The Ladder, April-May 1970, Vol. 14, No. 7 and 8
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SIXTH BI-ENNIAL CONVENTION
AND GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF
THE DAUGHTERS OF BILITIS, INC.
PLACE: NEW YORK CITY
TIME: JULY 10, 11 and 12 - 1970
Complete Information on registration and program has been mailed to you separately.
EVERY MEMBER WHO CAN SHOULD ATTEND THE CONVENTION.
The New York Chapter of DOB is going all out to make this the most memorable weekend of your life.
In addition to the entertainment provided at the Convention--the General Assembly meetings determine the next two years of life for DOB.
THIS ISSUE CONTAINS A PROXY BALLOT FOR YOU TO USE IF YOU CANNOT ATTEND THE CONVENTION. If you do not have a friend whom you wish to carry your vote to the convention, you may send your proxy to CONVENTION PROXIES, c/o RITA LAPORTE, NATIONAL PRESIDENT, DOB, 1005 MARKET STREET, ROOM 208, San Francisco, CALIF. 94103.
purpose of the
Daughters of BILITIS
A WOMEN'S ORGANIZATION FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROMOTING THE INTEGRATION OF THE HOMOSEXUAL INTO SOCIETY BY:
1. Education of the Lesbian, enabling her to understand herself and to make her adjustment to society in all its social, civic, and economic implications--by establishing and maintaining a library of both fiction and non-fiction literature on the sex deviant theme; by sponsoring public meetings on pertinent subjects to be conducted by leading members of the legal, psychiatric, religious and other professions; by providing the Lesbian a forum for the interchange of ideas within her own group.
2. Education of the public, developing an understanding and acceptance of the Lesbian as an individual, leading to an eventual breakdown of erroneous taboos and prejudices--by public discussion meetings and by dissemination of educational literature on the Lesbian theme.
3. Encouragement of and participation in responsible research dealing with homosexuality.
4. Investigation of the penal code as it pertains to the homosexual, proposing and promoting changes to provide an equitable handling of cases involving this minority: group through due process of law in the state legislatures.
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Published bi-monthly by the Daughters of Bilitis, Inc., a non-profit corporation, 1005 Market Street, Room 208, San Francisco, California 94103.
VOLUME 14 No. 7 and 8
NATIONAL OFFICERS, DAUGHTERS OF BILITIS, INC.
|Vice President, East||Joan Kent|
|Vice President, West||Jess k. Lane|
Chapter Presidents are also included on The Board
THE LADDER STAFF
|Production Assistants||Lyn Collins, Kim Stabinski, King Kelly, Ann Brady|
|Production Editors||Robin and Dana Jordan|
|Secretary to the Editor||Tracy Wright|
THE LADDER is regarded as a sounding board for various points of view on the homophile and related subjects, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the organization except such opinions as are specifically acknowledged by the organization.
IN THIS ISSUE:
|Women's Coalition by Jess K. Lane||
|Lesbian Life in England by Val Vanderwood||
|Women's Wing short story by Jocelyn Hayward||
|Uses of Sexual Guilt by James Colton||
Poetry Patricia Michaels, Michiko Yamaguchi, Gabrielle l'Autre,
Martha Shelley, Celia Leman, Carol Cunliffe
|Masquerade by Dorothy Lyle||19|
|Lesbiana by Gene Damon||23|
|Personal File: The Transsexual Experience by Karl Ericsen||25|
|Before the Gap Becomes a Chism by Fen Gregory||27|
|Ecclesiastes Be Damned episode by Patricia Michaels||28|
|Lesbian Literature in 1969 by Gene Damon||29|
|Whatever Happened to Sally? by Del Martin||41|
|A Brother's Viewpoint by Jack Stroud||42|
|Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright by Jane Alden||44|
Cover: "Mermaids" by F. Landi, Statue in park adjacent to the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Copyright 1970 by Daughters of Bilitis, Inc., San Francisco, California
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2nd BAY AREA
WOMEN'S COALITION CONFERENCE
Report by Jess K. Lane
In February the Second Bay Area Women's Coalition Conference brought together a dozen or more groups and organizations concerned with different aspects of women's liberation. The conference was held in Gresham Hall of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, with about 200 women participating. The age spread appeared to be from teens to seventies, with the majority probably in their twenties and thirties.
Subjects reported on and discussed ranged from repeal of abortion laws and action taken, through the endless spectrum of job discrimination, what is being done to promote child care to release young mothers; International Women's Day; women's centers in Los Angeles and San Francisco; and peripheral matters. Of particular interest to LADDER readers was the late afternoon panel discussion of Lesbianism with representatives of NOVA, DOB and Gay Women's Liberation participating. This inclusion on the program was an advance over the first Caucus held last autumn when Lesbians were kept invisible as far as the program was concerned--until the demand from the floor that BOB National President Rita Laporte be asked to give a report on the work of her organization.
