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(Editors Note: This memoir of how the women's liberation movement changed one woman's life first appeared in the November 1971 issue of Womankind, the CWLU newspaper.)

I remember when I first thought about whether Women's Liberation was relevant to me. I decided against it. My good (male) friend had gently hinted that this Women’s Liberation thing was attracting quite a few of the "cool" girls at school and maybe I should look into it. I thought it over, then explained that I didn't share those women's problems. After all, I wasn't too shy to talk in my classes. I talked as much as the men. Anyway, I had always said that I liked feeling inferior to a man. I was looking for (and having trouble finding) a man who was stronger than me, smarter than me, and in general just a touch better than me at everything -- someone I could look up to and lean on.

When I heard that part of the Women's Liberation line was about how women should be permitted to be as loud and aggressive as they wanted, I was a bit more turned on. Not that I considered myself an aggressive bitch type. On the contrary, I had worked long and hard to be able to be aggressive AND still feminine. I knew that if I wanted to talk as much as I did and say the things that I did, I had damn well be charming at the same time. I wasn't into eyelash-batting but there were ways that I walked, sat, dressed, etc. that "saved" me from being labeled a castrating bitch. Then I read the Bitch Manifesto, by and about a woman who wanted to be her normal aggressive self without trying to be charming too, and it really affected me. I could feel how that woman felt (like I was trying to avoid feeling) and I could see how a woman like me was being accepted precisely because I wasn't as "bad" as her.

I realized the whole thing was ridiculous -- women being told to play this absurd game of having a certain kind of personality and actually going along with it. Why should I have to do a song and dance routine to be accepted for what I really am? I felt like a fool. Instead of my usual feelings of jealousy of other women, I felt angry that I was feeling jealous. I had been manipulated into that feeling, so we would all keep trying for the stupid image. It was the contest approach. We were all in the Miss America pageant. How humiliating.

Seeing how unequal things were between men and women, and how women (me too) had accepted it, helped me to see how unequal things were for many people in our society. And the whole society just accepts it, even though some people are starving and others are millionaires. In my own middle-class life, I sometimes feel like I'm starving, when I'm sitting home with my two kids while my husband is out doing his exciting work-of-his-own-choice. I starve for novelty, stimulation, the opportunity to grow and help others grow and change things. It's unfair that my life should be determined by my sex, and it makes me furious -- too angry to put up with it much longer. That people are actually starving for food is so much worse that it seems unbearable.

Recognizing the unfairness of the situation is liberating in itself. I like not having to worry about clothes anymore, and I don't mind being scorned by people who would have me be a stupid object. It's a pleasure to have warm, wonderful feelings for other women -- not just to see them as friends rather than enemies, but to consider how we women can mean so much to each other as not to need men. Struggling with Women's Liberation is also very difficult, especially since I am trying to work out a happy relationship with a man, something I hope but don't know is a possibility. Since I have become a part of the Women's Liberation Movement, I am more and more convinced that our Movement is right. Unlike so much else that I and my sisters have become involved in; I haven't and won't lose interest, and I'll never turn back.

Woman symbol

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