BEING IN WOMEN'S LIBERATION: A CASE STUDY IN SOCIAL CHANGE by MARYLEE STEPHENSON B.A., U n i v e r s i t y of C a l i f o r n i a (Berkeley), 1967 M.A., U n i v e r s i t y of Essex, 1968 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY i n the Department of Anthropology and Sociology We accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA June, 1975 In presenting th i s thesis in p a r t i a l fu l f i lment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the Univers i ty of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the L i b r a r y sha l l make it f ree ly ava i lab le for reference and study. I fur ther agree that permission for extensive copying of th i s thesis for s cho lar ly purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by his representat ives . It is understood that copying or p u b l i c a t i o n of this thesis for f i n a n c i a l gain shal l not be allowed without my writ ten pe rm i ss i on . Department of j c . ,: < • \ The Univers i ty of B r i t i s h Columbia 2075 Wesbrook Place Vancouver, Canada V6T 1W5 Date ( ' XX ABSTRACT This is a participant observation study of two Women's Liberation groups in Vancouver. Using a symbolic interactionist perspective i n the methodology and analysis, the study documents the interplay among the Move-ment ideology, the nature of regular participation i n the two differently constituted and structured groups, and the individual biographies of the participants. This conceptualization of social interaction as a multi-dimensional process is traced through the founders' accounts of the forma-tion of their respective groups, through a l l participants' accounts of their early awareness and "adoption" of Movement ideology, and then through the women's descriptions of the ways in which they continued to apply the liberationist and egalitarian goals of the Movement to their individual l i f e situations. There is further analysis of change in their primary relationships, their friendship patterns, and their paid-work/career situations. There is analysis of both regularities and simila r i t i e s of their applications of the ideology and of exceptions and individual pecul-i a r i t i e s of experience. In the part on foundation of the groups and women's early aware-ness of the ideology tit i s shown that women became interested in Women's Liberation only as she began to view some aspect of her l i f e as a woman, as problematic. This creation'adoption of the concept that being a woman is a social art i f a c t allowed for consideration of change in that situation. Women who f e l t that they were not subject to the problems most other women were heir to^were interested in changing the world to improve i t for those i i i other women. They were characterized as " a l t r u i s t i c " in their attitude toward the role of the Movement in their l i v e s . The founders of both groups were of this orientation. Most, other women experienced problems in their l i v e s revolving around their perceived inadequacy and discomfort in the performance of some aspects of .Lheir role as women. They u t i l i z e d the Movement ideology to find explanations of their situation and guide-lines for change. They sought, out a group with the specific goal of find-ing like-minded, supportive women with whom they could share their exper-iences. They were characterized as "pragmatic" in their expectations to-ward the role of the Movement in their l i v e s . In their primary relationships not a l l women defined their situation as problematic. Most did, however, and proceeded along ideolo-g i c a l l y informed lines to bring about increased egalitarianism in terms of the emotional/sexual relationship, and sharing of tasks within the household. There i s concomitant freedom for the woman to pursue her grow-ing range of new p o l i t i c a l and social interests. The women most free to assert their new-found expectations of equality are either married (with or without children) or women involved with a man but l i v i n g on their own. The woman l i v i n g with a man. is least able to attempt significant change in the relationship. This is attributed to the high degree of social struc-tural insecurity inherent in this kind of relationship. Friendship patterns are typically changed in that women are now the most valued source of friends, the number of friends i s increased, and the friendship-forming i n i t i a t i v e i s now taken by the woman herself as she selects largely from Movement women she is meeting. Friendship was shown, i v too, to play a crucial role in group formation as the already existent work" based friendship networks among the founders greatly f a c i l i t a t e d the i n i -t i a l organization tasks. The role of friendship in the movement of later joiners into their groups was shown in that v i r t u a l l y a l l of these women f i r s t ventured into a group in company of a friend who was already a p a r t i -cipant in a group and with whom they had been discussing issues raised in the Movement ideology. In the paid-work world, women were shown to have moved toward a rejection of carrying out stereotypically "womanly" behaviour that called for older women to be motherly and supportive of male co-workers and for -younger women to be non-threatening and f l i r t a t i o u s . They refused to accept traditional definitions of the nature and importance of hierarchies and associated mystification of the "expert" role. This meant that women in r e l a t i v e l y powerless positions openly questioned authority. Women with power over others ( i . e . , teachers) tried to restructure their teaching techniques and their subject matter to reflect their new belie f s in the role of women and of their refusal to embody a part of a hierarchy in their professional work. A l l of the women extended their concept of sisterhood to anyone who was receptive to this attitude at work. Some did so at con-siderable job risk. Selected perspectives on the symbolic construction of social r e a l i t y (Berger, 1957; Blumer, 1962; Cicourel, 1967-70; Mead, 1934; Schutz, 1964b) and on the nature of s o c i a l movement beginnings (Freeman, 1973) are substantiated as i t is clear that women construct and re-construct t h e i r biographies and everyday l i v e s i n accordance with their use of the interpretations of their situation provided by the ideology, and with the example and support of others similarly engaged. TABLE OF CONTENTS Part I Introduction Chapter I A. Review of the Literature, Including Definitions of Social Movements, a Discussion of the Scope of the Literature and Its Relevance for This Study B. The Meaning of Ideology and a Statement of Its Use C. The Content of the Ideology of the Women's Liberation Movement and the Relationship of the Ideology to the Evolution of the Movement's Structure and Strategy Chapter II Methodology Chapter III The Formation of the Two Vancouver Groups: Their History and Character Introductory Remarks A. Formation and Structure of the Groups Women's Caucus UBC Group Discussion v i TABLE OF CONTENTS (Continued) Page B. A Description of the Type of Women's Liberation Activities Engaged i n and Time Spent on Them 9 ^ Chapter IV Early Awareness of and Participation in the Women's Liberation Movement Introductory Remarks 106 A. Early Awareness of Founders m Women's Caucus m UBC Group 1 1 9 B. Early Awareness of Later Joiners and Their Move Into a Group 121 Women's Caucus 121 UBC Group 1 2 9 C. Discussion of Becoming Aware of the Women's Liberation Ideology Part II Sustaining Change 154 Introductory Remarks Chapter V Change in Primary Relationships - In Marriage With Children, Lovers (Past, Present, and Future) -^8 Introductory Remarks 1 5 8 A. The Role of Women's Liberation for Women i n Situations Seen as Non-Problematic v i i TABLE OF CONTENTS (Continued) Page B. The Role of Women's Liberation in Situations Seen as Problematic 171 1) Past Relationships Only Seen as Problematic -Women Involved with a New Person in a Non-Problematic Relationship 175 2) Persons Not in a Relationship - Past and Present Situations are Problematic 183 3) Continuing Relationships Seen as Problematic 191 a) Living With the Lover 194 b) Marriage 198 c) Housewives 208 C. Discussion 219 Chapter VI Friendship and Change 222 Introduction 222 A. 1) a) b) 2) a) b) 3) a) b) Definition of Friendship - Women's Caucus 228 Definition of Friendship - UBC Group 232 Situated Aspects of Friendship - Women's Caucus 238 Situated Aspects of Friendship - UBC Group 240 Role of Friendship in Strategy of the Women's Liberation Movement - Women's Caucus 241 Role of Friendship in Strategy of the Women's Liberation Movement - UBC Group 243 Relation of Friendships to Continuing Participation in Respective Groups B. Discussion 243 246 v i i i TABLE OF CONTENTS (Continued) Page Chapter VII Work and Change 250 Introduction 250 A. Expectations 255 1) "Womanly" Behaviour 255 a) Women's Caucus 255 b) UBC Group 256 2) Expectations to Accept a Male-Dominated Hier-archy and Dealing with Notions of Expertise 259 a) Women's Caucus 260 b) UBC Group 265 3) Separation of Work from Private Life 269 a) Women's Caucus 269 (No UBC Group) 4) Relationships with Female Co-Workers 272 a) Women's Caucus- 274 b) UBC Group 278 Discussion 278 Chapter V I I I Conclusions 282 Bibliography 290 i x ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS For me acquiring a doctorate has been-a process stretching back, into undergraduate school. It was- there that taking a sociology class just to f i l l in a time, slot resulted i n my attending a sociology course given by Dorothy Smith. The blur that had been most of university snapped into focus and I completely changed what I wanted to do with my working l i f e . I am very grateful indeed for the start that Dorothy Smith gave me then and for the continuing help and encouragement she has given me during my M.A. and Ph.D. work. The middle stages of the work were aided by the consistent generosity of a number of friends at whose homes I worked and whose ears I steadily belaboured with my doubts, complaints and hopes. They are James and Patricia Heap; Randy and Marsha Enomoto and Jane Wintemute; Joan Eadie, Myra Eadie and Susan Eadie; Karen Lewis; Marjorie, Lisa and Don Mitchell; Scott and Joanne Meis; Lynn Smith and John Sigurdson; Ann Petrie and Paul Knox, and Melissa Clark. Mary Lou Dietz, Meredith Kimball, and Peta Sheriff also provided great and continuous encouragement. The last stages of the dissertation work were for me particularly stressful and I must thank Dr. Helga Jacobson for her extraordinary empathy, patience and tact in her work x^ith me. My gratitude to a l l of the women in both of the Vancouver groups who consented to be observed and interviewed is considerable. Obviously, without their cooperation and active support i n many instances, this work could not have been accomplished. Not a l l of them believe in academia or doctorates, but they a l l believed in helping another woman pursue something X important to her. My thanks to Gale LePitre for undertaking the typing of the f i n a l draft under what must be the usual, annoyingly short time allowance, and to Susan Christopherson. and Michele. Cholette for typing e a r l i e r drafts. A l l of the above were crucial to this work reaching this point, but I must claim the weaknesses in i t as my own — and perhaps some of the strengths as well. Dedication To my Father, George Butler Stephenson who made this work both necessary and possibl 1. PART I INTRODUCTION This i s a study of the nature of participation i n a social move-ment. The social movement treated here i s the Women's Liberation Movement and I am examining what i t was li k e to be a regular participant i n two Women's Liberation groups i n Vancouver in the late 1960's and early 1970's. The regular participants included both founders of the two groups studied and those who joined along the way. The study is social psychological i n orientation, i n that i t attempts to draw together for analytical purposes an awareness of the interplay between the uniqueness of the individual and the social struc-tural regularities of social l i f e that persons share (like language, socialization into roles, economic opportunity and limitations, expecta-tions as to the use of time and space, etc.) (Swanson, 1952). It w i l l be apparent throughout this study that within the social psychological orientation, the conceptual perspective used is that of symbolic interaction (Mead, 1934; Blumer, 1966, 1969). This means that human action i s seen as v o l i t i o n a l , and as arising out of self-conscious, reflective intelligence. This intelligence, or mind, is used by persons in constructing their social r e a l i t y . They do not respond to stimuli according to pre-existing psychological structures(Secord and Backman, 1974: 5). Neither is i t inevitable that the apparent presence of certain social institutions as opposed to others (concrete institutions l i k e 2 schools, or abstract ones like socio-economic class) wi l l result In one kind of behaviour rather than another. Only insofar as people come to incorporate these institutions -with the values and behaviours appropriate to them - into their own do-mains of relevance (Berger and Luckmann, 1967) do these social objects achieve reality. Then only wil l they serve as bases upon which people act (Blunter, 1957: 147) . (See Cassirer, 1946: 38 passim; Edelman, 1971: 66 passim; for discussion of the role of language in the creation of shared meanings especially in social/political change.) It is precisely this reality-constructing behaviour of people, this process of discerning and/or creating salient features of the social world and then interpreting them in ways that are meaningful to the actor herself and to the other(s) that makes the analysis of human action in a social context so challenging. In this study of the nature of participation in part of the Women's Liberation Movement, the analysis will be directed to understanding how people make relevant to their everyday lives ideas about the nature of the woman's role in society. I mean ideas in two ways: ideas that are already available due to historic circumstances; and ideas that the women create or synthesize from those available and from their understanding of their own personal biographies. They do this as they make decisions about how to lead their lives in accordance with their continually evolving interpretations of the interrelationship among three sets of concepts: 1) ideological expectations and 2) personal assessment of self and 3) of 3. their "objective" situation. It is in this synthesizing process that we see the construction of social r e a l i t y . The construction, of course, goes on continuously in people's li v e s , over the whole range of their experience. The focus of this study i s on the women's experience relative to a particular social movement, rather than on an account of the evolution of a particular social movement. To under-stand the interpretations and situations made available to the women by the Women's Liberation Movement i t w i l l be necessary to describe 1) what social movements are; 2) what.ideologies are and how they are used; and 3) how the ideological and structural character of the Women's Liberation Movement evolved in general. Since this i s an ethnographic account of the social psychological aspects of participation in two local Women's Liberation groups, the presentation of material on the literature about social movements and the Women's Liberation Movement in particular should be seen as setting the broader sociological context against which this case study of participation i s cast. Then we w i l l move from this description to 4) an account of the experience in Women's Liberation of the women studied. This begins with the history of the two Women's Liberation groups in Vancouver as recounted by the founders of each. Then there w i l l be 5) discussions of the continuing application of the Women's Liberation ideology in the women'.s on-going l i v e s . .' This last comprises the bulk of this study. 4 CHAPTER I A. Social Movements - Review of the Literature, Including Definitions of Social Movements, Scope of the Literature, Relevance of the Litera- ture for this Study Any definition of social movements asserts at least that i t is behaviour performed by a group, or interrelated groups, of people who have some continued knowledge of and exposure to each other over time while en-gaged in the relevant activities (that i s , they are. not a mob, acting to-gether only once); that the activities are goal-oriented and most impor-i tantly, these goals are toward changing existing social relationships, thought, behaviour and/or conditions - or toward preventing change from happening/continuing; that these groups uti l ize organizational principles -division of labour, development of strategies, etc. - to achieve their goals; that the groups are relatively wide in geographic scope. There are more or less elaborate definitions of social movements available, but each did have the above features as central to their state-ment (Banks, 1972; Heberle, 1951; King, 1956; Lindenfeld 1968; McLaughlin, 1969; Turner and Ki l l ian , 1957; J . Wilson, 1973). What is of particular importance in this composite definition of a social movement, and what distinguishes this form of behaviour from other forms of collective, goal-oriented action, is that the social movement's goal-orientation is toward change (King, 1956: 25). That is , they "promote a change or resist a change in the society or group of which i t is part" (Turner and Ki l l ian , 1957: 308). 5 As w i l l be discussed i n some detail later, the programme of change i s expressed i n the ideology - and the structure and tactics of the social movement emerge from the canons of the ideology. While the literature on social movements shows considerable overlap - even near-consensus - on the definition of a social movement, there is variation to the descriptive or explanatory work that students of social movements pursue. That work may be broken down into three major types of effort: 1) descriptions of social movements; 2) explanations of their h i s t o r i c a l origins, including treatment of the motivation of the founders and/or later joiners of social movements, and their s o c i a l -structural evolution; and 3) attempts to discern and describe what quali-ties a social movement must have to succeed. These w i l l be discussed i n slightly more de t a i l . The review of the literature that follows i s largely descriptive in nature. That i s , material has been selected for i t s typicality. It i s not being used to point out relative strengths and weaknesses i n terms of the concerns of this study. This is because - as I w i l l elaborate at the conclusion of this section - i t is evident that the literature i s of l i m i -ted use for understanding the processes of participation i n the Women's Liberation Movement. Some of the descriptive categories discussed here w i l l be drawn upon later, however, to show how the Women's Liberation Movement would " f i t " the certain existent descriptive categories of structure or motivation of participants, etc. This i s not the essential purpose of the study, however, so c r i t i c a l attention i s not focussed on these descriptive 6 systems. As they are widely accepted concepts - for what seem to be valid empirically-based reasons - I am not c r i t i c a l l y evaluating them here. They have withstood the test of time. 1) Description of Social Movements Some of the descriptions are of a general nature, in that they attempt to construct typologies of social movements. I w i l l describe briefly a series of the more frequently cited typologies of social movements. Here we find Blumer's work about general and specific social movements, and expressive movements. The f i r s t deal with the relation-ship between the stage of development of a social movement and i t s ideo-logical and structural evolution, and the last with the form of expres-sion of "tensions". The f i r s t two involve attempts to change the world for the better, but the general social movement i s distinguished from the specific by the relative lack of c l a r i t y of goal-orientation and organiza-tional complexity and coherence that grows as goal-specifically increases. As, or i f , the generalized dissatisfaction of enough people begins to achieve specific coherence of goal articulation and they as a group begin to evolve the organizational strategies for change that are implied by the goals, then a specific social movement arises. The expressive social movement does hot seek societal change in the same ex p l i c i t l y goal-directed sense. This kind of a social movement is rather the locus of expressive behaviour which is an end in i t s e l f . The effect this has on society is i n i t s eventual awareness of the aggregate of 7 personal, individual changes which the participants have gone through (like religious conversion, "life-style" fads, etc.) (1957: 199-220). While Blumer based his typology upon the development of ideolo-gical articulation, structural complexity, and goal-orientation, B. Wilson's typology has as its "central criterion the sect's response to the world." So he has a seven-cell typology: 1) conversionist; 2) revolutionary; 3) introversionist; 4) manipulationist; 5) thaumaturgical; 6) reformist; and 7) Utopian (1969: 363). Turner and Ki l l ian have a typology based upon the "two broad directions in which the program and ideology may p o i n t t o w a r d changing individuals directly or toward changing institutions." It is a three-part typology: value-oriented, power-oriented, and participation-oriented (1957, pt. 4). Smelser's dichotomization of social movements into value-oriented or norm-oriented ones, focuses on the role of the ideology in the origin of a movement and in its role upon the organization, strategy and member-ship commitment (1963). A work that includes both a typology of social movements and a full-scale ethnographic description of a movement is Aberle's on the peyote religion (Aberle, 1966). His typology is based on the kind and amount of * Though he is speaking of what he calls sects, i t is clear that the groups - where they exist in numbers of interelated units - qualify equally well as parts of a social movement(s). The ambiguity of ter-minology in social movement literature, and the great range of group characteristics - especially in the size and geographic scope of the groups - subsumed under "social movement" essaysj texts, etc., is quite noticeable. I am including any theoretical study i f the data are based in groups which f i t the definition of a social movement as I stated i t earlier. Here Wilson's "sects" definitely f i t . 8 change the group undergoes. The amount of change cannot be judged or pre-dicted in terms that are absolute in relation to the amount that the ob-server might feel is called for (or not called f o r ) . Rather, the depri- • vation ( s p i r i t u a l or material) that the movement seeks to redress i s very much a relative matter, one relative to what was experienced before, to what was perceived as well-being before, presently and in future. Aberle's typology divides movements into transformative, reformative, redemptive, and alternative ones. Ethnographic descriptions of social movements are legion. Soc-iology and anthropology abound with them. Listing some i s not useful here. Note simply should be taken of the fact that much of the literature on : social movements is ethnographic studies. 2) Origin Studies - Historical and Structural Evolution; Motivation of Founders and Later Joiners Historical Preconditions to Social Movements People who try to account for the rise of social movements are uniform in their agreement that the essential precondition i s discontent. Wilson says that the origins are social discomfort and unrest which begin to crystalize into protest groups (1973: introduction). Cameron says that "Social change which is not accidental comes in response to d i s s a t i s -faction" (1966: 10). Toch states that there must be a problem situation for a group of persons and that, "typically this would occur when society f a i l s to provide adequately for their needs or aspirations" (1965: 26-27) .. A more elaborate statement about the existence of discontent.is from King, who sets out four "Circumstances Conducive to Movements". They 9 a l l contribute to group discontent and they are what he calls cultural confusion, social heterogeneity, individual discontent, and mass communi-cation. The last can also contribute to easing the person's "desire for meaning" by providing varying explanations and solutions for the very con-fusion and discontent that is brought on by media itself, as a part of the complexity of modern society (1956: 13-24). A few of the authors are cognizant of the fact that talking about discontent as though i t could be objectively determined - or as though its existence alone wi l l result in a social movement - is a doubtful enterprise. Davies, for instance, relies on Marx and Engels' assertion that our de-sires and pleasures - and thus our evaluation of what satisfies them - are of a "social . . . , relative nature" (Marx and Engels, 1955, ed.: 94), and thus cannot be measured by some absolute standard. Davies goes on to say that no one who is utterly impoverished is l ikely to have the energy or time to take action for social change. The discontent that results in social movements wil l arise where some basic needs for social, legal, and material well-being are expected to be met, and at the same time where there is "a persistent, unrelenting threat to the satisfaction of these needs...." (1962: 89). As for the realization that discontent alone wil l not necessarily bring about social movements, Cameron has a clear formulation of some "spe-cial conditions which do lead to the formation of social movements." In his conceptualization people definitely are seen as interpreters, as actors in their situation. He l ists three conditions: that people consciously recog-nize their discontent and share these realizations with others; that they 10 must believe that they can alter their situation for the better; and that they must l i v e in circumstances where getting together, organizing them-selves and others, i s both possible and possibly effective (1966: 10). In connection with that last condition, there i s an interesting discus-sion of the role of temporal f l e x i b i l i t y i n allowing participation i n pol-i t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s , and of time taken as an indicator of commitment to social action groups in W.E. Moore (1963: 168). There is a similar description of the role of subjective aware-ness of discontent i n the work of Schutz on attempts by groups to gain equality. He speaks of how the chance to gain equality can exist only i f the person i s aware of the existence of the chance, sees this chance as possible and relevant to his interests, and sees himself as capable of f u l f i l l i n g the new expectations (1955: 272 in 1964 ed.). Structural Characteristics of Social Movements The structural characteristics of social movements follow from the fact that i t i s discontent that i s to be ameliorated or eradicated, and from the fact that they are seen as arising in increasingly complex societies where individuals have less and less understanding of and control over what is happening in their l i v e s . The i n i t i a l problem of the discontented i s to make their dis-content known. In a mass society doing this on any useful scale requires considerable thought and effort on the part of many people. This requires organization, which means some division of labour (always assumed to be hierarchical in nature, in every work I read), coordination of efforts, -v.. must believe that they can alter their situation for the better; and that they must l i v e in circumstances where getting together, organizing them-selves and others, i s both possible and possibly effective (1966: 10). In connection with that last condition, there is an interesting discus-sion of the role of temporal f l e x i b i l i t y i n allowing participation i n pol-i t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s , and of time„taken as an.indicator of commitment to social action groups in Moore (1963:168). There is a similar description of the role of subjective aware-ness of discontent i n the work of Schutz on attempts by groups to gain equality. He speaks of how the chance to gain equality can exist only i f the person is aware of the existence of the chance, sees this chance as possible and relevant to his interests, and sees himself as capable of f u l f i l l i n g the new expectations (1964:272). Structural Characteristics of Social Movements The structural characteristics of social movements follow from the fact that i t is discontent that i s to be ameliorated or eradicated, and from the fact that they are seen as arising in increasingly complex societies where individuals have less and less understanding of and control over what is happening in their l i v e s . The i n i t i a l problem of the discontented i s to make their d i s -content known. In a mass society doing this on any useful scale requires considerable thought and effort on the part of many people. Th is requires organization, which means some division of labour (always assumed to be hierarchical in nature, in every work I read), coordination of efforts, 12 Other motivational accounts are congruent with the above. Lofland and Stark describe a group that would f i t King's description very well, stating that these conditions result i n an essential percondition of con-siderable, enduring psychological tension (1965: 179 passim). The afore-mentioned desire for meaning (Cantril, 1941: 59) also f i t s in an idea of the consequence of this kind of psychological state. If a set of ideas or a social movement (as a group embodying these ideas) comes to be seen as offering a meaningful interpretation of what is going on in the person's l i f e and i f the means suggested for changing the world are amenable to the person's idea of what i s possible for them, then there i s a founding/joining of a social movement. King also provides a set of categories to describe in terms of motivation what the composition of a social movement w i l l be. The largest group w i l l be "goal-oriented". They share the interpretations of their situation available in the ideology and they agree with the goals. They expect to benefit from the changes they expect the movement w i l l bring about. King does not consider that the "benefits" may equally exist during the process of belonging to the movement. The second, and much less numer-ous, type is what he calls " u t i l i t a r i a n " . They do not share the others' belief i n the ideology of the movement. They have joined in order to attain quite unrelated goals - like being able to manipulate the movement in order to 'affect personal enemies, or to use the movement contacts for material gain, etc. The third type i s the " a l t r u i s t i c " . They are believers as are the' goa-l^orientediv members, but unlike them they are not seeking personal 13 help for any difficulties in their own lives. Rather, they are most con-cerned with the problems of others. They are "extreme idealists" (1956: 64-65). The first and last of these categories wil l be referred to later in this work. 3) Qualities Required for a "Successful" Social Movement Of course, any description of what a social movement is , implies what qualities the author thinks a social movement must have in order to succeed. But not a l l work is explicitly evaluative in nature. It may be more descriptive, or more explanatory - as is true for most of the work mentioned so far. Success as used here wi l l mean that significant numbers of rele-vant people have incorporated the beliefs and behaviours that follow from these beliefs offered by a particular social movement. This survey of the literature indicates that people evaluating the success of social movements assume that success depends upon 1) an ideology that "fits" the "objective" world; 2) social organization that can get the work of the movement done without diluting the doctrine irre-pairably; 3) inter- and intra-group relations that serve to reinforce be-l ief in the ideology. In the literature ideologies are defined variously as the state-ment of the goals of a group and/or a programme for its tactics, or a rationale or justification for the group's beliefs and actions (Banks, 1972; Bittner, 1963; King, 1956; Toch, 1965). Sometimes they are seen as 14 unchanging articulations of purpose (Toch), and other times they are seen as of necessity being changeable - as the members strive to have the ide-ology "fit" the complexities and ambiguities of the social world (Banks, Bittner). So, Banks says that a social movement has "not one ideology but many, at different points in time and by reference to the various groups of which i t [the social movement] is composed and the various publics to which i t addresses its appeals" (1972: 40). Or Barrington Moore says that the ideology "undergoes modifica-tion and elaboration in response to the vicissitudes of the organization's life" (1968: 338). He also clearly thinks of ideology as a belief state-ment that is for him not only somehow separate from its creators, thus he reifies ideology, but that i t is to be evaluated "according" to its con-gruity with some sort of "objective" truth. He goes so far as to say that any ideology or "charter myth", as he calls i t , "contains a mixture of truth and propaganda" (1958: 338). This distinction is not useful to the approach taken here. (See following section on ideology as i t is defined and used for this study.) We can see the same problem of dualism of ideology and truth in the work of Simmons (1964), Festinger (1958), and Lindenfeld (1968: 321, 459). Again these are not relevant to the study undertaken here. Turning to the second quality a social movement is seen to re-quire for success - an organizational structure that allows the movement's work to be done without the belief system being diluted irrepairably- we see considerable concern with the necessity of a division of labour, and with the source of authority for the ideology and its purveyors. 1 5 That there must be division of labour in any human endeavour i s an accepted proposition - whatever school of thought one follows, (see Mead, 1934, for a discussion of the role of division of labour and coordi-nation of effort that a l l social l i f e requires). But division of labour for most students of social movements • clearly means one of a hierarchical sort. Even though there have been "leveling" movements over and over throughout history, the sociological literature that offers theoretical treatment of the division of labour in social movements shows that the authors find i t inconceivable that tasks can be accomplished without l e a -dership - of a hierarchical sort - charismatic or institutionalized (Banks,1972; Bittner, 1963; King, 1956; O'Day, 1963; Simmons, 1964). The role of the source of authority or legitimacy of the belief system i s linked to the success of the social movement i n recruitment and maintenance of membership. Again, as noted in the previous page on the treatment of ideology, ideology must be "believable" and that means i t has to have some special quality in order to be persuasive - i n the face of possibly contradicting "facts". Thus, we have Bittner saying that "a sense of charisma must attach i t s e l f to the movement and i t s need." Where the movement is secular this special quality of authority can come from the extreme or atypical l i f e stories of the ideologues. For example, they formulated their creed through their years of solitary confinement in the j a i l s of the opposition. He also speaks to social relationships among believers: they should be confined to the converted whenever possible, and they should be convinced that no part of their lives i s irrelevant to the claims of the 16 ideology (1963: 305-308). Bittner and Simmons point out that believers should be able to use their ideology to interpret seemingly contradictory evidence as evidence that in fact confirms the truths of the movement (Bittner, 1963: 308; Simmons, 1964: 192). Relevance of the Literature for This Study What the literature describes - albeit usually from a po s i t i v i s -tic standpoint, is that there are three basic components of a social move-ment - an ideology, the persons involved, and the social organization of the group. But we cannot learn from this literature how these features are experienced - are constructed - by the participants. There is the exception of statements by Cameron, Schutz and Blumer that construction must go on. But a literature that projects an ideology as somehow separate from the on-going l i f e of i t s creators, that assumes hierarchy when there is in the Women's Liberation Movement a deliberate repudiation of leader-ship, plus the participant's making a creative attempt to deal differently with problems of work accomplishment, a literature that reflects above a l l a most static view of social action cannot be very helpful. I arrived at this conclusion in this research, but this problem is confirmed by Jo Freeman in her report of her work where she studied the origins of the whole Women's Liberation Movement in the United States. She was asking questions which included: "From where do the people come who make up the i n i t i a l , organizing cadre of a movement? How do they come to-gether, and how do they come to share a similar view of the world in c i r -cumstances which compel them to p o l i t i c a l action?" If to that is added the 17 questions I am additionally asking: How did they continue their p a r t i c i -pation? What was i t l i k e for them? What were the ideology and groups in their lives? then I find myself in total agreement with Freeman when she says: "The sociological literature is not of much help" (Freeman, 1 9 7 3 : 30 passim). In fact, i t is Jo Freeman who provides one of the few discussions of social movements that is useful to an analysis of the construction of social relationship among people who are attempting to bring about social change. She provides three "propositions" about the preconditions for the formation of a social movement. They are "the need for a pre-existing com-munications network or intrastructure within the social base of a movement; the network must be 'co-optable' to the new ideas of the incipient movement", which means the people involved are "like-minded" in relation to the issues raised in the ideology: there have to be some "precipitants" in an already strained situation ( 1 9 7 3 : 3 2 - 3 3 ) . It w i l l be shown in the section on the history of the two groups studied here that her work is applicable to this study. But for the most part the traditional literature on social movements cannot be drawn upon greatly. B. The Meaning of Ideology in the Study and a Statement of Its Use Our beliefs about the world give our world what coherence i t may have - coherence in terms of a workable sense of cause and effect and at least a hint of some guidelines for action that follow from that sense. Where these "ordering" beliefs are related to the interests or purposes of 18 a person or groups they are ideological. This is not to distinguish them from other beliefs as being always and only self-serving or exploitive, nor is i t to distinguish them as somehow necessarily biased, distorted, or false. This is the typical portrayal of ideology in social movement literature, as noted above. Rather, ideological beliefs are ones developed and applied as persons continue to search for a meaning in and impact upon their world. That is their life-long problem. Useful action is their interest. As Harris puts i t , ideology i s "locate[d]...as the language of the purposes of a social group....Ideologies are not disguised descriptions of the world, but rather real descriptions of the world from a particular viewpoint" (1968: 27). Thus, ideologies should be seen as socially constructed, problem-oriented systems of interrelated beliefs. From a symbolic interactionist viewpoint, i t is obvious that ideologies as a language are not sta t i c , that they do not exist somehow separately from those who develop them. Further, i t is meaningless to try to understand the relationship of ideology and social change by trying to evaluate the ideology in terms of notions of objective fact and the congruency of these beliefs to these "facts". To say an ideology is the expression of the purposes of a group is to put the development of the ideology in a context of the subjective experience of a problematic situation. There is certain interpretive work to be done by persons, who comprise social groups, who are in problematic situations i f the situation is to change. The expression of the purposes of the group - i t s ideology - must accomplish the following: 19 1) There must be a description of what is a problem for them. 2) Along with this must be a statement as to who is adversely affected by the problem. This w i l l provide the c r i t e r i a for recruitment to the group - i n this case, to the social movement. 3) There must be an explanation(s) for the existence of the problem. 4) Following from the above comes the set of goals and strategies which the participants w i l l act on according to how they make these relevant to their l i v e s . These goals are values and they serve as c r i t e r i a against which the believer can evaluate her own actions and those of others i n reference to what she has come to see as the problems of the groups the ideology is referring to. The use of an ideology is a dynamic process. Social movements exist only as long as the participants engage in action to bring about their goals. No distinction i s being made here between physical, to-the-barricades action and the action that is the use of ideas to lead to the use of other ideas. This understanding of the history and character of a problem must be uti l i z e d to make decisions about what to do in the present and future. The ideology provides principles, moral principles, which a person can apply from situation to situation, as an individual and as a participant in group decision-making. These moral goals, these values, must be stated as principles, as generalized statements that can be used as assumptions upon which reasoning is based, because only principles are everywhere applicable. Only they can allow continuity of interpretation and direction. Only the application of 20 principles can reveal to the person what was/is "re a l l y " going on for them and for others - in terms of the world view given by the ideology. The goals of the movement w i l l not be equally relevant to each participant. The ideology provides a f u l l range of goals and the person must choose from them those seen as most relevant to her own biographical situation. She may also add ideological interpretations that may then be taken up by others. They must plan individual and group strategy accord-ingly. The social structures that are b u i l t up in accordance with the goals and strategies developed by the participants are often, though not always, innovative ones, rather divergent from the typical patterns of social interaction. This is not surprising, considering that the interest of the participants is effecting social change. This constructive char-acteristic of social movements is pointed out in the literature of social movements by Banks in one of the relatively few considerations of processes of social change, where he says that i t must be recognized that: from time to time men have invented social techniques and ex-ploited them, much in the same fashion as they have material techniques. Indeed, only when i t is admitted that such social technologies are possible can social movements be regarded as creators rather than creatures of change. (1972: 15) Stating the characteristics of an ideology and that the specific content is drawn upon by the believer does not f u l l y account for how the ideology is used by persons. Its use would be a progressive matter tem-porally, where f i r s t people become aware of the ideology, f i r s t use i t in their interpretations of the world and then continue to do so. 21 Again, I am not suggesting that the ideology exists "out there" apart from the people who devise and carry i t , but there was a time when the ideology had not yet been constructed to a degree that i t could be shared. But in the latter 1960's this did begin to occur among some women. In each individual believer's l i f e there was a time when the ideology had no rele-vance to them, was not used by them, so i t is important to understand how this changed. I w i l l next l i s t five ways that people use the ideology, as i t was characterized above. Then there w i l l be a discussion of the conditions under which this use occurs. How an Ideology i s Used: By Individuals 1) People use an ideology to make sense out of their biographies. As Berger (1963: 61) says: There are some cases...where the reinterpretation of the past i s part of a deliberate, f u l l y conscious and intellectually inter-preted activity. This happens when the reinterpretation of one's biography i s one aspect of conversion to a new religious or ideo-logical Weltanschaung, that is a universal meaning system within which one's biography can be located. What is being described here is a special case of the biography-casting that we do throughout our li v e s , when faced with new social environ-ments - new people, new ideas, new circumstances or statuses. Biography-casting occurs: "As we remember the past, we reconstruct i t i n accordance with our present ideas of what is important and what is not" (1963: 56). Berger suggests that this reinterpretation process "has roots in a deep, human need for order, purpose and i n t e l l i g i b i l i t y " (1963: 63). Further, when this reinterpretation is being done according to "a meaning system that 22 is capable of ordering the scattered data of one's biography [the exper-ience] is liberating and profoundly satisfying" (1963: 63). This is a study of the special case of reinterpretation, the one that can take place through adoption of the ideology of a social movement. The new interpretations are reinforced, as w i l l be discussed, through par-ticipation with others similarly convinced. 2) The ideology provides, similarly, a means of interpreting the person's present l i f e . We a l l must identify the features of our lives which w i l l f a c i l i t a t e action along lines that are desirable to us, and identify features which are problematic for us. In either case we must take action to sustain, or change those features. The ideology can provide the rules or c r i t e r i a for making these identifications, for discerning what is salient, what is changeable, what i s to be maintained. 3) At the same time that the ideology provides interpretive schemes for the past and present, i t links the present with the future. No conscious actions are made without consideration of their future reception, of the possible range of effects upon the future. Ideologies vary, of course, in the concreteness with which actual strategies for change are stated. But at the very least a statement of what is wrong with the world and the people in i t carries strong implications of how i t should be d i f -ferent in future. It is then for the person in a social movement to nego-tiate with her own self and with others over the specifics of what the i n -dividuals and the movement must do to come closer to their goals. 23 In some social movements - such as consumer protection - there is not an expectation that the "negotiations" w i l l be on an individual level, between the various selves a person has. Energy is spent among members to plot out how they can present themselves as a group to negotiate with a relatively defined counter-group (manufacturers, government agencies, etc.). But the Women's Liberation Movement ideology is addressed to change on more levels. One is on the internal/psychological level where a person tries to achieve a unified self as a strong self-respecting woman. Another i s on the personal interactive level, where relationships with others meet ideologically derived standards of equality. A third level i s where thought and energy are used to formulate action as a Women's Liberation group\ per se. This may be in terms of local actions, or in terms of developing and maintaining an identity and programme for the movement as a whole — as nebulous a co l l e c t i v i t y as this may seem. Thus, this ideology expresses the expectation that women w i l l leave no part of their future thoughts and actions unrelated to the prin-ciples and goals of the Women's Liberation Movement. The pervasiveness of the expectations for women that come through the ideology i s one of the important characteristics of the Women's Liberation Movement that d i s t i n -guishes i t from most other social movements. This pervasiveness w i l l be shown throughout the study. Each of these three previous functions of the ideology can be seen in terms of an elongated-over-time application of what Cicourel c a l l s the "retrospective-prospective sense of occurance" (1970: 149). What is 24 being made sense of i s an accumulation of behavioural phenomena, as whole life-times are being made sense of. So people don't use the ideology just to "predict" the next moment on the basis of shared understandings of con-sequence - given their understanding of present and past moments and who is participating in them. They use i t to understand who the whole person, the whole society made up of persons was, i s , and hence l i k e l y w i l l be. They not only are "'discovering' that earlier remarks or incidents now cl a r i f y a present utterance," but they discover that the earlier person has led to the current one and a certain range of notions and actions i s thus l i k e l y in future. 