Ford Hall Forum; Lectures by Gloria Steinem and Margaret Sloan on Women's Liberation
Good evening this is George Bauer at Jordan Hall of the New England Conservatory of Music here in Boston welcoming you to the ford hall forum now in its sixty fourth season. Tonight Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pittman expound their beliefs regarding women's liberation. This program comes to you from WGBH in Boston and is carried through the facilities of National Public Radio. This evening's moderator is deep raw cell drama critic of the Entertainment Weekly newspaper Boston after dark. Mr. Russell is also a member of the board hall forums Program Committee. As to tonight's guest speaker is Gloria Steinem is regarded as one of the nation's most prominent journalists. Her articles and on politics and urban problems have appeared recently in New York magazine. She has a regular column in that magazine known as the city politics. Ms Steinem is a five bed a Catholic graduate of Smith College in Massachusetts. She was an active campaign worker for Stevens and John Kennedy Eugene McCarthy. Robert Kennedy and George McGovern. She was
also one of the organizers and writers editors against the Vietnam War and has also joined the Women's Political Caucus and she has also run for politics herself in the city of New York. Her co speaker Mrs. Dorothy Pitman is an organizer in New York City. She has is founder and director of a revolutionary community control daycare center in the city and is also founder and a member of the board of a community controlled public school. She is a mother of two small daughters. Mrs. Pitman's advice is sought by groups across the country. She convened the first series of meetings among daycare authorities at all levels and she was asked recently by the New York state legislature to help write new laws concerning daycare. She is also serving on Mayor Lindsay's daycare task force. We have an overflow crowd tonight here at Jordan Hall in Boston. There were several hundred other people outside who were waiting to get in but were unable to attend because of the sheer numbers here in Jordan for Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Parkman.
Along with the rush hour have now come out on the Jordan Hall stage. We'll go now to the podium for the introduction of tonight's speakers. Good evening ladies and gentleman and welcome to the sixty fourth season of the Ford hall forum. The forum for the past 64 years has been open to the public but we do ask for contributions and there are people at the exit as you leave the auditorium tonight. And if you have not made a contribution and it is humanly possible for you so to do. You can make this in one of two ways either by reading something which may be in your pocket at the door if you leave or by filling out one of our questionnaires and leaving something which may be an idea in your head as you leave. In about two weeks we'll also have a need for some volunteer
help in our office down at 80 Boylston Street and if anyone feels moved during the course of the evening to turn up with some free time about two weeks ask as you leave and somebody will be glad to take your name and get in touch with you when that becomes necessary. The speaker next week will be Senator Charles Eade Goodell who will talk on the subject. Will Nixon survive in 1972. This evening's program. Will present Miss Gloria Steinem and this Margaret Sloan. Dorothy Pittman who was originally scheduled is somewhere tied up in Columbus Georgia and was unable to make it. So Miss Sloane and Miss Steinem who have recently been traveling throughout the south
talking with women and women's groups there have come together to present this program this evening at the forum. Miss Dinah really needs no introduction. She's a well-known writer and has a regular column in New York magazine as well as having written for a look at Esquire. The New York Times she's been active in many political campaigns the campaigns of two Kennedys the campaign of Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern. She was recently appointed to the Democratic policy cannot counsel the policymaking body of the Democratic National Committee. Margaret Sloan has been equally active in women's liberation and women's movement groups. She's a member of the board of the Sojourner Truth daycare center in Chicago and is also involved with the online women's abortion called ition in Illinois
in the state of Illinois. So without any further ado I will present the first of our two speakers this evening. Gloria Steinem on THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. Friend and sisters. For the past year or so we have been traveling around the country talking to women about the women's movement. We don't do this because we are leaders. The women's movement is trying to have a more diverse different kind of structure and to do away with some of the leadership problems that the male hierarchy has had. We come to you as individual women who would like to say to you what we wish very much someone had said to us much
earlier it would have saved us so much time and so much heartache. I'm so sorry that Dorothy Pitman he was can't be here tonight. Perhaps one of the first things that women should take over of the airlines. But Dorothy and Margaret and I have been speaking in the south. And perhaps we can tell you more of some of our experiences during the question period. I think I have another reason an additional reason for wanting to do this kind of speaking. And it's because as a member of the press I've been so disillusioned with the kind of distortion and ridicule and trivialization that the women's movement has had to endure in the press. So perhaps I should say one more time that no bra that I know of ever got burned. That the women who demonstrated against the Miss America meat packing
contest in 1988 threatened to burn a bra along with dental pads dish mops and other symbols of oppression. But they did not because they couldn't get a fire permit. We've always been and we women much too docile and much too law abiding but that's going to see. Nonetheless it turns up that bra burning idea in everyone's lead paragraph and it has come to symbolize for me the trivialization of the movement by the white male press. So I really would like tonight to remind you and me of the depth of the revolution that we're talking about because it is a revolution and not a reform to remind all of us that it is this movement that means to rescue this country from all the old and expensive patterns of sexism racism elite ism and
violence. Now to do that I'd like to start really from the beginning and discuss history with you for a minute because I have only recently a couple of years ago in fact begun to realize that we have in fact been learning his story not her story and occasionally end up white. His story at bat and even more refined at an elite white version of his story. So it's interesting to go back and read history with new eyes as so many of you are doing on campus where you have not enough on most campuses. Black studies and women's studies courses to look at what we have been told and to reassess that as well as to start earlier than that.
