sw19 AT DUKE.EDU>
Subject: Re: Consciousness Raising Groups - Readings?
I would love to hear from the participants of this list about readings that
engage this problem (c-r/2nd wave as "essentialist" and whether and why this
is conceived as a "problem"). For a thorough treatment of the notion of
essentialism in histories of second wave feminisms and as a site of inquiry
for feminist theory, I've recently gained much from reading "Ecofeminist
Natures" by Noel Sturgeon (particularly the introduction and Ch6). I welcome
others to make suggestions to the list.


Shilyh Warren
sw19 AT    duke.edu
PhD Candidate
Graduate Program in Literature
Duke University
Box 90670
Durham, NC 27705
Date: Sat, 6 Feb 2010 12:51:42 -0700
From: Susan Koppelman <huddis AT MSN.COM>
Subject: Re: Consciousness Raising Groups
To quote Gina: "I was also involved with CR during the Second Wave,
and FWIW, I totally agree with what Marge Piercy said."  And ditto

Yes, it's bad history.  But why on earth is this happening?  Who
profits from dissing, misinterpreting, misrepresenting,
misunderstanding second wave feminsm?

Oh, woe.  Susan

huddis AT msn.com 
Susan Koppelman, PhD 
"The Strange History of Suzanne laFleshe" and other stories of Women and Fatness 
"Women in the Trees:" U.S. Women's Short Stories about Battering and Resistance, 1839-1994 
Between Mothers and Daughters: Stories Across a Generation 
Images of Women in Fiction: Feminist Perspectives
Date: Sat, 6 Feb 2010 13:13:03 -0800
From: Jessica Nathanson <janathanson AT YAHOO.COM>
Subject: Consciousness-Raising Groups Discussion
Hi Everyone,

It seems to me that the CR discussion is moving away from the list's
focus and into a broader discussion of why the Second Wave is being
portrayed in particular ways by feminists.  It seems to me that the
topic of how we teach about Second Wave feminism is an important one
for Women's Studies educators, and it has been addressed on WMST-L in
the past (I'm including links for those interested):


This is not to say that it can't be discussed again, but I would like
to ask that we move toward conversation that is more specifically
focused on this topic as it pertains to Women's Studies teaching,
research, and program administration.

Co-List Manager
nathanso AT augsburg.edu
Date: Sat, 6 Feb 2010 15:51:49 -0600
From: Hannah Miyamoto <hsmiyamoto AT MSN.COM>
Subject: Re: Consciousness Raising Groups - Readings?
Shilyh wrote: 

> I would love to hear from the participants of this list about 
> readings that engage this problem (c-r/2nd wave as "essentialist" and 
> whether and why this is conceived as a "problem"). 

Alice Echols ran it all down, distinguishing radical feminism from
liberal and cultral feminism in her 1989 book, "Daring to be Bad:
Radical Feminism in America, 1967-1975."  Highly recommended.

Now for what I want to write about, which is the need to study CR as
it was originally conceived, instead of superficially analyzed.  I
introduce ideas like CR by teaching from the/a
virtual-pseudo-para-source like:

"Consciousness-Raising: A Radical Weapon"
 by Kathie Sarachild (1973)

For a broad range of other CR material, also browse: 

Don't pass over the "sidebars," etc., in Sarachild's articles, for
example, the quotes from Malcolm X and Mao Tse-Tung.  CR is all
Redstockings; its hysterical that its part of N.O.W. now.  And so much
for womyn-born-womyn Cultural Feminism. 

Note that, as the article says at the top, this 1973 write-up
developed from a paper originally presented in Nov. 1968.

Already you can see ideas change; although the 1973 paper doesn't
mention it, other sources indicate that CR was inspired by the "Speak
Bitterness" sessions that were part of the Cultural Revolution in
Mao's China.  Which shows that destroying thousands of intellectuals
need not be a complete loss.  :-)

In addition, as I explained in WMST-L several years ago, CR was in
practice in 1967, sans the name, which was inspired by Communist Party
theory.  Redstockings was greatly aided by a few "Red Diaper
Babies"--children of old Communists and other socialists.  Check out
"In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution" (1999) by Susan Brownmiller,
another one present at creation. 