4 ) This retrospective-prospective sense-making can be done by the believer upon the biographies of others. One can determine why someone is as they are by constructing what must have gone on - or not occurred -in the others' lives to make them what they are today. This construction gives clues as to how the other i s l i k e l y to behave in future. This process helps the believer distinguish between "us" and "them", or potential us and them. This is possible because the ideological statements as to who shares the problem ("us") and who brought on, maintains, or exacerbates the problem are available to the believer. "They" do not share the values of the Movement, and w i l l be more l i k e l y to be found having certain characteristics. Whether the construction requires identifying marks such as class, sex, education, psychological type, or statements of belief and attitude - or a combination of these - w i l l depend upon the range of information available to the constructors and upon the parts of 25 the ideology they are using in understanding their own l i f e . But the pro-cess of identifying through use of the ideology who can share their world view and who cannot remain the same. 5) The use of the ideology by individuals or in joint action, as Blumer describes i t , can provide material for the believer's need to confirm the accuracy of the claims of the ideology. That is , a person act-ing in ways seen as consonant with the stance of the ideology must face responses to this action. The response may be from their self only, or from others present, or from others in imaginative projection. The ideology provides a means of categorizing these responses in its own terms. So a "friendly" response "proves" the correctness and efficiency of the ideology; i . e . , sisterhood can exist, we're right and right-thinking people can't help but realize it after awhile. An oppositional response demonstrates the correctness of the stance, in that it can be maintained that people with vested interests, say, wi l l of course, resist change. J . L . Simmon's a r t i -cle on "Maintaining a Deviant Identity" provides an excellent description of this kind of process, of the folding back upon itself of the interpreta-tions one makes of what is going on (1964) . How an Ideology is Used: Appropriate Conditions It follows from the nature of biography-ordering, of retrospective-prospective sense-making, that this process is initiated when existing inter-pretations are no longer satisfactory to the person(or group) making them. This dissatisfaction is distinguished from the "discontent" the positivists 26 posit (see review of literature section) in that i t exists only insofar as the individual experiences discontent. I am basing my assumption that groups can go through the same process as individuals on the work of Blumer (1969b: 78-89) where he discussed the nature of "joint action". Individuals in a group w i l l f i t together their individual lines of action by taking into account not only their s e l f - t y p i f i c a t i o n and their typifications of the others, but they w i l l also be treating the aggregate of similarly interested people as a unit, insofar as they wish the sum of their relevant actions to be seen as originating in a like-minded, similarly-acting body. Thus, i t i s possible to see a group as having a history d i s t i n c t from that of, each individual, to see how a number of people can interpret their autobio-graphy as giving evidence of belonging to a group, and how they can direct their individual acts in such a way as to show a group a c t i v i t y . Returning to the issue of individuals experiencing discontent, Cameron and Schutz were mentioned as taking this position - that d i s s a t i s -faction has re a l i t y only insofar as the relevant individuals consciously experience i t - and turning to Schutz again, we see that i t is this unease which occurs when there appears to the person a ...theoretical or practical problem which, as a consequence of our situationally determined interest, has emerged as question-able from the unquestioned background of the world just taken for granted. Our actual interest, however, is the outcome of our actua.l_bipgraphical situation within our environment as defined by us (1964: 234-235). " That this, in fact, goes on as women become aware of the Women's Libera-tion Movement w i l l be shown as their experience in the Movement is re-counted in Chapters IV-VI. 27 C. The Content of the Ideology of the Women's Liberation Movement and the Relationship of the Ideology to the Evolution of the Movement's Struc- ture and Strategy In the previous section there was a statement of four charac-t e r i s t i c s an ideology w i l l have as a vehicle for expressing the purposes of a group. In this section I w i l l show for each characteristic the interpretations about the status and role of women that i s provided by the mainstream of the Women's Liberation Movement. Obviously, a social movement is not an immutable phenomenon. The members' interpretations of their situation in relation to changing problematic circumstances must undergo modification in the constant inter-action of social l i f e . Because of the changes in these ideological inter-pretations and structural characteristics of the groups over time, I w i l l concentrate this description upon the ideological and structural character-i s t i c s of the Movement apparent through the F a l l of 1971, when the study ended. The content description w i l l deal with trends in the Women's Liberation Movement in general. The ideological and structural stance that evolved in the two Vancouver groups w i l l be described in the sections after this one - where their formation and continuation as experienced by the persons involved w i l l be covered. 1) Content of the Ideology of the Women's Liberation Movement It w i l l be recalled that there were four components to the con-tent of an ideology-statement of problem; of who is affected by i t ; ex-planation of the problem; resultant goals and strategies. I w i l l collapse 2 8 the f i r s t two upon each other to describe a range of the Women's Libera-tion Movement's expressions of them, and then do the same for the last two components. As w i l l be seen from the discussion of the last two, the Women's Liberation Movement encompasses a very wide spectrum of interpre-tations of the position of women in society. Therefore, these descriptions must necessarily be rather general and draw upon the most prevalent ideo-logical trends available at the time of the f i e l d work. a) Statement of the problem and b) who is affected by i t : The definitive description of the situation of women i s that they are a group and as a group are oppressed (de Beauvoir, 1953; Dunbar, 1970; Firestone, 1970; M i l l e t t , 1969; Mitchell, 1971). The oppression takes many forms and has many consequences but i t a l l adds up to the limitation of women's po-tential, to the perpetuation of the use of herself and of her labours to the advantage of others more powerful, more respected, more advantaged. Perhaps the most inclusive description of the oppression of women is to be found in Mitchell (1971). She examines this condition in terms of what she sees as the four "key structures of women's situation...: Production, Reproduction, Sexuality and the Socialization of Children" (1971: 101, passim). I w i l l use these divisions to provide a synthesis of the views of several ideologues (Mitchell among them) as to what goes on for women in these spheres of existence. Production Production means here work that has exchange value, work that i s paid for in wages, that takes place in the public sphere of society. Here 29 women are demonstrably, quantifiably oppressed as measured in pay scales, range of work allowed, upward mobility at work, job security and benefits-including work-related benefits like adequate child care faci l i t ies , flex-ib i l i ty of working hours, etc. This is particularly true for a l l these aspects of work in capitalistic societies and the situation for women in socialist countries in Eastern Europe is not a great deal better (Sullerot, 1971). One must include here the work that is overtly aimed at the management of society, that is , polit ical participation. Here again, in both capitalist and socialist countries, women are drastically under-represented among the powerful. What this means for women is that a woman cannot, as Mitchell puts i t , "create the preconditions of her liberation," (1971: 106). This is because her lack of participation in or impact upon the means of pro-duction in the society results in her being psychologically and economi-cally dependent upon those who are more effectively connected to the mode of production (men). The less effect a person or group has or can have upon productive l i fe of the society, the less impact that person or group can have upon these very means and upon the nature of their existence that follows from i t . There are differences among ideologues in the Women's Liberation Movement as to whether they see the role - or lack of i t - of women in paid production as the basic or primary link to oppression, but every group does see this as a major problem. * The character of this dependent relation is discussed in some detail in Eichler (1973) . A clear statement about the relationship between the mode of production and the nature of the existence of its members is contained in Smith (1973). 30 Reproduction In Women's Liberation literature the biological fact of female childbearing is linked to oppression by the social and hi s t o r i c a l l y l i m i -ted fact of the woman's responsibility for raising children and that usually i n a nuclear family. The distinction between biological and social fact i s made because u n t i l very recently - and now with the exception of relatively few persons or groups - i t was assumed that the limitations upon health, strength, status, and vocation brought on by childbearing and childrearing in a monogamous nuclear family were not socially constructed limitations. In fact, these conditions were not seen as limitations at a l l , but as inevitable, unchangeable manifestations of the natural order of the world. This was for everyone bio-historical fact (Mitchell, 1971: 106 passim; Firestone, 1970: 8 passim). Oppression for women in the reproductive sphere is associated with their lack of control over reproduction i t s e l f , which is s t i l l true for most women today (Firestone, 1970: 226); with there being few l e g i t i -mate, respected, or desirable alternatives to marriage and childbearing; with the fact that the motherhood role i s unduly taxing in the non-supportive nuclear family and in a non-supportive society - few families having what they see as an adequate income, there are few social supports for parenting, l i k e day care, adequate child-care allowances, job-splitting or rotating between mother and father, etc.; and with the great d i f f i c u l t y mothers have in entering the "productive" world of paid labour - for the minimal amount of help that i t often turns out to be. 3 1 In the affective realm, this limitation of women's role(s) i s seen as leading to a pervasive sense of unease, of unworthiness, of being old and used up before one's time (Bart, 1971; Friedan, 1963). This re-sults in the derivative nature of woman's role - she is dependent on others economically (see section on production above) for security and on others' existence as husband or children for her very identity. Sexuality The Women's Liberation Movement has provided an analysis of sex-uality that makes clear that there i s a p o l i t i c a l relationship between biological "fact" and social definition of women's sexuality. The question of sexuality for the Women's Liberation Movement revolves around two closely related issues: definition and information. Definition involves whose view of female sexuality i s now generally held and whose should be held. Information has to do with women trying to learn the truth about their sexuality in order to formulate their own def-i n i t i o n and then be able to hold to i t in their daily li v e s . Given that, traditionally, sexual expression in women has been legitimate only in monogamy and has been important largely in i t s relation to childbearing, the questions raised in the Women's Liberation Movement about sexuality revolve around whether a woman's sexuality is her own. This means two things: 1) examining the nature of women's sexuality-starting with whether i t exists, then asking questions l i k e whether i t is a powerful factor in a woman's l i f e , what direction i t s expression can and should take - and 2) deciding who has the right to define and control that sexuality. 32 Articles l i k e "The Politi c s of Orgasm" (Lydon, 19 70) and "'Kinder, Kuche, Kirche' as Scientific Law: Psychology Constructs the Female" (Weisstein 1970) vigorously attacked the Freudian notion that women: ...are not whole human beings but mutilated males who long a l l their lives for a penis and must struggle to reconcile them-selves to this lack [and] the requirement of a transfer of ero-t i c sensation from c l i t o r i s to vagina became a prima facie use for [women's] inevitable sexual (and moral) in f e r i o r i t y (Lydon, 1970: 198). These writings attacked the definers of women's sexuality - male psychologists in specific, men i n general - for their ignorance and their self-interested, exploitive interpretation of women's sexuality. It has been very fortunate, to my mind, that the work of Masters and Johnson (1966) was available for women i n the Women's Liberation Move-ment to draw upon for factual knowledge about the physiology of female sexuality. The work of Lydon (1970), a major book l i k e the Boston Women's Health Collective's book Our Bodies, Our Selves (1971) shows the use that the Masters and Johnson work is put to by Women's Liberationists. They could then state with assurance that women's sexual potential, and hence sexual need, was in every sense equal to men's. It is even suggested by some who draw upon the Masters and Johnson work that women's sexual poten-t i a l , measured in terms of "orgasmic capacity" is even greater than that of males' (Sherfey, 1970). The inaccurate, exploitive definition of women's physiological sexuality i s , of course only one part of the picture of women's sexuality in relation to men. 33 Another aspect of sexuality that the Women's Liberation Move-ment devotes considerable attention to is the use of women as "sex objects". This includes the, ? strictly physiological, coital misuse of women by men having no knowledge or interest in women's sexual- potential, but i t goes very much beyond this. If we look in the literature we find women described as being seen to lack distinct personhood, to be evaluated not on a complete range of their individual or group behaviours and capacities, but largely in relation to very superficial qualities that supposedly represent sexuality and sexual attractiveness. These qualities that women are supposed to exhibit - l i t era l ly - are youth, beauty according to the latest fashions or fads, subtil > stated sexual availability, sexual and social submis-siveness, i f not downright passivity. It is maintained that for the woman who tries to achieve these qualities - and most women must, i t is felt , since their value on the mari-tal marketplace may depend heavily on these qualities - wi l l inevitably be degraded in the process. Knowing that she can rarely really meet these standards and knowing that she is being valued for highly superficial and transitory qualities can only bring on anxiety, a sense of inferiority, and a competitive spirit among women as they try to acquire and hold a relationship with a man. There is a considerable amount of literature in the Movement des-cribing what being a sex object actually means - what i t feels like to be young and striving for that superficial attractiveness (Alta, 1971; Embree, 1970; Florika, 1970; Morgan, 1970; Stannard, 1971) or older and worried 34 about becoming obsolete (Moss, 1970; OWL, 1970), or being a woman and not being safe in the streets from sexual harrassment (Boston Women's Health Collective, 1971: 92 passim; Moon, Tanner and Pascale, 1970: 256). Looking further at the literature from the Movement on women defined as sex objects by those in power - men - we find one of the best known analyses of this defining process in Kate Millett's Sexual Politics (1969). She maintains that "...there remains one ancient and universal scheme for the domination of one birth group by another - the scheme that prevails in the area of sex." She adds that "...sexual dominion obtains ...as perhaps the most pervasive ideology of our culture and provides its most fundamental concept of power" (1969: 24-25 passim). She then draws upon works of fiction (often semi-autobiographical wish-fulfillment work, actually, as in Mailer, D.H. Lawrence, and Henry Miller) and of psychology (Freud, Erik Erikson) to describe and analyze in detail how women are com-posed as unidimensional, depersonalized beings, whose value consists largely in providing the man with a means for further developing and exercising his own sense of maleness. She sets this analysis firmly within a societal context, portraying these writers as reflecting or even epitomizing general male views of sexuality. They achieve personhood as they find and reaffirm their self-concept through sexual domination of women and objectification for women. Socialization of Children The Women's Liberation Movement deals with socialization of ch i l -dren from two sides: the assumption that society in general views child-35 rearing as the only and inevitable role of the adult woman; and the content of values and behavioural expectations passed to the children through the socialization that occurs in the nuclear family. The expectation that women must be childrearers has pervasive implications for the oppression of women. F i r s t , women are "ideally" con-fined to one main role - a complex and taxing one, but one nonetheless. She is to carry out this work alone, and glorify in i t as providing her with her "main social definition" (Mitchell, 1971: 115). The fact i s that the work of motherhood is transient - children grow up and go away - and yet i t is on this time spent, approximately one-third of a woman's l i f e span, that a woman is to evaluate herself and be evaluated. If this work was exp l i c i t l y and genuinely valued, there might be some congruency between this expectation and the rea l i t y of women's experience of motherhood. Women's Liberation ideologues have pointed out that woman's work i n the home i s not "real" work (Benston, 1969) and that i t is consequently devalued both by society at large and by her own self ("just a housewife"). Conflicts over this discrepancy in evaluation are frequent themes of the literature (Bart, 1970; Bernard, 1971; Friedan, 1963; Smith, 1973). If a woman wants to expand her world by sharing the socialization of children with her husband or other parts of the community she finds this very d i f f i c u l t on several grounds. One i s the attitude of those others that the biological mother is the only person who can and should bring up the children. Another problem, i n the case of the father helping out, i s that the structure of the paid-work world is such that most men cannot be 3 6 where the children are for any significant lengths of time. The lo g i s t i c s of keeping a man's job usually preclude his presence i n the home or his children's at his job. Another problem that is pointed out by the Women's Liberation Movement i s the nearly total lack of day care for children - for the woman who must work outside the home or for the woman who may not do this but who needs time to pursue interests other than motherhood. Additionally, work outside the home for women is often so i l l - p a i d as to be barely worth the effort, though most women who must work continue to do so - at great cost. A l l of these problems conspire to make the biological fact of maternity into the social fact of motherhood for women (Mitchell, 1971: 116, 117) . If women, too, see their chief identity and j u s t i f i c a t i o n i n l i f e as arising from motherhood, then i t is maintained that in the content of the socialization that women undertake they w i l l inevitably place ex-traordinary demands upon their children to be loving displays of maternal prowess. One of the strongest statements to this effect i s i n Firestone where she says that: ...parental satisfaction is obtainable only through crippling the child: the attempted extension of ego through one's c h i l -dren - ...in the case of the woman, motherhood as the j u s t i f i -cation of her existence, the resulting attempt to li v e through the child, child - as - project - i n the end damages either the child or the parent, or both (1970: 299 passim) Women are expected i n the standard nuclear family to recreate the asymetrical power relationships of the society - male over female In-the parental couple and older over younger in the parent-child relationship. This i s a l l to be done on the basis of role stereotypic expectations and not on the basis of individual s k i l l s or needs or desires. 37 Women are expected as well to make their children look, believe, and behave in ways that affirm the dominant values of the society, no matter at what cost to the child, or to the mother who must enforce this . expectation (Smith, 1973). Given then, that women are in a situation where their task of socialization i s seen as a "natural" expectation, and given that their children can have l i t t l e i n the way of alternate views of sex-role linked behaviours, i t is apparent that the passing on of sex-role stereotypes that are oppressive to the next generation would be a major concern of the Women's Liberation Movement. Thus, i t is the work of motherhood that creates and sustains her oppression. She i s oppressed by the rig i d and narrow ties to the nu-clear family and she must pass on to her children - by precept and example - the very kind of expectations that have made for her own oppression. c) Explanation of the problem and d) Resultant goals and stra-tegies: There are two kinds of efforts made to provide women with a useful account of their oppression: attacks on existing accounts of the role of women in society; and the formulation of alternative explanations of their oppression. There are, in turn, two types of explanations offered: eco-nomic determinist and what I w i l l c a l l biological determinist. The attacks are most often directed at the psycho-historical, or "anatomy is destiny" interpretations of the role of women. These interpre-tations hold that there are certain qualities that women have that are linked to their "instincts". These instincts are directly connected to 3 8 women's capacity as childbearers. Comparisons are also made with primates, * to show how the female must always be subordinate to the male. These statements are countered by such writers as Shulamith Firestone, i n The Dialectic of Sex, where she presents another way of looking at the Freudian construction of the origins of patriarchal social order through the actions of males in the primal horde. Or there is Eva Figes' exposition and c r i -tique of the history of patriarchal attitudes, in her book of the same name (1970). One of the most widely available critiques of the assumptions tra-ditionally made about the nature and in e v i t a b i l i t y of the subordination of women is Naomi Weisstein's "Psychology Constructs the Female, or the Fantasy L i f e of the Male Psychologist" (1970). In terms of both an attack on existing views of female sexuality, linked with a presentation of alternate h i s t o r i c a l interpretations there i s one bio-social one that was f i r s t readily available in the Women's Libera-tion literature in the collection Sisterhood is Powerful. That was Mary Jane Sherfey's "A Theory on Female Sexuality". In this she relates to a theory of the nature of the female's i n f i n i t e threshhold of orgasmic capa-city to the psychological response of males i n ages past to their aware-ness of this i n s a t i a b i l i t y . Where men want to possess offspring and where property possession is rigidly linked to bio-social inheritance, then i t is in the interests of the male to control absolutely the sex drive of women * A very recent, and absolutely devastating critique of the use (or irrelevance, in fact) of primate studies for an understanding of human behaviour has been made by a primatologist, Frances Burton, in a paper given at a conference on the "Response of the University to Feminism". Toronto, 1974, Wendy Potter, Convenor. The paper w i l l not be published for about a year, but the interested reader should find i t most worthwhil 39 Sherfey maintains. It is only thus that paternity can be reasonably as-certained, and that a stable family can be maintained. Turning to the alternate explanations, per se, the economic determinist ones wil l be discussed f irst . They examine the relationship between economic systems and the oppression of women. It is assumed that the economic system generates the political system and as such governs the nature of the relationships between people and institutions (church, family, state, bureaucracy, land tenure, inheritance, etc.). This is not to say that people can be divorced from the institutions which, after a l l , they create and maintain and which they both run and are subject to - sometimes simultaneously. It is just that people often experience the workings of institutions as though there was no humanity linking the workings of cus-tom or law and their own experience of i t . In economic systems where both women and their work are the pro-perty of others - usually men - and are used for the unequal advantage of the man or of the groups or class he is a part of, then oppression of women wil l be a feature of that society. Writers who have examined these kinds of relationships include Margaret Benston, ("The Politics of Women's Liber-ation," 1969), Sheila Rowbotham (Women, Resistance and Revolution, 1971), Dorothy Smith ("Women, the Family, and Corporate Capitalism," 1973), Betsy Warrior ("Housework: Slavery or Labor of Love," 1971). The biological determinist explanations do not deny the importance of the economic order for the oppression of women, but they do not place the economic system, particularly capitalist systems, as the "first cause" of 40 the oppression of women. Shulamith Firestone has the most comprehensive statement of this sort - that the biological division of the sexes pre-dates any other form of role division. The relative weakness of women and the l i teral confinement of childbearing made for the first exploitation of one group by another. From this division came the "cultural superstructure1 that included patriarchy, private property, and with them the total subor-dination of women and exploitation of them through the expropriation of their productive (in both the biological and "work" sense) labour (Fire-stone, 1971, Ch. 1 especially). In the writings of the proponents of the biological determinist explanation of women's oppression, the institution of patriarchy, as embo-died in the nuclear family, comes under severe attack. For Millett the role of patriarchy in the oppression of women is in the control of the female half of the population by the male half. She, too, recognizes that this control appears throughout any pol i t ical , social, or economic sphere of l i f e . Here again, the "first cause" of oppression is not economic, but resides in the "birthright" of being born male or female. She adds to these forms of oppression the psychological form t-hat she calls "interior colonization". This is when women themselves are socialized into believing and propagating the belief in the inherent rightness of their subordination to males (1969: 25 passim). Strategies I have presented an extremely brief account of some of the pre-dominant Women's Liberation Movement explanations for and descriptions of 41 the oppression of women. The causes are based in an exploitive class sys-tem - economic and/or biologically based. The subjective experience of oppression i s f e l t i n those areas of people's lives that they common-sensically designate as psychological and economic. There i s , thus, from the Women's Liberation viewpoint, no part of a woman's l i f e that i s not subject to oppression and there i s no part of society as i t now is that can reamin the same i f oppression i s to be erased. It is .one thing for a person or group to formulate and maintain any or a l l of these interpretations of women's situation. But is only the beginning of bringing about change. The difference between a Jeremiah and a Jesus is i n whether enough significant others can be persuaded of the relevance of the interpretations to their own l i v e s . I have described earlier (see section on "How an Ideology is Used: By Individuals", and "Appropriate Conditions", pp. 21-26) how ideologies are used as people undergo a "conversion" to the u t i l i z a t i o n a whole new "universal meaning system...within which...[their] biography can be located" (Berger, 1963: 61 as quoted above p. 21). It is i n the nature of a l l pervasive, dominant ideologies that they are "non-conscious", that they are part of the "natural order" of people's lives and are rarely available to individuals for analysis and criticism (Bern and Bern, 1971). This places oppressed people in a very weak position for bringing about social change. * From a s t r i c t sociological viewpoint, the word "class" as used by some Women's Liberation ideologues is ambiguous (see Eichler, 1973). 42 But it is the task of a social movement to create circumstances conducive for a person's arriving at this new awareness. When the ideology asks people to re-think and in many areas reject much of their former self-and world-views this task may be very diff icult . When the relevant per-sons - the group designated as suffering the consequences of the problems defined in the ideology - are believed to be victims of "interior coloni-zation", when the nature of their oppression functions to inhibit their grasp of a consciousness of themselves as oppressed, then the problems of bringing about a transformation of their consciousness loom particularly large. So the goals of the Women's Liberation Movement must be making women aware of their oppression ("consciousness-raising") and then providing a means by which women can embark on actions relevant to changing specific forms of oppression. Strategies must be developed to recruit women to the Movement and then to facilitate further action in their part. Obviously goal and strategy are identical in the technique known as consciousness-raising. Consciousness-raising is a logical precursor to other change-oriented action, though i t may take place simultaneously to actions and may be greatly expanded due to these actions. (See history and friendship sections for some of the participants' interpretations of the sequencing and causal conditions for consciousness-raising.) It also is a process that is without an end-state, since it is an analytical technique in itself, useful for understanding any situation a woman is in. The formation of the "small-group" for the purpose of faci l i tat-ing informal, non-competitive, analytical discussion of the situ.i?::'on of 43 women by and for women is a major strategic and organizational technique of the Women's Liberation Movement. It i s not unique to the Movement ( i t seems to have been borrowed from an awareness of early participants of the "speaking bitterness" techniques used by the Chinese after the Revolution) (Mitchell, 1971: 62), but the Movement has made considerable use of i t . The small group situation counters the oppression of women in several ways. One is that women bring themselves together, thereby in that act combatting the atomization of their lives. Closely related to this fact of associa-tion is another positive p o l i t i c a l and psychological function of the small group - that women bring themselves together on the basis of being individual persons, not as appendages of other persons. The latter relationship is what parent-teacher associations or women's auxiliaries or many other women's groups are based on. Another way the small group helps to raise the consciousness of women i s that a woman is able there to externalize her situation, her ex-periences and her feelings by seeing that she shares many of them with other women. It becomes evident to her that individualistic,largely psycholo-gically oriented explanations of her situation are not accurate, since too many women seem to have gone through the same things. She can now create a world of women "out there". This a b i l i t y to view her experiences from the outside gives her, i n effect, an Archimedian point, over which she can exert moral, p o l i t i c a l , and very pragmatic leverage for change in her l i f e . Thus, the non-conscious ideology becomes conscious. The assumed-to-be-natural order of a woman's l i f e can be called into question systemati-cally by women using their own biographies as basic data for linking their 44 l i v e s to other women's. This means women can be seen as a group, oppressed as a group, and able to change t h e i r world as a group. This p o l i t i c a l l e g i t i m a t i o n of the i n d i v i d u a l experience, the t r e a t i n g of the autobiography as data f o r p o l i t i c a l a n a l y s i s , i s an exer-c i s e i n the " p o l i t i c s of experience" and i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of a number of recent s o c i a l movements. I t has probably reached i t s most complete devel-opment to date i n the Women's L i b e r a t i o n Movement (see M i t c h e l l , 1971: 38 for further d i s c u s s i o n of the " p o l i t i c s of experience"). While the Women's L i b e r a t i o n Movement has developed t h i s " s o c i a l technique" (see quotation from Banks, p. 20) to a considerable degree, consciousness-raising does not occur only out of d i r e c t personal i n t e r -a c t i o n with other women. In a media-oriented world, a s o c i a l movement must devise ways to communicate ideas through e l e c t r o n i c means and through w r i t -ing . This can have great impact. In the s e c t i o n to come on the h i s t o r y of the two groups and the d i s c u s s i o n of the women's i n i t i a l awareness of the ideology, we w i l l see a number of examples of the r o l e of the media i n providing a pool of ideas from which women may s e l e c t out what i s relevant to t h e i r i n d i v i d u a l l i v e s . The need to make u l t i m a t e l y a l l women aware of the Women's L i b e r -a t i o n ideology and to incorporate a l l of them into change-oriented actions wherever they are means that any group must l e a r n to handle at l e a s t a minimum array of p u b l i c i t y and educational s k i l l s . They must l e a r n to pub-l i c i z e meetings, to provide speakers f o r interested non-movement groups. They often work i n part or whole on c r e a t i v e and/or j o u r n a l i s t i c w r i t i n g , i n radio or T.V. work, or i n b r i e f - w r i t i n g f or government information to 45 help spread their interpretations of women's situation. There is no Wo-men's Liberation group of any size or duration that I know of that has not undertaken work in at least some of these s k i l l s . Much of the writing is a very personal, emotional sharing of a conversational sort - drawing as close to the woman as the writer/speaker can, given the problems of tem-poral and spatial separation. To my mind, one of the best examples of how this sharing goes on in the Women's Liberation Movement literature i s Pat Mainardi-s "Poli t i c s of Housework", where she l i s t s a number of levels of communication.that can go on between husband and wife over housework. She writes: He: "I don't mind sharing the housework, but I don't do i t very well. We should each do the things we're best at." Meaning: Unfortunately, I'm no good at things l i k e washing dishes or.-cooking....Also meaning: Historically the lower classes (black men and us) have had hundreds of years experience doing menial jobs. It would be a waste of manpower to train someone else to do them now. Also meaning: I don't l i k e the dull stupid boring jobs, so you should do them.... (1970: 448) Mainardi is thus able to move the reader from the ostensible definition of what is going on to the " r e a l " definition, linking i t with both the immed-iate experience of the woman to the experience of women as a group over long periods of time. This is an experience many women can share with her. For instance, one could often read in Ms.. Magazine about, the " c l i c k " a woman experiences in her head when she realizes that she i s experiencing a p o l i -t i c a l put-down. This is another example of this process of transformation of consciousness. There has been a consistent flow of letters published i n the earlier issues of the magazine of women sharing their own similar r e a l i -zations. 46 Even though i t is probably accurate to say that anyone i n Women's Liberation views consciousness-raising as an essential process for any woman to go through in order for her to effect change in her l i f e and the situa-tion of other women, i t does not follow that everyone agrees on 1) how best to f a c i l i t a t e consciousness-raising nor 2) how best to go about changing the concrete manifestations of women's oppression - such as the nuclear family, unequal pay, inadequate day care, unequal educational and vocational opportunity, etc. For some women and some groups the creation and maintenance of small groups is a sufficient focus. In this case, as we w i l l see in the discussion of the U.B.C. group, the small group structure i s seen as both an end in i t s e l f and as a means of strengthening women for future forays into changing the concrete conditions of their l i v e s . In other groups, or for other persons, the strategic focus may be, even i n i t i a l l y - pressure group p o l i t i c s - including educational efforts l i k e leafletting, running a newspaper, etc. - to change concrete conditions, with the assumption that this is the best way to enhance "woman conscious-ness" and recruit participants. We w i l l see that this is true to a great extent for the Women's Caucus group in Vancouver. The goal of the Women's Movement to achieve total equality - in a world that must be changed for the better - has led to anti-leadership, anti-e l i t e organizational structure. This i s so for two reasons: 1) a rejec-tion of a style that is identified with the oppressive, male world and 2) that women must apply their p o l i t i c s of change for themselves. They must 47 work from their own oppression outward. They must l i v e their beliefs. This feeds back into the resource that i s referred to as the p o l i t i c s of exper-ience. The conjunction of the belief in working from the basis of an understanding of one's own oppression; the anti-hierarchical emphasis; and the recognition of the diversity of women's situation, experience, s k i l l s , and interests a l l lead to a decidedly atomized, "grass roots" form of p o l i -t i c a l action, particularly for the Movement in Canada. Groups that charac-terize themselves expl i c i t l y as Women's Liberation groups do not have o f f i -cers, don't have membership l i s t s , try to avoid even implicit leadership by rotating tasks and by having people volunteer to do whatever interests them. There are risks in this (see Joreen, "The Tyranny of Structureless-ness,"1972) in that cliques can form where decision-makers and information sources are not exp l i c i t l y known to a l l at a l l times, but this danger can be countered by the rotation of tasks and constant close contact among a l l members. In summary, we can see that the belief held by the Women's Liber-ation Movement that the oppression of women i s a pervasive, long-standing condition, which very much includes the d i f f i c u l t y women have in under-standing that they are oppressed, leads to very far-reaching goals for change. The Movement must take into account the diversity of women's ex-perience and the atomization of their existence and, in so doing,devise organizational structures and strategies of action that provide women with the means to l i v e out their struggle against oppression from the base of 48 their own experience and from the social interaction the group i t s e l f sup-plies . We w i l l move next to an analysis of how the women in this study achieved their f i r s t consciousness of their oppression and then began groups to help change other women's situation. 49 CHAPTER II METHODOLOGY Assumptions about the nature of the social world dictate the method of study of i t . The symbolic interactionist perspective on human social l i f e taken i n this study means that a way must be found for capturing how people construct their own social reality and how accordingly guide their actions for themselves and with others. What is being described is a social process, one that takes place through and among people over time. I have noted i n the review of the literature section how lacking most of the literature was in conveying these fundamental aspects of human social be-haviour - the active, reflexive construction of their own social world that people "constantly engage in, and the fact that this takes place continually over time, with each interpretation and action embedded in the past and carried out with a view to the future. In the process of this reality construction people build up shared meanings, shared interpretations of the world. There i s never complete congruity of any individual's or group's images of the social world. There cannot be, given that each person has unique sensory equipment and also given that, at the very least, our confinement within our own body means that our l i t e r a l perspective - biologically and then socially - can never be identi-cal to any other's. Additionally, these differences, coupled with social environments in some ways distinct for each of us (say, the middle child has a different social environment than a f i r s t or later child; or some are 50 poor and have few material goods to manipulate, while, others have many - and a l l the prestige that goes with i t ) means that our cumulature histories w i l l be i n some ways unique to us. Yet, with a l l this, we do develop c r u c i a l l y shared interpretations of our social world -we maintain some, we phase out others, and i n i t i a t e yet others. It i s the task of the social s c i e n t i s t to discern what those imagBs of the persons and groups studied are, how they developed them and how they used them in their social l i f e . Doing this, as a number of scho-lars maintain (Blumer, 1969; Denzin, 1970; Schutz, 1965) means going to the people themselves. This can be going to people presently engaged in the conduct studied, or to others not present in time or space, through documen-tation l e f t by or about them. This is what Blumer c a l l s the " n a t u r a l i s t i c " approach, one that respects the quality and v a l i d i t y of that social world constructed by the people themselves. There is an attempt to understand that world in the people's own terms, and then to show the relationships between the interpretations and actions among people and groups as they carry on their l i v e s . I t i s here that we can see how i t i s that people come to have certain interpretations of their l i v e s - of how they got where they are and how they should act next - and how they change thes.e interpre-tations or assist change. The study of people's experience i n relation to a social movement is exactly this study. I have already discussed the assumptions about the kinds of circum-stances that seem to underly a change in interpretat:' on of some facet or other of one's social world (see above, Ch.l, p.26 passim). 51 The question remains, how best to provide a description of these changes. The methodology that provides the most adequate means of getting, inside of another world is participant observation. It must be emphasized: that I am maintaining, along with McCall and Simmons, that participant observation is not a simple method of research but i s "a type of research enterprise, a style of combining several methods toward a particular end" (1969: 3). Participant observation, so conceived, allows us to observe and record human behaviour in i t s two basic levels: the symbolic, and the behavioural (Denzin 1970: 7). Symbols arise in interaction and are shared, exchanged and modified as people continually are engaged in taking the role of salient others. We can best learn what these images/interpretations are and how people use them i f we place ourselves (physically, preferably, or imaginatively i n the case of h i s t o r i c a l studies) within the behavioural settings where the interpretation and interaction goes on. The p l u r a l i t y of settings must be taken l i t e r a l l y . People l i v e their l i v e s in a number of places - and the more settings the researcher can share, the f u l l e r the awareness of how people lead their l i v e s , even in relation to one set of interpretations. It is not always necessary to remain in this setting throughout a whole study in order to get an adequate picture of what is going on. This general absorption of the symbolic and interactive milieu - participant observation narrowly defined - is often used by the researche in at least the beginning of any inquiry in order to develop an accurate account of the "world view" of the persons and situations studied. Having 52 achieved this, the researcher may then want to move on to other techniques which w i l l allow in-depth probing of certain facets of the social world. This move involves what is.known as "triangulation" of study techniques (Denzin, 1970: 14 passim and p. 227 passim). The cumulation of techniques, participant observation per se, interviewing, examination of documents composed by or about the persons allows a rich depiction of the world studied and can more nearly assure that the relevances that the re-searcher concludes to be the crucial ones for the.people do, "in fact", coincide with theirs. Triangulation can lead to a closer approximation of this studied world because i t also allows the researcher to deal with time. This is true for several reasons. One is that she can be there in the i n -teractive setting(s) over time, thus noting the stable and changing aspects of the social world. She also can go back before her own experience by asking the people, in more or less explicit interview sessions, to recon-struct their experiences from perhaps long ago. Also, through the examina-tion of documents she can grasp even more facets of people's interpreta-tions of their situation. Since we customarily divide our world into public and private spheres and have different "faces" to present in each (see Goffman, 1956 especially, for discussion of the management of this division in our presentations of our selves), i t follows that records of the types of interpretations we present in each - for ourselves and others - i s of considerable importance in gaining a full-fledged view of the way that people continually create and liv e in their world. These documents can give a sense of both on-going behaviour and of the changes over time. 53 In the process of using participant observation - broadly defined, as the use of multiple research techniques - the element of time i s crucial in another sense. That i s , the researcher has the time and the use of several techniques to allow her to become sensitive to the general, perhaps diffuse or even confusing interpretations and behaviour of the people in a certain circumstance (say, adult women) or with reference to a certain topic (women's experience of the Women's Liberation Movement) and then cut,select out, what part of this world she wishes to study. She can then bring to bear other techniques that best f i t her evolving research goals. In the literature i t i s repeatedly stated that in-the-field par-ticipant observation can be used to sensitize one to what the people's own domains of relevance, own crucial issues and ways of articulating them are. Having insofar as possible gained access to, and being empathetic to, the interpretive and behavioural systems of a number of relevant peo-ple, the researcher can be more certain that in the next phase - the attempt to elaborate, make more concrete, and reassess her own interpreta-tions of others' interpretations - she w i l l be focussing upon issues that are generated in the people's own world and not out of her own pre-determined images of what might have been going on. This shedding of pre-determined images is an essential and often extremely d i f f i c u l t task for the outsider (Blumer, 1969: 35 passim). If however the pre-determined images have been replaced by the people's own then a technique lik e interviewing can be most useful in this next stage of focussing upon more specific aspects of the experiences of people. 54 This method of discovering.the.issues as one goes along.is t y p i -cal of research of this sort. :As Dean,. Eichorn, and,Dean say in their a r t i c l e "Limitations and Advantages of Unstructured Methods" A major characteristic of observation.and interviewing in the f i e l d i s i t s non-standardization. By frequently re-directing the inquiry on. the. basis-.of. data, coming ..in... .from the f i e l d to ever more f r u i t f u l areas .of-investigation, [and] ..Because of his (sic) closer.,contact with.the field.situation, (the researcher is better able to avoid misleading or meaningless questions") (1969:21, emphasis theirs). Therefore the interview i t s e l f must meet the same c r i t e r i a as f i e l d observation of allowing the people to speak for themselves, i n their own language, about their experiences. This i s so even i f the discussion is centered by the researcher around certain aspects of their overall l i f e experience. In the research for this study the above techniques and progres-sion of their use was followed. They w i l l be discussed with s p e c i f i c ref-erence to this research in the parts that follow. The Early Field Work Over a period of twelve months I engaged in.-participant observa-tion in the two Women's Liberation groups in Vancouver.' These were the • Wozienr s Caucus and the group at the University of Br i t i s h Columbia,* The aim was zo • understand in the participants' own- terms>- "what their experience of the -ove - c n t was- how they became aware of Women's Liberation, how they formed groups, joined them later, and carried out the new interpretations * To be referred to as the UBC group throughout the remainder of this stu 55 of their social world that they learned. I wanted to know what effect being a regular member of the Women's Liberation Movement and these groups in particular had upon the everyday lives of the women. It should be made explicit that I had been "converted" to the Women's Liberation Movement myself only a few weeks before I decided to study some part of i t . I believe that this condition of being a member can be u t i l i z e d by the observer/member in systematically discerning what is going on because the member/observer has been through similar experiences herself. "Discerning" is used here in the sense that Barton and Lazarsfeld use i t when they say: In exploring for possible factors affecting some given variable, or for chains of causes and effects constituting a "process", there appear to be two basic techniques. The f i r s t attempts to obtain objective information about the sequences of events, par-t i c u l a r l y what events preceded the response under investigation ....The second technique is to ask people themselves to explain what happened and to give their reasons for acting as they did. The basic question here i s always "Why?"