We always tend to start our history courses smack in the middle of a time of patriarchy and racism maybe around the time of Charlemagne instead of realizing that that period we dismissed as prehistory. It was also a time of human history and that for the first 5000 years of human history the first half of it safe from 12000 to 8000 B.C. more or less. There's quite a lot of reason to believe that women were at least equal and often superior. Women were worshiped. Women were the gods. And we had a system that was known as going ocracy not matriarchy which is an imitation of patriarchy but going on Kristie. Now we have not yet been convinced of the fact that childbearing was an inferior function. In fact we were worshiped because we bore the children and men's religious ceremonies imitated the act of childbirth. This was
so partly because paternity hadn't been discovered yet. They thought we bore fruit like trees when we were right. There's some evidence though that women discovered paternity several hundred years before they told man about it. Because we wanted to preserve our independence. But anyway with the discovery of paternity a day I like to imagine it as a big lightbulb over somebody's head and there's But you know that's why society began gradually to change in very drastic ways. The idea of ownership of children began because before then children had been raised communally the idea of passing property down to children and the origin of marriage which was really locking women up long enough to make sure who the father was. Now the whole idea then of women's bodies as the means of production. It was a very startling one and one that changed society very drastically.
Women produce the warrior's women produce the workers and so it was decided that the state or the tribal community had to control them. They were locked up by the system of marriage and they were in fact the first political subjugation. We were the means of production are now so locked up and with occasional. Difficulties of pregnancy it was easy to turn us into a second class group. The second class group which all others were to follow in pattern. And so the next step of course was to give us the repetitive or boring unrewarding work that men did not want to do which became known as feminine work. That's the definition of a feminine task anything a man doesn't want to do. In some societies just digging ditches and others is typing. But the definitions don't work. So one sub one
in the corner and restricted and possessed in this way. It was easy to view us as a pattern for other subjugation when other twin tribes that looked different or talk different were captured and brought into this situation. They were given the role of women. They too were marked by physical difference often difference of skin were given the less rewarding work to do. So there has always been the deepest kind of parallel between the position of women and any other group in the society marked by visible difference as second class. I talked about it and American dilemma 30 years ago in a book I wish I had read much sooner. When he said that the parallel between women and black man in a society as the two biggest second class groups was the deepest truth of American life.
Now he was not comparing the suffering and I am not and no one would compare the suffering because women lose our identity and black man and sometimes black women to lose their lives. But the parallel myth are very interesting to look at and very important to look at so that now that we have just begun to realize how deeply racist this society is we can take those generalized statements that we make about women and substitute for the word women. The words black man or Puerto Rican man or Chicano men and begin to see what it is we're saying. Princeton pointed out some of the parallel myth that black man and all women have been and sometimes still are said to have smaller brains passive natures childlike natures to be on my own able to govern ourselves God forbid we should try to govern a white male.
To have special job skills always the poorly paid ones. With women it's detail work we're terrific at detail work. If it's in a factory or if it's typing or something it's brain surgery and we are supposed to be closer to the earth and have natural rhythm more sexual and according to television have natural odors. I don't know how anybody who has ever passed a locker room can believe that but we think you know we begin to understand that we have buried in our heads so deep that we act on it without really knowing that they are there now. Put forth a lot of ways most of them so subtle that we don't know we are being instructed. But one of the important ones has to do with physical inferiority.