The Lesbian panel, climaxing the Conference's afternoon session with time allotted from 3:00 P.M. to 3:40 P.M. plus twenty minutes for discussion from the audience, proved a climax indeed, and highly dramatic. More than one woman avowedly "straight" said she found the frank talks of the panelists and subsequent audience interchange the most profound part of the program. The DOB panel member, Pat Davis, met head-on the problem that organizations such as NOW and other women's liberation groups have in openly acknowledging having Lesbian members and in coming out against discrimination towards this minority. Pat cited her own experience in trying to interest a heterosexual woman in the Women's Liberation Movement as fairly typical. The woman argued that the "feminists are all man-haters and probably gay"; hence, she did not care to associate with them. We all
know the extent to which men, and some women, throw this "charge" about, intimidating wives and girlfriends who fear to lose "their men." Commenting that the argument is as silly as the one that attempts to undermine ail radical or reform movements in the U.S. by labeling them communist-inspired or dominated, Pat responded: If the feminist movement Is "nothing but a bunch of Lesbians," then why on earth are we collectively working so hard for child care centers and abortion law change? To the "charge" itself, we ought all to say, So what! "To spend time answering it is a waste of effort ... there is so much that can unite us as women--so many areas where we can work together--so let's get on with it." This approach makes sense, she said, if only because most aware Lesbians and non-Lesbians alike know that they are more discriminated against because they are women than for any other reason. This is especially so as women work and reach towards more rewarding and higher paying jobs and responsible positions, in whatever field.
The spokeswoman for NOVA, who did not identify herself by name, acknowledged the "fear" of Lesbianism that many women feel and express, but declared, "We suffer the same discrimination that all women must face. We feel that we can legitimately claim to be your sisters in the movement." She said that NOVA leaned rather to the social than the sociological, however, providing parties, sensitivity group action and recreation.
The traditional anonymity of the majority of homosexuals, their tendency to assess themselves in society's terms, and almost masochistic acceptance of prejudice against them was quietly challenged by the Gay Women's Liberation panelist, Alice Molloy. A poised young woman, jeans-and-sweater clad, she projected the unaggressive poise of one who knows herself, accepts who she is and expects acceptance from others. The time has come for openness, honesty, for homosexuals to stop trying to "pass"-- "like Jews in a country club" as price of the rewards of "respectability," she suggested. Times have changed, as reflected in the more profound understanding of human
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sexuality and women's and men's diverse erotic needs and feelings. This is particularly true among the young who reject the typing of people sexually, do not see variation as "deviant," and are consequently not fearful of their own or others' sexuality as their elders may have been. Alice commented: "Homosexuality is 99% cultural." She found that traditionally "the homosexual community has been highly conservative"--a pattern that was broken with the advent of the Gay Liberation Movement, at first predominantly male. Alice told of her contacts with this group in the Bay Area and of seeing the need for a like openness for Lesbians. Informally, ten or twelve women who felt this need came together to explore their situation. "Now there are 35 of us in Women's Gay Liberation here." Closing her effective talk, Alice Molloy said, "I was going to do something here, but was told it might not be advisable..." As she paused and smiled over the audience, one could sense a feeling of expectation: the women present wished her to go on. After a silence Alice said, "I'll tell you what I had in mind--and leave it to you. I was going to ask if every woman in the hall who had ever felt she could be erotically attracted to another woman would care to stand up." After the electric statement the silence was tensely felt. Several women stood, including your reporter. A few more slowly followed. Then, like a dam bursting, practically every woman of the 200 or so in the hall was on her feet. Since the majority undoubtedly thought of themselves as "straight" and were living heterosexual lives, this could be seen as an expression of acceptance and sisterly solidarity, beautiful in its spontaneity. Perhaps also it was something of a group confession, for the atmosphere of relief was evident, and reflected in the frank give-and-take of the platform-audience interchange that followed.
Prior to the Lesbian panel, Pam Allen reported on the Women's Center planned for San Francisco. Among the many suggestions discussed were several calling attention to the apparent ignoring of the Lesbian woman in the original proposal and outline of services. Submitted to the Women's Center by DOB's National President Rita Laporte and Vice-President-West Jess K. Lane, in summary, these additions to Center services were recommended:
1. A Lesbian department.
2. Inclusion of the Lesbian in research on women.
3. Easily accessible information and literature on Lesbianism in the Center library and other information sources it may make available.