....Both of these tech-niques are combined in a technique of qualitative exploration of causal relations known as "discerning" (1969: 185-186). I f e l t that the participant observation would allow me in time to then focus on a particular facet of the Movement as expressed in these two groups and that further refinements of data collection would follow in accordance with the evolving goals of exploration. In fact this did happen, as my interest began to focus on how the women seemed to be chang-ing many of their interpretations of their situation and acting accordingly. A useful way to document this, as noted above in this chapter, was through in-depth, open-ended interviews. The participant observation per se was to f a c i l i t a t e effective questionnaire building and interviewing technique 56 in order to develop a descriptive analysis reflecting the primary con-cerns and experience of the women. The f i r s t eight months of f i e l d work were spent going to the weekly meetings of the UBC group, going regularly to Women's Caucus meet-ings, though not weekly. The Women's Caucus schedule was divided into different meetings for the various functions the group wanted to serve, so there were bi-monthly meetings of one sort, monthly ones of others, etc. I n i t i a l l y , I took notes on the interaction in the meetings, read the relevant Women's Liberation Movement literature, the Women's Caucus newspaper, and visited informally with friends one became acquainted with over this time. At f i r s t I had planned to study the Women's Caucus group and a contrastingly organized "women's collective" which had been formed in a local house on a communal basis. I went to the UBC group as "my" group, the one I went to for my own personal satisfaction. The collective, however, dissolved almost before i t got going, so i t became necessary to notify the UBC group that I would now be viewing i t from the additional viewpoint of a sociology student, and I asked permission to draw from the group for persons to interview. The participants were very receptive to this idea, and very supportive of my work in general. The interest in studying participation in two groups arose as I became more and more aware of how differently organized (or "anti-organized") each group was. I w i l l go into some detail as to the history, structure, and composition of each of these groups in a following section, but w i l l say now only that the two contrasting groups seemed to exemplify a recur-57 rent strategic division within the Women's Liberation Movement. The division revolves around the often dichotomized questions of whether change is brought about by changing oneself f i r s t and then going out and changing society (the consciousness-raising group emphasis) or does one embark upon " p o l i t i c a l action" and thereby have one's consciousness raised? These differing strategies are roughly tied to psychological deterministic models (the former) and economic deterministic models (the l a t t e r ) . As w i l l be shown, i t was only among the Women's Caucus members that these divisions were e x p l i c i t l y posed and tied to definite causal models of society's i l l s . The divisions showed up in the organization of the groups and in their per-sonnel. Since this difference showed up then in varying interaction pat-terns and ideological emphases, i t was apparent that an attempt to under-stand how social change takes place could be further fa c i l i t a t e d by being able to study significant variation as well as similarity between groups. Thus, i t would be necessary to deal with the two actual Women's Liberation groups in the city. This by no means implies that one has covered a l l the Women's groups. It is basic to the ideology that any woman anywhere who cares about the issues is in the Movement, whether she can make i t to a meeting or not. It was clear that many women could not come to many meetings at a l l . Often their time schedules didn't allow i t , or they came for a few meetings and then would disappear for months or for good. Yet they might show up working on day care somewhere. 58 In order to achieve some comparability in the selection of per-sons for the interviews i t was decided to ask for "regular" participants who had been so for at least six months. Regular was to be defined by the group i t s e l f and this was done, according to what they saw as the min-imum participation level (usually measured in terms of attendance at meet-ings, workshops, and other related activities) for someone to be a familiar and dependably present person. Virtually a l l of the women who met these c r i t e r i a consented to be interviewed. This was nine women from Women's Caucus and 18 from the UBC group. The interviews lasted from 45 minutes to three hours. They were done over a period of about two months toward the conclusion of the field work. The six month minimum was set because i t coincided at the time of formulating the interview plan with a shakeup in the membership and strategy of the Women's Caucus late the previous summer, when they voted to exclude anyone who was a member of the local Young Socialist Alliance. This move had been taken by Women's Liberation groups a l l over North America over the past two years, and the issues raised and steps taken were v i r t u -a l l y identical here. The six months also coincided roughly with when the UBC group was started, in September of 1970. Note on Ethics and Methodology Before discussing the questionnaire i t s e l f , i t should be noted that from the very beginning of the f i e l d work i t was announced to any and 59 a l l persons met that I was doing my doctoral dissertation "on Women's Lib-eration". I almost always met with a positive response to this statement. The one or two disgruntled expressions came from ex-sociology students who seemed irr i t a t e d to have their old f i e l d appear on non-university grounds. Yet they agreed to be interviewed and cooperated at length. I have taken the stance that no form of secret research in social science known to me is j u s t i f i a b l e . People must not only be told what one is doing, but they also must be capable of understanding the implications of the work of academic l i f e , of the Ph.D. as a "union card", of possible publication of results, etc. , I also believe that, methodologically speaking, no more distortion need be brought into the study by persons knowing they are part of a study than i f they do not. In the case of the researcher being known as such (as well as a friend, perhaps, or colleague, peer, enemy, etc.) the re-searcher w i l l only minimally have- to distort her behaviour in the inter-actions that take place. There is no hiding, no duplicatious "tact" in order to stay in the f i e l d . The other persons in the study may, i t is true, then alter their behaviour in relation to being studied. It i s my obser-vation that alteration of behaviour in order to look good or bad for an observer, i f that observer is relatively powerless in the interaction,is too energy-consuming to carry on for long. People stop doing i t - i f they even were in the f i r s t place. Thus, they resume "natural" behaviour relatively rapidly and the researcher need not fear deliberate, deceitful "staging" of behaviour. Again, this assumes the researcher to be relatively power-60 less in the interaction. Distortion could well take place i f the researcher i s seen as powerful and capable of giving or witholding valuable goods, privileges, etc. This was not the case here. Honesty about the research goals does not mean that one l i s t s off a l l questions to be asked to every person, or describes in detail every move made or to be made. It means that i f an observer is asked by a con-cerned person about the research that there is an obligation for the ob-server to discuss the broad outlines of the work and the reasons for pre-ferring to talk in generalities. Then i f the person s t i l l wants to know more of what may effect herself - then the observer is obligated to enligh-ten the person, even i f i t means losing some data, or being thrown out of the f i e l d . However, i f one has met the second criterion of a knowledge-able "subject", that i s , the person understands the nature of f i e l d research for Ph.D.'s, then I would anticipate l i t t l e in the way of negative response to the observer's work. Certainly I have found this to be so. I have also found that persons who understand the problem of contamination of data by the comparing of interviews by past and future interviewees are quite co-operative in refraining from discussing "their" interview with others. Thus, for many reasons I feel that being a known researcher is both morally and methodologically sound. The Interview The type of interview technique uti l i z e d is best described by John Madge as a focussed interview and the kind within that type i s the "focussed autobiography", ". . . i n which the focussed interview technique is 61 used to collect material on topics chosen by the investigator for their relevance to his (sic) hypotheses" (1965: 183). Denzin describes a simi-lar approach for what he calls a "topical l i f e history" or autobiography. He says this type "shows a l l the features of the complete form [of l i f e history taken down] except that only one phase of the subject's l i f e i s presented" (Denzin, 1970: 222). Before describing the interview schedule, i t must be pointed out that each of the questions was asked of every person interviewed, to assure comparability of data. The brief f i r s t part of the interview established some biographical information - the person's age, marital status (number of children, their ages),educational level, occupation, parents' occupa-tion, husband's occupation and income. One reason for asking the questions directed at socio-economic status was to see from what class the respondents came, in that the Women's Liberation i s often characterized as a middle-class movement. The impli-cation of this characterization is that the women involved do not really have anything - from an "objective" viewpoint - to be liberated from. Ob-viously, i f oppression must be subjectively experienced, this viewpoint i s not useful, but I did want to be able to address myself to class as an objective "fact", and then to the issue of oppression in relation to sub-jective perception of i t . The biographical material also provided me with information about what roles and ac t i v i t i e s took up the person's l i f e , so that I could direct the following questions appropriately. The information I wanted can be broken down into two parts: how the person f i r s t became aware of the Women's Liberation Movement (included 62 is how they actually moved into a group), and what one she fe l t the movement had in changing her l i f e . The f i r s t part would presumably yield the most information about how change in the form of transformation of conscious-ness takes place, and the latter part would document how change i s sus-tained over time. When I asked about how the person got into the Movement there were two parts to thi s : what was of interest and relevance to them about the Movement, and how the " l o g i s t i c s " of entrance occurred. The former would inform about the relationship between the ideology and the person's auto-biography, and the lat t e r would t e l l more about the social interaction between members and non-members, or non-members and other non-members. Since both ideology and everyday interaction are essential parts of a social movement, and of individual change of this sort, these questions would have considerable use. The next section asked f i r s t whether they f e l t their Women's Lib-eration Movement experience had had any effect on their l i f e . This was f o l -lowed by a probe of a general sort, ("can you t e l l me about that?"). Then the person was asked whether and how more specific aspects of their l i f e had been affected. I covered a l l the roles I could discern - in the mar-riage, with the children, with the husband or lover s p e c i f i c a l l y (emotion-a l l y , sexually), with the household tasks and couple decision-making, at the person's work outside the home, at school (whether as teacher or stu-dent), with friends. I asked how much time they spent on Women Liberation a c t i v i t i e s , and on what kind, and why they continued to participate in their group. 63 The interviewees supplied a before-Women's Liberation and after-Women's Liberation cast to their responses and I tried wherever possible -as did they, i t turned out - to distinguish what kinds of changes did seem to follow on the Women's Liberation experience and which ones "would have happened anyway". There were some aspects of possible change that could not be reached by referring to a specific role or activity and yet which are important to examine i f one is looking at change in a person's l i f e , change which seems to be in the direction of a considerable re-definition of self. So I asked questions about self-esteem, about public presentation of self, and asked for their evaluation of the whole experience (so far) as to i t s value in their l i f e . A l l of this information was tape-recorded, with the interviewees' permission, and was then transcribed verbatim and placed on data-sort cards for use in further sorting and analysis. Summary The methodological basis of this study is the use of research techniques that w i l l allow the researcher to understand certain facets of selected other people's social world. The methodology must treat their interpretations of their world as valid, and must allow for comparisons to be made among the participants' individual experience in relation to the Women's Liberation Movement for comparisons to be made from group to group as they each engage in joint action, and for links to be made between the researcher's understanding of what went on and other researcher's analyses of other phenomena related to social change as effected by social move-ments. The remaining chapters are the application of the relationship between the conceptual stance of symbolic interaction and the methodolo, that follows from i t , and provide a description and analysis of the two groups studied. 65 CHAPTER III THE FORMATION OF THE TWO VANCOUVER GROUPS: THEIR HISTORY AND CHARACTER In this chapter I give a social psychological history of how the ideology of the Women's Liberation Movement became embodied in the two Vancouver groups studied. This entails showing the reciprocal relationships among the individuals' biographies, the ideology they constructed and lived by, and the groups they founded and continually shaped. This is the three-tiered model of social interaction that coincides with that part of the social movements literature that i s being used here (see Chapter I, Part B). This analysis w i l l also be using Jo Freeman's propositions about the social structural prerequisites of social movement formation in dealing with the foundation of both the Vancouver groups. Freeman's propositions are that: 1) A pre-existing communications network within the movement. Where one is very rudimentary...much effort must be spent to build one up. 2) A particular kind of network. It must be "co-optable to the new ideas Co-optable means "...composed of like-minded people whose back-ground, experiences, or location in the social structure make them receptive to the ideas...." What was similar in her group(s) was women who had had left-wing p o l i t i c a l experience that equipped them with the rhetoric of equality and the direct experience of being denied that equality. These were largely middle-class, educated women who crossed paths on campuses and campus-related p o l i t i c s across the United States. 66 3) Both the network and a situation of strain, coupled with one or more "precipitants". The network must be extended enough (or made to be so) that the new ideas and actions can be spread and continuing over time and space (1973: 32-33). Freeman is using these propositions in her examination of the history of the construction of the Women's Liberation Movement as a whole, but much of it is applicable to the Vancouver groups. First , when looking at the founders of each group in terms of networks per se (leaving aside the co-optability for the moment) it wil l be very clear that in both cases there were pre-existing communication net-works among the founders. They knew each other at work and socially. The "politically experienced" ones (see discussion later, Chapter IV) had been active together. The non-political (UBC) ones were a l l in the same academic department and Hilary and Jeanette lived together. The fact that the founders had a rich, complex set of social links can be related to the "co-optability" factor. What is behind the like-mindedness, similarity of background and experience and a certain lo-cation in the social .structure that- makes the founders co-optable is that Lheir l i fe situation is atypical for women, but like each other's. In every case - Women's Caucus and UBC - the founders are as near being "in-dependent" women as a middle-class, career-oriented woman could be. That this is the case is shown by the fact that only one of the women was mar-ried (although i t is true that Hilary and Jeanette had been a couple for 17 years) ac the time. They did not have children, few of them were living 67 in a one-to-one relationship with a man, a l l were in sk i l l e d and/or pro-fessional training or already occupied these kinds of jobs. They a l l were self-supporting, and in the cases of the professors were making salaries larger than about four-fifths of a l l Canadians' yearly incomes. Only Para, who came into Vancouver later but had helped start the f i r s t Women's Liber-ation Consciousness-raising group in her home town, was married. Yet she had no children and was regularly employed i n professional work. Their p o l i t i c a l backgrounds (for the Women's Caucus women) and the academic backgrounds of both groups of women made them used to dealing with ideas, to articulating and c r i t i c i z i n g social patterns. A l l of these are essential tools for adopting and further developing an ideology and group and finding media vehicles for i t . I am suggesting that as busy as the founder women were in their l i v e s they a l l - relative to housewives, to mothers, to any woman whose l i f e must revolve around mother(s) - had time. Further, i t takes persons (and this would be particularly true of women) who have this kind of freedom and s k i l l who can afford to under-take the stresses and costs of p o l i t i c a l innovation. Then there i s the other extreme of "freedom", the welfare mother who's got nothing l e f t to hope for, who's lost at any turn and who f i n a l l y can't afford not to act. The suggestion .that "freedom's just another word for nothing l e f t to lose" does not originate with me. Once the innovation is on i t s way - once there i s a shared ide-ology, a place to meet, some changes made, some legitimacy appearing on the 68 horizon then the rank and f i l e , the "masses" can afford to join up. In very practical terms, i t took the Women's Caucus women the equivalent in time of a nearly full-time job to start the group, but once i t had some perceptible structure and regularity, a woman could be a physical part of i t for two hours twice a month. (Of course, she could think about i t wher-ever she was.) Husbands can be coaxed into baby-sitting for that. It i s a problem with many p o l i t i c a l groups which have the poten-t i a l of inviting great numbers of "everyday" people that the founders and ideologues almost perforce must be exceptions to the experience of the or-dinary participant. Thus there may occur ideological ivory-towerism, a loss of a sense of the basic, pragmatic needs of the majority of p a r t i c i -pants in the movement, and possibly an alienation of the base of support, of the very people who need i t the most. It is s t i l l a question as to whether the Women's Liberation Movement w i l l succeed in substantially avoiding this p i t f a l l . Due in part to the exp l i c i t , sweeping egalitarian-ism the ideology embodies,it is my guess that the Movement w i l l keep reach-ing out to and including a very wide spectrum of women. Following on this reasoning we can modify Freeman's proposition by noting that the kind of co-optability she seems to mean i s essential largely for the requirements of movement or local group formation. Women who found such groups may also be able over time to put in more time in apparent Movement ac t i v i t i e s of an organizing, public nature. But once the Movement is ro l l i n g , once the meeting place is set, the publicity ap-pearing, then anyone becomes "co-optable", who simply " f i t s " the proble-69 matic subject group as defined in the ideology. This i s a l l women in this case, and i t is the job of a movement, embodied in i t s participants, to make an ideological and social "home base" for its constituency. Freeman's third proposition, or prerequisite, for the establish-ment of a social movement combines the existence of networks, a situation of perceived strain revolving around a woman's location of herself in so-ciety, and some "precipitant" for action that can then be directed along the ideological guidelines that the women become aware of. In this chapter, on the history and character of the two Vancouver groups, I w i l l be describing the role of the f i r s t two factors (networks and in-common situations making for "co-optability" to the "new ideas"). The founders' accounts of the history of their respective groups make very apparent the val i d i t y of the f i r s t two propositions. While a l l of the prerequisites could overlap in people's exper-ience and in the course of a social movement's career, the part played by perceived strain or distress over their location in the social structure - their existence as women, as members of a now-known-to-be oppressed group - is shown more clearly in their accounts of their own individual early awareness of the existence and then relevance of the Women's Liberation ideology in their own li v e s . The role of the ideology in the women's com-ing to define certain areas of their lives as problematic, as capable of analysis and even of change through the application of the ideology, w i l l thus be the subject of the following chapter. 70 A. Formation and Structure of the Groups In order to describe how the Women's Liberation Movement began in Vancouver - with the forming of the Women's Caucus - and to understand how the women in each group became participants, i t is necessary to pro-vide a description of the history and structure of the two groups. As w i l l be seen, the two groups function as pre-selectors of their "type" of membership, they emphasize different parts of the Women's Liberation ideology, goals and strategies for reaching these goals, and they have different interactive patterns. Since the structure of interactive circumstances effects the kind of interpretation, defining, and testing of their situation that can go on among people, i t is l i k e l y that the fact of the two groups having differing structures w i l l make for Women's Liberation experiences that seem to dif f e r not just from person to person, but also from one group of persons to the other group. That i s , there should be some general type of intergroup as well as intra-group differentiation. Thus, in order to pursue the analysis of change in the women's liv e s , a thorough understanding of the character (history, structure, and personnel) of each of the groups is required. The groups do not come by their character entirely accidentally. They were founded by persons accord-ing to what the founders understood of the ideology and of themselves and other women in relation to the ideology and to each other. Furthermore, they are sustained according to how, and insofar as, they meet the p o l i -t i c a l and personal needs of the women present. The women obviously w i l l 71 be involved in constructing and changing the nature of the group - again in accordance with their understanding of the ideology and their percep-tion of their own and others' a b i l i t i e s and needs within i t . This is a very complex process, the understanding of which is the central concern of this study. The essence of this process is that the interaction i s not lineal in i t s course and results; rather i t i s a reciprocating relationship that does nonetheless show an evolution of character (of persons, of groups, of ideology) over time. The description of the history and structure of the groups comes from two kinds of sources. For the Women's Caucus account I have relied upon an "oral history" given to me by two of the founders of the group. They talked about i t during an evening and this was tape-recorded and transcribed. Their account was supplemented often with the other inter-views, in that several of the women were also founders or very early mem-bers of the group. Since the Women's Caucus started their own newspaper (The Pedestal) quite soon after their inception, a further record of the group is available there and was drawn on to some degree. Descriptions of the current structure (as of the time of the f i e l d work) are drawn from my participant observation and from interviews. For the UBC group I rely largely on my having been present at the f i r s t meeting called and from regular (weekly and more) attendance at the group a c t i v i t i e s for vi r t u a l l y the entirety of i t s f i r s t year. Some specifics as to how the f i r s t meeting was called were provided in the inter-views. 72 Women's Caucus In the oral history of the Women's Caucus, as provided by Penny and Marta, two of the founders who continued their active participation over the nearly three years since the beginning of the group, the embedding in the past of the philosophy, strategy, and organization of the present * group can most ^ definitely be seen - as Blumer indicates i t must be. I w i l l f i r s t trace the events lis t e d by Penny and Marta which are h i s t o r i c a l milestones in the development of the group. This w i l l be my selection (largely coinciding with their own) of concrete "steps" .taken along the way as the group i s formed, as i t becomes institutionalized, and achieves an identity of it s own in the view of both participants and the outside community. . Then I w i l l interject at each point in the brief summary of the. history of the groups the interpretations of the origins and character of these events as recalled by two people who were instrumental in the struc-turing of these facts.y It is here that we may see the "interpretive pro-cess", the " f i t t i n g cvf lines of action to each other", the "growing out of what went be fore''"^Blumer, 1969). 1. What Happened: The nucleus of women who eventually formed the Women's Caucus knew each other from.their experiences in New Left student p o l i t i c s at Simon Fraser University, in 1967 and 1968. (This university Is commonly c a l l "SFU" .and w i l l be referred to as such throughout the study). * I am speaking in the historical present. The group "now" is the group over the year of the Fall of 1970 and Spring and Summer of 1971. This was the third year of the group's existence. • 73 Penny: People knew each other. Like, most of the people who were involved at the beginning were people, were women who were involved in the Left, had been in the SDU, Students for a Democratic University. During a s i t - i n in the boardroom of the university, the idea came up of co-opting this luxurious, seldom used room for a Day Care Centre. This usage was just for one day, "for the TV cameras", but the women who had children stuck together and formed a permanent Day Care group. Day Care or women's issues in general were not at the time a priority of the student movement. Penny: "...It spent one day as a Day Care with a few token kids, right? They're for the TV cameras...and then out of that there was, l i k e , i t was the nucleus of a group of women, most of whom had children, single women with children, who had a l l the problems that involved, right of being students and trying to find people to look after their kids while they were students, and not being able to afford i t . And that's essentially where the thing started, but... they really did almost immediately have, l i k e , this con-sciousness about their special problems as women - the focus for i t in Day Care. Child care generally was not merely an issue at a l l . . . in the general Left Movement at that time." The Day Care women were a large part of a group that they formed as the Feminist Action League. This was the summer of 1968. The Feminist Action League met with great derision from male members of the student body, particularly the p o l i t i c a l l y active ones. Penny: ...That summer...was the bad-mouthing time. They had the Feminist Action League and the newspaper, the student newspaper, put i t down. Like nobody had any conscious-ness. Marta: Pussy power. 74 Penny: Yeah, pussy power...like a l l the men sort of on the Left were going "Nyaah, Nyaah, you're being ridiculous" and stuff l i k e that. There began to be some articles on Women's Liberation available during that summer and some of the women began reading them. Penny: A few women were starting to talk about Women's Libera-tion, and by that time...Juliet Mitchell's a r t i c l e "Women: the Longest Revolution" had been unearthed. Marta: The Ramparts a r t i c l e had come out. Penny: The literature was only starting to happen and, like people were rediscovering, you know, Lenin or whoever i t was on the woman question, and...Engels...and the classic stuff was being rediscovered. And then some new stuff was happening and some people in were starting to write a l i t t l e bit too about what was going on. That f a l l (1968) some women - other than the p o l i t i c a l women Penny and Marta knew - called a meeting about women for women. It was clear at this meeting that there was no consensus about what women's issues and needs were. It is here that the comments of Marta and Penny reveal their own interpretation of the most appropriate goals and strategies for women. As was pointed out in the discussion of the features and speci-f i c content of the ideology of the Women's Liberation Movement, the ideology does provide an interpretation of the his t o r i c a l bases of the problem being defined (the oppression of women). There were the oppression-arises-out-of-oppressive-attitudes explanations and oppression-arises-from-exploitive-social-structure explanations. It is clear from the following that the founders of the Women's Caucus found the latter interpretation more amenable to their own understanding of the way the world worked. And i t is this interpretation and the strategies i t implied that they developed in their establishment of and continuing participation in the Women's Caucus. 75 To continue with Penny and Marta's description: Marta: There seemed to be a sort of obvious s p l i t between peo-ple who wanted to do sort of social action/political stuff, and I mean not sort of - not necessarily outside - well, i t wasn't a l l that e x p l i c i t , but sort of weren't reject-ing the sort of personal needs of people...but saw i t mainly as a matter of social action - and [the s p l i t be-tween the former] people who wanted a lot of sort of talk groups. Penny: Self-analysis. Marta: Who wanted to go off in the direction that the States had gone into and quite e x p l i c i t l y sort of therapy, some of them — cause they had this stupid psychology prof. Penny: Yeah...the context of the meeting was they had invited a lady psychologist... and she sat in this sort of throne-l i k e chair while the rest of us scrounged a l l around the room, and [she] told us how l i t t l e g i r l s grew up like flowers - naturally - to be women. ...I was going along l i k e "this I got to see", cause I'd just quit my job as a psychologist...and I knew she was going to be awful and she was - oh, she was awful! The psychologist had invited discussion, but one of the women said she would like to go around the room and let everyone say why they'd come to the meeting. As Marta says: Marta: ...The difference in expectations really become clear, because everyone said what they expected out of that meeting. Penny: You know, what you were considering. Marta: And we could always find out who our friends were. Penny: The p o l i t i c a l people. Marta: "Hi, over there!" 76 There were, about twelve women at the meeting and about nine of them seemed " p o l i t i c a l " . Of the others, i t was recounted: Penny: ...There were about three or so who were sort of si t t i n g in the corner saying, "I think...I want to talk about Jung..." or...you know, this Marta: the one woman who cried, who said this i s , the f i r s t place I've ever sort of f e l t at home, and I need so much help. Penny: [says the women's name] Marta: Yeah Penny: Oh, God! Marta: It was so sad. Penny: I could have strangled -Marta: cry, whimper. She was -It is apparent from the explicit and implicit tone of this how these central founders of the group f e l t about the role of the movement in relation to intimate, unhappy, personal feelings of women. They said in this part of the exchange that they had tried to explain to each other at this meeting that taking the psychologist's view, and looking at i n d i v i -dual problems led to trying only individual solutions which would not bring about social change, which was where the problems lay. Yet rather than see the psychologically oriented women's discomfort and needs as a part of the social circumstances and then allow them to be expressed, i t is clear that the " p o l i t i c a l " women shied away from this form of articula-tion of problematic areas. They are continuing to f i t themselves into self-typifications as po l i t i c a l activists, with p o l i t i c s being defined as having content external 77 from the self. In this sense, they are very much embedded in their past, and while the content of their p o l i t i c a l activity i s different, the form is not radically altered. Shortly thereafter some of the p o l i t i c a l women called another meeting. At this meeting, i t was decided to c a l l the group the Women's Caucus. The mechanics of group formation can be seen, as well as more of the p o l i t i c a l embedding of the founders i n the comments that followed: Marta: The "Jungians" had been the people who called the [pre-vious] meeting, and given the structure of things would be the people who called the next meeting, except luck-i l y they never did. [One of the "Jungians"] was supposed to c a l l another meeting and I ran into her on campus and I said, "When is the next one going to be?" ar.d she said, "Oh, I don't know. It doesn't seem to be anything happening," right? which l e f t the vacuum. Penny: Into which we stomped ferociously. I: So what did you do? Penny: So we sat around together - Marta and me and Bobbie and ...said what w i l l we do...and then we decided we had to have another meeting only we had to be much more expli-c i t about what we were trying to accomplish. And so we discussed, l i k e , the name and decided that...the "Femi-nine Action League" had to go - we had by default become the Feminine Action Leage and that name had to go be-cause of a l l the bad-mouthing that had gone on. And we wanted i t l i k e a really, tried as much as pos-sible to think of something that would conjure up a p o l i t i c a l image right away. So we called i t Women's Caucus cause we thought a caucus, you know, people immed-iately associate that with p o l i t i c s , right? Actually, given that the3/ had read so l i t t l e about Women's Liber-ation, and were the earliest proponents of Women's Liberation as they under-stood i t in Vancouver, i t is not surprising that they thought in such a 78 traditional way about p o l i t i c s and p o l i t i c a l groups. What is notable here is that varying viewpoints were early on unwelcome and this continued to be the case with this group. I am suggesting that the character of the group was set at this time and that this definition of p o l i t i c a l -that p o l i t i c s was social action exercised upon the apparent structures of society (class, economy, etc.), and that personal concerns were not to be dwelt upon - was seen as the only legitimate one. (I sat in on discus-sion after discussion where opposite views - the "psychological" orienta-tion - weren't put down, they simply weren't heard by focal people.) The only time personal needs, for friendship and support, were mentioned as worthy of consideration were i n often repeated statements that personal strength and friendship were bu i l t up by working with people. As the two women said: Marta: Comradeship comes Penny: through doing things together. [A minute or so later in the interview]: Marta: I at least always from the beginning had this idea, that the way you developed sort of comradeship was in doing some thing together and i t wasn't, you know - I never saw these meetings as something where you were just s i t t i n g around trying to help each other individu-a l l y , and I...think most other people didn't either. I always saw them as [having the] focus that social action was supposed to come out [of them]. We had discussions about that f a i r l y often. This group of women began composing and distributing literature on women and holding meetings for women. They addressed themselves to birth control and abortion problems, feeling i t was the form of social action they could reach most campus women with. 79 They succeeded i n having birth control information and "devices" available at the student health centre. And they began to collect and disseminate what information they could on abortion aid. In the late f a l l of 1968 the general p o l i t i c a l situation on the campus became very active and the administration building was occupied. The women tried to be a distinct force i n the p o l i t i c a l activity but did not succeed. Penny: ...that was one of the things we talked a lot about, you know, our ina b i l i t y in meetings to ever say anything [once one woman had tried and the microphone was taken right out of her hands by a man] and, l i k e , the complete dominance that you f e l t by a l l these men. And how angry we would be because men would get up and... essentially [make] fools out of themselves, saying really stupid things that I would know was stupid and that a l l the women knew was stupid, but somehow, you know, they had the chuzpah to do i t . And none of the women would even dream of getting up and...we would s i t there and wait,...knowing f u l l well the kinds of points we would make i f we spoke, except that we didn't speak. We would wait for some man who would sooner or later...get around to saying the things you would like to say i f you had the nerve to say i t . . . . A l l these kinds of things were worked through a l o t during the f a l l , talking about that. But the Occupation...came on us so fast i n terms of where we were that the whole...women's group was almost totally non-functional. As matters simplified over the winter, by February of 1969 the women began calling public meetings on women's issues again. Women began meeting in each other's houses as well, and there was a central meeting place for women closer to Burnaby (where SFU is) and anot-her for those closer to central Vancouver. Some of the women found the commuting to •80 either group d i f f i c u l t and they also found i t d i f f i c u l t to feel any con-tinuity with a group because of the rapid turnover of participants. In the spring of 1969 a woman from the Prairies who had been active p o l i t i c a l l y came to work as a technician at SFU. This was Judy. She began coming to meetings and discussing with the women her interest in reaching non-university women. Marta: Judy showed up at about that time, and Judy was really important for the whole thing, because she had a l l that p o l i t i c a l experience and a really strong orientation to working women, right? She just wanted to pull everybody off campus. ...I don't even remember when I f i r s t met her, but I just know that...I can remember talking about the kind of public meetings we should have downtown with her... so I obviously...really hooked i n quick with her. The other women had been discussing having public meetings "downtown" and they began having very successful monthly educational meetings in a local union h a l l . The women more and more often supplied local media with speakers, and they talked to classes at SFU about Women's Liberation, and some of them became members of the student council. They sponsored a quite well-known Women's Liberation ideologue from the U.S. for one very well-attended meeting which brought a lot of attention and legitimacy to their efforts among men in the local Left. As their efforts seemed to snowball the women began to consider seriously having an office, one downtown. This was particularly emphasized by Judy. They heard from a local p o l i t i c a l pressure group that a close office was available in the Labour Temple and they took i t . 81 Marta: It turned out that they would give us [an office] for $30, a room down there, which we snapped up, partly be-cause i t was cheap and partly for p o l i t i c a l reasons, be-cause we thought that was a really symbolic, good place to have an office. That would say a l o t . They then were able to do much more in the way of speaking, leaf-leting, holding educationals, writing position papers for student confer-ences, etc. They were in the Labour Temple for about a year. From there they began their Newspaper. Intv.: How did the Pedestal start? Marta: Well, I suspect, l i k e Judy's p o l i t i c a l background is sort of the traditional s o c i a l i s t background - you got a social i s t group, you've got to have a newspaper. And Bobbie had been wanting to do a newspaper for working women for a long time, she had been talking about i t and Judy wanted to do a newspaper. Penny: Judy was the one who had access to the machinery. Marta: Judy had the access and the s k i l l s . . . cause she was working for [the campus newspaper]. Penny: as a type-setter. They also planned and carried out the Abortion Caravan - a nationwide pub-l i c i t y campaign to change the anti-abortion laws. I n i t i a l l y they had been unsettled by a rapid turnover of women, but early i n this Union Hall year the two women said that: Penny: Then i t sort of settled into Marta: a core group Penny: Marta: who was coming and then you could start actually planning something 82 They also had at this time the idea of having the group be organized into special-interest workshops. The idea arose from: Marta: It's the same sort of thing of Penny: growing, you know, experience Marta: Yeah, comradeship comes through Penny: doing things together. Marta: Action, I mean you need to do things...you have to do concrete things. The abortion campaign and it s ac t i v i t i e s took much of the personnel and energy of the group u n t i l that summer. Almost the only other project to continue functioning f u l l y was the Pedestal effort. The women who did not work in the abortion campaign, and who did not go on the caravan across Canada, did manage to have some educa-tionals and a few demonstrations. After the abortion caravan a s p l i t became evident between people who shared activities so closely that they were now estranged from those who stayed at home. And there were disagreements on strategy - whether a l l the group's efforts should go into abortion reform, or whether more women could be reached by the group's addressing i t s e l f to a broader spectrum of issues. One or two smaller groups of women s p l i t off, to form collectives or to work on their own. After a strategy conference held in late June of 1970 i t was de-cided to broaden the range of projects the Women's Caucus would undertake and support. The new organizational structure was to be "consistency" based. As a summary statement from the majority group stated in the Pedestal: 83 Another implication of the strategy decision at the Conference is the realization that mobilizing women around single issues, l i k e abortion, is inadequate. In spite of the educational work which is done to link the particular issue to other aspects of women's oppression, women w i l l be involved primarily i n acting around that issue rather than i n confronting their individual oppression in a l l i t s aspects. Thus i t was decided that the Caucus should be constituency oriented - we should organize women around their places of work, school, etc., so that they can de-fine their main problems and begin to work towards solutions. The goal is not to mobilize large numbers of women who can be called out to demonstration, but to organize and to help women to become p o l i t i c a l women who can confront the institutions and people who oppress them. Although we naturally wish to involve as many people as possible in the Caucus, our main goal w i l l be to organize women to fight for their liberation in the places where they l i v e and work (June, 1970). The workshops began to expand and over the f a l l of 1970 and the spring of 1971 there was the co-ordinating committee, and additional work-shops on birth control and abortion counselling, for working women, for the Pedestal, one on theatre, one on media, and a teachers' workshop. A l l were entirely voluntary and there was considerable overlap of personnel. Some were more active than others. By the end of the summer of 1970 the Trotkyist faction was expelled and Women's Caucus then consisted of a very active group of perhaps twelve people, with about another twenty people irregularly present, and a mailing subscription l i s t of several hundred. It was at that time that my f i e l d work began. Over the year, the active workshops became the working women's, and the Pedestal. There were monthly business meetings and the workshops met on their own at least twice a month. For a while there were monthly informal "recruiting" meetings as well. 84 Over the year f a l l , 1970, spring 1971, this pattern remained - of a few workshops working, a few people supporting the financing and mainte-nance of the office work. By the summer of 1971 the women in the two workshops, who often were also maintaining the office, called a meeting at which they notified everyone else that they no longer wanted to diffuse their energies over the workshops and the office. They wanted to spend their time on their work-shops only. Other women - relatively new to and different from the previous Women's Liberation regulars - said they would maintain the office as a drop-in centre for women and that they would undertake to meet some other needs of women in the community. The Working Women's workshop became an entity i n and of i t s e l f and the Pedestal became more explicitly a collective. This ended the time of any f i e l d work - conveniently at a time of the disappearance of the Women's Caucus as I had known i t . ^ UBC Group - History and Character The UBC group existed as a discrete entity for approximately one year - ending late August, 1971. It emerged nearly full-blown i n terms of regular meetings, number of participants (about two-thirds of which were "regulars" throughout the year) and consciousness on the part of participants of their being engaged in a Women's Liberation group, per se. There is no sign of the struggles that some of the Women's Caucus women had of defining themselves or their groups as distinct from any other p o l i t i c a l expression or goals, or as distinct from men as p o l i t i c a l a c t i v i s t s . 8 5 In effect, this had already been done for the UBC women i n that by the f a l l of 1970 the whole idea (vague as i t often was) of the Women's Liberation Movement was quite widespread throughout Canada, and thanks to the a c t i v i t i e s of the Women's Caucus, the UBC group did not have the strug-gle of' being the avante garde within their own community. Women's Libera-tion, suspect as i t may have been, had arrived. Some models of activity, persons, and groups existed. This can be seen to have significantly effec-ted the origin and character of the UBC group. This pre-existent state of the Women's Liberation Movement shows i t s effects in the stories the UBC women, and later-joining Women's Caucus women, have of their entry into the Movement as well. Logistically speaking, the way the UBC group started was that three or four women who were university-centred i n their interests and employment got interested i n Women's Liberation and decided that there should be an on-campus group. They went to the Women's Caucus for advice and were told that they could and should "go i t on their own" by calling a meeting on campus. They did so by word of mouth (and the Women's Caucus announced i t to anyone they were i n contact with who was connected to UBC). About thirty-five women showed up at the f i r s t meeting. I have indicated very b r i e f l y above the h i s t o r i c a l embedding of the Women's Caucus group in terms of the movement as a whole and in Van-couver sp e c i f i c a l l y . It is necessary to see in some detail the parallel embedding of the founding of the UBC group i n the personal histories of the women who started i t . The ones who started i t were Hilary, Jeanette, and 8 6 Siobhan, with Amy being present, though not as a planner, during their early conversations. The three women - Hilary, Jeanette, and Siobhan - are a l l "pro-fessional" women to one degree or another. Hilary is a tenured professor,. Jeanette is a regularly published writer of novels and stories, and Siobhan teaches at. the University in an experimental undergraduate programme. They have been friends for some time. As w i l l be shown i n the "Early Awareness" section to follow, they a l l focussed their interest on the movement.largely after reading about i t in one of the major movement books, Sexual P o l i t i c s . They each brought a personal, biographical interest to their reading, of course. Siobhan feels that she had always valued women as a group and that the recent reading served to inform her as to ways to articulating her interests; and Hilary and Jeanette had been goaded by friends into acting on their newly professed interest what they perceived as the plight of other women (the "there but for For tune..." syndrome). They both were ac-quainted with the author of Sexual Politics(Kate Millett) as well, and thus were pa r t i a l l y interested in i t s content. But what moved them to make this organizational step was talking among themselves about what they read i n Sexual P o l i t i c s (Hilary: "[talk-ing together] sort of gave us the impetus"), knowing that a Women's Libera-tion group existed in town, and wanting to have a group nearer where they lived and worked. The three women called up Women's Caucus and arranged a meeting to discuss starting a group out at UBC. As Amy observed: I don't think they had any plan in mind, either - to talk about just starting i t geographically out at UBC. That's really what . . . i t l i t e r a l l y started as. I don't think they had any more idea what they wanted to go on than I did. 8 7 So the group was started. It met weekly for a year. Attendance averaged about thirty-five women, with nearly seventy women over a few weeks in the middle of the year. Since the group was not founded by people with traditional p o l i -t i c a l backgrounds, i t follows that a great deal more negotiating of routine action would take place, as Blumer indicates can be the case in a group. From my year of participant observation, and from the interviews conducted, I would say that few of the women had a precise idea of what they wanted from the group and of what they wanted the group to do. There was more consensus about what were not desirable or acceptable alternatives of attitude or activity than about what was desirable. There was a very strong consensus that no one should force anyone else into their own set of interests or goals or strategies. There would b extensive discussion of an informational and persuasive nature i n reference to a given point (i.e., should we a l l work on one activity at the risk of alienating some of our participants; what acti v i t i e s are most of us inter-ested in; do we want to have a different format to the meetings; etc.) but the conclusion invariably reached was that anyone who was interested could get together with others similarly inclined and work on their own time. They should keep the main group informed and could and should ask for sup-port from the group. This regularly happened, with there being a spin-off Day Care group, several consciousness-raising "small groups", a music group, a literary group studying women writers; and short-term special-interest groups for making p o l i t i c a l pressure moves in town (writing briefs 88 attending conferences, joining the local United Fund in order to help vote in a reform slate with one of the group's participants, etc.). A typical meeting devoted the f i r s t one-half to whole hour for "business", which largely involved the above type of a c t i v i t i e s . And for the second half of the meeting the women numbered off and broke into small conversational groups of five or six. Sometimes there was an expli-c i t topic suggested, sometimes the f i r s t half of the meeting was "educa-tional" and talk could follow on that. The discussions in these smaller groups were usually attempts to define Women's Liberation in relation to their own personal, emotional/ psychological l i v e s . The participants were numbered off by the women de-liberately so that they would insure themselves of talking to new women and women who they didn't know as well as they might the women who shared their own "small group", etc. They tried to articulate the issues in their lives at home (husbands, children, lovers) at school, at work, with what they had heard of the Women's Liberation ideology. There was a conscious and repeated effort by a number of these women i n the group - including v i r -tually a l l of the most outspoken (and usually influential) ones - to keep these discussion times on the personal, psychological and friendship level. There was "business", and i t was done - at the beginning of the meeting, or in the spin-off "action" groups - but these times were reserved for close talk with new and old friends. This sentiment was exp l i c i t l y stated and generally agreed upon as a conclusion to any of the group-self-defining discussions of what Women's Liberation was a l l about and what this group wanted to do and be within i t . 