Jensen is still trying desperately to prove that black intelligence is inferior to the white intelligence and Lionel Tiger is still trying to prove that women are inferior and cannot act in groups. And so when thinking about those men because all the best myths are scientifically proved of course. I like to think about one that was very prevalent 100 years ago in Britain if we'd all been fighting here we would have got it from my prep professors and textbooks and from you know whatever the mass media of the day was. God knows what we're getting from our professors in our textbooks now which was a very carefully proved worked out. Theory not just presented the fact that the English were descended from the angels and Irish were descended from the apes. This was proved with skull caliper measurements and tracing apes coming from the trees and so on and so we had to keep it in our heads you know when we're thinking about all these other myths. There's an interesting study that the
World Health Organization has just done studying a lot of societies not just this one. And they concluded that there was no discernible emotional or intellectual difference between males and females. But what was even more interesting was they concluded that the differences of strength that we hear so much about were transitory and negligible as they put it. Transitory because they tend to exist only during the childbearing years. That is males and females as children and as old people have approximately the same amount of strength and negligible because even during those childbearing years the differences of strength are not very great and tend to have more to do with bone structure and muscle structure so that you're suited for different kinds of tasks rather than difference of sheer force. I think. There are so many ways in which these are carried
and in television our peers our family all the books we read in which little boys don't cry and little girls serve cookies. All the things that you know are supposed to socialize us into our vet. It's really a very effective job at a place called the California Institute of gender identity which figured out that it would be easier to surgically change the sect of a adolescent male wrongly brought up as a female than it would be to change his condition. So we have no idea of what it is we really have to do with have to deal with one of the things that that afflict women most. I mean aside from the overt discrimination which of course I mean I don't have to tell you how you know women are and half as much for doing the same work and you know that the really overt forms of discrimination we need at every step trying to get into graduate school for instance in other places.
But. What's interesting is the internalization of these feelings of inferiority. A woman a doctor Matina Horner at the University of Michigan did a study called The Fear of competency which is very interesting because she gave two women and two men each one about their own group. And they were parallel questions like the John Doe graduate head of his medical class what happens to him. Well the men answer you know John Doe did he get a great internship and he marries a beautiful girl and he has a nice house and a terrific practice great. All right then you ask the women Jane Doe graduates head of her medical class what happened. She lies about it. She doesn't want to tell John because John will love her. She decides she really wants to be a nurse and help John through medical school. She becomes a doctor but she never marries because no one wants to marry her and she's a wonderful doctor but a terribly
unhappy person. Anyway to a bad end I think it's hard for me to understand the depth of this confidence and fear of success in women that makes us apologize for the very best that makes us understand what it means. And knowledge. But that's how deep now in the beginning I stopped talking about Freud because I thought everybody knows that he had been tested and you know that he was a product of his own culture the culture. But he is still being taught on campuses and
maybe worse than that we are still being influenced in many ways by minds formed and ideas. So maybe we have to say one more time. That is the most male. And. I mean it it's sort of mail you go you know who wouldn't want one. And that is that it's really a product of being you know part of his culture and his culture alone and not looking at other studies because he thought it existed you know in Europe at that time and so he thought it was natural. Instead of understanding that it's true of any second class group that any any of us you know judged inferior by society will tend to be whatever it is that makes the first class group first class white skin straight hair penises whatever it is
and only as the society gets a little more egalitarian Are we free to celebrate or celebrate ourselves and respect. I duly did. No we're not that celebrate. If we talk about Freud it's only fair to talk about the church. I mean the champion myth maker of all time. I like to think what's left of my idealism I guess but in the beginning of most great religions there was some idea that there was an essence of God in each of us. But it sure got lost in the church.
And you will find in most great religions structured religions whether it's Hinduism or Catholicism. That is the position of the priesthood goes up the position goes down. As one Indian anthropologist said the priest has always been jealous of the spiritual fulfillment which men achieved upon the breast of women. And also they have used sexual repression as a way of keeping and keeping hold of their believers and turning that energy on to the Crusades and other things in the interest of the church. But in any case they have always taught that women were half people unclean defiled the altar certainly couldn't participate in church affairs and so on. Well I'm happy to say that the situation is reversing itself and the position of women is going up and the position of priesthood is going down if women are voting in Protestant churches big revolution you know didn't happen until last year. Jewish women are carrying out a lot of revolutions so they no
longer have to shave their heads and sit in the balcony and so on. And also they can rewrite the prayers that Orthodox Jews have been saying all these years. I mean Orthodox Jews get up every morning and thank God that they were not going slaves were not born female. Catholic women are realizing that there is no reason why they should be nuns and men should be priests or why women should type and men should be the boss or why women should be nurses and men should be doctors. Maybe a whole generation of us should refuse to learn how to type. But nuns are taking over the pulpit from priests and are often very radical because they have been oppressed the most women in 45 states around the country and New York California Michigan and others are suing the Catholic Church to deprive it of its tax exempt status because it has used for so long and so illegally money its money to influence legislation
and especially that legislation that is against women. I'm sure that in the state of Massachusetts there are women in this audience who feel very deeply about the number of their sisters who have been killed because of their inability to get a safe abortion. Thank you. In fact as many women die each year from botched abortions as American men are dying in China I think that this is obscene and an unacceptable holdover from those primitive date in which the body of the woman was the means of production and the state had to control what and yet still in this year we are fighting it. There's a lot of fear I think about the effect of this revolution on the family
