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Naomi Weisstein Biography by Naomi Weisstein (2000)

A lifelong feminist , her militancy was sharpened by 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, 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).

Naomi is an author and neuroscientist (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.

Probably best known for her pioneering essay,"Kinder, Kirche, Kuche as Scientific Law: Psychology Constructs the Female", she has written extensively on science, feminism, culture and politics. "Kinder, Kirche, Kuche" is characterized as having started the discipline of the psychology of women, and 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. her articles have been published 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 Library.

Naomi's sense of humor has been displayed 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).

She has 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, Naomi 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 since.

Thanks to the Veteran Feminists of America and Naomi Weisstein for this biography.