89 This was the way the group functioned for most of the year. Most of the women who were in spin-off groups regularly attended the Mon-day night meetings. There were some women in the spin-off groups who did not attend the Monday meetings either because they weren't interested or, as was often the case for some of the Day Care women, they did not have time for both. There were three parties over the year, and there was (as w i l l be shown from the interviews) a great deal of socializing among the women outside of the meetings. In the summer, there was lower attendance and fewer a c t i v i t i e s . This is of course usually true in a campus-oriented group. About six to ten women started designing a Women's Studies Course for the following year and during that following year a great proportion of the regulais i n the UBC group served as discussion leaders.- They met each other there, but the UBC group as studied here no longer existed. Several of the spin-off a c t i v i t i e s continued and some of the women initiated new ones, most notably a Women's Health group. Discussion Thus, we can see how women active in the p o l i t i c a l l e f t of the middle and late '60's began to perceive a decided discrepancy between the rhetoric of equality for a l l and the concrete situation of their secondary and exploited position as women within the Left movement and then as women in society at large. They began to feel that i f total change of society Summary of History and Structure of the Two Groups For the analysis i n the remainder of this study, i t is important to keep in mind the history and character of the two groups as outlined above. In schematic terms, they may be seen thusly: Nos, Structure Emotional Tone Networks Goals WC 10 core; 40 total active. Large mailing l i s t . 100's have passed through the WC. task oriented workshops friendly but businesslike. L i t t l e provi-sion for emo-tional inclu-sion of new-comers . tight. The core - about 3-4 in each group - meet largely in WC tasks. Type of Participants changing econo- university women (grad-mic and p o l i t i - uate students & faculty); cal circumstance a few working women, of women by mostly middle class, traditional pol- Most with p o l i t i c a l ex-i t i c a l means perience. (educational and pressure-group factors. UBC 20 core; 50 total p a r t i c i -pants, app. 10 seen once, app. 20 seen for several weeks, app. 100 passed through the UBC group. deliberately very warm, ex-loose, a c t i v i - p l i c i t attempts ties negotia- at each meeting ted nearly weekly for that week or so. to orient and include new-comers . extensive for many -both in WL activities and social-izing . building strength university women (grad-through shared knowledge, pre-paring to go out into other WL act i v i t i e s . uate students & faculty); wives of students (may be students too) & may also be mothers. Middle class. Few with p o l i -t i c a l experience. o 91 was possible at a l l i t could only come through dealing with problems of women f i r s t (not fighting "the war" or "imperialism" or "capitalism" - at least not in the conventional means they were familiar with) . The women in Vancouver who started the Women's Caucus were women who, as Freeman proposed, began to identify as societally-caused the strains they f e l t cover their role as p o l i t i c a l l y active women. They, too, were women who knew each other, had talked and worked together and who knew how to begin certain sorts of p o l i t i c a l organizations. Thus, Freeman's f i r s t two propositions are substantiated. Each set of founders were in overlapping social, professional and/or p o l i t i c a l c i r c l e s , based on their respective places of work. Further, they were def-in i t e l y "like-minded people" whose position and experience in their circles made them readily able to adopt the interpretations of their situation, and that of less fortunate women, provided by the ideology of the Movement. As I noted in the introduction to this chapter, there is a spe-c i a l kind of relationship between co-optability and networks for founders. That i s , by Women's Liberation definition a l l women are i n a stressful, oppressive situation by virtue of being women. A l l women are therefore potentially "like-minded" on certain broad issues or principles. But where the l i f e situation of founders is distinct and where i t relates to networks is that the professional women have, the time, means, and rather specific commonality of work experiences in the realm of ideas that allow them to undertake the rather special task of starting a p o l i t i c a l group. Continuing i t or being a later joining regular is another and i n i t i a l l y 92 l o g i s t i c a l l y simpler undertaking. The nature and role of freindship links is somewhat different for the later joiners (see next chapter for discus-sion of this). As the Women's Liberation Movement evolved differences in p r i o r i -ties within the movement began to be articulated. As was noted in the description of the Vancouver groups, the clearest bifercation was about definitions of action. Everyone agreed that the overall situation of women had to be changed, but for some women, the founders of the Women's Caucus, this was seen as best done by emphasizing economic change and by accomplish-ing this through working in rather traditional ways to improve the economic conditions of women working outside the house. Consciousness-raising and sisterhood would come through working together, and through educational action of an explicit sort (a newspaper, theatricals, speakers, etc.). This orientation evolved out of their own autobiographies - their own ex-periences as working and professional women, their own p o l i t i c a l background and p o l i t i c a l analysis of the way the world works in general and of what was needed for women - and women in Vancouver - at that time. The UBC group was founded by women whose autobiographies did not include much p o l i t i c a l involvement. Though they were working professional women they did not define their goals or interests immediately in terms of economic change. Their own lives revolved around personal relationships and the University. They had a rather vague notion about what Women's Liberation was or could be, they just knew they wanted to get together with other campus-oriented women to talk about Women's Liberation in relation to each other and other women. Yet they share with the Women's Caucus 93 founders the growing articulation of the social structural bases of their strain over being women and they share social networks and access to or-ganizational aids (use of ideas, access to meeting rooms, etc.) with each other. It is important to note that in terms of the history of Women's Liberation in Vancouver, women who become interested in Women's Liberation after the Women's Caucus became a clear entity could now take into account the type of group Women's Caucus was and the kind of pr i o r i t i e s and actions i t u tilized i n defining what they as a group or group member could do. They could in effect say, "well, that's their bag, that kind of thing i s being done, so we can 'afford' to do our kind of thing - whatever that i s . " They could also refer to the Women's Caucus women who showed up at the UBC group and who wanted to be active along the lines that the Women's Caucus was. (Similarly, the Women's Caucus would send over to the UBC group women who were UBC students, or particularly interested in consciousness-raising groups as such.) A second or third (or 100th) group does not have to try to do everything for women a l l at once. A f i r s t group is l i k e l y to try to through lack of experience and through concern that no one else i s doing anything. But either type of group - chronologically speaking - w i l l s t i l l have to set pr i o r i t i e s as to what w i l l best do "everything" or as to what w i l l best f i l l i n gaps the other group seems to have. These gaps may be organizational, or strategic, or even geographic. That i s , a group may be seen to be incomplete in terms of i t s structure (is i t too formal, too lose to get enough done?), i t s related goals and tactics, or simply i t may be too far away to get to. 94 It would be inaccurate to say that later groups form entirely on the basis of what other 3roups are seen as not doing. It is quite possible for women in one situation or area to be quite unaware of what other women are doing. Also, women can have decided what they do_ want from a group. But once the ideology has become f a i r l y well known, once a lot of literature i s available, and once i t is l i k e l y that a friend or acquaintance is familiar with some group's act i v i t i e s - even i f she is not a participant - women are able to take into account both their overall interpretation of the Movement in relation to themselves and of the movement as expressed by local groups. B. A Description of the Type of Women's Liberation Activities the Women Engaged in and the Time Spent on Them Most of this study w i l l be taken up in showing how the ideology of the Women's Liberation Movement can pervade v i r t u a l l y a l l aspects of a woman's l i f e . She can use i t in interpreting and acting upon her marriage or i t s ending; the presence of very close relationships with men or the lack of them; her experience doing paid work; the source and type of friend-ships she once had and now has. But a f u l l portrayal of being in this social movement requires that the reader have a clear picture of what these a c t i -v i t i e s consisted of, which groups evolved what type, and how much time different people devoted to them. This kind of information contributes to a concrete sense of what regular participation in either group meant for the women - in terms of the kinds of ac t i v i t i e s and s k i l l s involved and the time spent in them. The next chapter talks about how women attempted change in their lives outside group ac t i v i t i e s per se, but a characterization of the 95 groups would be lacking without this description of the kinds of "demands" entailed in group participation i t s e l f . Just as the Women's Liberation goals that a woman pursues are selected according to her individual biography and the change options she feels are available to her, so too w i l l the type of Movement participation she undertakes be affected. I w i l l summarize in chart form the kinds of act i v i t i e s and the time spent on them, by members of each group. Then there w i l l be a des-cription and discussion of each facet of activity/commitment in relation to the histories and structure of the groups. general meet-ing consciousness-raising group speaking en-gagements (regular) task/interest group Type of Activities Engaged In UBC Group WC Group Hilary, Anita, Lisa, Donna, Willa, Trina, Janet, Kai, Henrietta, Shirley, Hestia, Lucy, Amy, Siobhan, Jeanette, Abby, Madeleine, Frieda Anita, Lisa, Donna, Willa, Janet, Kai, Lucy, Amy, Siobhan Donna, Janet, Amy, Siobhan Abby - day care Lisa - women's studies Willa - day care Janet - teacher organization Jeanette - literar y , music Kai - music Madeleine - day care, teacher organization Frieda - literary Bonnie Marta, Penny, Betsy, Adrienne Judy - Pedestal, WWW* Edythe - Pedestal, WWW Adele - Pedestal, WWW Penny - Pedestal, WWW Pam - Pedestal, WWW Adrienne - treasurer of WC •a' 96 Type of Activities Engaged In (continued) UBC Group WC Group task/interest group (cont'd.) Shirley - women's studies, study Amy - Status of Women Commit-tee Hilary - literar y , music support actions Bonnie writing Jeanette Marta, Betsy, Adele, Edythe, Judy, Pam * Working Women's Workshop The categories of act i v i t i e s l i s t e d in the chart mean the f o l -lowing: General Meetings Women's Caucus - for the last few months of the Women's Caucus existence, there were weekly meetings designed to acquaint new people with the work of the Caucus and to help the women attending to meet each other. One of every four meetings was a business meeting for the whole group, where workshop reports were to be made, along with a treasury report, dis-cussion of the state of the Caucus, etc. One or two who were experienced in the Women's Caucus were responsible for opening the meeting, welcoming people, and helping the conversation along. Bonnie was the newest person to participate in the Women's Caucus and she s t i l l wanted the general discussion of what Women's Liberation was about that occurred i n these meetings. She was interested in the problems 97 of working women, but could put in time on this only occasionally, i n "support actions", l i k e occasional leafletting for a Working Women's Work-shop action. It may be recalled that Bonnie was the most occupied with simple survival, as the sole supporter of two children, on a low-paying, insecure job. She f e l t she did not have time to go to more than she did. She did not want what limited social l i f e she had to be completely elimina-ted, as much more time at Women's Caucus act i v i t i e s would necessitate. UBC - these were the regular Monday night meetings that were the evidence of the UBC group's existence. They had no office, no newspaper, no workshops acting under their recognized auspices. The criterion for participation in the UBC group was presence at three meetings per month. Thus, anyone who was drawn upon for the study had to spend at least most Monday nights at this general meeting. Here some business took place (see History and Character of Groups section) but most of the time was spent talking about what Women's Liberation was of could be in a woman's l i f e . Consciousness-Raising Group Women's Caucus - there were no small conversational groups ex-p l i c i t l y organized to f a c i l i t a t e intensive, long-term discussion among women about their lives as women in an oppressive society. This is not to say that consciousness-raising cannot or did not occur under other circum-stances, lik e in the workshops themselves. It's just that the Women's Caucus didn't e x p l i c i t l y set out to organize these groups as did members of the UBC group. 98 UBC - a number of women organized small consciousness-raising groups which met weekly at other times and places. Half of the UBC women were in these groups, which included a number of women who were not part i -cipants in any recognized, named Women's Liberation group, such as the UBC one or the Women's Caucus. These meetings lasted at least three hours. Often the groups included socializing l i k e camping trips and/or members rotating having lunches or dinners for their own group. Speaking Engagements Women's Caucus - the Women's Caucus was very often contacted to provide speeches for a very wide range of interested groups - receptive to hostile. Since they were list e d i n the phone book, had an office, had a newspaper, and had been active for several years sending speakers out was a constant expectation. There was no set way of supplying speakers - who-ever was around and was interested did i t . Speaking engagements usually took one to three hours, with a l o t of the time taken in question-and-answer periods and with some socializing before and after with the inviting group - unless i t was a formal occasion, l i k e a men's business organization. UBC - much of the speaking was in classes at UBC, where teaching assistants or professors who knew someone in the UBC group asked them to speak or provide a speaker. For much of the year the UBC group existed, there was a regular demand for speakers. Most of the women spoke at least once or twice, but the women lis t e d here did so quite often, enough to feel that i t did take part of their time and energy. 99 Task and Interest Groups Women's Caucus - these were the workshops mentioned. The Pedestal newspaper one took at least one 16 hour day once a month and regular weekly meetings of several hours in length and frequent phoning, lots of writing, etc. The working women's workshop tried to get working women together to talk about conditions at work. They held "educationals" in the downtown area, inviting women through poster advertising and word-of-mouth. They worked with some women who were striving for f a i r treatment at their place of work. They would meet with the women to plan actions, help devise pos-ters and leaflets, help distribute them, picket, promote the boycott of certain products or stores, etc. This took weekly meetings at the very least and often many more hours of individual work or work in two's or three's. UBC - there were both task and interest groups arising out of the UBC group. Of task groups there were groups trying to set up a day care centre for campus-oriented women, and for awhile there was a group trying to organize meetings with future teachers at the school of education. There was also for some time a group discussing the establishment of the f i r s t women's studies program at UBC. (This was set up that summer and was very successful.) Another interest group was started by women who wanted to look more closely at the role of women in literature - as creators or subject matter - and also met for several hours every other week for discussion. Another group of women who were interested i n examining sexism in music and trying to find an alternative to i t , also met to talk and "perform" together. 100 Both of these groups met in the home of Hilary arid Jeanette. The li t e r a r y group met i n the evening. The music group took up Sunday afternoons. These UBC groups did not have the continuity in time or the ready identi-f i a b i l i t y that the Women's Caucus groups had. People tended to work on what was apparently most relevant to them (mothers on day care, teachers on teacher education, writers in the literary group) but this was not en-ti r e l y so. Not a l l mothers worked on day care and at least one non-mother (Madeleine) did. Support Action Women's Caucus - this is differentiated from task/interest group act i v i t i e s in that occasionally women would help out a task group that they did not "belong" tp. One woman (Bonnie) did so often enough to l i s t i t as an activity, but she could not afford the time to be as regular as the whole group. (See "General Meetings" on Women's Caucus.) She occasionally helped prepare or pass out leaflets, walked picket lines, etc. UBC - no one i n the UBC group list e d this kind of activity - they were either quite active in any of these groups and thus "belonged" or they just weren't there. Writing Women's Caucus - again, with the Pedestal and with the academic and p o l i t i c a l background of several of the Women's Caucus members, i t i s not surprising that six of the nine l i s t writing as a regular, time-consuming activity. The Pedestal was a 16 page (usually), high quality paper with a wide variety of carefully researched and well thought out articles (if I may 101 say so), and i t took an enormous amount of work. Articles that began there were often expanded into pamphlets, and several have appeared in national publications, in reprints, etc. UBC - the writer here, Jeanette, was the woman for whom writing was a way of l i f e anyhow. She f e l t that the stories she wrote were d e f i -nitely affected by her Women's Liberation experiences and that she would try to use her stories for conveying her new thoughts. A few women did contribute articles on women to the university newspaper but this was not anything regular. Discussion What we can see here i s that more of the UBC group members en-gaged in more kinds of acti v i t i e s than was the case for the Women's Caucus. This reflects the different structures of the group, and how differently they evolved over time. It also reflects the variety of biographies and resultant needs and interests of the members of each group. The UBC women came in with l i t t l e i n the way of clear-cut goals for themselves or other women. They just did anything they could think of - anyone with an idea or interest could usually find some people to share i t with her. Over the years of the existence of the Women's Caucus the goals and actions had become much more exp l i c i t l y defined. The ac t i v i t i e s were ones taking considerable s k i l l and great amounts of time. Either a woman could place herself within these actions or there was l i t t l e connection with the Caucus at a l l , except the general meetings, at which few regulars came. Thus there wasn't much personal/social unity between the task groups 102 and the one meeting where new people or people not interested in these tasks could come. Time Spent in Women's Liberation Activities Time Per Week UBC 15+ hours 'Shirley ca. 10 hours Madeleine, Abby, Lisa, Willa, Janet, Jeanette, Kai, Frieda, Amy, Hilary, Siobhan ca. 6 hours Anita, Donna, Trina, Lucy ca. 3 hours Henrietta, Hestia WC Judy, Adele, Penny, Pam Edythe, Betsy, Adrienne Mar ta Bonnie The divisions of time shown in the chart are average hours per week spent in an ex p l i c i t l y organized Women's Liberation activity. To be considered a regular participant in either group, a woman would usually engage in at least one activity a week - typically a meeting lasting about three hours. Thus, the lowest number of hours most often means only one meeting or activity. Very few women (3 - UBC, 1 - Women's Caucus) spend just one evening a week at a meeting, but those who did, spent i t at the general meetings of both groups. Four people also spent five or six hours a week at a c t i v i t i e s . These ac t i v i t i e s were general meetings and consciousness-raising for three of the UBC women, and the general meeting and a day care group for the fourth woman. The Women's Caucus woman was Marta who at one time had spent much more time a week on Women's Caucus a c t i v i t i e s . She had deliberately cut back several months previous to the interview, to give herself more time 103 to think and write. She also gave an occasional speech but that was a l l . The majority of women in both groups spent at least ten hours a week on Women's Liberation activities (11 in UBC at 10+, one at 15+ hours; 3 in Women's Caucus at 10+ and 4 at 15+). The majority of UBC women engaged in three a c t i v i t i e s a week, each four hours long. The one woman in the UBC group who spent more than 15 hours, spent i t in meetings and a special study group that some non-group friends had formed. She used i t to try to under-stand further the situation of women. Study for this group and meeting with i t was very time-consuming. Clearly, the Women's Caucus women who spent so much time were the ones who had the dual activities of the Pedestal and the working women's workshops. This work virtua l l y made up another whole job for each of them. As can be seen in the discussion of types of a c t i v i t i e s , there is more of a spread of time/participation in the UBC group than in the Wo-men's Caucus. This again reflects the more amorphous nature of the former as well as the more diverse experience and everyday situations, and needs and goals of the UBC participants. This could be a function of sheer num-bers, but i t seems more l i k e l y that the history and structure of the UBC group allows for more diversity and the Women's Caucus one does not. (I am not suggesting one is better than the other. As long as both kinds of groups are available in one city then a woman has some choice of her kind of participation. She may be limited i n time and mobility from joining a preferred group, i t is true, but there would have to be a Women's Liberation 104 r ' group in each neighbourhood and at each place of woxic before this problem could be significantly eased.) An anecdotal tallying of time spent in which types of ac t i v i t i e s . is not enough to give the f u l l impact of these a c t i v i t i e s . What must be borne in mind is that engaging at the rate most of the women are takes up two to four nights or half-days a week. This means baby-sitters to be found, meals to be rearranged, cars to be borrowed, other work to be shifted or sped up or l e f t out. Most of these women shart-. close, complex relation-ships with other people - husbands, lovers, children, friends. What each of these new acti v i t i e s means is adjustment. Few women can undertake this kind of schedule, often arising very quickly after her entry into a group, without having to engage in considerable negotiation with those around her. As some of the early awareness accounts showed (Abby, Willa, Donna), getting out of the house is not easy for women - l o g i s t i c a l l y or psycholo-gically. The physical impact of time must be considered in understanding the women's accounts of moving into the Women's Liberation Movement and very much in their attempts to sustain in their everyday lives the beliefs and actions they have adopted as their own. Having time to go to a number of acti v i t i e s indicates in i t s e l f the carrying out of Women's Liberation goals. This is because i t is not appropriate or possible for many women to spend that much time at those kinds of a c t i v i t i e s . These actions, then, are not < somehow separate from the very issues of the oppression of women that the women are concerned about. They are a struggle against that very oppression. Thus, nothing the women as individuals do is removed from the ideas they hold about the situation of women in general. 105 This reflexive nature of their ideas and actions is one of the most striking aspects of the Women's Liberation Movement. Here the woman herself is the subject of the ideology. She cannot leave one l i f e and go to a meeting and work on helping someone else's l i f e (as one could do as a c i v i l rights worker i n the 1960's). She has both the freedom of knowing that v i r t u a l l y anything she does or works on related to women is relevant to a struggle against op-pression (ideologically speaking). But she has the burden of knowing there i s nowhere and no time when she can be outside the struggle. 106 CHAPTER IV EARLY AWARENESS AND PARTICIPATION IN THE WOMEN'S LIBERATION MOVEMENT In this chapter on early awareness I w i l l be concentrating on the relationship between the ideology and the individual's interests arising out of her distinct biography. There are several themes in the accounts of early awareness of the Women's Liberation Movement and the later joiners'movement into groups that validate the theoretical perspective u t i l i z e d here and that can add to our understanding of how social movements work. Repeatedly there i s the affirmation of the symbolic interactionist position that people construct their r e a l i t y and that they make changes in i t only when they come to see some part of i t as problematic. I w i l l des-cribe, for instance, the content of women's i n i t i a l interest in Women's Liberation as being based on what they wanted to get out of the Movement -either help for women other than themselves, or r e l i e f in a l i f e situation that was directly and personally stressful for them as women. In terms of reality construction and problems we can see that whether they wanted f i r s t to help others or themselves, this interest was formulated in terms of that ideologically informed conceptual category -women - and then locating themselves within i t . If they were to themselves well-off women, they took the there-but-for-fortune approach (Adele: "Hell': bells, I was doing OK, but there were a l l those other people who were really having a rotten break...[and i f she were not so fortunate then] I would have a lot of handicaps too, as a woman, because I was a woman."). 107 If they did not see themselves t h i s way, i f they were confused and unhappy, they then saw the Women's Movement as a place where they could understand t h e i r own pain, f i n d like-minded people, f i n d f r i e n d s . But whichever way they categorized t h e i r l i v e s , they saw at the same time that to be a woman was to be i n a problematic s i t u a t i o n and vi c e versa - whether i t was experienced f i r s t - h a n d or v i c a r i o u s l y . When women were perceived as a d i s t i n c t category, that category was then open to inspec-t i o n , to questioning and to change. I t was then f o r each woman to follow through on her understanding of where she stood i n t h i s category i n order to decide where she would embark upon change. (How they continued to do so w i l l be the subject of the remainder of t h i s work, see Part I I ) . The data for t h i s s e c t i o n - w i l l be r e f l e c t e d o f f of two t h e o r e t i -c a l fo i.-mulations — discussed i n the i n t r o d u c t i o n . They are the "appropri-ate c o n d i t i o n s " for making an ideology relevant to one's l i f e (when the assumed-to-be n a t u r a l order becomes problematic: Schutz) and the r e l o c a t i o n of one's biography according to a new system of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s o f f e r e d by . that ideology (Berger; C i c o u r e l ) . What must become problematic i s some fe a -ture(s) of one's l i f e which begins to be perceived as having to do with being, a woman, and thereby the person begins to understand her past and guide her present and future according to these understandings of what women are and can be. A look at the entry accounts of a l l the women interviewed shows that nearly a l l , at t h e i r time of early p a r t i c i p a t i o n , had come to see some part of the woman's role (not j u s t one of t h e i r i n d i v i d u a l roles) as proble-matic. This means that they had now ex t e r n a l i z e d t h e i r s e l f - c o n c e p t . Only 108 this allows them to place themselves within the world of Woman. They drew this interpretation from some part of the Women's Liberation Movement ide-ology. But i t i s necessary to distinguish the shared process of discern-ing a problem from the content. The content for each woman can be quite different. Obviously, the content must vary according to the individual's "actual biographical situation within [her] environment as defined by [her]" (Schutz,1964:.234-235 and see above, p.26). As we look at how the women make the links between the ideology,. their own biography, and possible alternatives for action, there are two broad action orientations - one directed largely toward the self , and the others being directed primarily toward the situation of woman other than one self. - When a woman's immediate, f i r s t interests in the oppression of women focussed upon her own situation, I am designating these types of accounts as "pragmatic" ones. When the woman saw herself as a member of the group Woman but as one without immediate problems yet who wished to help women less fortunate than she f e l t herself to be at this time, 1 am c a l l i n g this type of account the " a l t r u i s t i c " orientation to Women's Liberation. In terms of the model of how an ideology works, we can see the women selecting out of the ideology as they have heard i t those parts which seem.to f i t their experience - or that could f i t i t i f something went wrong in their l i v e s . It must be emphasized that these categories are based upon the women's interpretation of their situation at the time of their early aware-ness and application of the Women's Liberation Movement ideology. They 109 could very well change where they located themselves as women in relation to the Movement after. Some did, as can be seen in Part II. The A l t r u i s t i c Orientation If a woman perceives her own l i f e as vir t u a l l y problem-free in terms of her role(s) as a woman, she can nonetheless adopt the Women's Lib-eration stance that women are disadvantaged by seeing herself as the excep-tion that proves the rule. The problems are once removed from her own l i f e experience, yet she can act directly upon their amelioration. The objective well-being of certain of the women seemed to be a considerable factor in their a l t r u i s t i c approach to the problems of women. Not a l l of the objectively well-off women - those with professional jobs who fel t at the time of entry that l i f e was treating them quite well in terms of economic and psychological independence - were a l t r u i s t i c in orientation, but a l l of the "al t r u i s t s " f e l t themselves at the time to be relatively well-off in the above senses. A l l of the a l t r u i s t i c a l l y oriented women were prepared to accept the idea that women were a group that as a whole suffered from oppression. But there were two conceptual routes travelled in arriving at that conclu-sion. One was a logical conclusion based on personal observation and the other was a conclusion that followed more from previous p o l i t i c a l awareness and experience. Thus, within the a l t r u i s t i c category are two sub-categories of response-type: the non-political altruist and the p o l i t i c a l a l t r u i s t . The use of the term " p o l i t i c a l " here is rather problematic, in that i t can be said that anyone who tries to alter the power relationships 110 between groups in society is engaged in a p o l i t i c a l act, yet, as w i l l be seen from the examples to follow of the two sub-categories, some women had only the most superficial analysis of the role of women in society and of their own role within this. They also had a minimal sense of what action might be taken to alter the role of women. Women with this circumscribed view had had vir t u a l l y no experience in what is ordinarily seen as " p o l i -t i c s " . Thus - particularly in contrast to the biographies and analysis of the other a l t r u i s t i c women, the p o l i t i c a l altruists - i t is useful to have the designations of "non-political" and " p o l i t i c a l " . The Pragmatic Orientation < For many women what they re c a l l as being of interest in the Women's Liberation Movement ideology was that i t articulated anxieties and dissatisfactions they had about their a b i l i t y to perform one or many of their expected roles and i t offered alternate interpretations and courses of action for them. There was a very immediate self-help orientation to their interests i n Women's Liberation and to their projected alternate lines of action. The problems they dealt with came from one of two sources: perceived external conditions (like d i f f i c u l t y finding jobs, etc.), and fel t internal distress. Of course, the distinction of "external/internal" is useful mostly for schematic, analytical purposes. That i s , job d i f f i c u l t i e s can result in psychic strain, growing lack of self-confidence, etc. And inter-nal distress, unhappiness about the self one feels oneself to be, can be seen to be caused at least in part by external sources (husbands, work, I l l etc.)' But as w i l l be seen, there was a type-difference in terms of the p o l i t i c a l awareness that the women had and used in interpreting the source of their distress. Because of some p o l i t i c a l experience, though not in the Women's Movement, some of the women at time of entry could more readily adopt a broad interpretation of their situation. They could link their personal distress to the objective situation of women and could contem-plate action for themselves and for other women in equal amounts, one might say. For other women, those with a non-political orientation to their internal source problems, there was at f i r s t only the vaguest articulation of women as a group. They simply knew they were distressed and something in the Women's Liberation Movement ideology registered on them as having to do with "helping" other women who f e l t l i k e they did. So i t would follow that there was help for them. We w i l l see below that the a l t r u i s t i c orientation is the prevalent one for originators of the groups and that the pragmatic one predominates in the later joiners. The chart below summarizes the types of accounts given. A. Founders' Early Awareness of Women's Liberation Women's Caucus The founders of the Women's Caucus who remained in i t and were thus available for interviewing were Penny, Marta and Adrienne. There was only one other woman who seemed to figure in the starting of the group but she was not on the scene at the time of my study. Judy came into the situa-Summary of Types of Accounts of Participants' Early Awareness of Women's Liberation Ideology Women's Role Is Problematic A l l Women (Except Lisa, UBC - Exceptional Case in All) A l t r u i s t i c Orientation - Form/Join Movement to Help Others P o l i t i c a l Background Non-Political Background WC UBC WC UBC Pragmatic Orientation - Join Movement to Find Direct Support for Self, Explorations of and Change in Sense of Inadequacy in Role Performance Externally-Located Problem WC Internally-Located Problem UBC WC UBC Marta-F Adrienne-F Pam-F Penny-F Judy-F Adele Amy-F Hilary-F Jeanette-F Siobhan-F Bonnie Madeleine Henrietta Edythe Betsy Anita,Donna, Willa,Trina, Janet,Kai, Shirley, Hestia,Lucy, Abby,Frieda F = founder of respective group. A l l others are later joiners. i—1 113 tion a few months later but was instrumental in early policy formation, such as getting the office off campus, starting the newspaper, then the working women's workshop, so I shall include her here. I w i l l also i n -clude Pam because I am looking at the process of group foundation and she had been instrumental in founding a group in the Prairies before she moved to Vancouver and joined the Women's Caucus. Her story f i t s the type of the Vancouver founders and gives us a clue that the types of experience and interests in relation to the Movement that we see among the Vancouver women is not limited to them. Looking at the Women's Caucus founders' stories we can see that they were uniformally of the " a l t r u i s t i c " type, and of the p o l i t i c a l a l -truist sub-type. The p o l i t i c a l altruists had a l l been for a time in their pre-Women's Liberation days what one of them characterized as " p o l i t i c a l group-ies". She meant by this that they had learned their p o l i t i c s from New Left men, that they had put a great deal of time and energy into p o l i t i c s and that their roles had always been subordinate to the men. They a l l ex-perienced frustration with this role, because they f e l t themselves to be more capable than they were given credit for - and at the same time they were not very confident about publicly using p o l i t i c a l s k i l l s and knowledge they had acquired. ' This frustration shows in their more elaborate biography state-ments of how they f e l t the dissatisfaction. Unlike most of the non-p o l i t i c a l a l t r u i s t s , they do express strong personal feelings of problems 114 within their own everyday experience, yet they immediately generalize these problems outward to a l l women - and they direct their energy largely to-ward understanding the objective condition of women, not concentrating on dealing with their own subjective situation. They want to help other women, and somehow only incidentally themselves, and they want to attack the v i s i -ble exo-skeleton of the social structure. Their p o l i t i c a l experience allows them quite readily to move from one set of abstractions to another - from the working class i s oppressed, to women are a class and oppressed -only this time they are a part of that crucial oppressed group, although relatively privileged members. Marta's story shows how the combination of previous p o l i t i c a l experience of an "appendage" sort, which nevertheless gave her definite s k i l l s in p o l i t i c a l analysis, plus a problematic professional career line combined to make her amenable to the Women's Liberation interpretation of how she had experienced her l i f e . Before she got into Women's Liberation Marta had begun to have some p o l i t i c a l activity at the university where she worked. She f e l t , however, that she was. involved largely because she was l i v i n g with a very actively p o l i t i c a l professor and that this was an activity they shared, herself subordinately, when she could not avoid i t - rather than that i t was an activity of her own. Then she l e f t Vancouver for several months to do research in her f i e l d and spent a great deal of that time in p o l i t i c a l self-education. In the process of her reading she ran across some of the 115 early popular accounts of Women's Liberation Movement, in some New Left.magazines. They interested her in that they described the issues and said that groups were springing up everywhere, so she decided that when she got back to Vancouver that she would find a group. As i t happened the core of Women's Caucus was being formulated at Simon Fraser University (see Penny's early awareness and History sections) and so she rapidly be-came active in i t . Women's Liberation appealed to Marta for several reasons. One is that she had f e l t from her reading that there was: . M: ...the necessity.of real social change, but also seeing the necessity of people having to fight their own fights, right? I mean I can't go off and fight people, you know, in Africa or help people in Latin America. This impossibility of fighting others' battles, or of having others fight yours seemed clear to her further, in that most of her p o l i t i c a l training had come from the man she was l i v i n g with. She f e l t she had to do her own learning and doing and that Women's Liberation was the place for i t . In connection with this suspicion of being constantly dependent upon men for learning, or for approval in her job, etc., Marta also wel-comed Women's Liberation because: M: I had been spending years, uh, I don't know, I'm sure other women have, too - i t ' s sort of one of the things we talked about - uh, when I got drunk enough at parties I would sort of get up and I would sort of make these speeches about how awful i t was being a woman, right? And sort of a l l by my-self and then the next day I would think - Oh Cod, what have I done?, and i t was that sort of connection with, there're other people thinking that kind of stuff. She also f e l t she was particularly receptive to Women's Liberation because she had had quite demeaning experiences in searching for jobs after she 116 received her Ph.D. in a very esoteric f i e l d from a very good school. Col-leagues who tried to help her find jobs through the usual informal channels told her stories of how the enthusiasm of a prospective employer would turn into laughter when i t came out that this promising applicant was a woman. Her thesis advisor had said: M: He was trying to be honest and trying to be f a i r , that uh, look, Marta, you can't expect to get as, as good a job as you should, right? Don't have any high hopes when you get your degree, and so this whole background was i t , too. For some of the women, upon f i r s t hearing about the Women's Lib-eration Movement, there was a question as to whether i t would " f i t " into their existing p o l i t i c a l analysis of what the top p r i o r i t i e s for social change should be. At the time these p r i o r i t i e s were such things as building and maintaining a strong Left movmeent, and fighting through that movement against capitalism, imperialism, militarism, etc. As they f i r s t began reading and talking about the Women's Liberation Movement some of them f e l t , as Pam says, "That the real importance of the Women's Movement was to draw women onto the Left who would be really strong and to really strengthen these women who did come i n . " She added that she has since come to feel that this idea i s "Quite finky". And as Adrienne says of her early aware-ness of Women's Liberation, ''...what f i r s t kept me from getting involved in i t , I didn't know whether i t was congruent with...my own...political analysis." But she - like the other women - began using what they read and heard about in the Women's Liberation Movement ideology to try to under-stand why they had been in the kind of p o l i t i c a l situation vis-a-vis men 117 - whether i t was the p o l i t i c a l men they lived with, or worked with. As Adrienne described the transition from Left p o l i t i c s to Women's Liberation-i s t : I suppose that [time] was [spent] more getting into, not so much personal things - although there is a lot of that - but more intellectual questionning of the whole role of women, and reading a lot and writing stuff and trying to figure out l i k e , what had happened to me, but like why I was in the position I'd been in , you know, in a more generalized sense. This same sort of attempt to extricate the self from having been defined as a person and as a p o l i t i c a l being by others - men - went on for each of these women. In one case, Judy's, the defining and consequent frustration came from the slow building of years of being the token woman in a Trotskyist socialist organization. As she became more concerned with the importance of women's struggle against oppression - and more outspo-ken - she was progressively cut off from participation in the group. She fi n a l l y quit and said that moving to participation in a Women's Liberation group "just seemed like the logical thing to do". When she moved to Van-couver and went to the Women's Caucus she was particularly pleased that here was a chance to do p o l i t i c a l work from her own situation as an office worker. She "always had this dream that what I really wanted to do was organize office workers...or try to do that." So, she reiterated that i t was "logical to get involved in Women's Caucus." The most personalized case of growing awareness of subordina-tion to New Left men, who by definition should have known better than to oppress anyone, was that of Pam. When she was l i v i n g in Saskatchewan, she and some other of the "local p o l i t i c a l groupies" had begun reading about Women's Liberation but s t i l l f e l t that i t didn't have to be the p o l i t i c a l priority of their l i v e s . She said: 118 I don't think any of us thought we were really oppressed exactly. We thought i t was a legitimate issue, somehow, but - we thought we were oppressed in the sense that on the Left we weren't... playing the roles that we thought we should...and we raised that but we didn't really know how to tackle i t . But that oppression took on a new face when one of the women in the local Left was seriously threatened with gang-rape by several very drunk men of the group. This thoroughly frightened her. It made the other women: ...realize that in fact there were some really bad attitudes among the guys in terms of the way they saw us and that i t wasn't much different - the way they related to us wasn't a whole l o t different than the way they related to most women or that many guys related to women, period. And for the f i r s t time we started to talk to each other. Some months after this she and her husband moved to Vancouver. She was acquainted with Judy and was known by several of the other women from her student p o l i t i c s days. After a few weeks of settling in she went to the Women's Caucus. She wanted to work on the newspaper and with working-women, and she was enthusiastically received. Her interest in the Pedestal was as a long-time avid reader of i t , now having a chance to participate in i t s creation. Also, she had been working in an office for the previous year and had become extremely concerned about the d i f f i c u l t y that working women had - on the job and combining home and work tasks. She was very impressed by the courage and unpretentiousness of the women she had worked with and she welcomed the chance to help working women. Thus, we can see in the accounts of the p o l i t i c a l a l t r uists that they do see themselves as being one of those women who they know are op-pressed. Yet these particular women do not feel that their own oppression calls for putting most of their energy into direct self-help. Others' needs are somehow to take precedence. 119 UBC Group - i^arly Awareness of Founders i There were four women who founded the UBC group - H i l a r y , Jeanette .Amy, and Siobhan. Their accounts each, f i t the a l t r u i s t i c category with, the sub-type of non-political in that none of them had. been actively involved, i n any regular p o l i t i c a l , a c t i v i t i e s before. For three of the UrSC. women - Hilary, Jeanette, and Siobhaa •— their link-up of their biography with the ideology had to do more with what, had not happened in their lives i n terms of oppression and personally-experienced problematics than with what had happened. They came to Cha rea l i z a t i o n that there were often severe problems connected with womeats roles, but they believed at the time that they had been fortunate enough not to have suffered from. them. They were a l l , including Amy, professional women. Hilary was a tenured professor, Jeanette a writer and teacher, and Amy and Siobhan were' self-supporting graduate students. As was mentioned, the three had a particular interest i n the issues raised in Kate Mi l l e t t ' s Sexual P o l i t i c s . The three of then had been discussing her ideas at length but i t took the goading of friends to move them toward a group - In their case, to contacting Women's Caucus to find out how to forrs a UBC-based group. She f i r s t t e l l s how she was v i s i t i n g friends i n the United States who were concerned because their children were involved in anti-Vietnam war demon-strations. She challenged her friends for being paradoxical and possibly hypocritical in that they, too, opposed the war but were leaving a l l the action to their children - and making that d i f f i c u l t Cor them. 120 When she and Jeanette - with whom she lives - got home some more friends visited them. These friends were very immediately concerned with issues of equal employment opportunities for women and they began chiding Hilary and Jeanette for being themselves hypocritical. As Hilary says: [the friend was saying of his wife, who was just considering a Ph.D.] ...you know, i t could perfectly happen that she gets a l l this training and she s t i l l can't get a decent job simply on the grounds of her being a woman, and I thought well - you know, I've gotten along a l l right, Jeanette has gotten along a l l right. But I heard exactly the same thing in my response that I heard in [the father of the anti-war demonstrators'] ...I thought there are plenty of people who aren't getting along a l l right and I knew i t damn well - and why am I not getting into the act? So really, that was why I started - wasn't why I stayed i n , but i t was why I started. There is an interesting contrast in the immediacy of direct per-sonal experience that Amy, a graduate teaching assistant, connected to her growing awareness of the Women's Liberation Movement. She was v i s i t i n g her parents in the East and was watching television when the news showed women chaining themselves to seats in Parliament as a demonstration for changing the abortion-control laws. She recalled: And actually I ' l l t e l l you the one night i t happened, was actually a l i t e r a l kind of thing. I was home in Toronto last summer, and we were watching the na-tional news and i t was the abortion caravan when they chained themselves to the seats i n Parliament. And my f i r s t reaction was, fuck, lik e I could just never do that. And my second reaction was, that's a h e l l of a lot better than looking for an abortionist - cause I've gone through a l l that stuff - which I'm sure lots of people have - and that I think, and the months and the times that I have worried that I was preg-nant, and i t just, I mean I would say i t ' s probably, you know, I could even c a l l i t a percentage of my l i f e , l i k e one-twelfth of every year....I have worried about being pregnant. 