Naomi Weisstein Biography

   Author and neuroscientist Naomi Weisstein (B.A., Wellesley
1961,  Ph.D. Harvard, 1964) is Professor of Psychology at SUNY,
Buffalo. A  Guggenheim Fellow and a Fellow of the American
Association for the  Advancement of Science and the American
Psychological Society, she has  written over sixty articles for
such publications as Science, Vision  Research, Psychological
Review and Journal of Experimental Psychology,  and served on the
boards of Cognitive Psychology and Spatial Vision.

   A lifelong feminist whose militance was sharpened by her
experiences  in male-dominated science at Harvard and afterwards,
she counts as her  first women's liberation demonstration the
"distraction" she held in  front of Harvard's Lamont Library, still
males-only, in 1962.  Told that  women were barred from the library
because they distracted serious  scholarship, she and her friends
slithered in front of the library  windows in skin-tight leotards,
playing a  clarinet, two tambourines,  and an old trumpet.

   "Distraction." they shouted.  "We'll show you distraction!"

   A socialist and civil-rights activist as well, she was a member
of  the New Haven Congress of Racial Equality, (1963) the Chicago
Student  Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (1964), the University
of Chicago  Students for a Democratic Society (1965-1970), and the
New University  Conference (1969).

   Known for her powerful oratory, she was one of the founders of
the  Chicago Westside Group (1967; the first independent women's
liberation  group in the emerging movement) and the Chicago Women's
Liberation Union  (1969). She was organizer of, and comedian and
keyboardist in the  Chicago Women's Liberation Rock Band
(1970-1973).  She also helped found  American Women in Psychology
(1970; now division 35 of the American  Psychological Association);
the Women's Caucus of the Psychonomic  Society (1972) and Women in
Eye Research (1980; a caucus of the  Association for Research in
Vision and Ophthalmology).

   Weisstein has written extensively on science, feminism, culture
and  politics. She is best known for her pioneering essay, "Kinder,
Kirche,  Kuche as Scientific Law: Psychology Constructs the
Female".  Characterized as having started the discipline of the
psychology of  women, it has been reprinted over 42 times in six
different languages.   A festschrift commemorating the 25th
anniversary of the article appeared  as a special issue of the
British journal, Feminism and Psychology, in  1992.  She has also
published articles in  Harper's, the Nation, and  Newsday, among
others, and she has served on the board of Signs. Her  papers are
currently being collected by Harvard-Radcliffe's Schlesinger

   Weisstein has been involved in comedy both inside and outside
of the  scientific profession .  Her cartoons have appeared in a
number of  publications debuting in The Voice of the Women's
Liberation Movement  (1968-1969), and then appearing in The New
University Conference  Newsletter (1969), The Rogers' Spark (1970),
The Open Conspiracy  (Stackpole Books, 1970), and the National
Forum (1999).  Her comic  monologues have appeared in Cultural
Correspondence (1978), Win Magazine  (1977) and Pulling Our Own
Strings: Women's Humor (Indiana University  Press (1980). Her
writings about humor have appeared in Sister(1975,  1976), and in
the introduction to the book of cartoons by Ellen Levine,  All She
Needs, (N.Y. Quadrangle: 1973) which was reprinted, first by  Know,
Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA) under the title "Laugh? I nearly died!" and
then as the cover story for Ms. Magazine, 1973, under the title
"Why we  aren't laughing any more!". [Dreary title, but she didn't
choose it].   She also has an entry about humor in the Reader's
Companion to U.S.  Women's History, (Houghton-Mifflin, 1998).

   Weisstein has also been performing comedy ever since her
triumphal  debut as best freshman and then best sophomore class
comedian at  Wellesley (1957, 1958). Sponsored by comedian David
Steinberg, she came  this close to joining Chicago's Second City
troupe (1965). She routinely  brought down the house with her comic
monologues while touring with the  Chicago Women's Liberation Rock
band (1970-1973). Her "Saturday Night  Special--a Salute to Rape"
(1974) was in great demand during the late  seventies. In 1980, in
collaboration with producer-playwright Eve  Merriam, Weisstein was
planning a one-woman comedy show in New York when  she fell ill
with an incapacitating illness and has not been able to  perform