now. First of all we have to figure out what we mean when we say the family. Because what we've been accustomed to seeing on the front cover of The Saturday Evening Post or The Reader's Digest or in the White House especially now the next county and to have family is really not a very. Realistic picture when you consider that two out of three marriages end in divorce and that young people are tending more and more into. A. Group together and that old people are shunted in a very inhuman way out of their homes and out of their neighborhood beat. The truth is that the nuclear family that we've been supposed to be except as sacred is really very new and very inhuman and only a product of industrialization. Because in agricultural times everybody lived together in lots of different age groups lived together and everyone worked in the fields together. It's only it's only
industrialisation that took the job away from the home. And with suburbanization very far away from the home and ghetto wise the wife and the children in the home. So we're talking about getting back to more humane solutions. And the movement is not. And when I say the movement I don't mean groups of organizations I mean in a big offense the consciousness change that is going on all over the country and indeed all over the world and sometimes within organizations and sometimes not. But what the movement is about is choice is freedom of choice. It should be an honorable solution to live alone to live with another person in a loving and equal partnership which the laws of marriage was of course work against. I mean the marriage laws are meant for a person and a half. I now pronounce you man and wife in person and man and dog. I mean it's not husband and wife and they are still based on the old English system. That means
it says the married couple is one person and that person is a man. So the laws work against the loving and equal partnership which is what we're talking about. It should be an honorable solution to live communally. To have children or not to have children. I think the most important kind of birth control and I object to the word control I think we ought to talk about reproductive freedom. Because birth control has been used against minority communities and very inhuman ways. And the one country that has tried to do that has made. Completely free and available which is Japan has found that the population growth reversed itself so that people who want to have large families should be allowed to have large families and would be if only we would stop brainwashing those of us who may not want to have large families or any children into a kind of crazy if we don't.
It's very important that we stop doing that that we start recognizing that individual's freedom to live as he or she pleases. After all I mean if one psychologist female but it not everybody should have children any more than everybody would be an opera singer. I think. It's very it's very important to talk about the effect on the family and that the point is individual choice and freedom and so forth because the distortions of the movement often often make it seem that we are supposed to turn our children over to the state and to what of what the whole thing is about as some kind of rigid solution and not individual choice. If Dorothy were here she would have a lot to say to you about child care. And it's very exciting because
the beginning of a system which raises children without sex and race which never says Little Boys Don't Cry. And little girls don't play baseball which never is. Any stereotyped prediction about black people or Puerto Rican people which treats children as individuals. In her childcare center there are a third black a third white a third Puerto Rican children. The teachers are also racially and economically mixed. Half of the teachers are man and half of the teachers are women which is terribly important because small children tend to be to see only women. And the point of the childcare center which must be community controlled and we must not repeat the same mistakes that we made in the public school system. But the point of it really is for the child. It's been depicted as kind of the selfish mother problem as if motherhood was more important than parenthood. American children have too much mother and
too little father. And what part of what is now being said is that children need both their parents. Children need the men as part of their early schooling system and children need to see their peers so that even if a woman is neither a woman or her husband works. It would still be a favor to the child in many cases unless it's a very large family to put the child in a childcare center for some hours of each day so that he or she can be peers because now I mean I mean children tend to be locked up to the age of six they're locked up with a lot of very tall folks who say no and shut up all the time and put next to the television set. And this is the alternative we're talking about when we talk about child care centers. I think one of the very one of the most exciting things about the movement is that it's making women connect with women across the
boundaries of age and race and class. Too because those boundaries do not apply to women in quite the same way they do to men. The wife of a rich man may not be rich or powerful herself she is often an ornament and a child. And so she may in fact serve the same function as a domestic. She began. In fact there was a woman in Long Island who against whom I was kind of just out of the remains of my male old left. Our new left upbringing because she was her husband was well-to-do and she seemed to eat chocolates and so on and one one so awakened by the movement she began to understand that she had more in common with her maid than she did with her husband. So they started going to classes together she forced her husband to pay the maid decently. And they got a grandmother from across the street and a teenage girl from next door and formed
their own rap group and this is the kind of connection that's being made as women. Because we have as long as we have breasts AND a womb in the society we're going to be discriminated against as women. Whatever our race or economic group one of the connections that's happening to it's beginning to happen now is that we're beginning to understand that many issues not thought to be women's issues really are welfare for instance is a woman's issue. It's no accident that 85 percent of the people on welfare are women and dependent children. More than half of them are white. It system started out as a mothers allowance because women cannot earn enough they earn only half as much for doing the same work anyway. They are supposed by society to have more responsibility for the children than the father does. And so it's much more reliable to say that a woman. Or a female headed
family will end up on welfare then to say that a family headed by a minority man will end up on welfare. And we're beginning to make this kind of connection and to understand that women and women wherever they are have to fight the Family Assistance Plan that Nixon has put forward suggesting that women and children need principles because it would mean that the majority of people on welfare would have their money cut back. And women on welfare are beginning to analyze the welfare system as a gigantic husband a big white husband in the sky that keeps you. It was designed in fact to keep women in their world to prevent them from working not giving decent childcare and so forth. And if even jealous that comes and looks in your closet under your bed to make sure you're being faithful to the big white welfare husband and this guy. Now. I think. I think.