121 So really i t was quite that l i t e r a l occasion, you know....I really did actually think that on those kinds of l i t e r a l terms I would go and help them with abortions or something like that. Amy then began asking around for where there was a group. She and Siobhan had a friend in common who told Amy that Siobhan and Hilary and Jeanette were going to Women's Caucus to find out about starting a campus group. So Amy contacted Siobhan and began her active participation with them in forming a Women's Liberation group. B. Early Awareness of Women's Liberation for Later Joiners, and Their Move into a Group Women's Caucus Looking at the early awareness accounts of the women who had come into the Women's Caucus some time after i t s establishment, there are few women - Adele, Bonnie, Betsy and Edythe. This covers the last- year of Women's Caucus existence. There were none of the many other women who had p a r t i c i -pated in the Caucus' act i v i t i e s for a period of time and then dropped off l e f t to be interviewed. Only one of the accounts of the women was the a l -t r u i s t i c , or other-oriented type. This was Adele. Her f i r s t contact with the ideas of Women's Liberation had been through the press ("and that's the absolute worst contact you can possibly have") and she had largely discoun-ted what she heard. She had been married for three years to a very tradi-tional Englishman who believed that a woman's job was to wait upon him in the home and to work outside the home so that her income could be added to his own. She had divorced him because she could not tolerate being in a 122 totally one-sided relationship, but s t i l l f e l t that women could and should be complementary i f not exactly equal to men, only in a less slavish degree. She changed her mind quite radically after reading the special issue of Transaction magazine on women. She says: A: I remember last November reading the special edition of Trans- action on women, and I thought, 'that's rubbish'. There i s no way you can compare women to blacks, which was one thing that they were doing. I was really down, down on some of the arguments that were presented because I thought you know, that as a middle-class woman with a good education.and a good job that I knew I was doing f a i r l y well. Then as I read more and more, of a l l that issue, I realized - well, hell's b e l l s , I was doing OK, but there were a l l those other people who were really having a rotten break. And i f anything ever happened to me where 1 was poor, or couldn't take care of myself financially, and didn't have a good family to support me, you know, morally, and to have Bruce around - well, I would be in really rotten shape too. I would have a lot of handicaps, too, as a woman, because I was a woman. And so when I finished reading that Transaction set of articles - oh, i t had quite an effect on me, and I started thinking quite deeply about i t for awhile. From there Adele began reading whatever she could find on Women's Libera-tion and she began phoning around to see what groups there were in Vancou-ver. When she ran across Women's Caucus she went to a meeting, "liked the people, and liked what they were doing...and have been going every since." But the other three women who came in later were more "pragmatic" or self-oriented in the connection they made between their biography and the interpretations of women's position offered through the ideology, as they discussed i t with similarly interested friends. It should be noted for future reference that Adele seemed to have developed her awareness s t r i c t l y through media contact. She did not mention involvement with other people in her early thinking nor in her f i r s t attendance at a Women's Caucus 123 meeting. This i s unusual, as w i l l be discussed later. (See Discussion section, at the end of this chapter.) The problems that brought Bonnie to connect herself with the ideology were of the "external" sort, where the source, though directly and personally f e l t , was attributed to causes outside herself. It should be noted that Bonnie was atypical of a l l the other women in that she had Grade 9 education, and was virtua l l y the sole-support parent of two teen-agers. Bonnie heard about the Women's Liberation Movement from an ac-quaintance who was also a single parent and who was for a time attending Women's Caucus and UBC meetings. (This other woman did not continue for more than a few months, however.) Bonnie said she was interested in what the woman had to say be-cause : I was sort of depressed about the whole single-parent situation - lack of Day Care centres. And I was very depressed about l i m i -ted incomes that I make at work and always hoping that your ex-husband w i l l support you, you know. That you feel as i f you're going to break - rather uncomfortable. She heard that the Women's Caucus was trying to help women in her situation, so she found out through her acquaintance the phone number of Judy. Judy told her about the Caucus a c t i v i t i e s and Bonnie became a regular, though one of the least active of them, due to her heavy work and home duties. For the other two women who came later into Women's Caucus, their problems were i n i t i a l l y f e l t to arise from their own relative inadequacy in performing certain of their sex-linked roles (and they had few other kinds). 124 This type of self-oriented problems are what i s being called "internal/psy-chological". The two Women's Caucus women with this type of account are Edythe and Betsy. This category type should be elaborated upon, to show better what i t consists of. However, since the great majority of women who gave this account (11 of 13) are in the UBC group, I shall place that ela-boration in the parallel part dealing with UBC later joiners. Here I w i l l simply summarize Edythe and Betsy's accounts of early awareness of the ide-ology and their later entry into the Women's Caucus. Edythe and Betsy are both particularly good examples of the pro-cess of biography re-casting, of relocation of one's self in both the past and present social world according to new understandings provided by the ideology. They use the ideology every b i t as much to find acceptable ex-planations for past feelings, situations and actions as to figure out how to carry on their present everyday l i v e s . First Edythe. Edythe's acceptance of Women's Liberation ideas came quite quickly and smoothly, but her entrance into a Women's Liberation group was more untidy. She was newly married and had just moved from North Carolina to a small, isolated town in New Jersey when she f i r s t heard about Women's Liberation, through "the media, and reading books, magazines and things." She continues, "I was just real interested in i t from the very beginning - as soon as I heard the word." The bits and pieces she picked up served to integrate for her some previously inexplicable and uncomfort-able experiences and impressions she had had about being a woman. I: What interested you about it? 125 E: . . . i t was just, um, I had always been feeling these things, you know. I mean, um, i t ' s really strange, i t ' s really hard to explain. I, I, I s t i l l don't understand i t . It seems like so much, so much of the things I had worked out for my-self and I don't know how i t a l l happened. It's just, I heard about i t and then I read about i t and then after that, I just, my mind just started piecing things together. The f i r s t things she mentioned trying to piece together were what she saw as bad experiences in college. She had attended a medium-sized college in a very small town in North Carolina. She and her friends had wanted to be cool, to be different and one of the most striking ways in that school was for g i r l s to go into drama, "'cause then we can just be vulgar and we won't be lik e a l l those other g i r l s . " Yet they found that even their daring and flamboyance did not make them any more listened to by the men in the group. So they would get together in what Edythe thinks of as sort of early con-sciousness-raising groups to complain about the treatment of the men, which they saw as stemming from being lumped in with a l l those stupid women, who they cordially hated. E: We couldn't stand the idea of, uh, being a woman, you know? We couldn't stand the idea of being around women or of hav-ing anything to do with women. Women were just disgusting, 'cause they were so stupid and un-interesting. I: uh huh E: And we a l l , we wanted to be important, so therefore we de-cided we would be, uh, special women, the kind that had men friends. Given her contempt for women Edythe (and the other women) managed to ration-alize having some of those v i l e creatures for friends by the following con-ceptual contortion: 126 E: I thought, well, i f I, well i f these other g i r l s are in theatre, they must be just li k e me. They hate women too, so I decided I would accept them. So she began to understand the tumult and self-rejection and contempt for other women of those years. In connection with this struggle to find a satisfactory role for herself as a woman Edythe was trying to get along in her marriage. She had always found herself very competitive with men she had been involved with before, she resented any success of theirs greater than hers, and yet she felt "guilty because I shouldn't be competing with a man." She has great confidence in her husband, and in his total support of her attempts to un-derstand herself, particularly through experience with Women's Liberation, yet she would find herself fighting him as a representative of Men and not always dealing with him in ways appropriate to their actual relationship. Yet with a l l his understanding ("We just kind of talked things out, he was my g i r l friend") the fact of being married as such was s t i l l quite a shock for her, particularly coming as i t did with several moves farther and far-ther from home. She was concerned about what i t meant to be an adult woman, a married woman, and on their travels, particularly on the long tr i p to Can-ada she began to try to figure out how and why she f e l t about her mother. E: ...I started going into the whole thing about my, my mother and what she had been through. And a l l the other women I knew, what they had been through, and oh, wow, you know, i t just a l l started f i t t i n g into place then. I: um hum E: Why they, why they had always, so many of them I knew, you know,...they always, they never had been happy or successful and i t was so obvious why. They just, they just, you just 127 weren't supposed to get anywhere. Women just weren't sup-posed to um, be intelligent, and uh, they were just supposed to be in the home, have children. I: um hum E: And I realized how unhappy so many of them were. I: uh huh E: And the, then I started getting really militant, I started getting really angry, you know? When she was i n New Jersey, a few months before coming to Canada, Edythe had heard through a friend of a friend that there was a small Women's Liber-ation discussion group i n a nearby town. She had gone to i t for several weeks. Here she had talked about her dislike for women and the whole group had supported her in her talking and she began to feel quite comfortable in the group. But she did not want to become too close to i t with a move immi-nent, so she let her participation slide. It was after the intensive think-ing and discussion with her husband on the trip to Canada that she f e l t really intensely about the need to become a part of a group. Yet even when she heard about the group in Vancouver, through reading i t s paper and reading about i t in the local "underground" paper she was able to go to only one or two meetings before the "culture shock" of being in Canada ("This horrible weather!"),before she retreated to her apart-ment. Neither she nor her husband could find work and again she thought they wouldn't be staying. She also realized that i f she didn't get out of the f l a t and do something that she would go crazy, so she once again went down to Women's Caucus. She had heard about the Working Women's Workshop and wanted to help there, and she began to. She also very quickly made a couple 128 of friends among some of the newer participants and so her activity has con-tinued. Betsy's movement into Women's Liberation was rather halting at f i r s t . She had become aware of i t in graduate school, but was i n i t i a l l y put off "by the rhetoric, the roughness of i t . You know, [every] f i r s t line had "shit" in i t . " But later one of the woman professors was fired and this became a cause celebre, in terms of the woman and Women's Liberation issues. Betsy became very interested through the persuasion of a friend who was "one of those enthusiastic people who sort of convince you." But concurrent with her growing interest in the Women's Libera-tion Movement was her move toward engagement and then marriage. The impend-ing marriage led her into "thinking more seriously about what my role as [a] women is when i t comes to getting married as opposed to being an acade-mic." She let the preparations for the marriage (the "fakey, awful issues of being a white bride", the picking'out of the sil v e r - "idiot that I am, without principal or character, I went along with i t " ) and her continued studies be "a good excuse not to really get involved i n women's l i b , so I really didn't do much about i t [then]." But after becoming a wife, and moving with her husband to Van-couver where he found a job, she found that some of the facets of Women's Liberation seemed more directly applicable to her: I came out here and I didn't know anybody and I was stuck home. That's when I really realized what i t could - i t means for a great many women to just be a housewife and a woman but with very l i t -tle independent l i f e of her own. 129 Even with this realization, i t s t i l l took some time for her par-ticipation to be regular. She did contact the Women's Caucus right away, but she went only "a couple of times and I didn't really feel committed quite enough to go in and start working on things." She had found i t d i f -f i c u l t that she had not been immediately welcomed into the group on a per-sonal basis. She had heard criticisms of the Women's Caucus as being c l i -quish and she let this account for her feeling of separation from the regu-lars. But for some months she put a lot of thought into the so-called "alienation" that newcomers were said to feel upon coming into the Women's Caucus. She decided i t was "up to me" to find her place there, and i t wasn't for her to "expect them to come and greet me like a church group, as a wel-coming committee.... It seemed to me at the time [that there was] no way ex-cept by working hard day after day that I would work into knowing these people." So she went back and did just that. UBC Group The majority of the women in the total number interviewed (and in the UBC group, per se) were interested in Women's Liberation because of what they saw i t offering to themselves, to the direct amelioration of certain problematic facets of their l i v e s . Theirs was the experience of making a direct identification of themselves with women-as-an-oppressed-group. They do not see themselves as one of the troubled, once-removed, as the a l -truists do. They use the ideology to t e l l them about what is happening to themselves directly. 130 As was stated earlier, the source of the problematic situation was seen by a few women to be quite outside of their own competence, causation, or control ("external problems"). There were only three of these women, (two from the UBC group; one from Women's Caucus) each in a rather unusual occupational situation for a woman, at the time of their en-try into the Women's Liberation Movement. One, Madeleine, was completing her Ph.D. and shortly would enter the job market. And the other, Henri-etta, had just completed university with a degree in animal science. Madeleine had heard that there was discrimination against women academics, but she was not sure whether to believe i t . There were already Women's Liberation groups on the campus where she was a graudate student (not UBC) , but they were composed mostly of undergraduates and she thought they were too "radical" and " p o l i t i c a l " for her comfort at that point. She didn't feel an a f f i n i t y with them. But when some of her female graduate co-horts began to meet together to discuss the role of women, particularly in academia, she found that "made sense" to her, "...because I had just been looking for a job, and had a terrible time finding i t , and I had no way of knowing whether that was discrimination or not, but i t might of been, and I certainly heard stories of where i t happened to people in [her specialty]." She enjoyed these group discussions and when she moved to UBC she "just kind of kept my eyes open for a group." She had been talking this over with a few female colleagues and when she heard of a group she and they came. She became a regular. Their participation was more intermittant. Henrietta's story continued less happily in terms of work found, although she did find what she wanted in the UBC group as far as understand-131 ing of and encouragement in her t r i a l s . She described her experience as follows, when answering the question about what had interested her in what she'd heard about Women's Liberation: ...I think some of what I went through when I graduated, when I was applying for jobs regularly. And I applied for 60 or 70 with-in a couple of months, writing letters or having interviews. And — ah, when someone absolutely refuses to interview you 'cause you're a g i r l , that's f a i r l y obvious that that's discrimination, cuase they just won't interview for i t . But when you go in and they give you these 5-minute interviews and everybody else is having half-hour interviews, and i t happens over and over and over, and then someone w i l l say, "well, there's no discrimination, i f you really wanted a job, Henrietta, you could get it...with so many people t e l l i n g you one thing after another I started to think i t was me, which is really bad....I always [had] had lots of confidence in that, but when two years of trying for jobs and having people say no, no, no, no, no - i t gradually grinds you down. When she heard from the Women's Liberation ideology that problems with women finding jobs was the fault of "society, and when you realize i t isn't you," Henrietta wanted to find out more by joining a group. It should be noted that Henrietta's story demonstrates the mix-ture of biographical relevancies that activate participation in a group (or altered behaviour of many kinds). At the very end of the interview everyone was asked whether there was anything they wanted to add to what they had said about their Women's Liberation experience. Here Henrietta said: ...maybe one reason... that I got interested in women's l i b and equality was because my dad i s an alcoholic and so seeing my mother dependent on somebody who wasn't dependable may have had this effeet...it's sort of rough seeing something like that and maybe seeing my mother so caught - 'cause she didn't have any education, 'cause she had four kids, and feeling i t was her duty to stay home and you know, cook for him and do everything for him, and bring up the kids and everything. Whereas, I wouldn't see that my duty now. If somebody was like that...I would t e l l him to get the heck out. 132 So the young g i r l ' s awareness of the importance of education, a job, and reasonable self-sufficiency are readily linked to the young wo-man's frustrated attempts to carry out what had seemed to be a wise and de-pendable plan, and these feelings and moves are in turn directly linked by her interest in the Women's Liberation Movement. (She fi n a l l y got a job, only slightly related to her f i e l d . She l e f t the job when she and her hus-band moved to Vancouver. At the time of the interview she had dropped out of the M.A. program she had enrolled in and was a research assistant in an c unrelated f i e l d . Her graduate student husband may be taking a job elsewhere soon and she w i l l go with him. There is nothing to hold her in Vancouver alone.) For more of the women, their problems were i n i t i a l l y f e l t to arise from their own relative inadequacy in performing certain of their sex-linked roles (and they had few other kinds). These were the "Internal" type of problems. Only one of the women had some previous p o l i t i c a l experience and was able rather readily to place herself into the objective category "woman". This was one of the things that attracted her to the Movement - the opportun-ity to integrate and alleviate her problems in a somewhat familiar mode. This was Shirley, a participant in the UBC group. She had been active in a left-wing p o l i t i c a l group (the Communist Party) since she was 14 years old. When she.first heard about Women's Liberation, four years before the interview, she was very interested in i t , but was hesitant to devote her p o l i t i c a l energies to i t primarily. What interested her had to do directly with personal anguish and confusion in her l i f e . What prevented 133 her from joining a group was the hold-over from her rather r i g i d p o l i t i c a l interpretations of the correct order of pr i o r i t i e s for a p o l i t i c a l a c t i v i s t . Eventually, she f e l t Women's Liberation was relevant to her: S: ...because i t explained things about my own l i f e very clearly. I: How do you mean? S: Well f i r s t of a l l , i t explained a lot of sexual things...why i t was that I didn't respond to men as my friends...in high school did. There were things I couldn't tolerate as a young g i r l , like going to school dances....It was because of having to respond to another's invitation....The thing of being passive.... It explained a lot about my parents to me, who were in the process of - not of breaking up - but reaching an understand-ing about their marriage, which is really shitty...so I be-gan to understand what patterns there were there [her father a "bad chauvinist", her mother "a Christian, so she turns the other cheek"]...made me realize...the compulsive nature of marriage.. So I began to understand these things, and that i t explained a lot of things about my own feelings of being alienated as a worker. Like I didn't l i k e being a secretary at a l l and I resented that a l o t . The hesitations she had had about joining a group are familiar from those mentioned above by some of the p o l i t i c a l a l t r u i s t s . She says she had "a moral stricture on i t in terms of p o l i t i c a l analysis, which was that you have to struggle with the world in terms of the working class, and there-fore Women's Liberation was a movement that took away from that kind of struggle." She came to realize that "you organized people around their own oppression, and that's the only kind of thing that you can do." She had been transient for some years, going with her husband from job to job. But when they moved to Vancouver, the timing of her p o l i -134 t i c a l analysis and her personal needs coincided and she sought out a Wo-men's Liberation group. She; went to -Women's Caucus, but found i t not easy to work into. ("...it has an unacknowledged leadership, tends to be c l i -quish rather than open to new people.") She also had become a student (". ... i t ' s easier than working and I wanted to read") and f e l t that the UBC group she heard about would more closely f i t her needs and interests, so she be-came a regular there. Most of the women who defined their problems as stemming from internal distress had had no previous p o l i t i c a l experience and they approached their problems and the Women's Liberation ideology on a rather specific, personalized, reaching-out-for-individual-help basis. That they learned over time to generalize from their conditions, learned to share their exper-iences, concerns and eventual actions with and for others i s a theme that w i l l be developed throughout the remainder of this paper. Here we have story after story of women (11 of them) sensing that they are being expected to be someone they cannot be or expected to refrain from being someone they could be. The expectations are problematic either because they feel they lack the s k i l l s , or that they cannot accept these expectations for themselves as f i t t i n g their s e l f - t y p i f i c a t i o n s as an individual. It may be suggested that this sense of unacceptable expectation is present in vi r t u a l l y a l l of the women interviewed. What i s different here i s really a matter of considerable degree. F i r s t , in the a l t r u i s t i c women, the problematic expectations were perceived as being v i s i t e d upon other women. This was particularly true for the non-political ones. For 135 the p o l i t i c a l altruists - only in Women's Caucus - there were some personal problems in the expectation that they subordinate their p o l i t i c a l self to the men, but while their p o l i t i c s were a very important facet of their l i f e , they did not express their problems as being as basically self-threatening as did the eleven women who were interested in Women's Liberation for i t s potential help in handling immediate, deeply personal problems. These pro-blems were experienced as considerable confusion and frustration about virtua l l y a l l their everyday sex-linked roles. The women whose roles are almost entirely sex-linked are the married women, especially those who have no employment or vocation outside the home, and more especially even, those who also have children. Neither she nor the rest of the world is li k e l y to attribute to her competence or identities other than those which link her to man/husband/children. Her status, more than that of virtually a l l other women, is the most derived from the existence arid status of others, children and husband. Her roles, then, are few in number (though her tasks are many) and closely overlap. Thus problems in one almost automatically imply pro-blems in a l l the rest. She cannot f a l l back for self-evalaution or appre-ciation on knowledge of possible unproblematic participation in "outside" roles, such as a salaried job. Some women are very active in community work and as such can gain some additional sources of self-evaluation of their competencies. But participation in community work often is heavily i n f l u -enced by husband-derived status and opportunities. Young wives, student wives, tend not to have this kind of status. Neither do young wives and mothers tend to have the time to participate in these a c t i v i t i e s . 136 Considering the rather circumscribed nature of the housewife/ mother role i t is perhaps to be expected that the majority of those with the Internal/Psychological problems - particularly those who did not have the kind of past activities that can enhance p o l i t i c a l awareness - are young married women. There are nine of the thirteen women in this category. Of the nine, four are mothers, none of them engaged in employment or other time-consuming roles outside the home at the time of entry into the Women's Liberation Movement. Of the thirteen women, ten are in the UBC group. Of the nine married women, two are in the Women's Caucus. Thus we see a preponderance of Internal/Psychological accounts "belonging" to women in the UBC group. These accounts are predominantly those of women who - from an objective viewpoint - most occupy the "private" world of women, a behind-the-scenes world where their essential s k i l l s are seen as minimal and are l i t t l e valued by the "public" world where history i s carried out. That the women know they are expected to willingly occupy this world, and that they are finding i t very d i f f i c u l t to do so at time of entry is apparent in these accounts. They, more than any of the other women were trying to figure out who they were. They did not see this question at f i r s t as involving who they were as a woman, but more specifically how they each as an individual could handle the conflicts in their interpretations of what was expected of them and what they were able to be and do. * "Private" used here in Dorothy Smith's sense of out-of-sight, out-of-time, out-of-history (Smith, 1973). 137 The most concrete encompassing statement of problems from a wife and mother is made by Donna (25, married to an engineer who has gone back to graduate school, mother of two small children) who says: Then I started to hear more about i t and i t sounded just great, you know, especially when I started reading things lik e Betty Friedan (because) i t was more along the line of married women... and that's what interested me, because that's what I, you know -the things that were frustrating me at the time were apparently not just my problems.... She then l i s t e d off some of the problems she had, tying them in with her growing interest in the Movement: In my own case...I f e l t awfully trapped and not able to do things because, uh, I had two kids and my husband was really quite unco-operative about looking after them at that point, and not ever using my own imagination to do things. If I wanted to do things I would automatically think "Oh, well, I can't do that because I'm married now..." - this sort of crap, which was mostly i n -f l i c t e d upon by myself.... I f e l t I was giving up my entire existence - which I was - and my entire self to him and our kids....I always f e l t i f I was taking any time for myself I was just being selfish and, after a l l , a good married woman has to devote her l i f e to her family • • • • So i t was mostly s e l f - i n f l i c t e d except that I spoiled them a l l into the bargain.... That's why I found The Feminine Mystique, which talks quite a bit about housewifery and boredom and isolation and loneliness -which I was experiencing - quite meaningful to me. More than f i e l d of employment or...media things....It didn't mean as much to me as i t did to find out that there were other women who were ...as confused as I was. I was mostly just confused. I didn't know what I should be doing. She heard about the group through an acquaintance who told her about another mother, Willa, who was already going to the UBC meetings. The account of another mother (three young children, married to a professor), demonstrates clearly how the awareness of problems can only 138 come with a direct link between a concept (or part of an ideology) and one's autobiography and self-typifications. She became actively interested in the Movement when a hosuewife friend of hers became a part of the Movement and began talking with Abby about whd: Women's Liberation Movement meant to her as a housewife and mother. ...she sort of told me a lot about what they did and that sounded ...certainly far more appealing. (What was appealing about it?) Sort of, coping with being a housewife tied down with a bunch of very young children, and how to maintain your identity despite the fact that you never slept and never really had time of your own. And how to sort of get everything done within an amount of time you had to do it....And then just the idea that just because you were doing a l l the housework and a l l the shitwork that you didn't have to ask permission to go out... perhaps the most important thing, though, was just the idea of...women being important... and then just the idea that a housewife doesn't have to be just a house-wife. If we move to accounts of married women who are not mothers at the time of entry we can see two of them in a classic career vs. homemaker conflict. Janet f i r s t became interested in Women's Liberation in graduate school when some other women in her department formed a small group. She "was very interested" because: J: . . . i t seemed like at that time I had a lot of things that I wanted to talk about with other women.... I: Like what? J: Mainly at'that time...a conflict between - my perceived con-f l i c t between wanting to...have a career of my own...versus being a wife, kind of thing. She was also particularly interested in getting to know one of the women who was in the group. Yet at that time, Janet went to only two or three meetings and stopped. She doesn't know why. 139 But about a year later she moved with her husband to Vancouver, where he had found a job. She decided to give up her very successful work as a graduate student and to try to find related work in Vancouver. She looked for jobs for six months with no success. For the f i r s t time in her adult l i f e she was without work and money of her own and she found this an intense strain. I l e f t graduate school...and came up here with [her husband]... and that was a very dramatic change in my life....That was a decision that had a tremendous number of results. ...when I came up here I didn't know anybody and I was extremely frustrated and unhappy about the job situation...[her husband] was very happy to support me, he didn't push me at a l l . But he was sort of confused as to why I was behaving lik e I was. I f e l t very strongly I wanted to support myself and I couldn't stand i t - i t was the f i r s t time I never had any income of my own, and I didn't like being supported.... I just hated i t . It was a very violent reaction...I just was angry a lot and I cried a lot and I was very masochistic.... I was really putting myself down a l o t , you know - "you should have stayed in school, look what you get for...leaving school...." So, i f she had lots of things to talk about with women before, her early Vancouver experience certainly increased this need. The need was focussed further when her sister came to v i s i t her at about the time she was feeling her worst: ...and then also my sister came to v i s i t me and we had a fantas -for a week...and I really love my sister a very great deal and i t was the closest time she and I had together on my relationship with her i s sort of archetypal. I mean, I feel like I would like that kind of relationship with lots of women, extremely close and very warm and sharing....That sort of stimulated... this desire to meet other women and have other close relationships.... I'm sure that played a very large part in why I came to women's l i b . 140 To find the local group, Janet called up the Women's Caucus, who referred her to the UBC contact, Jeanette. She found out when the meetings were and became a participant. Even though the great majority of women in this category gave accounts articulating pervasive distress over their nearly all-encompassing role of married woman, not a l l married women came to interpret their pro-blems as residing largely within the marital context. Neither were a l l the women with internal/psychological accounts married. There are four persons whose accounts do not f i t into the sub-category just described. None of them saw themselves as being engaged in carrying out one primary role (like "married woman") which virtu a l l y subsumed all.others. One was, in fact, just ending her five year long marriage as she entered the UBC group, and she saw what she was learning about Women's Liberation as playing a part in the dissolution of her marriage. Yet neither the marriage, nor the end of i t was seen by her as being a major problem leading to her interest in Women's Liberation. Her conflicts did not centre around speci-f i c role expectations, but rather around expectations of the broadest sort. These were, what an adult person l i k e she hoped herself to be, could be. For her an adult person would probably be married, but these kinds of rela-tionships would/should follow (logically, i f not temporally) upon achieving true adulthood. The fact of being a female adult also had considerable im-portance for her. This she talked about by noting that she f e l t that 1) she had always been expected to be a precocious child so far in her l i f e , and 2) she also saw those enforcing these expectations upon her to be men (not 141 only her father and husband), who in turn f e l t that 3) i t was quite appropri-ate for a woman to remain dependent, quixotic, and not entirely sensible -as long as she was charming and bright. Thus, the problematics for this wo-man, Kai, did not revolve around explicit role expectations l i k e marriage/ motherhood vs. single/career, but were struggles over more diffuse se l f -concepts lik e child-like vs. adult, helplessness vs. competence, dependence vs. self-sufficiency. The f i r s t interpretations of women as of consequence and compe-tence came from Kai's reading of Doris Lessing. She said: K: I think reading Doris Lessing had a lot to do with i t . I: In what way? K: Well, i t was one of the very f i r s t books that I ever read that was really from a woman's point of view - and where I could identify with the females in the book i n -stead of always having to, you know, identify with the men. I: ...at that time [3 years before] did you have... conscious formulations of what you were thinking - of knowing you could identify with the women....? K: ...yeah, I was definitely conscious of i t . But being aware of the newness and the existence of a portrayal of women from their own perspective does not automatically make one a mem-ber of Women's Liberation. It wasn't until about a year later that Kai stated "putting a Women's Lib label on those kinds of feelings." The connection came about when she began seeing prominent Women's Liberationists on television talk shows. She found that even i f she disagreed with some of what she saw as extreme viewpoints, she s t i l l thought: 142 . . . i t was sort of nice to l i s t e n to women who weren't afraid any-more to use their heads...it wasn't specific things, i t was just the looking at things from a woman's point of view, which I had never done.... And also realizing that there was a link between me and every other woman that I had never f e l t . She came to relate herself to other women at that period by virtue of their sharing: ...where we f i t into the power, structure...and definitely how we're socialized. I mean there is just so many ways that women feel in common because of the way they have been taught. At this time Kai was s t i l l l i v i n g in Eastern Canada with her hus-band and she complemented her reading with talks about women's position in l i f e with a married woman friend. Then she and her husband moved to Van-couver in mid-summer. She heard that a women's group was starting to meet - she couldn't remember from where ("I can't remember where. I didn't know a soul at any of the meetings...I probably saw i t somewhere"). She came to the second meeting alone, met some women, and became a regular participant. The next three women with internal/psychological problems accounts were struggling over role expectations of a somewhat more specific sort -their relationships with men. For Lucy this was a problematic area with the man she was l i v i n g with, for Hestia and Frieda i t was with men in general. Lucy was l i v i n g with a man at the time of her entry into the UBC group. She had had some previous interest in Women's Liberation when she had been l i v i n g on her own before, in a very large Eastern U.S. univer-sity town. What she had heard or read from the women's groups there, how-ever, were quite off-putting: 143 I'd hear about Women's Lib things [back East], mainly through hand-outs, but they were extremely man-hating and things, you know, which I didn't relate to at a l l . I didn't even think of Women's Lib in terms of myself. When she moved to Vancouver, Lucy went once or twice to a Women's Caucus meeting but "didn't get anything out of i t . " She then heard about the UBC group from a friend at work, who was a close friend of Hilary and Jeanette and had been going off and on herself. She started going with this friend and became a regular herself. What interested her in the Movement was that i n a less intensively p o l i t i c a l sphere, she was able to hear that "Women's Liberation sees women as people, and, um, I don't think many other ideas about women or ideas about society do." She found this out though reading on her own and through talks with her friend at work. This reading and talking went on for nearly the whole year before the UBC group began. The specific situation in Lucy's l i f e that made the humanity/ dignity of women so important was her problematic relationship with the man she had been l i v i n g with for most of her time in Vancouver: I: So that's how i t happened technically, but why were you i n -terested in Women's Liberation? L: Well, I f e l t depressed. [laughs] You know, like there's just a lot of things that... started making a lot of sense about i t . I: What kinds of things? L: I guess mostly I was interested in...the whole sex-role thing ...I just really wanted to c l a r i f y [that]...cause I realized i t was verv true that...women were brought up totally d i f f e r -ently from men - like i t ' s a different cultural thing to women, and I just wanted to explore this more. 144 Plus, I guess a lot of my relationship with [her lover] seemed to be very very funny, you know? A lot of things going on that I really didn't understand. And I thought, l i k e , Women's Lib would really effect that, and i t did. Within the relationship what she found d i f f i c u l t was that she had more interest in the sexual side of the relationship than her lover ("I equated our sexual activity with his love for me, and unfortunately he doesn't like to screw as often as I do, so that's really a frustrating situation"). Occasionally, however, her lover would become sexually attrac-ted to another woman and Lucy would become very jealous. She "found the whole jealousy thing I went through to be such an ugly feeling, you know, I couldn't accept i t in myself, and wanted to get rid of i t . " So she hoped to find some solutions for this in her Women's Liberation a c t i v i t i e s . For more information on what did happen, see Chapter on Primary Relationships, below. The other two women who expressed internal problems - and these in terms of relationships with men - were Hestia, and Frieda. They were the two youngest persons of the interviewees and perhaps par t i a l l y for this reason they had as of yet had no long-term lover relationships with others, men or women. (Having women as potential lovers was becoming an issue for Frieda at this time, but not Hestia.) Frieda had f e l t that there was too much depersonalization and romanticizing expected of women in close male/ female relationships. In high school and early college she had resented the lack of variation of degree in relationships with men. She would try to become friends with some boy/man only to discover that he and others instantly defined the relationship as entirely a romantic/sexual one. Though she had 145 been involved in this kind of relationship from time to time she did not like the narrow definition. She felt this meant "not getting...certain basic rights, l i k e , sexually." She also f e l t that she had: ...never been able to feel great about walking down the streets somewhere...or going certain places in the city even. I feel ...such a restricted sense....If you're a woman and you go out, you're naturally assumed to be something other than what you are. So after some months of thinking over this sort of thing ("... something was fucking me around"), Frieda heard from her friends Hilary and Jeanette that a group was meeting and "decided to come one night, to make that sort of decision, to make an actual trip to come, and I did." Hestia had a much more explicit and elaborate interpretation of her self-typification in her relationships with men - a typification that led, in her view, to distinct problematics. She fe l t that in Women's Liberation ("I suppose I always f e l t that I went along with i t , you know), and in a university group particularly, she would "...find people who re-inforced the way I thought about things." The problems were: ...the psychological part of i t , lik e the problems that women have - not a l l women - but each woman does have some problems that have to do with her social role. The parts of the social role that she found problematic were: ...my own unwillingness, l i k e - when I was aware of i t being unwillingness, I'm sure other times I did...comply with my role - but when I didn't...[it was] unwillingness to let men be dominant...just i n everyday situations - which sometimes can be quite embarrassing. I: Like what? H: Well, I found out what would happen was that, in a sense, I was really unaware of what you were supposed to do, because for some reason I had a very strong ego [laugh] and immediately when I met a fellow...I think that immediately there were a l l 146 these efforts that he made to establish his superiority.... And I just instinctively reacted with great h o s t i l i t y . . . in fact, i t was more than what I would term f a i r . . . . I never got along with anyone, you know, because I anticipated that would happen. She had an old high school friend who she met in Vancouver who was going to the UBC group and she went along with her, Hestia thinking " . . . i t was a good opportunity," because "I'm not too good at just walking into things completely cold [where] I don't know anyone at a l l . " ' Exceptional Case So far the story of every woman but one has ex p l i c i t l y revealed the relationship among the persons' perceived problems, the Women's Liber-ation Movement ideology, and the support for intellectual and lo g i s t i c entree provided by a friend. Awareness of problematics, interpretation according to seen-as-relevant parts of the ideology, did not always occur immediately prior to entry into a group, though often i t did. In a few cases, the role of the friend was more apparent in the early interpreta-tions than in the actual move into a group. But i n a l l but one of the women's interest/entry accounts, a l l three of the components noted above were present. A l l of these factors are presumed to have to be present i f a person i s to move voluntarily toward change.. It is assumed that defining a situation as problematic - when that interpretation derives from an ide-ology that ex p l i c i t l y calls for change in causal base(s) of the proble-matic situation - carries with i t the impetus toward change. In a l l but one of the accounts here, this was the condition for and sequence of moving 147 toward a Women's Liberation group. The women wanted further explanation, understanding, and support for their evolving interpretations of them-selves as women. But what i f a person is interested in being in the group, but not interested in change? It is not logically or empirically essential that every member of a Women's Liberation group i s there because she sees her l i f e as pro-blematic. It may be unlikely, but not impossible that women at least enter a Women's Liberation group for other reasons than those given above by the women interviewed. Whether she w i l l or can stay in the group with-out coming to perceive her l i f e as a woman as problematic is another mat-ter. Looking at the story of one woman, Lisa, we see someone who does not recall seeing any of her l i f e as problematic when she f i r s t became interested in getting into the UBC group. Lisa's story shows that when she looked back over her biography in terms of her entry into the Women's Lib-eration Movement she recalled no problems. Though I can recall that at her f i r s t meeting she went into some detail about how distressed she was about being passed from man to man i n the local group of l i t e r a t i . She said she'd go to the pub, have a good evening of talk, and then i t ' d be "who gets to take Lisa home tonight time." The nights lasted u n t i l morning and she was learning to feel she had l i t t l e choice in the matter. But this didn't show up in the interview, so I cannot attribute my own interpretation here - and s t i l l be able to accept at face value a l l the other accounts, which do " f i t " . 148 So, she recalls the f i r s t step in her move into the group was hearing that Hilary and Jeanette were starting a Women's Liberation group. Amy - with whom Lisa was spending a l o t of time - was also involved. She says: Last September when they started the organizational meetings ...they mentioned i t to me,, that there was a meeting on Mon-day night, that we would a l l start a Women's Liberation group. I: What was i t about Women's Liberation that interested you? L: Well, I don't really know. I really didn't think I had any use for i t in the beginning at a l l . It was just something (that) the people that-Iwas involved with were involved (in) . And I had just come back from Europe, and they were wanting to start this thing, and i t just sort of happened. It •wasn't something that I consciously thought - I'm going to join Women's Liberation. It was something that just happened. - I thought well, I pretty well didn't need i t . . . I r e a lly didn't think i t was going to do me any good at a l l . It.was, i n a sense I guess, par t i a l l y a social a c t i v i t y when I f i r s t began. From this we can see that there w i l l be participants in a social movement who come i n for the " s o c i a l " than for the help or change implied. In a group (as was the case with the UBC group) which had a very strong consensus about not enforcing one's specific p o l i t i c a l interpretations upon others, i t was quite possible for a woman to be present and accepted, even i f her p o l i t i c a l awareness and resultant behavioural modification were minimally apparent. A group with a more clearly articulated p o l i t i c a l stance, with resultant proscribed behaviour alternatives (like the Women's Caucus work-shops) , would probably be much less amenable to a person with such a small amount of interest in the going ideology. It i s , I think a feature of the Women's Liberation Movement that the participants and groups are very d i -149 verse i n their interpretation of the ideology, and in their p r i o r i t i e s set for concomitant action. Since the issues are-seen to involve a l l women, then a l l women are potential participants. Therefore, i t is antithetical to the ideology-.to draw exclusionary membership ?;ules, or. inclusionin'g ones. This does happen, of course, either informally- (see Joreen, "The Tyranny of Structurelessness", 1972) or formally (as when-women members of Trotskyist groups have been voted out of l o c a l groups i n c i t y after ci t y in North America. . See history of Women's Caucus sectionabove.) .