4. Non-judgmental referral to suitable advisers for girls and women feeling Lesbian Impulses and needing guidance.
It would take far more space than THE LADDER has available to do justice to the Conference as a whole. Like the first one, it was outstanding in its blending of good organization with informality, and the conciseness and brevity of the many speakers, many of whom packed dynamite charges of activity and information into ten and fifteen-minute presentations. "Leaders" and "leadership" were not stressed but rather played down, with interchangeable chairwomen or spokeswomen for the various groups or activities. The aim throughout the Women's Liberation Movement is to encourage every participating woman to develop her own initiative--and initiatives-- and to act and serve wherever needed. In naming the following spokeswomen, therefore, let it be understood that another member of the group mentioned may be taking the responsibility on another occasion. Victoria Selmier of NOW launched the Conference with brief comments and introduced the participants in the morning session. These were: Del Martin (co-founder of DOB) who gave a moving eulogy for the late Inka O'Hanrahan, a long-time worker for women's place in the sun and a friend of Lesbians, according to Miss Martin; Dari Gillespie who spoke for the Sociology Caucus, University of California at Berkeley; Women, Inc. was represented by Hazel Hall who works with union women of Crown Zellerbach's Fibreboard Corporation, fighting job discrimination; Jean Cross told of plans for International Women's Day, March 7-8, for which events are scheduled also for the previous and following weeks, to include art showings, poetry readings and much more, centered at Glide Memorial Church.
Florence Vande Bogart reported on the Ad Hoc Committee on the Status of Women Commission, pointing out. regretfully that legislators with bills designed to help women were not getting enough verbal and written support from women. Help! Joan Jordan spoke for Independent Campus Women of San Francisco State College, particularly concerning the need for child
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care services so as to help women go, or return, to college. This group also is working to end job discrimination. It has a women's study program.
Virginia Selmier reported for NOW's Northern California chapter; Shirley Barnard for NOW's Southern California chapter. A report on Women's Caucus on the Media was given by Barbara Falconer who said her committee had been trying to get more women engaged for air time; more by-line women writers; an end to downgrading of women, so prevalent in the media. There was agreement, she said, that Women's Liberation need a song of its own. Following the lunch break, Sheriff Jensen gave a full report on the Abortion Initiative Project--which is gathering momentum. Both Dr. Nancy Cross and Brenda Brush made contributions to the "Case Against the Newspapers and EEOC." The meeting learned that Brenda Brush had filed suit requesting that television expand its coverage of visual roles for women to include jobs in the mechanical and construction fields.
There were many more speakers, both from the platform and the floor, reflecting an energy and dedication to betterment of all phases of life for women, and justifying the remarks of Victoria Selmier who said at the beginning of the Conference: "You can't stop an idea when its time has come. Our idea's time has come. It is 4,000 years since societies were matriarchal or equal as between the sexes. Since then we have endured the smog of patriarchal fallacies." This Coalition Conference as well as the one preceding it are heartening evidence, along with all else that is going forward in the Women's Liberation Movement, that this smog is no longer to be endured with patient, prone submission but is to be tackled like all the rest of the pollution that is insulting Mother Earth. Right on! as the young people say.
(Jess K. Lane, our vice-president on the West Coast, is, under her own name, an editor, free lancer and poet of note, a lifelong feminist and long-time member of DOB.)
Lesbian Life in England
by Val Vanderwood
American Lesbians who visit England these days have a pleasant surprise in store because the contemporary Lesbian scene is healthily upbeat, expanding, and communicative! The past decade, in fact, has been as progressive a change as a walk from darkness into dawn.
Other than that swinging, long-established Gateways Club, there are few gay bars exclusively for women; however, the girls are busily establishing many private social clubs throughout the country and these fulfill the need for Lesbian companionship at the local level, as do D.O.B. chapters here in the United States. Unlike D.O.B. chapters, these social clubs are each totally autonomous, financially and legally, without affiliation to any central body or charter. Attempts to develop multiple chapters of the same organization failed back in the mid-60's and the philosophy of local autonomy has become the prevailing pattern. While this pattern offers the greatest individual freedom for each of the social groups, it means that communication among the groups is limited by proliferation. Fortunately, the Lesbian publication, Arena Three, includes news notes about a few of the social clubs which have formed or are forming, or it would be virtually impossible for an outsider to contact other Lesbians in the same region for the purpose of socializing.
For the prospective visitor to England who is primarily concerned with Lesbian activities, then, the two organizations most likely to be of value during a vacation are Arena Three and social clubs such as the London-based KENRIC. The previously mentioned Arena Three Lesbian publication was founded back in 1963 and currently has a wide readership, not only in Britain, but around the world. Interestingly, nearly half of Arena Three's first subscribers were D.O.B. members from the United States, so there has been a camaraderie from one side of the Atlantic to the other since the very beginning of its publication. Arena Three has been instrumental in the establishment of Lesbian social clubs and in providing a focal point for their news; it has also been useful as a sounding board for a variety of
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opinions by and about Lesbians. It has reported research findings and encouraged participation in many research projects related to homosexuality. At certain times it has allowed pen pal introductions and a personal advertisements column within its covers, although current issues have deleted the advertisements. In short, a subscription to Arena Three could add flavor and anticipation to a prospective journey, or add further dimension to regular Lesbian reading. Subscription rates are $8.00 annually for overseas subscriptions. Address: Esme Langley & Co., BCM/Seahorse, London, W.C. I, England.