To show students the environment of young intellectual Americans in
1968, you could lay on them the original 1968 Weatherman manifesto,
which features sections like this.

<<Pigs don't represent State power as an abstract principle; they are
a power that we will have to overcome in the course of struggle or
become irrelevant, revisionist, or dead...>>


BTW, there's a section in the Weatherman manifesto about Women's
Liberation--look about 4/5 of the way down: "There must be a strong
revolutionary women's movement... Revolutionaries must be made to
understand the full scope of women's oppression, and... smash male

Anyway, Women's Liberation is like the Beatles; brilliance syncretized
from a kaleidoscope of influences; high and low, west to east, old and

I think this reluctance to examine the historical moment shapes
contemporary scholarly uses of WLM documents: "Redstockings
Manifesto," and "Woman-Identified Woman" instead of "Goodbye to All
That," or "Grand Coolie Damn" or "The Tyranny of Structurelessness."

I doubt many WMST-L contributors who helped birth WLM would disagree.

You Make Me Dizzy, Miss Lizzy

Hannah Miyamoto

hsmiyamoto AT msn.com
Date: Sat, 6 Feb 2010 15:54:28 -0600
From: Judith Gardiner <gardiner AT UIC.EDU>
Subject: Re: Consciousness-Raising Groups Discussion
Dear all,

I suggest my essay,  "What Happened to Socialist Feminist Women's Studies
Programs?:  A Case History and Some Speculations," Feminist Studies, 34.3
(Fall 2008), pp. 558-83, when teaching about this important branch of second
wave feminism .


Judith Kegan Gardiner
Professor of English and of Gender and Women's Studies
1630 UH (mc 306)
University of Illinois at Chicago
601 S. Morgan Street
Chicago IL 60607-7116
gardiner AT    uic.edu
Date: Sun, 7 Feb 2010 10:28:41 +0330
From: Nastaran Moossavi <nastaran AT CENESTA.ORG>
Subject: Re: Consciousness Raising Groups
I was wondering if you might be interested in a c.r. experience
outside the US? If so, I can share the story of a small group that
tried to use the technique in early 90's in Iran.
Date: Sun, 7 Feb 2010 10:32:52 -0500
From: S Collingwood <collingwood.7 AT OSU.EDU>
Subject: Re: Consciousness-Raising Groups Discussion
Thinking about consciousness-raising and teaching...

There are discussion groups forming in Second Life where avatars gather to
discuss how females are treated by a virtual world.  It does remind me of
consciousness-raising, people find many experiences in common, and proposing
solutions.  My students are encouraged to join groups like this, and I ask
them to consider them in historical context.

If anyone is interested in attending one of these, the weekly meeting of the
Second Life Left Unity Feminists is today at 4pm EST, and if you are a
member of Second Life you can meet them here:


If you're new to Second LIfe, you'll probably want to learn about the
programme, pick up a few skills, and perhaps catch them next week.

If you'd like a personal orientation session please contact me.


Dr. Sharon Collingwood

Department of Women's Studies
The Ohio State University
286 University Hall
230 North Oval Mall
Columbus, Ohio 43210-1311

Second Life:  Ellie Brewster

Blog: Exploring the Virtual Classroom

Visit Minerva Isle in Second Life:
Date: Sun, 7 Feb 2010 11:23:14 -0500
From: Judith Lorber <jlorber AT RCN.COM>
Subject: Second Wave feminism
If you¦d like to put consciousness-raising in its context and time line for
students, I¦d like to recommend my Gender Inequality: Feminist Theories and
Politics for a comprehensive overview of all the types of second-wave
feminism, with excerpts and reading lists. Also includes chapters on
postmodern and third wave feminism. The fourth edition was just published by
Oxford University Press.