•„•> ' In any city of any size, then, there w i l l be room for women who ' are not ideologically informed or "pure" to be an active member of the group. I would think a woman would, have to have strong support for p a r t i -cipation from other sources, though, to go and stay i n . Lisa had that from her desire to be i n with these older women who she knew as friends and teachers in her major at University." After three or four months Lisa did become interested i n some of the Women's Liberation issues ("like sexuality, l i k e roles - . . . a l l of a sudden...they became p r i o r i t i e s " ) . We could say that i t was then that inter-pretations of problematic features in her l i f e occurred. It was then that she began reading a great deal of Women's Liberation l i t e r a t u r e . Her interest .in Women's Liberation per se began then, as did her interest i n changing problematic circumstances. /Yet she could not articulate this f u r -ther, even*wherrasked to elaborate. ; Her story was the least detailed, the least personalized and cog-nizant of her feelings and interpretations of a l l the women interviewed. 150 From the observer's viewpoint, I would say she was l i t t l e touched by her Women's Liberation experience - at least from what a year of observation could show. But she was there a l l along - there was room for her, she attended regularly, she was active and sought after for talk and support. It takes several kinds to make a social movement. C. Discussion In this chapter I have been examining how the women f i r s t make the ideology of the Women's Liberation Movement relevant to their l i v e s . Of a l l the kinds of ideologies available to a person in our society, how is i t that they go about adopting this one? What can be seen i s not only the selection of this ideology as relevant to them, but a further selection of certain parts of i t at f i r s t . This two-level selection demonstrates the reality-constructing nature of people's social action, the role of their perceived social situation i n making for problematic conditions which the ideology i s then seen as use-f u l for interpreting and changing, and the process of biography re-casting, of retrospective-prospective sense-making. The actual move into a group, whether as founder or later joiner, shows the role that social links and then the Movement group i t s e l f has in further f a c i l i t a t i n g the use of the ideology by women. The ideology is selected out only when the women do begin to identify being a woman as a social fact and not simply a "natural", un-questioned bio/psychological fact. That perception of being a woman as a social construct occurs only when some aspect of that existence is seen 151 as problematic - whether for other women than oneself or directly for one-self. The next level of selection of certain parts of the ideology as particularly relevant to one's l i f e shows a further refinement of how the women link themselves to the Movement. F i r s t , the breadth of issues for women addressed in the Women's Liberation ideology allows great scope for any woman to draw from for an interpretation of what is going on in her individual l i f e . The ideology also provides some basic principles for how she might deal with any problems - others' or her own. So the woman who i s , for herself, quite well off as a woman can see that others may not be so fortunate. The woman with traditional p o l i t i c a l experience can see that she is now i n the pivotal category of persons who experience the most tel l i n g oppressions of the time. Therefore she can and must organize with others to fight the oppression of their group. The woman who is worried about getting jobs can learn that this problem is societally caused, not brought on by personal f a i l i n g s . The woman who finds the language of uni-versity women too harsh at one time in the expression of their rage can find interpretations of the problems of married women very useful to her when she finds herself in that situation. The woman troubled about her relationships with men finds explanations of sex-role conflict, of "sexual p o l i t i c s " , very enlightening. The same is true for the woman for whom i t is important to understand her parents' relationship or her relationships with other women. The ideology makes whatever was problematic begin to come clear. (As Edythe said: " . . . i t a l l started f i t t i n g into place," or Shirley said: 152 "It explained things about my own l i f e very clearly.") The woman can see what was "really" going on a l l along - for herself and/or for other women. She can reinterpret who she was then, in the sense of giving new causal accounts of the actions or situations of herself or other women. It is a very different view of oneself to move from being v i r t u a l l y a crackpot or malcontent (Marta's getting drunk and standing up at parties saying how awful i t was to be a woman - and then feeling terrible for doing so) or as a failure (as a job seeker, an adult, a mother) and seeing that one was a l l along ahead of one's time or acting as an oppressed person would and not as someone inherently inadequate. These realizations lead to the belief in the poss i b i l i t y of change. This is a crucial tenet of the Women's Liberation Movement, that one can and must change the bases of their oppression. Since one of the most basic manifestations of that oppression is the psychological i s o l a -tion of women from each other and their sense of powerlessness, i t is for the Movement to provide a place for women to give support to other women. As I noted, these two groups diff e r in their view of what form support should take and toward whom i t should be directed. But in both cases, women are to work together - whether to give support to other women, as is the f i r s t priority of the Women's Caucus, or predominantly to each other through explicit consciousness-raising groups as the UBC group does. Here the role of friendship networks comes up again. The exis-tence of networks among the founders has already been documented and com-mented upon. Later joiners do not i n i t i a l l y have networks among p a r t i c i -pants in the groups, in the sense of multi-point, reciprocating relation-153 ships with other similarly engaged women. What they have are uni-directional links to the Movement and more specifically to a group. That i s , they know one other person who is interested in the Movement and who has contact with a group. They find ease in talking with that person (one housewife to another, one office worker to another) and they go to a group in the company of a contact person (usually the one they've been talking with). Freeman points out that networks must be elaborated for a move-ment to carry on. This is what happens for these newer women, as w i l l be discussed i n detail in the chapter on friendships. But for now i t i s important to see that in vi r t u a l l y a l l cases there is this pattern of seeing women as an oppressed group, as seeing oneself as one of them, and of seeking other women out who think similarly. This is how women become aware of the Women's Liberation Movement and how they move into a Movement group. They do i t themselves, through their own understanding of the ide-ology and of their own liv e s . 154 PART II SUSTAINING CHANGE It is important to know how the women in the two groups f i r s t became aware of the Women's Liberation Movement as being of direct rele-vance to themselves, and then to learn how they acted upon recognition of that relevance by forming and/or joining their respective groups. It i s equally important to understand how they continue their involvement in the Movement as they relate i t to their interpretation of what is going on i n their everyday l i v e s . The Women's Liberation ideology provides goals for change in every aspect of women's lives - economic, psychological,- p o l i -t i c a l , social. It is necessary to understand which goals which women take up as their own and how they attempt to achieve them. In theory, liberation cannot be a partial matter. Yet in prac-tice i t is obvious that the pervasive inequality that women face w i l l not be brought to a sudden halt. As is said in the Women's Liberation l i t e r -ature, no one in power gives that power up willingly. It i s also obvious that for a woman who thinks of herself as oppressed, who has been brought up to accept that oppression, and who is dependent for economic and psy-chological survival on playing out her complementary role in an unequal power relationship (with husband, lover, employer, etc.) that becoming "liberated" w i l l be a long-term effort. It is an effort that probably cannot succeed totally in our time and in our world. But in her attempt to change a particular part of her l i f e , a woman may in fact accomplish what is to her a great deal in very practical matters. A husband who now 155 takes care of the children nearly as much as she .does, a comaradarie on the job among woman workers where once none existed, successful communica-tion with a lover about one's sexual needs - a l l of these are perhaps a small part of the overall change that the ideology calls for, but they may be very significant changes for the woman who has thus acted. This par-t i a l i t y of attempted or possible transformation of consciousness and c i r -cumstance is inevitable' perhaps, considering also that the task of li b e r a -tion is so large that any one person, group, or movement must set p r i o r i -ties as to where they can al let their interests and energies. Whether one is looking at joint action or individual action the actor(s) must go through the same process of perceiving certain situations as problematic to themselves in order to act and to try to change those situations for themselves. The priorities a woman sets herself w i l l be affected by what parts of the ideology are available to her, what the group she belongs to has as i t s central ideological p r i o r i t i e s and strate-gies, and how the everyday biographical circumstances she lives in limit or f a c i l i t a t e both her participation in the Women's Liberation Movement and her interest in change in her immediate circumstances. We w i l l see in the sustaining of initiated change the f u l l flour-ishing of "role-making" as Turner discusses i t (1962: 22). The person must redefine the roles she wishes to undertake, she must make new decisions about where she now wishes to place the "boundaries" between roles. Women may now place themselves entirely outside of roles which they were well within before,for example they could move out of marriage. Or they may shift the nature of their enactment of a continuing role, for example they may now expect and have housework shared equally, or start back to school 156 or get a job to contribute more money to their own needs and to those of the family. Where once a woman may have had few roles - as can be the case particularly with housewives - with one primary identity or role, and few and closely related " l a t e r a l " roles, she may now expand and/or change considerably the range and character central and lateral roles (Olesen and Whittaker, 1968: 10). Given the ideology, the latter is what we would expect her to attempt. But the question remains as to how she can succeed in these changes. We can return to Turner, when he says that: Interaction is always a tentative process, a process of contin-uously testing the conception one has of the role of the other. The response of the other serves to reinforce or to challenge this conception. The product of the testing process is the s t a b i l i -zation of the modification of one's own role (1962: 23). We can now turn from the theoretical to the actual by looking at the accounts the women gave of how they tried to maintain in their everyday lives the changes they came to see as necessary from their understanding of the ideology of the Women's Liberation Movement. As was stated i n the Methodology section, analytical categories for understanding the data were drawn from my understanding of the way the ideology divided up the world of . women and from the women's use of the ideology i n situations they came to see as problematic. Ideologues try to arrive at adequate descriptions both of what women's lives an- l i k e , what conditions these kinds of lives, and what should be done to alter them. An ideology w i l l contribute to social change only insofar as the description of people's lives can be seen by significant portions of those people to be an accurate account of what goes on for 157 them and only insofar as the alternatives i t offers seem "possible". The Women's Liberation ideology i m p l i c i t i l y and ex p l i c i t l y asks - what do women do i n their daily round of a c t i v i t i e s , how do .they feel within these and what can be done to improve matters? The world of women is analytically broken up into their emotional/psychological l i f e and their economic l i f e . The latter subsumes areas l i k e their work - at home and/or outside the home; and the former refers to relationships with significant others -their husbands, lovers, children, and other women. Of course, the issues and personnel in both areas may overlap considerably. The next chapter accordingly w i l l be about 1) primary relation-ships with members of the household (including husbands, children, lovers, i f l i v i n g with the woman) or with lovers, even i f the woman is not l i v i n g with that person; 2) with friendships; 3) and with work outside the home. 158 CHAPTER V CHANGE IN PRIMARY RELATIONSHIPS - IN MARRIAGE WITH CHILDREN, LOVERS (PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE) According to the Women's Liberation ideology women achieve their social identification by their connection with men as their husbands or lovers, and with children as their product and raison d'etre (Freeman, 1973). This definition of a woman according to her relationship to these particular others has very definite economic and attitudinal roots and consequences. The roots of this "man-identified woman" situation are seen as an exploitive economic situation served by romanticism. The consequences are that a woman w i l l feel guilty i f she does not meet the ideal of the totally happy and efficient wife and/or mother. She w i l l feel frightened i f she threatens the relative security of the marriage. She w i l l question her competence, her feminity, her "maternal instincts" i f she isn't able to perform her emotional and economic tasks well. If she begins to question or resent what her l i f e largely consists of this would feed back into more guilt and fear. For the unmarried woman who is closely a l l i e d to a man the amount of economic dependence may at that time be less or non-existent. But i f the relationship - or an anticipated one - is to culminate one day in mar-riage then i t i s obvious that the emotional situation may be similar for a married or unmarried woman. She s t i l l derives her status and her badge of 159 typicality, i f not to say normality, from the potential or actual exis-tence of a successful relationship with a man. She has her feminity affirmed by his acceptance of her. She has a future as a whole social being through him. That, in general terms, i s the Women's Liberation Movement's description of the traditional expectations for women in relation to hus-bands, family, lovers. How then, do the women deal with their own tradi-tional views of these primary relationships, with the new interpretations given by the ideology, and with their own living-out of these relationships? The accounts in response to these questions f e l l into two broad categories, and then these can be divided into several sub-categories, a l l of which were closely related to the situation in which the women were. It i s important to keep in mind that the division of the accounts i s based upon their situation at the time of the interview. I w i l l , of course, deal with the histories that the women gave of how they had structured their l i f e up to this a r t i f i c i a l l y set time. F i r s t , there were women who f e l t that their experience i n Women's Liberation had had an effect upon these primary relationships, but that i t had not changed them. This can be so because the women were currently in the kind of relationship that was non-problematic precisely because they had chosen their partner on the basis of c r i t e r i a of equality of p a r t i c i -pation on a l l levels of experience. They did associate other changes in their lives with their Women's Liberation experience. But they did not see a need for change, nor did they perceive basic changes as having occurred, in their current closest relationships, because of Women's Liberation. The 160 distinction made here is between the ordinary impact that any new and im-portant "event" in one's l i f e w i l l have upon related areas and the kind of alteration that occurs when a part of one's l i f e i s seen as problematic, with the new event having direct bearing upon the definition and "solu-tion" of that problem. The other category was that in which, the-!11 majority of women f e l l - those for whom their current primary relationships were perceived as problematic and who f e l t a definite change i n these everyday experiences was due to their participation in the Women's Liberation Movement. Within this category there was considerable variation as to the immediacy and per-vasiveness of the problems, the amount of energy spent in dealing with the problems, the kinds of changes the women attempted and the extent to which they themselves f e l t they had succeeded. What we w i l l be looking at in these problematic situations i s how women who shared assumptions about the necessity of women being per-sons in their own right set up differing t a c t i c a l p r i o r i t i e s for what they would try to change in these d i f f i c u l t situations. For someythe efforts re-volved largely around finding an acceptable explanation for d i f f i c u l t re-lationships that no longer existed. For some the search was both for under-1 standing of the past problems and guidelines for the present situation where the same partner was involved. For some there was the additional concern of bringing up children in ways that were consonant with Women's Liberation ideas about equality of rights for a l l people and of not limit i n g the po-tential of children along sex-stereotyped li n e s . 161 I w i l l f i r s t discuss the role of the Women's Liberation Movement in the lives of those whose primary relationships are not seen by them as problematic. Then I w i l l move to how the Movement plays a role in the understanding and altering of problematic relationships. The role of the Movement w i l l be discussed i n terms of the guidelines provided by the ide-ology and the moral and social support provided by other participants» I w i l l focus on three aspects of the relationships whenever possible; the emotional, sexual, and l o g i s t i c . Logistics means examining issues of house-hold task allotment, time for each person to pursue her own interests. Unlike-in- t n e other sections in this study I w i l l not be dealing . with the data by using the two different groups as the bases for compari-son. It is apparent in this section that the differences in accounts have to do more with the biographical situation of the women - in terms of marital and household status (married, l i v i n g with lover, single, mother, etc.) than with which group the women belong to. Where the group membership comparisons may be made i s in their relevance to the recruitment patterns and organization of the two groups. That i s , i t i s clear that the Women's Caucus was more amenable to women whose major concern was the working woman (defined in terms of wage-labour) and the UBC group draw more from, and presumably appealed more to, the university-based women. This university base was both vocational, in the case of students or teachers, and geogra-phic/logistic, i n the case of student and faculty wives who lived nearby and were confined in their physical mobility - due to young children, low income resulting in few having cars, etc. 162 A. The Role of Women's Liberation for Women in Situations Seen as Non- Problematic There were seven women who did..not'feel that their primary rela-tionships were problematic. (Three were in Women's Caucus, four in the UBC group.) Therefore they did not talk about having to work out new ways of carrying out parts of their relationships. What they had a l l looked for and insisted upon was equality, was their own independence. Since they had i t , they didn't select i t out of the Women's Liberation ideology as a goal directly relevant to themselves. This condition'was-a part of their current situation. Of course, something as important to the women as th e i r Women's Liberation experience would have to become incorporated into their close everyday relationships, as w i l l be shown. But these particular women did not feel the need for using the interpretations of women's situation offered within the Movement to improve their relationships - which were for them, after a l l , not problematic. The women who did use the interpretations to understand and perhaps change their situation w i l l be discussed after this section. Each of these seven women was involved i n what she-" saw as long-term relationships with another person. Two of theta,Madeleine and Henrietta, were in marriages, per se. One of the women, Judy, had been l i v i n g with her partner, Andy, for nine years. Adrienne and Adele were divorced and. had been in their present relationship for about three years and one year, respectively. Two 163 of the women, Hilary and Jeanette, were l i v i n g with each other and had been for seventeen years. A l l of the women were economically independent. A l l but one working in a profession - Judy worked in an offi c e . Independence and equality had become a personally held value by several means. One was through a d i f f i c u l t earlier experience of not hav-ing had these qualities in the same relationship as the person was in now. This was true for Judy. Only Judy conveyed a sense of having to have worked out a non-problematic relationship with her partner. She had been with him nine years. Issues of equality had been crucial to her from the beginning of their l i v i n g together. They had thus achieved a quality of interaction that was acceptable to her before she was a participant in Women's Libera-tion. The way this had come about was that Judy has been very " p o l i -t i c a l " from the time she was 14 years old. Her father had been very active in the old C.C.F., etc. She had always been the woman on any governing body of her p o l i t i c a l groups and she had always concerned herself with the position of women within those groups, and outside of them. At 17 she had moved in with Andy, who was seven years older than she was and much more p o l i t i c a l l y experienced. She described the early days this way: We went through most of the heavy stuff a long, long time ago. Like, when I f i r s t started l i v i n g with Andy he wasn't really used to...doing very much for himself. He came from a German Catholic family which started out very poor farmers when he was young and become working class in the ci t y . It was a very... patriarchal family - five boys and one g i r l - and the boys never had to do anything....The g i r l had to do i t a l l . . . . 164 So we went through the f i r s t few years we lived together of doing things like - I wouldn't do any housework unless he did and so the place would get to be an absolutely disgusting mess and we would have screaming fights about i t , and things l i k e that. And we would eat out most of the time. And I also had a problem which was that I was 17...and he was 24 and he had been involved in p o l i t i c s a lot longer and of course he had read a lot of stuff. I hadn't read anything and so I was sort of dominated by him that way. And so we fought about that u n t i l I eventually insisted that we had to do things separately - that we would go to different meetings and be involved in different things p o l i t i c a l l y . So most of that stuff was hassled out before Women's Liberation. The adjustments that they were currently having to make did have to do with Judy's intensive participations i n the Women's Caucus, however. She said: One interesting thing about Women's Liberation is that i t ' s the only really consistent thing going on - in Vancouver or probably North America, outside the campuses. And there is just not a... radical working class movement to participate i n . And because of that, since we l e f t the L.S.A. (League for Socialist Action), i t ' s been sort of strange because I've been very active i n Wo-men's Liberation and Andy...hasn't had that much to do p o l i t i -c ally. So that causes problems a l l the time, s t i l l . I: How's that? J: Well, i t means that there's a lot of times we don't spend together because I'm doing Women's Liberation stuff. And i t seems that, you know, i f the reason you're not spending much time together is because one person is active and not be-cause both of you are, then the other one just almost resents i t . Like, I can remember feeling the same way when Andy was much more active than I was, too. Another factor that is relatively new to their relationship is that Judy and Andy have moved into a house with three other women, a l l active Women's Liberationists. They a l l did this mostly for convenience, rather than for philosophical reasons, but the fact remains that the chief topic of conversation and the focus of most activity i s the Women's Caucus. 1 6 5 Andy "gets to resenting the fact that he has to s i t through numerous lengthy discussions on the eternal business of Women's Caucus." But he has found friends from a l l this activity. Most of his friends are now women, "just . because that's what's happening." Judy didn't feel that she could distinguish any other effects upon the emotional tone of their relationship. In terms of the sexual aspect she f i n a l l y went off the p i l l because Andy had a vasectomy. The decision was e x p l i c i t l y made on the basis of her Women's Liberation experi-ence, i n that: . . . i t ' s not to do with Women's Liberation in the sense that I imagine Andy wouldn't have been opposed to getting a vasectomy some time before I got involved i n Women's Liberation. But i t has to do with Women's Liberation in the sense that a l l this stuff they've done around abortion and stuff around here, we've come to know about things l i k e who does vasectomies and how good they are and that...made i t easier i n the sense that people just talk much more freely about that kind of thing...than they used to. And there are a lot more people around who don't think i t ' s some kind of threat to your masculinity. So that was the way Judy saw her Women's Liberation experience affecting their relationship. It was to her a l l a part of the way the relationship had been "evolving"over the nine years. For Adele and Adrienne there was the experience in a previous relationship of not having had the kind of independence and equality that they began to feel at the time that they needed. Their experience had come from marriages to men whcm*;they-had found to be very domineering and traditional in their expectations held for a wife's role. Adrienne characterized her marriage as her being "defined by the Great Radical." She had found this extremely wearying but had stuck i t out u n t i l he, i n fact, l e f t her. She said of the separation: 166 ...when we had been s p l i t t i n g up - which is a nice euphemism -I think the reason I hung in as long as I did - because i t was really awful - was... this real fear of being alone...having to make my own decisions entirely without someone to...help and stuff l i k e that. But she went out on her own, found her job teaching at a univer-sity and "was quite amazed that i t wasn't hard at a l l . " She feels the "most significant thing" in her raise i n confidence was her evident suc-cess at teaching; "I could do i t . They didn't walk out of class. They didn't throw rotten eggs, and they didn't f a l l asleep." So when Adrienne met the man she i s now li v i n g with: I kind of la i d down the terms of the relationship right from the beginning. Like...what I wanted and what I didn't want. And I pretty well said 'take i t or leave i t ' , you know. And...he turned out to be really good ....So...it just never had to get into that pattern...I was emotionally secure, and I was in an emotionally supportive situation, but i t didn't have any of the bad things that nuclear relationships usually have. The role of the Women's Caucus in her l i f e is a big factor i n the "supportive situation" Adrienne mentions. She said later that Women's Liberation has: had the effect on the relationship of [it] not having the demands on i t that a usual nuclear relationship does because I get so much support i n other ways that I don't have to make those demands in the relationship.... I: Where does this support come from? A: Well, i t comes from knowing women, and knowing women you really l i k e a l o t . And just being interested in what they're doing and just spending time with them. And i t comes too from working with them. Thus, to Adrienne the "relationship, by the standards of most nuclear relationships, i s f a i r l y casual, not sexually...but in terms of the time we spend together and things lik e that." 167 She finds i t unimaginable, aside from "a fluke of God" that she and her partner would separate. But i f they did she thinks she wouldn't try to get involved in an "ongoing relationship with a man." She feels that the "support and emotional security" she gets "from Women's Liberation and the [communal, co-op] house [she] lives i n " that i t wouldn't be neces-sary. "I'm getting too old. I don't have the courage to start a l l over again and lay i t a l l out again and say 'these are the conditions', and a l l that kind of stuff." Adele's story was much the same. She married a man whose idea of equality for women was that they both worked outside the home but she would do the entirety of the household work as well. I l e t this guy get away with this for three years...and I just called i t quits.... That was two years ago and after that...I really started feeling a change coming on....The kinds of men I didn't want to be associated with and I didn't care about -i t could go on indefinitely, as far as I was concerned, without getting involved with another guy again i f he was going to turn out to be a jerk...who didn't believe i n a co-operative kind of existence with men and women pulling their weight with regard to domestic a c t i v i t i e s . She had barely heard of Women's Liberation at the time and had "more or less discounted i t " because of the image she saw portrayed i n the media. But then she met Bruce: ...and he believed in a 50-50 kind of thing...where everybody pulls their weight as much as they can and that's fine with me. I really l i k e that...and now I would never go back to the old domination thing again. She had been living with Bruce for about six months when she began to be involved in Women's Liberation. As she began to become more p o l i t i -cally active she did find that her growing p o l i t i c a l awareness and s k i l l s made her see Bruce's p o l i t i c a l activity somewhat differently. 168 It's really helped me, for instance, when - I'm starting to take a closer look at why he's involved in the N.D.P. And his opin-ions about property ownership and a l l this...I've become more receptive to his ideas, which I was... previously just not re-garding because that was poli t i c s and that was off in a box and I wasn't very interested in p o l i t i c s . Now pol i t i c s aren't in a box anymore...[they] are part of the Women's Liberation thing. So I can have more respect now for the kinds of things that he is interested in and the kinds of things he feels are solutions to some of the problems. In terms of the "emotional aspect" of their relationship, Adele feels that she cannot really assess what the effect of the articulation of her ideas about equality w i l l have been "until i f some day we have a child ...that would be a big test." In the sexual part of their relationship, there were no problems and hence no apparent change. "We didn't really have any ideas before about what was a man's role and what was a woman's role so therefore there is no reason now for me to change any of my ideas and we don't have to worry about that." Henrietta had seen the results of insufficient independence and equality in her parent's relationship. This was enough of an example to her to reject this pattern for her own l i f e . She said: Well, I had my own ideas about equality, you know, when you get married. And my idea i s not to marry a guy and then change him into what you want, but to find some guy who already thinks the way you do. So I did, and Randy's idea was, you know, to share everything. So I never really had any problem that way. She continued later that the reasons for her feeling this way were: Maybe i t was home environment type thing, with going through s c i -ences, Dad's always saying you can be whatever you want...I ne-ver really thought about being inferior or having inequality. I don't know why I never wanted i t , but I know I haven't wanted i t ever since I ever thought about i t . 169 Thus, four of the seven women in currently non-problematic re l a -tionships had turned away from harsh examples of the subordination of them-selves or others, as individuals. This did not occur as a result of their Women's Liberation experience. But there were other effects of their par-ticipation on the Movement, as w i l l be noted in later chapters. The other three women in non-problematic relationships had been in their current relationships for much of their adult lives and had always experienced equality and independence therein. Looking at the other woman married to a man, we see that Madeleine's husband was her own age and was always at the same stage of his work and intellectual/emotional l i f e as she f e l t herself to be. Yet she did feel there was some effect from her Women's Libera-tion experience, i n her attitudes toward marriage as an institution. It has made me much more c r i t i c a l of the whole idea of marriage. Like both of us feel i f we ever s p l i t up we'd never get married again. It's made me much more open to the possibility that i t may be very necessary for us to separate at some time, either perma-nently or for some short period of time. Not because we want to separate necessarily, but because of demands of our careers, or demands of what we want to do. And I think...I see that with a lot less fear than I would have when I f i r s t got married. That would have been a very frightening thing to me, and now i t ' s not necessarily happy, but may be necessary and maybe a good thing. I mean I- can see i t i n more or less these kinds of terms. She could discern no effects or changes on their emotional or sexual l i f e other than the above type, which she reiterated later, saying "I think [there is] more of a feeling l i k e I could l i v e without him, which is a good thing to me. And he sees that as a good thing." One marriage-related issue that came to Madeleine from talking about aging with Jeanette and others at meetings was that of having c h i l -170 dren. Jeanette had been describing a single professional woman she knows who also adopted a tennager, "contracting" to help the adolescent through school and thinking that i f they were s t i l l close and wanted to be mother/daughter, O.K., and i f not i t s t i l l would have been good for them both. Madeleine had fe l t that she should make a decision about children before she was 35, due to the increase in abnormal births occurring to women over that age. But she now thinks that "maybe a very good thing for me would be to just wait unt i l I am 40, and then i f I feel l i k e i t to adopt a kid. And that was a kind of new alternative I never really thought of." Just as Madeleine became interested in Women's Liberation for reasons other than problems experienced as having sources within herself, she did not see this relationship as being one for which she needed to draw upon the Women's Liberation interpretations of the male-female r e l a -tionship to understand or "improve" her situation. Her own long-standing interpretation of what was going on remained completely workable for her. Then we have the woman couple - Hilary and Jeanette. Since they are both women, both economically self - s u f f i c i e n t and neither is interested in imitating a male/female role expectation in their relationship, i t is f a i r l y l i k e l y that they would not feel that the Women's Liberation ideology in relation to sex-role-linked expectations was applicable to them in terms of problems of this sort. What problems a female homosexual relationship i s heir to are not l i k e l y to be of this type, assuming the couple is not trying to carry out a traditional heterosexual pattern of interaction. * See my paper on female homosexual couples for a discussion of these mat-ters. "Living with a Stigma," paper presented at the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association meetings, 1971, St. John's, Newfoundland. 171 Where they both f e l t there was an effect on their relationship was in the new people they met and the new experiences and perceptions to share. As Hilary said: ...because every Monday night we go to the same sort of group and I go to one small group and she goes to another. So we can say, well, what went on in yours? So that there may be a more ...continuing conversation. Ordinarily we don't do that sort of thing, or at least we haven't for years....Even i f we're teach-ing the same course...it's not terribly interesting to spend too much time at night saying, 'what went on in your class today'.... But I think because Women's Liberation is more involved with attitudes and ideas and responses which we find more interest-ing to talk about....That certainly has been a focus. It i s evident, then, that for those women in non-problematic relationships who did u t i l i z e the ideology, i t had two functions - to affirm their appropriateness of the character of their long-standing re-lationships; and to provide them with new thoughts about what the scope or necessity of these kinds of long-term relationships could be. B. The Role of Women's Liberation in Situations Seen as Problematic The majority of women did see as problematic some or a l l of the relationships with men/lovers/husbands/children. But again, what they wanted to change varied according to their situations they were involved in, the histories of these situations, and the parts of the ideology that they u t i l i z e d to deal with the problematics. They did differ by type in their accounts in what they were try-ing to achieve - in whether their most problematic relationships were in the past, or whether the types of problems they had were continuing -whether within their own minds, even i f they were not involved with someone, or within an on-going relationship. 172 I w i l l summarize here the kinds of problems women were exper-iencing and the role of the Women's Liberation Movement i n their interpreting and changing these situations. Then their accounts w i l l be given and discussed. 1) Some women had used the Women's Liberation ideology to deal with problems in relationships that were i n the past - unlike the women just discussed who had never had problems relevant to Women's Liberation issues i n their closest relationships. They describe the role their Women's Liberation experience played in the ending of these unacceptable relation-ships and then discuss how their current relationships f i t i n with their new ideas of what close primary relationships between men and women should be l i k e . Their current use of the Women's Liberation ideology i s , i n ef-fect, as a maintenance mechanism, a reminder of what to keep and what to reject i n a relationship. For these women their concerns i n these previous relationships were achieving independence from their reliance upon an individual man (for Kai, Janet, Siobhan) or upon men as a prestigious group (for Amy), and in the process trying to find out if/that they could then l i v e with that i n -dependence. 2) There were women who use their understanding.of parts of the Women's Liberation Movement to explain problematic relationships with men whoa they knew duting their Women's Liberation experience and from whom they separated. They d i f f e r from the women just mentioned in that they have not formed new relationships which they would consider to be potentially long-term ones. They draw from the ideology a way of describing and understanding what had gone on in previous relationships, in ways that placed themselves 173 in the company of other women. This again means that their previous d i f -f i c u l t i e s can be at least partially externalized and that the sense of per-sonal failure and resultant guilt feelings can be ameliorated. The women saw their having followed traditional expectations of submission and dependence upon the man as being the basis of their problems. This interpretation allows them to know what to avoid in future relation-ships with men. But knowing what to look for and actually finding i t in one-self and the other person is an on-going problem for the women. 3) The remainder of the women were clearly in current proble-matic circumstances. They had been in the relationships with the man they were currently with throughout their Women's Liberation experience, a) One (Lisa) had moved in with her lover. Lucy was in a shared household arrange-ment of some duration. The other nine women were in b) marriages. Five of these women were also c) mothers. It can be shown how the women u t i l i z e their understanding of the Women's Liberation ideology as related to their own autobiography to inter-pret the past and guide the future. It can also be shown how their exper-iences within their respective groups aided i n their perception of the need for and possibility of change in these relationships. The discussion which follows w i l l be organized according to the kinds of situation-linked accounts described above. The previous groupings and the ones to follow may be schematically represented as follows: Non-Problematic Situations But Effects Noted; Use of Ideology for Hypothesizing About Role of Primary Rela-tionships as Institutions Hilary UBC Jeanette . UBC Adrienne WC Adele WC Judy WC Madeleine .UBC Henrietta UBC Shirley UBC Changes in Situations Seen As Problematic Ideology Used for Definition of Problem and Solutions Past Relationships Only Seen as Problematic Past & Present Problematic Current Relationships Problematic Living With or Involved Not in Relationship Living With Married Married With Children Siobhan UBC Amy UBC Kai UBC Janet UBC Hestia UBC Frieda UBC Marta WC Penny WC Bonnie WC (divorced, has children) Lucy. Lisa. .UBC .UBC Betsy...WC Edythe..WC Pam WC Anita UBC Willa UBC Trina UBC Donna UBC Abby UBC 175 1) Past Relationships Only Seen as Problematic - Women Involved With a New Person in a Non-Problematic Relationship The four women in this type of situation and with these similar accounts are Kai, Janet, Siobhan, and Amy. What each of them traced out in their stories was an evolution from feeling too dependent on men for their self-esteem, emotional and/or economic security to a growing resolu-tion to take f u l l responsibility for themselves alone. Both Kai and Janet ended their marriages during their active participation in the Women's Liberation Movement. It may be recalled from their entry accounts that both had for some time f e l t themselves to be i n considerable conflict over the parts of their role as a wife (Janet) and as an adult female (Kai). Janet had found nearly intolerable leaving graduate school, i t s a c t i v i t i e s and i t s income, to go with her husband to his new job. She found the UBC group highly amenable to her changing thoughts about herself and herself in marriage. She said of this experience: One way I could put i t is that going to Women's Liberation and talking about the things we did, and meeting the kind of people that I did reinforced an image of myself as being able to exist independently of George. The kinds of "things" she meant that were talked about were moving: ...from an outside definition of self to an inside definition of self, from being part of something to being a whole something... instead of being supported, of supporting oneself - both in, in any terms you'd care to think of i t - financially, or emotionally. And yet not denying that human beings are only human beings i f they are in relationships with other people. A period of five or six months passed from when Janet began f e e l -ing that she would be able to be on her own, and when this actually happened. 176 Both she and her husband began seeing other people. They tried to accept this in each other but couldn't. Then he found a job somewhere else and this served as the actual physical separation. During this time Janet * was very close to Kai and another regular in the group. She also derived psychological sustenance from her impressions of Jeanette and Hilary, whom she did not know well, but to whom she paid a lot of attention. As Janet said, "I think [they] have played a big role in my [change of] image... I f e l t both of them had made i t independently of men and I thought this was fantastic." The end of Kai's marriage was seemingly much more abrupt. It w i l l be recalled that she became interested in the Women's Liberation Move-ment through reading about women as people of import in their own right, and through seeing Women's Liberationists who took their intellects seriously. This was very important to her, since she had apparently always been torn by ambivalent expectations that she be both "bright" and yet someone's "child". She started going to the UBC group in September. She said that the experience "really sped up the end of my marriage... i t started occurring to me in November and we were s p l i t up in December." As can be seen i n a subsequent section, most women tried to work out any problems they had within the marriage. But they did come to des-cribe their marriage as problematic f i r s t . Kai, however, f e l t that there were few problems with the relationship per se. What she found she could * The only one not available for interviewing, due to scheduling problems. 