Maybe during. The question period we can talk more about what what people are doing on campuses and in communities all over as part of this revolution. I mean it it varies from getting the newspapers to stop listing jobs according to male and female are they still doing that here. They're still doing it in stopped in New York but it's still going on and most other in Chicago and most other major cities although it's as far as Kennedy our friend whom we also lecture with there are very few jobs that actually require a penis or vagina. Make. It very. Back to setting up childcare centers to cooperate among women and man. Or perhaps it's just a beginning for a woman with a
personal revolution when she says a minute. I work and my husband works out I am supposed to get the meals and take more responsibility for the House and the children. That doesn't make sense. So it begins with her raising his consciousness to understand it is his house and he has children as well and they are both working they are both responsible equally. Or it may be the fact that men tend to be much less willing to change if their wife gets a wonderful job opportunity than vice versa. And yet that doesn't make sense of a partnership of equals. It's the kind of really a redefinition of politics because politics have been defined as something out there in Washington or far away. It's been defined in such a way as to keep women out of it. But women are now understanding that it is any power relationship in our daily lives just as the black movement made us understand the politics with any power relationship in everyday life which meant that
an individual was born into an inferior role was put into an inferior role simply because they looked different. So politics for women may be who's doing the typing or who's doing the shift work which is the technical definition of woman's work. That is. Politics for for women and that is the reason why we have to from the bottom up from the precinct level up of the political structures whether they're Republican or Democratic really doesn't matter. It's totally accidental that I'm on the Democratic Policy Council. I have much more in common with an FTF woman or Republican woman than I do with Larry O'Brian who happens to be head of the Democratic Policy Council. But we must seize control of those structures that dispense the money and rule our lives we must seize control of them so that we can humanize them at last. Now one final word about the women's movement and man
because I think that. Very misunderstood. Sometimes we get questions from the audience like should I open the door. Should I not should I light a cigarette. The great civil rights questions and. I mean honestly it should be a matter of personal courtesy and respect and affection and it shouldn't matter whether you do it for a man or woman of one but Dorothy always says that this is a sign of sexual uptightness in the in the I was always a male and she always told her great drunken Georgia style you know the trouble with you guys is you can get the woman's movement 16s you won't be able to screw with much. And there was shocked silence while the Rotary Club or whatever it is absorbs. And then she said well I want to tell you be able to screw more and better. Well I have a kind of chicken hearted Toledo Ohio which is where I'm from a way of saying the same thing
which is that most men especially older men I saw accustomed to submission but they don't know what cooperation might be like. Thank you. For having me. I don't want to confuse the sexual revolution with women's liberation because they're antithetical in a lot of ways and sex is probably much too emphasized impossibly impossibly idealized and emphasized in this society. So we should make it clear that a liberated woman is one who says no as well as yes and one who asked herself if she feels like it. Or one who may choose to have a life that is much less sexual much more sexual. Anything that is a personal expression then of what the society considers as ideal. Man. Man I think I mean if it's not possible probably for white men to
be oppressed because they can get out up and out of it right at least they don't look different. At least they're not marked on their skins for an inferior role as nonwhite people are and as all women are. But they certainly are dehumanized and exploited by the masculine role. In order to be a man you're supposed to not show your emotion of earn a lot of money. Worked for IBM for 40 years and end up with engraved watch. You never see your children. Go off to China and fight in a war to prove manhood. When men may come back in fact not men at all. To fight in bars as they used to win my childhood to kill small animals. To have short hair. To to to follow this notion of the masculine mystique that is at the bottom of so much of the violence of this society
both internationally and at home. Daniel Ellsberg has gotten very interested in this question because he read all of the Pentagon Papers and he couldn't figure out why it was that every advisor and every president made the wrong decision based on the right information. And he finally decided that it really could only be attributed to the masculine mystique because the whole notion that one has to emerge victorious from every situation be number one at all times at whatever cost. They say all of these problems have been the dominant problems of our policy makers. So maybe I mean I would rather have Margaret Mead as president of the United States during all the Indochina. Atlanta. She would have been better to me than I did Nixon or Johnson because at least she would have had her masculinity. Anthropologists point it
out too because in studying the few tribes that are not violent in this society. In this world they discovered that the only common characteristic was that the sex roles were not polarized. There is great pleasure every day affairs of life building things sex art pleasure and all of those things but there is no concept of heroic manhood because it is that way. That is the most fundamental way that we are organized into doing what the state needs that women are organized that cheap labor is feminine and to be submissive and passive and so on is really what it's all about and men are taught that in order to be masculine they have to be aggressive and violent and always be the victor and a lot of money. So it really is the deepest kind of revolution and it really is
one that must be fought as a coalition of the out of all the people who are marked on their skins for this second class hero of all of us who must stand up and refuse to play the role of cheap labor. Finally so that this society can be humanized and the revolution we live every day when we die for. But maybe if we live it every day we have a chance. I mean we've had 5000 years of kind of crispy 5000 years of patriarchy and racism. We are at the threshold now of a new period. Perhaps it could be one of humanism and maybe if we live this revolution every day each one of us historians will look back at this time and say that for the first time. The human animal stopped dividing itself up according to visible difference according to race and according to sect and started to look for the real and human potential inside. Thank you.
