"...and then I began noticing injustices
all over the place...")
(Editors Note: This memoir of how one woman joined the women's
liberation movement appeared in Womankind, the CWLU's newspaper.)
out from behind the successful mans back and actually becoming
a successful person was the idea that launched me into the women's
movement. Growing up with three brothers on the southwest side of
Chicago taught me that they (males), were no better than me (female).
I could never deny that they were different, but we were all different
from each other. Also, I can really remember all those times that
my mother and I entered in battle as a team against the boys and
their father. It would really aggravate me because my mother would
say that it was the women of the family who did the work, while
they would continue to watch baseball, football, or whatever was
the season's sport.
I was still pretty young I told one of my uncles that I was going
to be the first American pope (just to be cute), but oddly enough
the thought of becoming priest grew up with me. I didn't tell too
many people because everybody knows women arent priests, they
're nuns. I knew that I didnt want to be a nun. (Heaven forbid!)
As late as senior year in a Catholic all girls high school, the
interest in becoming a priest still nagged at me. While talking
to somebody about my possible "vocation", they asked me
if I was doing it to prove a point about womens liberation,
At the time, which was early in 1971 I flatly stated that I was
doing anything that I was doing because I was personally interested
in doing it. That was all. Just two years later, I'm not embarrassed
or afraid to say that my possibly wanting to be a priest has a lot
to do with women's liberation.
that there was no good reason why a woman couldn't become a priest
or anything else she wanted to be.
four years of an all girls school, it was a little difficult to
get adjusted to a normal situation. But that's when it began to
happen, sure, going to school with all girls had been unreal, but
sometimes reality isn't always the easiest thing to face. Now it
dawned on me it was the only good thing about my time in high school.
It gave me a chance to really learn to respect my "fellow"
classmates (how come there is no word for female colleagues?) I
also learned how to be aggressive and self-sufficient. I had been
working only with other women and not having to deal with all that
"masculine ego building" common to mixed groups. It began
to irk me when some guy wanted me to take notes or type something
up because it was real stereotyping.
still, I began noticing injustices all over the place. And let's
face it; there is no such thing as a "minor" injustice.
Any injustice means a complete loss of freedom, for you cant
have partial freedom either.
about the same time all these injustices were springing up around
me, I had been attracted to the Southwest area YWCA (3134 W. Marquette)
through a Youth Conference co-sponsored by the local YMCA and them.
I didn't know what the Southwest YWCA offered, It surprised me that
they didn't have a pool, or gym or classes for that matter. I started
getting involved by hearing things here and there about what the
YWCA was doing. The programs were good, even great. There were discussion
groups, the beginnings of a couple of tot lots, talk of a women's
health committee, and the YWCA had only been around for around ten
months. Then I got a job at the YWCA, working 20 hours a week. Interest
and involvement turned to commitment. In the year I've been employed,
I've seen lots of background work and enough changes to convince
me I wanted to work for women. The health committee blossomed, starting
a free immunization program at Marquette Park once a month and securing
womens cancer testing at a private community hospital. The
tot lot program has expanded, and an ecology club for young girls
was formed as well as a consciousness raising group for high school
the Southwest College Women's Union was founded, The SCWU came out
of a particular frustration junior college women feel. In addition
to the general discrimination aimed toward women plus the usual
educational inequalities, women attending a 2-yr. city school have
problems. The reasons for going to a jr. college are lack of funds,
and needing to work and/or living at home. Many families don't consider
their daughter's education as important as their sons so many are
hassled by all three reasons. Also, jr., colleges offer the opportunity
for older women to finish school, but the school makes no attempts
to ease the return. That's basically why several women attending
Southwest Community College got together in January, 1973 to discuss
the idea of a womens organization on campus. The idea sounded
so good that the SCWU appeared at the beginning of the Spring semester.
SCWU's first major activity was a day long celebration of International
Womens Day. Other events included a leadership training workshop
and dance with the Chicago Women's Liberation Rock Band, Three liberation
school courses (given by the Chicago Women's Liberation Union),
- self-defense, introduction to women's liberation and women and
their bodies- were offered free to students at the college. The
SCWU also met with women from other jr. college groups in the city
to work on some projects together. The discussions themselves did
a lot to give support and ideas to everyone. It seems like the possibilities
are limitless for the things we want to see happen in the future.
the Southwest College Women's Union is doing is important to me.
I'm committed to it's work, and the Southwest YWCA and the Chicago
Women's Liberation Union. I believe they're all vital for the survival
and advancement of women and for all people. These organizations
will mean a world of difference. A world changed significantly by
the women who will demand their rights, unify to get control over
our lives and a better way of living for everyone and create the
alternatives needed for a liberated society. The women's movement
means a future where a woman can use her talents to add a new dimension
to "success"... where it won't matter so much that a woman
prod men to success, but that she herself achieves freedom and happiness
by doing what she wants to, trying what she'd like to try, even
if she wants to be a priest