177 not tolerate was marriage. What happened to her she outlined as f o l -lows : [The marriage] probably would have gone on, cause we got along really well, and we both cared about one another but i t wasn't my thing at a l l . I: How was that? K: I just f e l t claustrophobic every time I thought of the future ...I could see that things were going to be pretty much the same way they were in 20 years...and I wouldn't be a l l that different. I: Uh huh, so how did you start thinking otherwise about that? K: OK, I went to Women's Liberation meetings and I saw a l l those wonderful women s i t t i n g around who were doing just fine, and didn't need men...that didn't mean they didn't care about men but they didn't have to have them to make i t in l i f e . So i t was just, l i k e , the hint that i t was possible was enough for me - and I just wanted - just I really had to find out for myself i f I could face being completely responsible for my own l i f e . This need to be "completely responsible" for one's own l i f e showed up very clearly in the stories of the other two women in this category. Siobhan had been involved with one man for several yars. They often stayed together for great lengths of time, but they did not have a shared house-hold as such. Amy's pattern of relationships with men was quite the oppo-si t e , in terms of longevity. She was regularly involved with men, but no relationship lasted longer than two weeks, before she became involved in Wo-men's Liberation. But no matter what the differences in their previous patterns of relationships, the issues that emerged were the same. Siobhan was elabor-ating upon her answer to the general question about the effects upon her 178 work situation and then moved to what had happened at the breakup of her involvement with this man. ...I also see where I want to be...I guess I keep cal l i n g i t ' a d u l t . a n d that means being really responsible. I: How did you start coming to these thoughts? S: ...I guess...part of this whole thing for me is that I s p l i t with Tony at Christmas time and I think I really didn't know before Tony and I sp l i t up that part of my sense of security, that - I never would have said that - had to do with being connected to him, that somewhere in the back of my mind there was the idea that i f I was ever out of a job he would look after me or something. And I would have denied that to the last...but when I saw what happened to me when we did s p l i t up, and 1 suddenly f e l t l i k e , "OK, kiddo, here you are and you s i t in this apartment and you're a l l by yourself, you're the one that's got to do i t , " then a l l the other things began to come clear to me... I suppose partly what has happened to me this year, i s that the idea of being alone, singly responsible...comes clearer to me. She was asked whether these thoughts connected with what she'd experienced i n Women's Liberation. Absolutely, because i t seems to me precisely, that that's one of the images that women do have in the backs of their mind, that somehow they never have to be completely responsible for their own l i v e s . . . . She didn't see her breakup with Tony as being "causally linked" to her involvement in Women's Liberation, she "suspect(ed) i t was coming anyway." But she does think that the "Women's Liberation meetings...may have made the sense of that [being on her own] being alright, earlier or clearer to me." V For Amy there was not one relationship to change or leave. There was a whole way of dealing with a wide range of men. She was arriving at 179 a distinction between what she had seen as "independence" and what she now sees as "liberation". ...really thinking about me [had been] really freeing - i t ' s the difference between independence and liberation... thinking that I was very independent and I think really equating that with sleeping with as many people as I possibly could. That was, in a sense, independence, or l i v i n g in my own place was independence but i t wasn't really, because I was, in fact, always dependent upon men in one. degree or another... But I do feel a sense of liberation in my mind, anyway philoso-phically - i t ' s really, a lot of i t i s for me thinking that the philosophical dilemmas are mine, not my boyfriend's. That's really the best way I can put i t , that's really quite something, too, for anybody. She found that what she had been doing was "romanticizing" and "mystifying" men. She would f a l l in love with them "for four or five days and then the myopia would clear and I couldn't stand him anymore." This happened "because I had put a lot of expectations on them, I had not even looked at them - I...just made an image of what I thought a man was supposed to be." She came to this interpretation of her behaviour through talking with other women in the group and through intense reading of the literature after she had been going to the UBC group for about three months. She found that "one of the things that interests me about Women's Liberation was this ...not depending on men, not looking to them for your career, for your raison d'etre. She began to apply her new thoughts in very explicit well-thought out ways. This degree of thought apparently was necessary after spending most of her adult l i f e f a l l i n g from a f f a i r to a f f a i r . One thing that she altered was the financial arrangements of socializing. She began the "per-180 centage plan", where she compared her income with that of the man and then paid the appropriate proportion. She thought that money was crucial to her feeling in some way obligated to the man. She f e l t that money was the sym-bol of the man lik i n g her, a belief she traced back to her girlhood, as she said: I guess I was always trained...by my peers that...it didn't mat-ter particularly how much you liked the guy, but i f he liked you, that was the big thing and therefore i f he liked you you couldn't risk that at a l l . . . s o . . . i f he wanted to sleep with you then i t didn't matter i f you wanted to sleep with him - in fact, I just didn't even think about i t . . . . So what she does now is "fight against" this not discerning or crediting her own feelings. She takes into account technicalities l i k e not having a car: ...so i f 1 go over to some guy's house...it's really hard to leave, lik e one just can't leave...especially i f they l i v e over on the other side of town...so now I make sure I have enough money that I can c a l l a taxi i f I don't want to stay there. I try to free myself as much as I possibly can and also free my mind to decide whether I actually lik e these people or not, or I try to get them over here as much as I can so they can leave. Almost immediately upon her deciding to fight against letting romantic feelings "just wash over" her, Amy's next relationship with a man lasted four months. Shortly thereafter she met the man she i s now involved with. She talked with him some length about her previous type of relation-ship with men and they agreed upon the necessity to avoid rushing into an intense, highly sexually oriented relationship. This has been very success-f u l at least in terms of longevity, i n that i t i s a relationship that has con-tinued for over two years as of this writing. She did what the effect-but-not-change women did, she started out with a non-stereotypic relationship 181 this time and i t i s one that she did not see as problematic. To complete the description of these accounts, the current rela-tionships of Janet, Siobhan, and Kai should be discussed. Like Amy, they actively picked someone who agreed with them about non-stereotypic male/ female relationships. Janet said of her lover that what he'd really like would be to "be in Women's Liberation". He had been married and he had been involved i n a few sexual/emotional relationships with men, so he was very interested in finding with Janet a very personalized, mutually respectful relationship. She said that: We have a very - I can only think of i t in terms of a...bal-anced relationship, both of us really struggling not to f a l l i n -to stereotypes, which i s extremely d i f f i c u l t for both of us. And, again, I feel l i k e going to Women's Liberation is...a source of sustenance somehow. Like I go...and sort of feel the way I am, like I'm really me, sort of. The main stereotype she was fighting was her: ...tendency to feel I'm responsible for the relationship, you know...I would rather hurt myself...go around feeling resentful and angry and quelch that down rather than run any kind of risk. This kind of denying herself she also had to resist in the area of sexuality. They were both, in fact struggling with "comparable feelings", in that she would be afraid at.times not to be "always available" and he would be concerned that he was always "supposed to make me come in order to prove that he's a man." They talked about these issues a great deal, and their dealing with i t made her feel i t i s "a very rich relationship." Siobhan and Kai both became involved with men who, as Kai said, knew the women from the beginning as "a Women's Liberation person." This seemed to make for easy-going, non-problematic situations from the beginning 182 - a t least there was no mention of d i f f i c u l t i e s in relation to sex-role stereotyping or of any other problems at this rather early date i n both relationships. It is interesting to note that for three of the four women the new men were younger than they were and the women fe l t this may have been a factor in the cast of relationships. They f e l t both the man and themselves were less l i k e l y to f a l l into stereotypic behaviour and that they were each more prepared to discuss potential problem areas early and often. These four women are the ones who have been the most dramatic and innovative in their resolution of past relationships and i n i t i a t i o n of new ones. They are not the youngest women, the least experienced in these sorts of complex relationships (like Hestia or Freida). They have not undergone lengthy, problematic and self-eroding marriages. They seem not to have re-garded their marriages nor the breakup of them as major, painful mysteries. They are at transitional periods i n their career/economic situations. They are women who could be seen of this whole group as the ones most represen-tative of that "independence vs. liberation" dilemma of many young, educated, middle-class women. They more than any of the other women concern themselves with concepts, with philosophical dilemmas, with moral stances. They want to find themselves, but the search i s for a larger self in a wider world. One i s tempted to say that these are almost the only women - individually and as a group - who can afford to ask themselves these questions. With the interpretation provided by the ideology and the examples and support provided by the members of their group they achieve the mental and emotional resilience that can accompany their economic and lo g i s t i c f l e x i b i l i t y . They obviously feel they had nothing to lose even—marriages - but a great deal 183 to gain by taking upon themselves to redefine their roles as women, working toward the Women's Liberation ideology view of what liberation actually can be. 2) Persons Not in a Relationship - Past and Present Situations are Proble- matic For the women who were not currently involved with another person on an emotional/sexual basis there was s t i l l an attempt to understand what had gone on in previous relationships. They also had to consider the future - did they want to be involved with someone again, what did they want the relationship to be l i k e , was that possible? They had to reassess their ideas about closeness, equality, marriage, about men in general. They were involved in hindsight theorizing and hypothesizing about the future, or in explicit retrospective-prospective sense-making. There were five women who at the time of the interview were i n this situation. They included the two youngest women interviewed, Hestia (22) and Frieda (22), Bonnie, who had been divorced 14 years and who had two children, Penny who had been separated from her husband for several years and who had recently ended an involvement with another man, and Marta, who was divorced and had most recently been l i v i n g with a man for three years, un t i l about a year before the interview. Four of the women were u t i l i z i n g parts of their conception of the ideology of the Women's Liberation Movement to explain for themselves what had gone on in their earlier relationships with men, particularly the 184 ones they had been close to. Bonnie was using the ideology largely to alter her relationships with her children. Men did not seem to figure in her l i f e to a mentionable extent. Hestia's and Frieda's former relationships with men had not been extensive - i n terms of number and/or depth. As Hestia noted in her dis-cussion of why she was interested in the Women's Liberation Movement, she "never got along with anyone." She saw this as being due to her refusal to accept traditional role expectations of passivity and subordination to men. She f e l t that perhaps her reactions were so strong as to be unfair to the other person. But she has found since being involved in Women's Liberation that there has been more f l e x i b i l i t y in the relationship. As she says: H: 1 think the last couple of people I've been attracted to...I knew there would be d i f f i c u l t i e s i f I got involved with them, but l i k e on the surface I can see a certain amount of willing-ness to make an effort, l i k e not to do the usual thing. I: On their part, you mean? H: Yeah...like in one case I went to v i s i t this fellow and li k e , I was his guest. He did a l l the cooking, just automatically. There wasn't any question of anything else. And I'm sure that's one reason I liked him. Frieda had also been finding the traditional expectations of fem-inine behaviour in relation to men to be unacceptable (see entry section). For her the issues were a bit more complex than for Hestia, in that Frieda had recently been involved in an emotional/sexual relationship with a man. She also had some interest in having close emotional/sexual relationships with women. So she had at least two kinds of questions to ask herself about 185 her closest relationships. In her comments on her relationships with men in general and her recent ex-lover in particular she shows clearly how the ideology works for her Cbnce I'm aware of something...."): ...I don't play games anymore, which is a nice thing in dealing with men. I was - i f there was a sort of social stress...like men coming onto me I would immediately respond in a f i c t i t i o u s coy, feminine sort of stunt. You know, play feminine because he's masculine. And I don't have to do that anymore. It's a nice feeling. I: Why is i t you don't have to do that anymore? F: 'Cause I see how shitty i t i s , and I see i t in a detailed way. And once I'm aware of something I can deal with i t . I: ...you went with a guy for about a year last year, didn't you? F: Yeah, and I broke up with him cause we weren't getting along as well, but I hadn't really been able to stop going with him cause I f e l t really l i k e I was doing everything wrong in the relationship and maybe i f we stayed together we could work i t out. I guess that going to Women's Liberation I think that I got i t straight - I just started to say I can't work i t out with you, we're just in such different spaces. At the same time, as she was trying to deal with relationships with men, Frieda also was trying to decide whether or not she could identify herself as a homosexual. She says that: I've always been sort of vaguely aware that I might be gay, t>ut didn't want to accept that, and would go along and have a sneaking a f f a i r and say, oh well, I'm not gay, I'm just having an a f f a i r ....And now I think I've accepted the fact that I am gay at the moment.... What she then described as learning from what she read of the l i t -erature, and from talking with women in the group were two main ideas. They somehow came from accepting that women could "get together in other than a p o l i t i c a l sense." For her, the realization that she might legitimately know 1 8 6 women "sexually and p o l i t i c a l l y " seemed to imply that she could also know men much more personally, less stereotypically. Because, as she said, "If . women can be treated differently, obviously men can." And she had begun to think that i t would, indeed, be possible for her "to know guys in a very personal way." The other new way of looking at her sexuality came from talking with women in the group who were homosexual in orientation but "that's just the thing they do on the side, l i k e , they're not gay primarily." She added that "knowing them, that they could do that sort of thing gave me a chance to...look...at myself - that I could do the same sort of thing." There is a continuing theme in the Women's Liberation literature about de-stereotyping every kind of relationship, including the traditional ideas of what friendship is between women and about the role sexuality can have between women. Most of the women are aware of this literature and i t is a frequent topic of conversation. Frieda is in a situation where she can and does u t i l i z e this literature and these talks to better understand and li v e with what has been a problematic area for her. She i s provided with some guidelines for decision-making - to emphasize the importance of who the person i s , rather than to be governed in her choice of relationships entirely by which sex the person i s . She hadn't been, in any case, but she had been "sneaking" and she did not like that she now f e l t that: The ideal sexual relationship [is] one minus sexual j u s t i f i c a -tion of any sort, like men or women. I think that's the main thing, i f you accept the person as a person. Making the person into any sort of a thing is making yourself into a thing - the hell with [that]. 187 Marta and Penny were also trying to understand their past rela-tionships, with men, and to bring this analysis to bear upon their current activities and attitudes toward men. Both had been in long-term relation-ships with men who f i t Adrienne's description of "The Great Radical." Both felt that while their growing awareness of Women's Liberation had not caused their relationships to end, that i t had most decidedly effected both the relationships and their attitude toward the breakup. Marta had gotten into her long-term relationship somewhat against her wishes. She had been new to Vancouver, and knew few people except this man. She "wanted a really close, warm relationship with somebody but I didn't want to...physically l i v e with him because that gets you into a l l kinds of hassles." But she found that she "had no choice, I mean the price [he] put on our having a relationship was that we lived together....At that point I had no alternative, no community, no sort of support from anyone else." For three years she lived in this relationship, continually "fight-ing out" what she f e l t as his "possessiveness" and narrow definition of her role. She says of their eventual breakup that: ...[he] blames i t [Women's Liberation] for the separating, I think, because...I was too tough and could never relax and I just couldn't let things go by....But I think without Women's Liberation the relationship wouldn't have been any longer, i t might have been shorter - only 1 would have come out of i t half-crazy, right? As i t was, [Women's Liberation] just made i t clear what was going on....I mean, i t sort of provided a base for analyzing the kinds of things that were going on. Now, though she is not involved with any man, her Women's Libera-tion experience continues to effect her thinking about relationships with men. F i r s t , she feels that she has the "community" she did not have when 188 she was f i r s t in Vancouver. For her, this comes from working closely with people for their common p o l i t i c a l goals. She wants to be able in future: ...to pattern my l i f e in such a way that the dependence on having a man, that kind of need, you know, isn't dominating. That there is a completeness in my l i f e so that i f somebody is around ...that i t ' s possible to have a really warm relationship...but i t won't...take over your whole l i f e , the way i t always has in the past. For Penny there was a similar attempt to understand how she had behaved in her marriage. She also was trying to guide her current acquain-tances with men according to her new understandings. She had been married for several years in a most traditional relationship: " a l l our social con-tacts were thorugh him and...I saw everybody through the screen of his per-ception....", and "...making i t easier for my husband to survive in the world [was] my major function in life...and to organize my l i f e and his l i f e so that everything would flow smoothly for him." But two things happened to change this, as she saw i t . One was going back to graduate school. She began to meet and evaluate people on her own. This her husband found "very threatening". "Anything that broke up the traditional pattern was really threatening." The second was her i n -creasing participation in the burgeoning Women's Caucus. As she said of what went on: You get into talking with women and about women being oppressed and...at some point you have to deal with the psychology of being a woman...and the ways that you're socialized to be passive and dependent and weak and helpless....And you begin to ask questions of yourself - am I really l i k e that? I have an M.A. in psycho-logy and I'm an honour student and...how can I be that weak and submissive, and stupid at the same time. And a lot of things don't add up. 189 So the new activities and attitudes she had introduced enough change into a relationship that was "fragile enough i t couldn't take too many stresses and strains" and i t broke. What Penny i s trying to do now is to carry on with her attempts to refrain from f a l l i n g back into her old patterns of behaviour with men. She responded to the question about how she tried to deal with men by say-ing: It's really hard. You know a l l the bad things you do - f l i r t a -tious things, and the sort of engineering relationships that wo-men are sk i l l e d at....It's really hard not to do them.... What tends to happen in a lot of cases i s that you sort of close your eyes for awhile and then you can't anymore and then you go "blee-blee-blee" - hysteria, shriek, y e l l - and the poor guy doesn't know what you're talking about, you know. Everything had been going along fine u n t i l the point where you sort of break down and go a l l hysterical, and he says, "oh, I can't stand this," which i s sort of reasonable. ...So I haven't learned of any...magic formulas...other than to try and work things out...talking a l o t . . . . She can no longer "separate myself... from a l l the stuff that I do and that I'm interested i n . " Since she finds few men who share her inter-ests or are able to accept what she sees as the entirety of her, she is not now with someone. She is not interested in being married again, but she keeps trying to find a relationship of mutual "respect". The one other woman not in a relationship with a partner i s Bonnie, divorced for 14 years, mother of two children, 13 and 14, who supports her-self as a data processor at a large business. She had to say of her marriage only that she had "probably had a bad marriage." She said that she found the idea of people l i v i n g together 190 unmarried, as her friend Judy does with Andy, rather startling, but "sort of neat - for them....As far as marriage - I'm not interested. I've got enough problems right now." She socializes very l i t t l e . She works a night shift and during the day is either resting, doing housework, or is busy with her children. It is here that she had some comments to make about the effects of her Wo-men's Liberation experience. She came into Women's Liberation to try to do something to ease the stress of being a single parent and this continues to be a problem. She says: I think this i s a problem where you know you can sort of do some-thing in your head, and then when i t comes down to i t emotionally you sort of have to really work at i t quite hard, you know? What she is working at i s trying not to make her desires and am-bition for the children's well-being into their goals. You can intellectually say "I'm not going to worry about whether my children are doing well at school," stuff like this - " i t ' s up to them." But then there's the whole fear and the whole panic that I think some of the parents - a lot of them - go through. Like, you're the only one that's responsible, you sort of imagine yourself as being responsible for that. I: And do you feel you've kind of changed on that? B: I think I've toned down quite a b i t to what I was. I: Can you t e l l what kind of effect i t is having? B: I think i t would have a more relaxing effect on your family situation. I just don't get up-tight about i t to the extent that I did. This evolution is very much in line with predominant Women's Lib-eration ideology on treatment of children. Just as wives are not possessions, neither should mothers possess and manipulate children. They should not 191 li\e through them, for the children's sake, and for the mother's. This is what Bonnie was attempting. Where she u t i l i z e s the ideology is in trying to find ways of not passing on to her children the traditional expectations of parents upon children - that i s , not seeing the children as a possession and as a di r -ect reflection upon the success of the parent as a parent. Where the mother's role is virtually synonomous with woman, traditionally, the pressure on a woman to exert pressure upon her children to be always excellent is poten-t i a l l y very great. This Bonnie has realized and i s trying to avoid. What can be said to further tie together the experiences of the women who are not in close relationships with partners? The younger ones are s t i l l trying to define male-female relationships in general, s t i l l trying to figure out what they need, what they can do, what they can accept. Two of the more experienced women, who have had time to be involved in lengthy relationships that ended,are trying to understand what went on, where they had been wrong and where they had been right a l l along. They were trying to find ways of spreading out their needs for close relation-ships over several people ("community"), f i l l i n g i n their needs with several kinds of friends where possible. Where i t might not be possible, they saw the resultant aloneness as at least allowing them to retain a sense of wholeness of self. Bonnie's marriage was long ago. Her time and thoughts are taken by work and her children. These are the closest people, the most immediate concerns, and those she tries to change (see work section). * See D. Smith, "Women, the Family and Corporate Capitalism," p. 28, passim. 192 The ideology i s used to re-define the past, to provide guide-lines, for the future. The group tends to give support for the changing ideas and situations the women are experiencing. 3) Continuing Relationships Seen as Problematic So far women in three types of situations have been discussed. Their situations were connected to the timing of their participation in the Women's Liberation Movement and connected to their use of the ideology to explain their past for them and to interpret their present relationships. Thus we moved from women with long-term, pre- and during-Women's Liberation, non-problematic relationships, to women who used the ideology to explain past d i f f i c u l t relationships but who had not moved into on-going relation-ships of this primary sort, then to women who l e f t their past s t r i c t l y be-hind and were effectively applying their new ideas of equality and freedom in recent relationships. But what about women who find themselves in pre-and during-Women's Liberation relationships that are problematic to them? They did not leave l i k e Kai and Janet. They did not learn from painful experience lik e Adele or Adrienne and move to an already-accepting partner. They were not in equal relationships a l l along l i k e Madeleine or Henrietta. The remainder of the women to be discussed are in problematic relationships of varying degrees of objective and subjective f l e x i b i l i t y . The f i r s t women to be considered are the unmarried ones who are livi n g with a man. It might be thought that their freedoms or their prob-lems, or lack of them, would be the same as the women who are involved with 193 men but not actually l i v i n g with them. But there is a difference - in conventional definition of their situation and in these two women's exper-ience. The definitional difference between that of women simply " i n -volved" with another person is that l i v i n g with someone usually implies considerable commitment - emotional, sexual, temporal, and often economic. Theie i s a name for what one is doing, there i s a place attached to i t . Outside people can identify the couple as a household unit. The couple themselves can be involved in situation-bound teamwork. It is a news item among friends when any couple breaks up, but when a household goes too, the potential impact can be even greater - for audience and the team. Emotional and sexual commitment can become an issue over and above the individual's feelings re: the other. It can more easily become a public issue, with additional definitions about proper behaviour loaded on. Another crucial part of l i v i n g with another person i s the contin-ual v i s i b i l i t y of each to the other. Each has access to a nearly total knowledge of the other's whereabouts. It is probably traditional to equate this accessibility to information with "being close", "sharing" or "openness". There comes to be an expectation of av a i l a b i l i t y of the other, an equation of this a v a i l a b i l i t y with love. This expectation of ava i l a b i l -i t y i s di f f e r e n t i a l l y applied though, along sex-role linked lines. There might be equal expectation of emotional or sexual f i d e l i t y , or i n f i d e l i t y , in the modern couple, but i t would s t i l l be l i k e l y that the woman should be more accountable for her time than the man. 194 If these descriptions are accurate in general for any household situation, we might expect these expectations to be more intensely apparent the more socially reinforced the relationship was. That i s , time and f i d e l i t y are perhaps an issue in any close relationship between persons emotionally and sexually involved. But add to that a household, then a legal definition (marriage), then the respon-s i b i l i t i e s of children, and the type of problems are l i k e l y to be increas-ingly concrete, increasingly negotiated over a long period of time. The women i n each of these progressively circumscribed situations are less and less l i k e l y to see themselves as being able to just leave. "Philosophical dilemmas" would probably be a great luxury - "What do you do i f he's stepping out on you, what do you do i f your husband is no longer attractive to you, what do you do with three kids and no help?" These dilemmas and the role of the Women's Liberation experience are discussed for women in the follow-ing situations: l i v i n g with a lover; married but without children; house-wives (here the same as women with children). a) Living with the Lover There are two women in this situation, of li v i n g with their lover and seeing the relationship as problematic. It i s not entirely problema-t i c , but they do discuss some areas of conflicting expectations which they have tried to understand and ameliorate through what they learned from their Women's Liberation experiences. This is more the case for Lucy than for Lisa. 195 Lucy was the one who became interested in Women's Liberation be-cause the Movement "sees women as people" and because she was experiencing a very painful degree of jealousy and insecurity over her lover's lack of sexual interest in her and yet apparent interest in some other women. She had been interested in Women's Liberation for nearly two years before she went regularly to the UBC group. She read a great deal and talked about i t constantly with a woman who knew Hilary and Jeanette well and who eventually took Lucy to the meetings. Afterher f i r s t several months thinking and talking about her own feelings and rights, Lucy " l e f t Whitney." She f e l t she did this not simply out of her "frustration" but also because she had begun to feel that she had good reason to resent him and that she was capable of l i v i n g on her own. She said of her move: L: I think Women's Liberation gave me enough of a feeling that maybe I was going in the right direction, instead of maybe just going crazy, you know. That I was able to make some changes. I: You say going in the right direction, what does that mean? L: Like, kind of listening to what I have to say to myself, or listening to my reactions instead of thinking always they must obviously be wrong...realizing that that was my space and i f that was i t then I would have to start working from these instead of always trying to push i t aside...[Because of Women's Liberation] I didn't see i t as such a negative thing - I think I had a bit more strength in order to take i t and just be able to keep going along without l i v i n g with him. So she moved out for a year, the last eight or nine months of which included her joining and regular participation in the UBC group. During this time she saw Wnitney a lot and eventually she f e l t they could l i v e together again. She wanted to see i f she could apply the strength 196 and independence in their relationship that she f e l t she'd acquired over that year. The "jealousy problem" s t i l l exists, but to a lesser degree. Lucy is trying to deal with this by sharing their relationship with others more, by treating women she might have seen as threats to the relation-ship as potential friends of both herself and Whitney. She feels that a communal set-up, "not necessarily sexually" could f u l f i l l more of each of their needs without having to define others s t r i c t l y on a lover-or-not-there-at-all basis. She is trying to accept their relative lack of sexual activity by saying that i t i s simply a difference of preference, not com-mitment. To her the logical thing now is that i f she doesn't like i t , she could just leave. She also, feels that their relationship i s more easy-going now precisely because there is an end in sight. This is because Whitney is going to be leaving the West Coast for the North in about a year. She feels, again, that she can, in effect, use this time as a "learning" time for them both, without the added pressure of planning for or depending on permanence. Lisa's relationship with her lover - l i k e her early account - i s much more nebulous and d i f f i c u l t to characterize. They were involved for some months before they moved in together. During this time there was con-f l i c t over each other's occasional brief sexual encounters with other peo-ple. There was also conflict over Lisa's time being very occupied by Wo-men's Liberation related activities - the weekly UBC meeting, her small group, speaking engagements, planning committees, and just socializing with her new friends. 1 9 7 Lisa refused to let these act i v i t i e s be circumscribed by Colin's criticism, and suspicion, and they had reached the point by the time they moved in where she'felt "he doesn't want me to [drop the a c t i v i t i e s ] . " Though she s t i l l feels some tension between them on these points, she begins to think that since they are l i v i n g together he values the time he now has to himself - "to go play his guitar or write his thesis...." She does wonder now and then where he is on an afternoon - as he apparently does with her - but neither w i l l press the issue. In looking at these two relationships i t may not be sound to draw generalizations from just two people. But there definitely are similarities in their problematics and response to this. The two women obviously value their partner and relationship enough to go along with be-haviour they find d i f f i c u l t to accept, in their partner and in themselves. Perhaps they are unusually dependent or gullible, or insensitive. But here we can see that l i v i n g in a situation where the "rules" are a l l informal is a mixed blessing. If they're not married, could not they easily negotiate, even easily leave? But by the same token, since they are not married, they do not have formal, explicit rules which could reinforce both of their definitions of the situation, the man can as easily go. A woman very attached to a man, l i v i n g i n these circumstances, i s per-haps in a very high risk situation when conflict arises. She has l i t t l e to f a l l back on but emotional or sexual power and i f this i s insufficient and she wants to retain the relationship what she w i l l have to do is accede, compromise, ignore or reinterpret what is going on. This seems to be what these two women are doing. 198 What they are doing for the most part is directing their ener-gies for change toward themselves - to handle their jealousy, their unease or insecurity. They do not generalize out from their situation to make a p o l i t i c a l analysis of i t - to consider the possibility that their circum-stances have to do with the way men deal with women. This could imply then, that the man, too, must change. Apparently they cannot risk sug-gesting this to the man - in a particularly painful area (sexuality, f i d e l -ity) . They try rather, to adjust themselves and to accept, at least, that their worry or anger is appropriate. If i t s cause cannot be erradicated, then their double load of pain and guilt for that can be lessened by drop-ping the latter component. The ideology and the group can assist them in this, ironically enough one might say. It can strengthen them when strength i s not disrup-tive - as was the case for Lucy, up to a point. They can have friends and acti v i t i e s to f i l l out their social and emotional world. It is true that due to the understanding of the Women's Liberation ideology they both de-mand and get appreciable co-operation in running of the household. And this i s change for both of them. But i t would be misleading to say that they see change in the direction of a real solution to their problems as having happened. b) Marriage As has been noted earlier, married women who are s t i l l trying to work out d i f f i c u l t i e s in their marriage are being discussed separately from married women with children - women who see themselves primarily as house-199 wives. Given that we are dealing in these three sections with women who do see parts of this primary relationship as problematic, i t is evident that there are noticeable differences in the parts of the ideology that they u t i l i z e and how they do so. Living with someone has it s own particular freedom and constraints. Being married has it s own peculiar conditions as well. Women's Liberation ideologues have some very explicit things to say about what marriage can do to a woman and some very concrete statements as to what she should expect of herself and her husband in that marriage (Mainardi, 1970; Freeman, 1971; Syphers, 1970). It is in marriage that the "man-identified woman" becomes most defined as such. This, presumably, adds greatly to the other social expectations of conformity to traditional sex-linked roles. Along with the social and legal aspects of the relationship, there i s the crucial element of economic-[inter] dependence that most women experience. Marriage means survival in a l l these spheres for most women. It also may mean - and is expected to include - love, companionship, and eventually children. We have seen that of the 11 women who were legally married before and during their Women's Liberation experience, a few were not in proble-matic circumstances. Either they had had a previous d i f f i c u l t marriage (Shirley) or they had simply never evolved problematic patterns of behaviour (Henrietta, Madeleine). They also, these three, had their own income. In fact, two of them had often been the sole economic support of the couple. Thus, one side.of the traditional marriage-based triangle (social, economic, and legal bases) was blurred or even reversed. 200 I am not suggesting that economic self-sufficiency w i l l create egalitarian marriages. But i t does seem that i f there i s a strong interest on the woman's part in an egalitarian marriage - including equality of emo-tional and sexual sharing and commitment - economic self-sufficiency cer-tainly can f a c i l i t a t e this. Most of the married women,including for the moment, the mothers, are trying to achieve greater equality and sharing in their relationship, which s t i l l i s largely based on these three basic ele-ments. What then, are their problems and how do they deal with them? A l l three of the women were in their marriages prior to their participa-tion in the Women's Liberation Movement - a l l of these three women are in Women's Caucus. As they became more and more aware of certain parts of the ideology, those parts in relation to marriage, they began to relate a l -ready d i f f i c u l t facets of their marital relationship to the descriptions of other women's problems which they found in Movement interpretations of what marriage meant for most women. For Pam and Betsy the problems they perceived were linked i n time and character to their reasons for becoming interested in the Women's Liberation Movement. Betsy was very ambivalent about marriage as such. She f e l t that she had been pressured by her parents to marry and that she had herself occasionally responded to being quite "scared" about not being married before getting her Ph.D. She said that some times "I really did feel superior to my friends who weren't married, after I had caught my man...." She recoiled against these thoughts, too, thinking "what a terrible 201 fraud i t was to feel you were superior because you're married, when you know that's the least reason in the world to feel superior." Her ambivalence s t i l l showed in her relationship as she found herself disliking intensely having had to change her name, of being expected by her husband to be a typical "faculty wife". Yet she would find herself "play(ing) the mistress role much more than I would like to...." She does not see much change as having occurred in their relationship, change as defined by her. They have talked a l i t t l e about the eventual possibility of moving into a communal situation - yet she knows that her husband s t i l l is hesitant even to meet her Women's Caucus friends who do have somewhat different " l i f e styles". He has begun to understand her seeing her name change as the symbol of what she objected to about marriage, yet she makes no effort to return to the use of her pre-marriage name. Where she does project change as occurring i s in her attitudes about child-raising. Betsy is not positive that she wants to have children but she says of the p o s s i b i l i t y : ...as far as having children that's two or three years off and I hope by then that I w i l l have purged myself of enough middle-class hangups so that I don't get caught with having a baby l i k e I did getting married. And I w i l l be able to adopt a more flexible way of li v i n g with a child. She was asked whether these thoughts on f l e x i b i l i t y had come from her Women's Liberation experience, and she said that while she had always thought she would be able to combine family and a career, what she had only recently been considering - which was a result of her Women's Liberation ex-perience - was the interactional aspect of relating to her future children. This meant: 202 ...just being more free and easy about taking children with you and believing that they're capable of surviving without the whole protection of standard hygiene and social protection that children get. Ideally a communal family maybe would be one answer to ex-posing the child to a broader experience. But, again, change for Betsy is largely in the future. She does work on some of what she sees problematic, but she feels that for some time ahead: . . . r e a l i s t i c a l l y looking at things, I don't see my marriage rela-tionship changing, that I w i l l go along after him wherever he goes, and try to finish my degree or do my work whenever I can. She didn't feel a move would be entirely a negative thing for her, in that she "could organize a [Women's Liberation] group wherever I am. I think that's an advantage." For the other two married women who experience d i f f i c u l t i e s in their marriages during their participation in the Women's Liberation Move-ment, the problems were more specific in nature. They>revolved around the sexual aspect of their relationships. Interestingly, for one woman (Pam) her early reading and talking with friends led her to interpreting this area as requiring change and then she was able to improve the situation. For the other women (Edythe) the problem appeared well along in her experience. It was not a matter of redefining existing patterns of behaviour, and then changing them, as Pam had done. It was rather, finding that the patterns themselves had changed - for the worse - and not being able to alter the new behaviour. To elaborate: i t may be recalled from the entry accounts that what really moved Pam into participation in the Women's Liberation Movement was discovering that the men in her s o c i a l / p o l i t i c a l circles had some very "bad 203 attitudes" about women. She f e l t she could not exclude her husband here. She also had been experiencing for some time considerable feelings of un-certainty in their sexual relationship. She described i t as follows: ...that's an interesting sort of thing because when I f i r s t met Raleigh, i t was sort of funny, for some reason he told me a l l these crazy stories about women he had known in New York City who were [prostitutes]... i t was a f a i r l y sad story, but for some rea-son his association with women who - i t ' s sort of hard to explain - I guess, s e l l their bodies...put me up-tight. As though there was this unknown competition who was really snazzy....So that sexually I f e l t that I must be really sort of home-spun plain, in comparison. And I was f a i r l y shy about i t and I also always figured that he must be really sophisticated.... She doesn't remember the details of her growing awareness of what these comparisons were doing to her, but she knows that at the time she be-gan reading about Women's Liberation i n terms of sexuality and as she was also talking about this with the women in her group that: ...then one day I reacted. Like I suddenly realized that was really oppressing me, that old image...was really bugging me. And I said something about i t . And after that I started...being much more honest about, you know, what I wanted sexually... and i t ' s far better....It's just simply a matter of saying what I really want and sort of i t being much more a mutual sort of thing. Pam, then, had found that the traditional expectations that the man be knowledgeable, wordly, and explicit i n sexual matters had been mak-ing her sexual relationship one-sided and d i f f i c u l t . (I must say, this story seems to me to be a miniature classic in the power of information control - of imputed or real information/knowledge - as reinforced along sex lines, to limit one person's ease and strength within a relationship.) Edythe had problems with another stereotype in terms of sexual behaviour. She - like Pam - had no d i f f i c u l t y in having a l l household tasks equally shared. She had always relied very heavily upon her husband for 204 every kind of support. He was, as she said in discussing her growing i n -terest in the Women's Liberation Movement, the " g i r l f r i e n d " she could talk to about her new thoughts on women. What she had been trying to do was change her opinion of women, and of herself as a woman, as he had heard about in Women's Liberation literature. She f e l t she had succeeded in riasing her opinion of herself to a great degree. And nearly simultaneously her husband would reach similar conclusions about the worthiness of women. She describes the process of their mutual change: We've just kind of grown together...I've been able to help him understand a lot of things about women that he never understood, because he had always kind of not really respected women either ....And through this whole thing he has really realized through seeing me change and a l l of a sudden become a stronger woman, and he's watched me become more self-confident...and he realizes that i t ' s because of the whole thing of realizing about the women's position in society and everything.... It has been very important. We've come very very close, I think. Edythe says that a further benefit of her husband knowing she i s stronger i s that he now does not have to feel totally responsible for them both, as he had f e l t before. That had been the pattern of their relation-ship because 1) she had been nearly helpless, as she herself describes her part and 2) he "always had the thing that the man has to be responsible for everything and 'cause his father was the real, strong man." This i s chang-ing as he begins to "realize I can take some responsibilities too, and he doesn't have this man thing he has to be." She finds that he "has started to relax more...to enjoy things more" with these changes. A l l of this may sound just like a Women's Liberation dream come true. But there is a growing problem for Edythe and Earl in connection with a related stereotype of male/female competence or superiority - that i s , men 205 as dominant in the sexual relationship and women as subordinate, as sexual objects. When I asked about their sexual aspect of their relationship (fully expecting the usual improvement in this as well, as with Pam and most others) the answer was quite unexpected: That's a whole 'nother thing....I don't know, I can't figure i t out. Well, anyway, I have sort of this sick thing about sex, l i k e the way I enjoy, I always enjoyed sex before I was married and the only way 1 enjoyed i t was that I always had this thing about - I sort of enjoyed being the slave or something, you know? And such a martyr, and I sort of enjoyed i t , just belonging sex-ually in bed...to the man, and being there just as a sexual ob-ject. I actually got turned on by that idea.... Then, really, I never had that many problems with sex. And then I got married and I started gradually realizing these things about myself and started really l i k i n g the idea of being a woman and understanding what i t was. Then I haven't figured that part out sexually. So my sex l i f e has been hurting.... It's getting very serious as a matter of fact....I've got to do something about i t . It can't go on l i k e this. I've gotten so l i k e now I just can't really enjoy sex at a l l . She has found that her husband remains her friend and helper throughout this, and she hopes that things w i l l work out to be "even bet-ter." She i s " s t i l l working on i t " but no change is apparent yet. This change, exceptional in i t s contrasting nature to the other changes in this relationship - and unique in the stories of the women - i s very illuminating for understanding the relationship between "inherent" sex-uality and i t s social channeling. That i s , Edythe, more than most of the women here, and perhaps more than most women, had found that her sexuality was not directed toward a person, but toward an objectification of the char- acteristics that a relationship could have, as embodied by a male (master) and herself (slave). I would say that virtually a l l sexual expression is 206 socially defined in i t s modes and objects. For the majority of persons there 'is a reasonable " f i t " between the societal expectations for the ac-tors and the self-concepts the persons have in relation to their sexual expression. Edythe had been experiencing that f i t - even i f i t had i t s own kind of objectification of persons, a kind that the Women's Liberationists consistently deplore. But in changing her self-concept to a considerable degree, with the active co-operation of the person with whom she i s sexually involved, she finds that the f i t i s gone. She has lost the cues that were her link between her sexual feelings and the other. She now has the task of re-socializing some of the most intense, and mysterious aspects of s e l f -concept. Since this problem has become apparent to her so recently, in terms of when the interview took place, i t is not possible to t e l l how the problem is being resolved. There are several comparisons that may be made between the accounts of the married women and the women who were l i v i n g with a man, but not married to him (Lisa and Lucy). F i r s t , none of them had any noticeable problems about sharing household tasks. (We w i l l find that the housewives definitely had this problem.) This may be peculiar to these couples, but i t may also be that they are able to apply a general sharing-the-flat kind of outlook, whether or not there i s the extra definition of marriage. The tasks are not terribly taxing, the women often have outside interests -finishing a degree, (Betsy, Lisa), working at the library (Pam), or an office (Edythe, Lucy), off and on - and i t would probably take a more tra-ditional orientation, and more time, than most of these women have to allow for a sexual division of labour around home. 207 Secondly, in contrast between the two types of situations, the married women are not worried about f i d e l i t y , as both Lucy and Lisa were. This may have to do with the reinforcing nature of the legal side of mar-riage. The married women have known their husbands for some time. Pre-sumably they and their husbands considered the desirability and possibility of meeting the f i d e l i t y expectation of marriage before they made this move. Yet, they are none of them married for so long (Pam - two years, Betsy -one, Edythe - about one and one-half years) that boredom or isolation from each other are l i k e l y to be contributing factors to a desire to know others sexually. The two women who have been married longest, and who lived with their husbands for some time before marriage (Pam, Edythe) have tried to work out problems quite consciously with their husbands. Pam worked out the equality of the division of labour early in their marriage, before her Women's Liberation experience, on the basis of their shared relations of equality that they had from their " c i v i l rights" days. (This i s one of the few relationships where this happened among p o l i t i c a l couples. See History of Women's Caucus for the contrasting and usual, situation.) One is tempted to say that they had the time and security to work things out with their husbands. It appears that the non-married women, and the newly married one (Betsy) , did not feel that latitude for confron-tation in their relationships. They kept their problems to themselves, or they tried largely to adjust themselves and not their partner as well. If there is a positive relationship between societal definition and support of a relationship and the security and f l e x i b i l i t y of a rela-208 tionship, then i f we are looking at relationships where we assume the woman has a primary and strong motivation to maintain the relationship, change is more possible in a marriage. The woman caught most in between is the woman-living-with-a-man. The one who is involved but on her own can lay down her own terms. Her economic or geographical base hasn't altered. The emotional one has, but that isn't the whole story of her l i f e . But the living-with-a-man woman has her emotional, geographic, and economic bases blended in with someone else, but not reinforced by legal means. The married woman may feel herself to have considerable constraints on her economic and emotional freedom. This may be so especially as in the case of Betsy, i f marraige in i t s e l f has been seen as a clear-cut goal in l i f e . But she also has the knowledge that the other made a legal and eco-nomic as well as emotional commitment. She knows marriages are harder to end than to begin. And this in i t s e l f may give her the security she needs to try to alter the relationship as she has learned from her Women's Lib-eration experience how she should. c) Housewives It w i l l be recalled from the early awareness section that the women who were housewives a l l became interested i n the Women's Liberation Movement when they heard that the housewife role was oppressive. They had been very unhappy with the expectations they f e l t for their performance in this role and they did not feel they were truly competent in i t . When they heard that the problems and unhappiness they experienced was not unique to them and could be attributed in large part to external factors, 2 0 9 not to their own adequacy or lack of i t , they then were in a position to try to change their circumstances. There are five women who were married, who had children, and who saw themselves primarily as housewives. A l l of them were in the UBC group. Four of them had been mothers from before their entry into the Women's Lib-eration Movement. One, Anita, had found that her Women's Liberation exper-ience had improved the understanding and sharing - emotional and lo g i s t i c - between herself and her husband. On the strength of this they decided to have their child. Thus she joined the ranks of housewives, and her accounts of continuing change were similar to theirs. Time and Tasks Having concluded that her circumstances are alterable, the house-wife, is then faced with the task of carrying out the exploration of new poss i b i l i t i e s in her relationship with her family. Where once she had been the focal point for emotional support and the execution of a l l a c t i v i t i e s , she must now attempt to diffuse that focus. (The necessity of delegating some log i s t i c and even emotional work to others is a situation faced often by the working wife and mother - whether or not she shares the Women's Liberation Movement perspective about the purpose of shared household tasks.) Because of societal expectations many continue to suffer guilt and anxiety about not f u l f i l l i n g the expected role. At f i r s t most women do not have a clear idea of what should be done, and an even less clear idea of what ac-tually can be done to change what has often been a long-term situation and one that seems satisfactory to other members of the family and community. 