Gender Inequality
Feminist Theories and Politics
Fourth Edition
Judith Lorber

Table of Contents
*=New to this edition
Feminisms and Their Contributions to Gender Equality
1. Liberal Feminism
* A Theory of Female Subordination, Cynthia Fuchs Epstein
Integrating Family and Work in the 21st Century, Jerry A. Jacobs and
Kathleen Gerson
2. Marxist Feminism
* Theorizing Racial and Gendered Class, Joan Acker
Gender, Race, and Citizenship, Evelyn Nakano Glenn
3. Socialist Feminism
* Gender and Complex Inequality, Leslie McCall
* The Invisible Heart, Nancy Folbre
4. Postcolonial and Asian Feminism
Under Western Eyes at the Turn of the Century, Chandra Talpade Mohanty
* Climbing the Pyramids of Power, Rae Lesser Blumberg
5. Radical Feminism
* Redstockings Manifesto, Redstockings
* Goodbye to All That (#2), Robin Morgan
6. Lesbian Feminism
* Decentering Lesbian Feminism, Arlene Stein
* Lipstick or Timberlands? Gender Presentation in Black Lesbian Communities,
Mignon R. Moore
7. Psychoanalytic Feminism
* Freud and Feminism, Nancy J. Chodorow
* The Laugh of the Medusa, Helene Cixous
8. Standpoint Feminism
* Women's Standpoint: Embodied Knowledge versus the Ruling Relations,
Dorothy E. Smith
* Gendered Standpoints on Nature, Sandra Harding
9. Multiracial/Multiethnic Feminism
* Black Feminism, Knowledge, and Power, Patricia Hill Collins
Nego-Feminism, Obioma Nnaemeka
10. Feminist Studies of Men
* Hegemonic Masculinity, R.W. Connell and James W. Messerschmidt
Gender, Class, and Terrorism, Michael S. Kimmel
11. Social Construction Feminism
* Gender as a Social Structure, Barbara J. Risman
* Imagining a World without Gender, Judith Lorber
12. Postmodern Feminism and Queer Theory
Gender, Sex, and Sexual Performativity, Judith Butler
Thinking about Drag as Social Protest, Leila J. Rupp and Verta Taylor
13. Third-Wave Feminism
Sisters vs. Daughters, Astrid Henry
Third-Wave Black Feminism?, Kimberly Springer

Judith Lorber, Ph.D.
Professor Emerita
Graduate Center and Brooklyn College, CUNY
jlorber AT  rcn.com
Imagine a world without gender!
Date: Mon, 8 Feb 2010 13:42:21 -0000
From: Gwendolyn Beetham <G.A.Beetham AT LSE.AC.UK>
Subject: virtual consciousness-raising
For those interested in teaching about the connections between CR in
the 60s and 70s and contemporary CR, I would suggest Tracy
L.M. Kennedy's piece in the Scholar & Feminist online journal.

Kennedy's piece, 'The Personal is Political: Feminist Blogging and
Consciousness-Raising' appeared in a special edition of the S&F on
feminist blogging, much of which would also be useful for this topic:

Gwendolyn Beetham
PhD Student, Gender Institute
London School of Economics & Political Science
email: g.a.beetham AT  lse.ac.uk | gbeetham AT  gmail.com
tel: (U.S.) 001 347.834.3624 | (U.K.) 44 (0) 7552 69 9981 
Date: Mon, 8 Feb 2010 09:04:46 -0500
From: Lori J. Askeland <laskeland AT WITTENBERG.EDU>
Subject: Re: Consciousness Raising and essentialism: clarification question
Having read through a few of the supplied documents regarding CR,
which I am already thinking about somehow using in my class on
autobiography next term, it seems like the association of CR with
essentialism comes directly from the practice of having "women only"
meetings.  Without opening a huge can of worms (we don't need to
revisit the Michigan Womyn's Festival, etc.), is the origin of the
"essentialist" claim simply rooted in the act of declaring a space
"only" for any one identity group?  Is the problem that, if the term
not qualified or clarified some way, using language and tools we have
access to today, it would seem to imply that one's membership in the
group (or not) is "obvious"--even if the purpose of the group is to
try to *begin* to understand the oppressive social conditions for
people who are generally perceived to belong, and probably perceive
themselves as belonging, to an oppressed group?  (I.e., the groups
were called together by people who had been la!  rgely denied the
language and resources to think about their social situation at all,
because it had been made to seem "obvious" and "natural" within the
terms of white supremacist capitalist cisgendered patriarchy?)

