Saturday, October 06, 2018

Second wave feminism and assault

Forty-five years ago I'd occasionally attend a "consciousness raising" group during the blossoming of second wave feminism. I wrote book reviews for a female publication put out by some OSU librarian-feminists. Women studies departments were being developed to capitalize on the interest. It was the era of “women’s lib.”  I don't recall the homes exactly, but they were in the OSU campus area. And were at night!  Sitting on the floor with our arms wrapped around legs seemed to be required, even if there was a free chair in the room. I may have attended with a woman in my neighborhood who was unhappy in her marriage to a professor, and later abandoned husband and children to go east and find herself. At least I can’t imagine I was so foolish to go into that area at night alone.  I think her name was Laura.

Even with a Russian major and all those Soviet history and literature courses I had, I didn't connect the dots between feminism and Marxism until much later when the movement leaders began dividing up women by black/white, gay/straight, young/old. At these meetings women would talk about their sadness at dashed dreams, boredom with being a stay at home mom, disappointment with career choices, anger with parents, boyfriends or husbands for not understanding. Heady stuff.

Not once did I ever hear a woman say she'd been assaulted, raped, or even abused. That’s not to say it wasn’t happening, just that no one said anything if it was.

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