Thank you. When. I come on I come here somewhat unprepared because this is supposed to be my vacation and. When gordie called me a little over a week ago when she was in Chicago she said Dorothy and I are going on this tour when I come along I can go back home to South and you know about five hours sleep in the last six days vacation. Of course Dorothy somewhere stranded between Columbus and here I am. My name is Margaret Sloane and Dorothy Pitman ukes for
anybody that came in late and I'm going to say why am I wearing this. That's all that matters. There was a song that appears on the Nina Simone album silken So that was written by Billy Taylor as a theme for Operation Breadbasket in Chicago. Billy Taylor the director of the august and Dave Pross show the words are two of the standards I wish I knew how it would feel to be free. I wish I could break all these chains holding me. I wish I could do all the things I could say I am loud and clear for the whole world to hear. I wish I could be like a bird in the sky. How sweet it would be if I found I could fly. I saw it through the sky looked down to the sea and I think I know how it feels to be free. I'm certain that Billy Taylor did not have the women's movement in mind when he wrote that
song. And yet feminists all over the country would have no problem relating to the words of the oppression to the oppression of women. For me the parallels between racism and sexism all too clearly point out that for me a black woman. The problem is sort of dialectic for institutional racism was somehow voted out of existence tomorrow. I somehow I get the strange feeling that I would still be in the kitchen cooking grits for the revolutionaries. Black women today are in a very uncomfortable position all about as we hear about the historic castration of a black male and many and many a misguided sister has allowed Moynahan and matriarchy to be crammed down after Odin up anyplace else. The whole idea about Moynihan like the problem with the black man and the black woman problem of the black man is white racism you know. And I think that a lot of black women are really
trying to deal with that. All sorts of studies and reports have been done on the effects of slavery on the black man. And the need for Black Male Identity. But the historic implications of a black woman have been left out of history. I've never personally I'm not that educated. Go to school and purchase a degree I am a street they got education was. But does anyone really care about what the ripping away of children and selling them into slavery. Apart from the black mother how did that affect how did it affect the psyche of the black female. I haven't seen a study of how Combs and hair straighteners and bleach creams in order to look like a white male the image of beauty. I haven't seen a study who really cares that when black women were brought from Africa and many times when we gave birth to female babies the
babies were killed. To bring the young to bring the girl with the Black Women's Conference that preceded the YWCA convention in Houston. I was in a sensitivity group with our black women about 35 of us between the ages of 18 and 37 of the Black Women's Conference I believe that a thousand women there. The sisters need to define themselves. Not relation to their men is an assumption right there but not relation to their men. But just to define our cell was something that we really tried to work through and our group concluded that if it was necessary today for the black man to go about the. Business of liberation at the expense of subjugating the black woman then we'd have to redefine what liberation was all about. As Bobby Fields said See the time in the panda household. Everybody makes a bed everybody sweeps the floor and everybody makes the revolution and real manhood doesn't depend on the subjugation of
anyone. We asked us over again why it was necessary for the brothers with afros who had outward appearances had rejected white and. Found it necessary to imitate the white man as he relates to his woman. But that's a clear example I think of what Kennedy and we keep quoting Flo Kennedy from New York talk about horizontal my fertility. The black man is not free any pressure group it's not free after take out take out the shit on the person it's just below them. That's why blacks kill blacks and women beat their kids. God forbid they should get a white man. I really have to talk about this I think that white women and black women have been consistently and deliberately pitted against each other. In history. My idea of the mint julep sipping white woman I think she actually believed she was free. I think she actually believes she has empowered. She actually believed herself was not a slave. And she was fairly read
relegated to the position of a teacake mistress Madame Wright whose have been long since started that she was to be a lady first and foremost. And when he took the sexual liberties with the black woman slave she was told it was his duty in the name of duty he practised as a donation and eluded the raid. But he called his woman in bed with a black label with death above the white woman go to resent and hate a black woman for she secretly longed for her husband to take the liberty with her that she was one becoming too a lady and only fitting to a nigger woman. Another example of boredom hostility. She really didn't know who the enemy was. Black women are interested in the women's liberation movement. I did go over the country. Right you know you get the idea. If you read the press you know who controls the press right. There's only one black woman involved in women's liberation movement every time I go I see all these black women who tell me that they think I'm the only black women involved. Liberation. I'm really confused about that.