It seems to me that it's likely there were transgender people in those
first groups--as well as lesbian and non-white and people with
disabilities--who found that one way into starting to understand their
own precise situations was to start with being framed as "women" in
the world, and to begin to see that as one aspect of their social
"framing."  Others probably started with racial consciousness raising
groups and from there came to see other aspects of their
intersectional oppressions.  It seems almost certain, to me, that
there are excellent narratives that describe this kind of
occurrence--perhaps some that have been listed already?

If I were to approach this in the classroom, I'd like to understand
this critique, and would welcome direction to works that specfically
address it.  (I hope that this clarification question is not deemed
outside the list's remit.)

Lori J. Askeland

Associate Professor, English
Director, Women's Studies
Wittenberg University
Springfield OH 45501-0720
laskeland AT wittenberg.edu
Date: Mon, 8 Feb 2010 11:56:20 -0500
From: Hagolem <hagolem AT C4.NET>
Subject: Re: Consciousness Raising and essentialism: clarification question
In the Cr groups I started, we never had a transgendered person but we had
plenty of Lesbians, women of various and mixed races, people with various
disabilities and up to 60 years old. We were certainly not all middle class and
not all white.

marge piercy
Date: Mon, 8 Feb 2010 13:06:57 -0500
From: AimTe Sands <amsproductions AT EARTHLINK.NET>
Subject: Re: Consciousness Raising Groups
I also share Marge Piercy's experience. CR groups were about taking the weight
of shame off of us and putting it where it belonged - it was such a huge relief.
AimTe Sands
Date: Mon, 8 Feb 2010 14:57:17 -0800
From: Max Dashu <maxdashu AT LMI.NET>
Subject: Re: Consciousness Raising Groups
Food for class discussion, and bringing it all up to date, an eloquent statement
for the need for consciousness-raising groups toward the end of this video on
Feminism, the Super Bowl and the Media, with a great panel:

Max Dashu
Suppressed Histories Archives: Real women, global vision

Women's Power DVD
Date: Tue, 9 Feb 2010 09:36:11 -0500
From: Janet Freedman [posted by"Juli L. Parker" <jparker AT UMASSD.EDU>
Subject: Clarification on CR request
WOW! i am both dismayed and glad to receive the several responses to my post
(through Juli Parker) about consciousness-raising .  I very obviously did not
make myself clear.

I NEVER wished to imply that consciousness raising  was "essentialist," but that
it has been ASSOCIATED with a critique of the 2nd wave that is made by many
postmodern feminists.  I find this repeated, derogatory charge  as offensive as
you do.

Last November I attended the National Women's Studies Association conference.
The theme was "Difficult Dialogues."   Many of the papers were critical of the
use of gender as the "primary" oppression, and called for feminist theory
developed around multiple, intersecting and often conflicting identities. This
theme has been extended  to the 2010 conference as well. (see the NWSA website
calling for papers on Difficult Dialogues II)

As is often and sadly the case, the validation of new theoretical perspectives
is accompanied by the demonizing of those that came before. One of the reasons I
want to present at the upcoming conference is to question  the distortion of the
2nd wave. My own and your experience in consciousness raising groups and the
activism that grew from them does not fit these repeated charges of "false

My paper is calling for a revival of  c.r. as a vital (i won't use the word
essential!) tool for feminist identity and activism.

It appears that my words have not conveyed my intentions and  your rejoinders
will allow me to reframe my proposal. Please write to jfreedman AT umassd.edu
with additional comments.

By the way, c.r. groups in which I participated  in Salem, MA.  utilized the
guidelines Marge Piercy developed for her group on Cape Cod. Consciousness
raising made such an enormous difference in my life and led to political and
social transformation that needs to continue.  I want to see c.r.become a
widespread practice again.

best -
janet freedman
Professor (Retired)
Women's Studies UMASS Dartmouth
jfreedman AT umassd.edu

For information about WMST-L

WMST-L File Collection

Top Of Page