210 She continues to look for guidance, for examples and support from the same sources she has been u t i l i z i n g since her entry into the Movement - through reading, and more importantly, through talking with other women in the group. It i s a t r i a l and error process for the most part. She tries to evaluate what needs to be changed as i t relates s p e c i f i c a l l y in her own situation. She then presents the need for change to her husband and her children. If i t "works" she goes on. If her family does not co-operate, she tries another tack. For example, Abby said that there were two aspects of her mar-riage that she began to think i t was possible to change. One was her feel -ing that she did not have a right to any time of her own, time that was not spent on family-centered a c t i v i t i e s . From talking with other women in the group she began to realize that pehaps she was entitled to some act i v i t i e s of her own. She says, "on an intellectual level I could understand that, of course, I'm entitled to go out one evening a week. [But] I f e l t very guilty about i t at f i r s t . " She kept going out, though even more than one night a week and after several months the guilt feelings had considerably lessened, as did a lot of the tension and resentment she had been feeling towards her l i f e as a housewife. The second aspect of her marriage that she wanted to change was the distribution of work around the house, and, as an important part of that, she wanted her husband to understand that he should not be helpful for her sake, but because " . . . i t ' s his house too." Her technique for achiev-ing this change was the same in any case: 211 We rarely fight...usually we try to talk them [disagreements] out. Sometimes i t ' s a matter of having a few conversations about i t over a period of time, maybe a couple of weeks, maybe a cou-ple of days. It just depends....There are separate actions going on so you have a conversation and you do something a l i t t l e d i f -ferently and you sort of see how that lays. And then, you know, you have another l i t t l e conversation and do something else which either compensates for something that was wrong with the f i r s t action or goes one step ahead. Willa, twenty-five, mother of one and married to a graduate stu-dent, found that she too had d i f f i c u l t y i n really believing that she could and should have time to herself and that tasks at home should be genuinely shared. She illustrates how being in the group led to articulating problems and planning change when she describes how she formulated new thoughts on her situation: ...by meeting with these other women and finding out that...some-thing can be done about i t and the world's not going to f a l l apart i f I take an action on what I think should be corrected ....I don't think I would have done this...[gone out on her own to meetings, etc., started having her husband sharing the house-hold work] unless I had been with other women who were doing the same thing, because I didn't have any precedent... I guess being with other people gave me the strength to do i t . Willa describes the strategies through which she achieved changes as follows: First of a l l , I would hear about them [things to change, from other women in the group meetings] and I come and lay the trip on David and i f he didn't respond well [laughs] I would be very angry. And that happened for the f i r s t two or three months and then I found out that, well, I just had to do more subtly. And now i f I want to change, oh I w i l l gradually bring the subject up and get him to talk about i t and get him to admit that well, per-haps there i s , perhaps he should be helping, and, no, i t isn't actually my job. And he comes around much more quickly and gently i f we do i t that way.... . . I just learned husband-ese, to manipulate him. I don't know i f he knows he's being manipulated. 212 The accounts of the housewives vary only i n detail. They learn to define their specific p r i o r i t i e s and techniques for change through talking with other women in the group. Once again i t i s apparent that the compari-son, testing, and modifying of the woman's ideas and actions i s through fre-quent interaction with others similarly engaged. This f a c i l i t a t e s the woman's development of more diverse role concepts and behaviour, as she continues trying to change her marriage. Interestingly, the technique employed to achieve radical change within the marriage i t s e l f may be seen as stereotypically traditional -manipulation. Yet is more/less than that, in that i t also demonstrates the successful u t i l i z a t i o n of a commonsense model of learning, a recogni-tion that person can absorb only so much new data at any one time. This method of adjustment also indicates, at the very least, their attachment to the relationship which, while perceived as constraining, nevertheless is one which neither interactant is prepared to see dissolve. The Mother-Child Relationship Of course the physical care of the house and i t s inhabitants and the moral responsibility for i t are not the only defining a c t i v i t i e s of being a housewife. Marriage usually means children and having children means bringing them up "right". Since i t i s the family, particularly the mother, who is expected to teach children to conduct themselves in ways appropriate to their age and sex, and since the Women's Liberation Move-ment ideology so strongly questions the validity of societal sex-role expec-213 tations, i t is obvious that a mother active in the Movement w i l l find i t necessary to attempt to modify the nature of these expectations. She finds that she is questioning what children and parents should be to each other. She begins to wonder what she can, in good conscience, teach her children about appropriate sex-linked behaviour. She asks herself what kind of examples she and her husband are and should be for the children. Furthermore, she contemplates these changes recognizing that a l l the other agents of socialization (schools, neighbours, etc.) seem to disagree with her. Donna discusses her attempted changes in handling her children: ...I was very bad. I rave to think how bad I was [before being in Women's Liberation Movement] for creating a boy/girl dichotomy - l i k e , g i r l s do this, boys do that. Unconsciously mostly...I used to say, oh g i r l s are sneaky and g i r l s are whiney, and boys are not. And boys w i l l do certain things and g i r l s w i l l do certain things. And now that I'm going to Women's Lib I realize how absolutely destructive that i s . I'm trying to get out of i t and i t ' s very hard because my one kid i s five and he's thor-oughly grooved into that already and i t just makes me sick to think of how much of i t has been my influence...I'm really try-ing to get him out of that and so I'm afraid what I do mostly i s just preach at him, which has no effect at all...and I feel quite bad about i t . That's made a lot of difference. Another thing that has made a tremendous amount of difference i s that I now deeply believe i n day care and before I used to think that i t was nice to send them to nursery school but I never wanted anyone else to raise my_ children, you know. Now I see what a he l l of a mess I'm making of i t , I'm perfectly happy for somebody else [laughs]. That has made a lot of difference. I'm perfectly willing to send them to a day-care centre. They've been accepted for one next f a l l and I'm eager for them to get into i t . And they're both very happy to be going....I was really deeply into the every child needs his own mother sort of crap before, and I changed my mind about that.... 214 I have also found that since I've been going to Women's Lib that I'm getting terribly frightened of sending my kids to school because I can see just how easily I have been [teaching them sex-role dichotomies]... and when they get to school i t ' s going to be a lot worse. Willa also reflects these views on the usefulness of day care, not only i n relation to the labour-saving aspect, but more particularly with regard to avoiding a too-intense emotional involvement between parents and children. ...I like to have day care so that I can do things I want to do and I also would like to have day care for other women so that they could be free to do what they wanted to do. (Interviewer: Have your thoughts on your relationship to your son been affected at a l l by Women's Liberation Movement?) Well, I don't like to read him nursery rhymes anymore. I learned that at Women's Liberation Movement, that they're sort of a sex-is t literature....And I'm trying not to lay a masculine trip on him, making him feel he shouldn't have to cry, and be a man -whatever that i s . And he can just be him. I learned that there and I guess that's how i t ' s affected him.... I think i t ' s really good that I leave him [with her husband when she goes out] and that I have learned that he's not mine. He's just - I think that we just borrowed him for awhile....And well, just [me] being around him a l l the time, he was just getting very dependent on me. And since I have gone out and put him in a day-care centre and l e f t him with David i t ' s just been a really good change for him. He's much happier and he doesn't cry and whine when I leave. This concern about the child's independence i s echoed by Trina, twenty-three years old, mother of a two year-old, and married to a graduate student. In the long run this [Women's Liberation Movement experience] w i l l probably help me to give her more freedom, I hope, when she's older. To...choose to be herself, whatever that turns out to be. And I would see my role...as giving her enough security to be free...without worrying about the fact that no one loves her...she'11 have that love and then she can work everything out onto that. 215 Thus, each of the women we see questions beyond the traditional role of motherhood. They do try to have the work distributed among husband and community. They see this not just as a convenience, but as a necessity for the emotional health of the whole family. They feel that traditional parent/child relationships are detrimental to a l l concerned. They are modifying their behaviour in relation to sex-role expec-tations that now are more widely defined. In the same way that they do not wish to be subject to men qua men, or husbands qua husbands, they do not wish to have their children subject to them simply because the children are their own offspring. They no longer believe that a relationship i s j u s t i -fied solely on the basis of traditional societal expectations. Each case is to be judged on it s own merits wherever possible, without one "side" or the other exercising undue control or having unearned rights. Sexual Aspects of the Marriage To look at the sexual aspect of a marraige as though i t were separate from the emotional or other parts of the marriage may be placing an analytical division where no division may exist in real l i f e . Yet one of the defining characteristics of marriage is that i t is the one institution in our society in which free sexual access to the (female) partner is absolutely "legitimate". Within this institution, as in their non-marital role playing, women traditionally were expected to be undemanding, co-operative, and sup-portive. Their own physical or emotional satisfaction was not to be the p r i -mary consideration. 216 It is interesting that in spite of the fact that the women a l l had the freedom of choice that comes with the most up-to-date birth control methods, and though our society is supposedly going through a considerable loosening of the constraints of sex-linked role behaviour, prior to their Women's Liberation Movement experience the marriages of the housewives in this study were a l l very traditional in terms of what wife and husband ex-pected of each other. The Women's Liberation Movement position i s that women have "rights" i n the sexual realm as they do i n a l l other areas of their l i v e s . The women reported that they began to i n i t i a t e sexual activity more readily, and that they began to say no when they did not want to engage in sexual activity - which they had not done before. They tried in general to de-stereotype their sexual behaviour, to make i t a part of their lives which could be learned about and improved upon. For a l l of the housewives as they began to assert their own preferences in terms of occurrence or form of sexual behaviour, there was considerable tension at f i r s t . At the time of the interviews most of the women s t i l l did not feel that these conflicts had been resolved. The following response, from Donna, was typical: I used to put up with things that I didn't even realize I was putting up with...where the husband walks in and automatically pats you on the ass...or every thime you hug there is the whole mauling treatment.... Since I've been going to Women's Lib, I've gotten this idea that what I want to do with my body i s my busi-ness. It has created some f r i c t i o n , because I just don't stand for that anymore. I'm sure that he thinks that because I'm going to Women's Lib I feel I have to make an issue of this, but that's not true. It's 217 just that I've developed the courage to do it...and he doesn't realize there were times before when I didn't say that...but that has made a lot of difference, and i t does make sexual re-lations rather touchy because then i t ' s a question of, l i k e , whose idea is i t , you know. Willa was the one who fel t that most of the strain had ended. For her the problems she had previously experienced were compounded by i g -norance of some of the physiological aspects of sex, and by l i t t l e communi-cation with her husband about her feelings: From going to the meetings I found out...stuff l i k e vaginal or-gasms are not real, or so they say....I was wondering why I couldn't have an orgasm unless I was manipulated manually on the c l i t o r i s . And I always thought that, well, maybe when I got mature I ' l l have natural orgasms....And I always sort of f e l t guilty about i t and the way I found out about that was talking with the women.... I started demanding that he play with me beforehand properly and that - I don't know, I shouldn't say demanding, you know. I demanded, yeah, I guess I did. Enough of this fooling around -that I was going to get pleasure out of i t and i t wan't, just going to be always him, and that I wasn't going to be bothered with sex unless I was getting satisfaction. Where before I was just taking i t as i t came without even thinking about i t , or i f I didn't feel l i k e i t . . . I would just have i t and...well, let's get i t over with. Where now I w i l l l i k e , I say, O.K., i f I'm going to participate then I'm going to have my satisfactory time. And I guess that freed me and now I respond better when he's playing and - yeah, a better sex l i f e . The housewives in this study started out trying to change their lives in ways that would allow them to find and sustain a more satisfactory view of themselves - to themselves. They learned from reading about Women's Liberation Movement, and from talking with participating friends that to be able to do this they would need to address themselves to change on two fronts: work load and attitudes. They had to have more time outside the home in order to form and maintain new friendships, to join work groups, to go to meetings. They also had to learn that expanding their lives in these ways was not only 218 possible, but was rewarding. Since a l l of these changes were to be made within the existing family context they had to be accomplished in concert with complementary changes by the others in the family. Their husbands changed the amount and kind of their participation in the home. The children were dealt with differently within the home and were often placed in group s i t u -ations away from home. The women saw this as very beneficial for a l l concerned. * Although these women continue to see themselves as housewives, they no longer see themselves only as housewives since they have new friends and many more ac t i v i t i e s outside the home. They feel that their husbands better understand the problems and rewards of running a household. They find the housewife role less dissatisfying because i t has changed in charac-ter and i s no longer their only important role. The housewife role has not so much diminished i n value, as that other, newly made roles have developed and increased in value. The house-wives now have a greater range of c r i t e r i a by which to evaluate themselves and are therefore able to see themselves in a more positive l i g h t . As Willa said i n assessing the effect of her Women's Liberation Movement exper-ience upon her l i f e as a housewife: I used to think there was no status in being a housewife and, i t was really dull and boring. And now I just don't even care about i t . I'm just here doing what I'm doing without having to ju s t i f y myself for that... For my part i t ' s much better. I can tolerate i t (being a house-wife) now. 219 C. Discussion In her a r t i c l e on the Women's Liberation Movement, Freeman states that the pursuit of change within the Movement could be summed under two concepts - the Equalitarian ethic and the Liberation ethic (1973: 458). What this means i s that people must not only pursue equality within exist-ing frameworks of power relationships, but they must also question the ex-tent of power and self-determination available to anyone in the existing social structure. This question should lead to innovation, to expansion of the definitions of the potential of the individual and of the society - aiming toward a f u l l e r , more humane l i f e for a l l . The role of the Women's Liberation Movement in this process is in the development and carrying of the ideology from which the women select what they see as relevant to their situation. The Movement i n i t s groups also provides a resource for women in the persons of other women with similar interests and concerns. They provide examples of what women can do in l i f e and give each other moral support in their efforts to change aspects of their primary relations. In these accounts of the role of the Women's Liberation Movement in the women's primary relationships i t i s clear that vir t u a l l y a l l the women are engaged in the pursuit of a l i f e style involving one or both of the Equality and Libertarian ethics. The women in non-problematic relationships, for whom equality was not an issue, did use the ideology to consider the limitations of tra-ditional relationships like marriage and subsequent child-rearing in a 220 single-family household. Madeleine and Adele are these, as they say that they would not again attempt a traditional marriage arrangement. If, by some chance this relationship ended, they would consider some sort of communal situation. Some of them had begun innovating in their l i v i n g arrangements, as Judy and Adrienne had in l i v i n g in a group house. Most of the women, though, want to construct a self that exists as a whole being independent of any other relationships. This does not mean they wish to be separate from others. The women want to find ways to build and sustain this self within close relationships with others, even i f i t means leaving a problematic relationship to be open to another less problematic one, as do Janet, Kai, and Siobhan. Independence requires, i n very practical terms, equality within relationships. We see that people in problematic relationships have to work out ways to change very concrete aspects of their relationship - li k e who takes care of the children, when/whether the woman w i l l have time to pursue her own interests, whether her sexual needs w i l l be recognized by both and met. The accomplishment of this led to decided feelings of rela-tive freedom of self-discovery and self-worth, so we see Abby gaining great confidence in her a b i l i t y to do rigorous class work. Trina finds as she, too, returns to part-time student status that she can think and express well her own thoughts; Anita feels close enough and confident enough in her relationships to move to her goal of motherhood. The group provides them with inspiration, with examples of other women trying to change their lives or of women who seem to successfully lead quite different and independent lives (see Kai's comments about how just 221 seeing a l l these wonderful women gave her the conviction that she, too, could be independent.) The women gave considerable moral support to each other, by example, and by direct encouragement. (See Willa's comments about how she couldn't have tried these new things without knowing other women doing the same.) (Also, see friendship section to follow.) This group support shows too, in the women who are not in pro-blematic relationships but who have either moved into innovative situa-tions (cooperative child-rearing household lik e Adrienne) or are trying to prepare themselves for future relationships. Thus, Marta says that she thinks that the supportive, communal feeling she has from other women would allow her to insist on her own personhood in a future relationship with a man. This would mean being close to the person, but not turning her whole p o l i t i c a l , emotional, and physical self over to him - as she felt she had done before. It seems clear that the people who can consider not only equality but also libertarian, innovative l i f e styles are those who are not bur-dened by problematics. They either have been in a non-problematic rela-tionship a l l along or they were able to leave the problematic one. It appears that over the time of aloneness before taking up a new relation-ship - i n some cases they have not yet taken up a new, stable one - i.e., Marta - they are able to consider a really different way of approaching the typical issues of social sustenance. These issues include finding some-one to love, to be with on a regular dependable basis, but now i t i s to be done without what they see as constraining expectations of stereotypic sort that does not meet their needs for independent personhood. 222 CHAPTER VI FRIENDSHIPS AND WOMEN'S LIBERATION In a study which attempts to portray fully the everyday lives of the persons studied in relation to a social movement, the role of friend-ships i s important. This is so for several reasons. One is that friend-ship i s a relationship that may be second only - or even equal - to p r i -mary relationships (as discussed earlier in this paper) in terms of emo-tional commitment and time spent in this kind of relationship. One's spouse or lover can occupy only one place at once, but a person can have friends nearly everywhere time is spent - in the neighbourhood, at work, or far away from face-to-face interaction. So just as the work world and the home world or any other realm where a woman may spend a lot of her time and thought must be examined, so too must the world of friendships. The social psychological literature on a f f i l i a t i o n provides an analytical link between processes of friendship formation and maintenance and how these processes may be usefully looked at i n relation to social movements in general and the Women's Liberation Movement in specific. This link consists i n the rather consistent agreement on the role in a f f i -l i a t i o n of attitudes, shared time, and sense of consequence. That i s , friends are people with whom one 1) shares attitudes of in-common relevance; 2) situation over time (Newcomb, 1956); and 3) with whom there is positive consequence deriving from the relationship for the persons involved. By "situation" I mean shared a c t i v i t i e s among persons of one's own social stra-223 turn, job level, role-set, etc. And positive consequence i s in terms of prestige, reinforcement of the self-image by the relationship with the other(s), or even avoidance of negative, undesirable consequences (Back-man and Secord, 1962, 1964). Of course, some attitudes are more important than others for developing friendships. The importance of any attitudes held by a person can only be evaluated in relation to the interests (goals, problems) of the "attitude holder". Of the range we a l l hold we develop, maintain, or re-construct our attitudes in an interplay between what is known, what comes to be known, and our individual biographies - which are more or less pro-blematic in various facets. We can see this relationship between biography and attitudes throughout the accounts of the women about their Women's Liberation experience. For instance, in the early awareness part we can see how attitudes toward their role as women changed as they move into the Movement. This continues as they evaluate their everyday primary relation-ships, as they maintain certain attitudes and change others in their at-tempts to gain equality and to expand their concepts of appropriate be-havioural expectations for a l l concerned in these relationships. What i s of particular interest here is how a f f i l i a t i v e behaviour takes place in these segments of the Women's Liberation Movement. Thus, I wish to explore how ideologically provided c r i t e r i a for a f f i l i a t i o n are developed and uti l i z e d in the formation and maintenance of friendships. I also want to examine the role of the group experience in supplying a pool of potential friends and in reinforcing many evolving beliefs about the self and other women. 224 It is one of the organizational tasks of a movement to provide for the situations i n which persons may find - or find themselves to be -like-minded people. This i s necessary for founding a social movement and for successful recruitment, as Freeman has pointed out. But i t i s obvious that provision must be made for these networks to be maintained and elabor-ated upon i f a social movement is to continue. In reference to the Women's Liberation Movement i t s e l f , the a t t i -tudes that are particularly relevant to the choice of friends are developed in an ideological environment that is an a n t i - e l i t i s t , and anti-"struc-tured" movement. Structured i s in quotation marks here to indicate that the common use of i t in the Movement is semantically and sociologically inaccurate. Any continuing social interaction has regularities, has structure. But for most people in the Movement structured was synonymous with a structure of hierarchies, or ri g i d division of labour according to expertise and for power. They were anti-that kind of structure. (See Joreen, "The Tyranny of Structurelessness", 1972). There i s considerable reliance upon the exchange of l i f e histories among participants to provide authority for and legitimation of the interpretations of women's situation provided by the ideology. This i s the use of the "pol i t i c s of experience", v as Mitchell (1971) described i t . Thus i t is apparent that developing close, frequent, supportive contact among women would be a goal of the Wo-men's Liberation Movement. This i s true also because i t i s one of the tenets of the ideology that women are isolated from each other - due to competitiveness over men, the social isolation of the nuclear, neo-local family, etc. This condition must be overcome and the strategy is bringing women together. 225 We can see the reflexive nature of participation in a social move-ment when the Movement provides a place for women to contradict the every-day conditions of their oppression - both by now associating on a non-competitive, self-assertive, p o l i t i c a l l y active basis with like-minded women and out of this close association, an enabling of continuing develop-ment of analytical insights into'their oppression. ' Mitchell discusses this where she says that "Women's Liberation both counteracts the oppressed behaviour of women in our society... and provides a p o l i t i c a l base for the analysis of this oppression." (1971: 58). The-Women's Liberation Movement provides a model of the ideal relationship among women, which i s expressed in the term "sisterhood". This means that a woman who sees herself as sharing common oppressive con-ditions with other women - by virtue of their gender assignment - w i l l see that i t i s only through the concerted, cooperative efforts of women that this oppression w i l l be changed. This oppression i s seen as psychological and economic, and thus sisterhood means many kinds of actions. It means rejecting the negative stereotypes of women, which a woman is very l i k e l y to hold towards herself as well as other women. It means defining one's own needs for people and satisfying them by one's own means - not through • the agent of husband, children, or sheer proximity. It means giving sup-port to other women - moral, p o l i t i c a l , and economic. An aphorism that often comes up in conversation among Women's Liberationists about pre-Womeu's Liberation relations among women i s that "a woman is a friend that you have u n t i l the next man comes along." Women are seen as pitted against one another in competition for men, for jobs, 226 and approval from the usual male boss; for self-esteem at the expense of other women. In the ideology one can see repeated descriptions of this com-petition and explanations for i t . Similarly, there are accounts of how this situation can be overcome and of how rewarding i t is to know women as sisters. How a woman can best arrive at consciousness is often debated. Is i t through consciousness-raising groups, or through working together on concretely p o l i t i c a l activities and thereby learning to see women as sisters - or a combination of both? The Vancouver groups embodied these different viewpoints, as was noted in the "History and Structure of Groups" section. But no one disagrees on the necessity and pervasive value of sisterhood. The role of sisterhood in the paid-working world of women w i l l be described in the next section. There, women were thrown together in expli-c i t l y competitive economic and prestige systems. But this is not the whole of any woman's l i f e . In theory she can choose many of her associates. But the expectations of appropriate sex-role linked behaviour may significantly constrain the choices in her friends. If she lives through a man, or for her children she may 1) not experience a need for friends; or 2) not have the support of others to act upon the needs she may come to perceive. So in practice she may have had very few friends or may have known her friends because they were her husband's or lover's friends. Or they may have been friends through the children's a c t i v i t i e s , or through sheer proximity of neighbourhood. Other women may seem to her to be uninteresting and of l i t t l e value. 227 This is the way traditional affective relationships between wo-men are described in the ideology. Women are not real friends. They share for the most part, circumstantial, situation-oriented acquaintances of varying intensities. In looking at the women's accounts of their friendships in re-lation to their Women's Liberation experience, we can see: 1) How they use the ideology to define friendship - which includes their ideas about how friendship per se, can occur; qualities of i t that are important to women; and of which kinds of persons are the most l i k e l y resource for friends and with which people friendships may be proble-matic. We can see also 2) How the concrete, situated part of friendship, such as the amount of time spent, with whom and doing what, has been affected by the belief in and participation in the Women's Liberation Movement. 3) That there is the theme of the role of "friendship" in the on-going strategy of the Women's Liberation Movement. There i s also available from another section of the interview information about friendship that came up i n relation to the movitations for the women continuing to participate i n their groups which w i l l be discussed in a separate section in this chapter following the elaboration of the above points. These are the themes that appear throughout the accounts, but there are both inter- and infra-group differences on definitions and explan-ations of friendship, in emphasis on one or another aspect of friendship, 228 and of frequency of occurrence of each of the themes. I w i l l present the above four types of descriptions of the women's friendship experiences, and at the end there w i l l be a discussion comparing the two groups. A. 1) a) Definitions of Friendship - Women's Caucus i) how Friendship Can Occur Not a l l the women in Women's Caucus made statements about the "cau-s a l " basis of friendship, but the four who did (Marta, Penny, Pam, Adrienne) did so by comparing what had been the situation for friendships for them-selves and for women in general with how they now thought women could know each other. In so doing, they expressed interpretations of the nature of a f f i l i a t i v e relationships that bear out very well the literature on the necessary conditions for friendship - shared attitudes and shared a c t i v i t i e s . Before Women's Liberation, as Marta saw i t , women had friends ...cause they're around or cause you need friends or something • • • • Or as Penny saw i t , women had friends as part of The traditional role [where] you don't have many friends i f you're the wife because your social relationships are pretty well your husband's friends and then whatever women they drag along, right? But with Women's Liberation this changed for them - as they found that there were people with whom they shared conscious, deliberately chosen attitudes about what was to them a crucial issue - the oppression of women. Marta followed her earlier comments by stating what she now saw as how real friendships could develop: 229 Getting involved...in Women's Liberation means that you work with a lot of people and that creates a special kind of rela-tionship and a basis for friendship that nobody ever told you about, right?...What you never get told i s that working toge-ther is really the basis for friendship, right? Common work in many, in real ways, common interests and a common goal that you are working for. Adrienne fel t that the women found the emotional basis of their friendships - what she designated as mutual support - through ...knowing women, and knowing women you really like alot, and just being interested in what they're doing, and just spending time with them. And i t comes, too, from working with them. She had found in her earlier p o l i t i c a l experience that she had not been able to work closely with men on projects in which they were both deeply concerned ("they turned into these competitions and kind of ego tri p s " ) , but that she could now work very easily and closely with women, due to this mutual support. (See next section - "Valued Qualities".) i i ) Valued Qualities in Friendships It i s characteristic of the Women's Liberation Movement that par-ticipants not only share attitudes about the goals or ac t i v i t i e s they are pursuing, but they also share attitudes about that very sharing. The pro-cess of sharing i s e x p l i c i t l y cited as a goal and an effect of participation in the Movement, as was noted above i n the description of the Movement's ideological development of the concept of sisterhood. The goal of sist e r -hood is achieved in the seeking for i t , which is not necessarily always the case in the pursuit of other movement goals such as independence or equality, or even a sense of self-worth - although the latte r i s very closely linked to the practice of sisterhood. 230 In the Women's Caucus the term most used to describe the emotion-al quality that was looked for and received in friendships was "support". There was great similarity in the accounts in that the women pointed out the instrumental function of support. Its use was in giving one strength to carry out p o l i t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s of an organizational sort. As above, Adrienne talked about how knowing women as she knew in Women's Caucus made i t easy for work to be done cooperatively. ...like the primer [a history of women's role i n Canada] that's one example of that. I mean, that was just a fantastic exper-ience. And so working with writing things or in an action you get support. I mean, i t ' s what we choose to c a l l support. It just gives you a kind of strength...I don't know, you just don't get so hung up in your own personal problems. You just don't think about that too much, you know. This kind of statement was typical of most of the women in Women's Caucus. Edythe f e l t the value of her friendships in Women's Caucus was not in distracting her from her problems, but was useful in actually ending loneliness she had fe l t when she f i r s t arrived in Vancouver. She had been interested i n Women's Liberation but i t wasn't u n t i l she was frantic with the newness and confinement of her situation that she went to Women's Caucus. There she met some people and made ...a few friends really well, really quickly, and then we had some old talks and then being around the women a l l of a sudden I was really feeling good again, you know...and then I realized how important the whole thing was to me and then I really started getting interested i n the Working Women's Workshop and the unions • • « • Other women mentioned the value of the "closeness" of "deep" friend-ships that they had formed among those they worked with in the Women's Cau-cus, and they contrasted this to the lack of close friendships before this time. 231 i i i ) Kinds of Persons Likely to be Resources for Friendships - and Those with Whom Problematic Relationships are Likely A number of the women talked about how friendship to them now meant friendship with women. These were then, women who did or potentially could share attitudes about the conditions under which women l i v e . It was not an easy conclusion to come to, for some of the women, as Edythe described. E: I have a whole new attitude about making women friends. i : How's that? E: Well, I'm willing to try now. And like even, I worked in Office Overload a few times and usually I can't take the office g i r l types, you know - so dumb [whispers]. But now I have a whole new way of looking at that....As a matter of fact, they're very interesting. I have discovered these new people in the world called women. It's really nice. Even valuing women as a group did not always f a c i l i t a t e making friendships among women. This was true in two cases, where Adele and Bonnie found that each of their closest pre-Women's Liberation friendships could not survive the new ideas held by the two women. For Adele there was the virtual loss of an old friend who had re-cently been l e f t as a single parent by her husband. The woman now lived with her parents. Though Adele had tried to share her own new interests with the woman - as they had shared so much before - and had tried to interest the new mother in day care she had met with "polite silence, which is unusual". Since the woman's parents were particularly prone to deriding Adele's p o l i t i c a l interests, she f e l t that there was not much she could do to keep up the closeness they had enjoyed before. Adele had also found that being women was not always enough to preserve friendships where there were radically different attitudes held about marriage and the family. As she said: 232 There are other people, lik e quite old friends who are now mar-ried...that I never see. We have absolutely nothing in common anymore. I don't appreciate her ideas about the family or about the kind of l i f e she's leading - where she is at home totally devoted to this child and her husband. That's fine, but I think that we have a certain bit of responsibility outside our own l i t t l e nuclear family. Bonnie lost out with her best friend, too, who teased her about her Women's Liberation a c t i v i t i e s . The friend "even let her teen-age son" tease her and the friendship was definitely suffering. But for most women, as the definitions given by them imply, friends were women and women were friends. This occurred not just through the attitude of valuing women, but also through very pragmatic means: through Women's Caucus act i v i t i e s and social l i f e extending from the friend-ship networks formed there. 1) b) Definitions of Friendship - UBC i) How Friendships Can Occur In Women's Caucus there were several women who addressed them-selves e x p l i c i t l y to statements about the "causal" bases for friendship. They were interested in making theoretical links between women's individual experiences and the social-psychological structures that made for certain kinds of behaviour. There was no one in the UBC group who did the same. They could talk about what they wanted in friendship and what they found (see next section), but no one was engaged in making definitive statements about where sisterhood could arise. 233 i i ) Valued Qualities in Friendship Though no one in the UBC group used the word "support" in talk-ing about what qualities they valued in their friendships, some form of emotional support was what they were talking about much of the time. They found support in the style of friendship, and in the examples that other women's lives gave them. Some of them also mentioned finding women to be interesting company in a way they never had found them before. By style of friendship I mean the emotional tone of them and the way that interaction followed from that. For instance, Abby said that I really think that one of the, to me, biggest benefits of Women's Liberation is that the way of talking to people really changes. There's sort of an honesty. Certainly i t ' s not total...but i t ' s s t i l l more honest, more open - just this more trusting or something. But i t ' s a different way of speaking to people and also talking, you know,...just about different things. To explain what she meant by different things Abby then described how she had talked daily for months over "5 million cups of coffee together" with her next-door neighbour. They each knew many of the facts of each other's l i v e s , but Abby f e l t she could not be frank with the woman over something like what she saw as her very debilitating child-rearing practices. ("She doesn't discipline her kids...and I s t i l l have never f e l t i t my place to say, 'Look, Alice, you're really ruining yourself'.") Abby feels she knows the women who are her friends from the UBC group much better after much less time because there are shared assumptions about openness in friend-ship and about the rights of mothers to Day Care, to time of their own, etc. In contrast, Abby tries to convey some solutions to the woman by her own example of use of day care, etc., but she feels she would lose the friend-ship i f she actually spoke her thoughts to the woman. 234 For Donna, too, there is a distinction between Women's Libera-tion friends and non-Women's Liberation friends. She gives another exam-ple of the special kind of talk that goes on among the UBC women, especially in a "small-group", a consciousness-raising group. I would t e l l anybody that is in our small group practically any-thing I'm thinking. There isn't anything I've ever held back, so I kind of look at Women's Liberation as a place where I can go and I can honest-to-God say anything.... It really gives me a chance to s i t down and talk about what I'm really trying to sort out in my head.... In this small group, although I really don't know anybody that intimately, you know...I s t i l l find i t doesn't bother me to say anything.... It's kind of a r e l i e f because they really don't know my husband personally and they don't know my kids so they're not really judging what I say about them...or what they see me do, because quite often people w i l l see me doing something and then when I say something they w i l l say, "oh, but you just did-—", and that really has no bearing on the fact that I suddenly thought what I just did was wrong and I shouldn't have done i t . So I find I can be very open in this group. The fact that other women they met through Women's Liberation could be non-judgmental or non-competitive was mentioned by several women as having a very important part in the quality of their friendships. Lisa said that she knew women in ...a totally different way now. Essentially... the things about competition...I don't feel that anymore. I don't feel neces-sarily a need to compete for some man's attention or with another woman. I don't feel a necessity to be bitchy towards other women, simply for the sake that they're better looking or what have you - those s i l l y l i t t l e things. The role of non-competitiveness in friendships was mentioned by Hestia, too, as she also talked about the support she got from being able to see women as examples rather than competitors. 235 H: I had much more anxiety last year than this year, and there could be a number of reasons for that but I really think [that] getting the reinforcement from people at Women's Lib -eration has really made a difference. Specifically, I grew up with i f you don't have a man by the time you're 20, you might as well k i l l yourself. I: What did Women's Liberation have to do with this? H: Well, there were lots of other people who don't have men, or the ones that do, that wish they didn't. And also the people in the group are really shining examples, I think, of a l l kinds of wonderful things. I mean, success in a number of fie l d s , or even success I would say as a personality. Like I just li k e them, I guess that's what i t comes down to. Anita talked about women as examples not just as ideals, but as other instances of what she herself was experiencing. She says that the new style of relating to her woman friends, who came into Women's Libera-tion with her, allowed for this. I: Are you friends with them in the same way as before? A: No, no. We talk a lot more about personal stuff now, espe-c i a l l y because we - we were friends before and before we joined the small group, and then in the small group we started talking about personal stuff we had never talked about before ....That's really changed the relation. It's been a much richer exchange of experiences, and i t ' s so good to hear what's happening inside other people, you know. It's just comforting and you know you're not the only person and that sort of thing, that your problems are not unique. The women in the UBC group placed considerable value, then, upon the support they received from other women in terms of closeness, trust, examples of what women could do and were doing. The other aspect of friend-ship some of the women talked out was the sheer interest that women now held for them - that women friends could now provide a truly f u l f i l l i n g re-lationship. Siobhan stated this most clearly when she said: 236 S: I don't think. I've ever had a sense before that I could have a social world that was entirely made up of women, that would be really exciting and interesting for me. That's really a . new sense. I: You do have this sense, then? S: Oh yeah, yeah, absolutely. I: Is this to the exclusion of men, or is i t just the presence of women? S: There's no sense of exclusion for me. It's simply that some very simple thing happens in your head when you realize that - for instance, l i k e we had last week -...you can have a dinner party where there are only women and i t can be abso-lutely gorgeous in every possible way that you would expect a party to be - intelligent, funny, f l i r t y , you know, the whole range and that's really a nice sense for me. That I could never walk into a room anymore and feel l i k e i f there wasn't a man there something was missing. i i i ) Likely Resource Persons for Friendships and Possible Problematic Persons It should be apparent that, as in the Women's Caucus, there i s in the UBC group ideological and pragmatic selection for women as friends. Many women had the experiences that Willa had: I: How about your friendships — have they been affected by Women's Liberation? W: Oh yes, very much so, especially with women. I hadn't had any meaningful friendships with any women and since going to the meetings I have learned to trust and love women. I used to think that they were very kind of, well, just that stereo-type bitchy, cranky and untrustworthy. And now li k e I have - before when I was invited somewhere I would only feel a tiny excitement i f there was men going to be there and now I'm getting that feeling of a real excitement in and really joyful when there are women. And I don't really care i f there are men around, when I used to think "well, what a drag, going out with women." 237 This increased valuation of women worked for Willa even in rela-tionships with women who did not share her Women's Liberation experience. She did find most of her friends were i n Women's Liberation, but s t i l l she'd ...learned I'm getting on much better with other women that aren't [in Women's Liberation], than before....Before, I used to be really down on women that were always doing these safe things l i k e playing bridge and reading Chatelaine or anything l i k e that. And now I can understand why they do it....Well, I just understand women and I'm not down on them. I think they're oppressed and oppressed people do funny things. But several of the women had found problems i n interacting with non-Women's Liberation women. As Abby mentioned about her neighbour, they couldn't be as frank as they wished on sensitive issues. Or they f e l t thems
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UBC Theses and Dissertations
Being in women’s liberation : a case study in social change Stephenson, Marylee 1975
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