After they declared the civic center in Chicago the first women strike date two years ago August 26 and one third of the crowd was black and the male I received the phone calls I get from this room. The request for black women to come and speak at black campuses. It's a reality to me. I think the male dominated media and street corner revolution revolutionaries think to invalidate the women moved back saying that it's a white middle class women's group I think that most people that are oppressed the most have not been the ones that have started revolutionary movements anyway. We look at the movements that have been around the last 10 years. Freddy Hampton did not come from West Side ghetto he grew up in a Chicago suburb. Dr. King had a Ph.D.. Malcolm went to Howard. Huey P. Newton's father was a minister. This doesn't invalidate anything that they've done. When people are
down and out they don't have time for movements or revolutions or trying to fight for their lives. I think for example we went down to Auburn Auburn Alabama places mixed with the sand and. The domestics down there all going and it's really fantastic to see these women organize you know. Decent wages paid vacations and and the reason it's important to have a like a team Dorothy and Gloria go around blowing myself is to point out you know you talk to the black women in demand and talk to the white women to try to raise a level of consciousness too. So they're both in the working together because as long as white women in the women's liberation movement think somehow they go right out to freedom on the on the basis of feminism then they got another joke you know.
They have another trump card I think that they have to play. I think that hopefully women who have feminist consciousness have tried in some way to deal with the racism. But I think that it would be a contradiction to find some kind of racist feminists I think that's a contradictory term. I think that the white women in the women's movement if in fact you don't want it to continue right be riding on the theory that it is a white middle class organization you're going to have to deal with your own racism and you don't have to get out as liberal should you stop going down and helping the people but go right where you do what your mother was you know and the people on campus and you teachers and faculty and stuff like that you know I think that's where you can be most effective in trying to get the workers because the workers look at you and look at your hands and say you know Gallup doesn't say you ain't working shit you know. So I think that people really have to understand what they have to work you know I don't want to get into that later.
I think black women will never become a card carrying feminist I don't think of. I don't think there's any organization except maybe for now that has a membership card you know. But. I think I haven't talked to any black women who've been talking don't want. To be structured. Equal pay for equal work and and the whole abortion issue and 24 hour daycare centers. And also I think black women want to be liberated to psychologic and constraining and oppression. I think. That's something sought after by black women I haven't talked to any black woman who doesn't want that and I think that it's a racist plot to say that black women are concerned about themselves as women just as white women. I'm tired of being fed that because from where I come from a just isn't true and I've talked to too many women that think along those same kinds of lines a lot of people came down and Shirley Chisholm when
she said that she felt her first of almost oppression as a woman. And not as a black. I really get on here and I couldn't understand it. Today some what was right for society to be black and then right by trying to black white folks is trying to wear natural black and then you know but the frivolity of the Women's Liberation Movement had met with this is still real. You know. And for surely that was true. Needless to say none of us will be free until all of us are free and I think women really have to fight oppression when they feel it. I work with Operation Breadbasket in Chicago and I'm not about starting a campaign and talk to the women I try to get them to understand what's going on. Hopefully that in terms of black black revolution you know if somebody asked me and somebody asked me about the song. The price of integration I guess because you can have a black man fuck on his way to power and victory to I didn't like the
movie. And they will be upset that I didn't like it because of the day of the black man technique and he's an innovator. I thought that was terrible. I don't want black men to imitate white men in terms of their revolutionary tactics. I don't want to have them have to fuck black women white women to be somehow you know this is not a manager. Of Thugs. Another thing that races do they try to get black men on the sand the corners a little town for your woman a step back I don't think that I think it's really a shame that people have to feel the blackness I want to get it they need black women pushing them into manhood. I guess I can understand that I think that's racist too. You know in a time when when all black people are needed to ask. To ask one half the race to step back in the kitchen I think that the rankest plight I would think all our talents and resources are needed. In a true liberation struggle.
And I think that what. They always talk about banned me you know why aren't you concerned about the real struggles you know and things like that that the women's movement women's liberation is not a real issue. I think you know pollution battles are cool but I think we have to clear up some of the polluted relationships between men and women first and get rid of the jealousy of women have toward one another. They try to tell us women don't know how to work together and and until I get in the mood and I really didn't believe I really believe that I really believed we couldn't work together you know because you better get your thing together because she's not going to take your dude right by going to 53 percent of the population the women most of them losing their lives and men so you know. But I really sort of incorporate the idea of sisterhood. It's a reality to me something to live every day. I don't get into that hostility and even
you know. In some way understand a racist white woman much more than a white man because I'm understand the position that she's had to be put into. You know women have always been able to get together and talk among us. Now we're talking politically getting just talking about building. My vacation. Because people have questions and I question everything. I think we're going to have it. Thank you. Thank you. Night's guest on the boardwalk with Gloria Steinem and Margaret Sloane discussing women's liberation.
This fourth session of the fourth hole forum resumes after a 15 second break for station identification. This is NPR National Public Radio. From Jordan Hall in Boston the Ford hall forum question and answer period now takes place again this evening's moderator the cross-sell who is taking questions from the audience. Anyone in here owns that car I think you'd better go downstairs and talk to somebody about it or go out and see if it's still all in one piece. The cryptic message is that all I have is a license plate number. Is there a question in this area for either of our two speakers. Yes ma'am in the balcony. For which.
Well the question the question is the young lady's experience it has been women who are oppressed are more than men. And when you speak to that question. Yes sure I think I mean that's what describes you know because we tend to see more more women than men and women. You know I think the important thing is to understand that the problem is one that afflicts all second class groups. That means that every all of us the most terrible punishment society puts on any of us is to make us finally believe we are inferior. So if we get a little bit up in the world especially then we get the very familiar phenomenon it means we want to be the only Jew in the club or the only black family on the block or the only woman in the office we don't want to associate with our sisters with with other women because we think they are inferior. And once we realize that what kind of lack of self-esteem and self-respect. That really is
saying. Then we connect as women for the first time but we've been very isolated from each other and a nonwhite man in this country have had a kind of turf. Usually you know there's one part of town are where they can go and be themselves. But women have not had a turf. We've been very isolated from each other. And part of what the rap groups are about is to make this kind of connection that you're describing are describing the lack of and to create a turf to create a place where women can be totally free and really be honest for the first time and really find a connection. I think that all slaine are divided in some ways. Chill the house. Stop thinking that he was vetted in the yard playing in the field. No slave uprisings were. I think you know just like the female business executive and the housewife and the teacher coming to get in these groups. It was that type of division hostility again. But you know we're really trying to
overcome that I think. Yes sir. Women women. They're only a very small percentage of us who can afford to be ladies and even that's boring. You know I mean. Thank you. Sir. If if you would if you would care to repeat your question I think.
Yes yes. The question the question is if either of the two speakers are worth B.F. Skinner study on behavioral psychology that one would need to change the environment before one changes the behavior. And would you comment please. When I read the review I got to tell you frankly that I didn't read the book. But I think. The kind of control that he is talking about that is necessary to change the environment is itself an evidence of a kind of a masculine hangout. You know because because we're talking about individual expression and he is talking about in some ways the death of individual expression you're talking about a controlled environment. Also the last part of what you said which was. That you know with that we should create new environments instead of feeling hostility toward the people who hold the wrong attitude. I think I think that that's not what women need to
- Ford Hall Forum
- Contributing Organization
- New England Public Radio (Amherst, Massachusetts)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- Gloria Steinem and Margaret Sloan speak about the women's liberation movement at the Ford Hall Forum, held in Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory of Music. Steinem gives an overview of women's history, starting with gynecocracy, and discusses gender roles and men's views of the women's movement. Margaret Sloan, who is filling in for originally scheduled speaker Dorothy Pitman, speaks about black women in the women's movement. At the end of their speeches, the speakers answer questions from the audience.
- Created Date
- Asset type
- Event Coverage
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- Media type
Host: Bauer, George
Moderator: Rossell, Deac, 1944-
Speaker: Steinem, Gloria
Speaker: Sloan-Hunter, Margaret, 1947-
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: 281.10 (SCUA)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Ford Hall Forum; Lectures by Gloria Steinem and Margaret Sloan on Women's Liberation,” 1972-02-24, New England Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 28, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-305-94vhhx09.
- MLA: “Ford Hall Forum; Lectures by Gloria Steinem and Margaret Sloan on Women's Liberation.” 1972-02-24. New England Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 28, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-305-94vhhx09>.
- APA: Ford Hall Forum; Lectures by Gloria Steinem and Margaret Sloan on Women's Liberation. Boston, MA: New England Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-305-94vhhx09