KENRIC is the largest and oldest of the English social clubs, having been founded in London during 1964 by former members of the Arena Three staff. Claiming a membership of over 300 women it is an organization well worth joining if a traveler anticipates spending more than a week or two in London. The annual membership fee of $2.50 includes a monthly newsletter which outlines its social calendar. A typical month's calendar might include: a private home dancing party, a public lecture, an evening at the Gateways Club, a theater or movie function, a discussion group (similar to Gab 'n Java), a literary event, a music group, or various outdoor activities. In addition to its many social activities, KENRIC does have serious purposes which extend beyond mere conviviality. Its goals --"To remedy the sense of isolation by arranging meetings, discussion, and other activities ... to offer sympathetic advice to members who have problems not requiring specialized knowledge ... and to educate public opinion and improve knowledge on the subject of Lesbianism by complying wherever possible with request for speakers or written articles ..." indicate a sense of responsibility and service not unlike those of D.O.B. They do not, however, publish anything except their newsletter social calendar. The subscription address: KENRIC, BM/KENRIC, London, W.C. I, England.
Lesbians who have time for an extended tour of the British Isles, or who expect to live outside of the London area, will find the news notes in Arena Three of great help in pinpointing similar social clubs throughout England.
The more serious vacationer may be interested in the work of the homosexual research-oriented organizations such as Minorities Research Trust, Albany Trust, and the more recently established Scottish Minorities Group. Under a different name, Minorities Research Trust played an active role in the formation of Lesbian organizations in the early 1960's. Its present concern is exclusively related to Lesbian British women, especially research, and it receives some financial support from the social clubs that wish to support its research activities.
Impressions of Lesbian life in England will, of course, vary from person to person, depending upon a number of factors such as the areas visited, length of trip, friendships, etc. Nonetheless, certain aspects of everyday life are apparent to even the most casual observer. The most obvious fact to an American woman is that the entire standard of living is generally lower in England than in the U.S.A. and that the earning power of women is often lower than that of the male. The past role of women in England was subjugation to male dominance although the current generation is making strides toward economic equality. Even so, our Lesbian sisters in England have less money to spend than we do and their material possessions are fewer in number. There are exceptions, no doubt, but for many English women it means a constant confrontation with financial concerns--not for the basic necessities, perhaps, but certainly for the extra conveniences, comforts, and possessions that Americans have come to take for granted. This should not be construed to mean that English Lesbians are less happy than their American counterparts, however!!! Their daily lives are filled with the same problems, joys, fears, and accomplishments as our own. Maintaining a happy relationship in one's love life, with one's family, on one's job, are just as vital. Having a home, friends, recreation and hope for the future are no less important. As people, women, and Lesbians we are variety personified, yet the commonalities exist and dominate. Our common language gives us the tool for communication, Yank to English or English to Yank.
The more relaxed pace of living where tradition and custom permeate the fabric of daily existence make England a most. pleasant country to visit, for in spite of its intensive metropolitan population center, the English countryside remains pastoral, charming, and by American standards, easy to reach. Public transportation in England puts our own to shame, both in cost and accessibility, and as for entertainment,
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London's theater offerings are excellent in quality and only moderate in cost by New York or San Francisco standards. The cities and towns arc filled with cultural and historical museums, (Just in case of summer rain which is prevalent), but it is the flavor of the individual buildings and the crooks and crannies just around every bend that whet imagination and the job of exploration.
But whatever else American Lesbians appreciate about life in England, all will enjoy that fact that a Lesbian act is not illegal there! as it is most of our states. Merry Old England, thanks to Queen Victoria (who reputedly refused to believe that two women could make love ... and who consequently would not permit legislation to be passed citing Lesbian acts as a crime), has never made Lesbianism illegal. This is quite unique since sex acts between homosexual males have been illegal for generations. Only recently, in 1967, has legislation finally been passed which permits sex acts between consenting male adults.
The fact that there is no law against Lesbian acts, however, should, not be presumed to mean that no social pressures or public censures exist. Quite the contrary! There are many pressures and censures ... a vivid reminder that one may legislate but not necessarily educate the public. At the same time, one senses that British girls are not as heavily pressured to date as early as American girls are, that they are not pushed so hard to be "popular"--to be social butterflies, and that remaining legally single is more acceptable than once it was, all of which augurs well for the Lesbian. Conversations held with numerous women from the English social clubs, however, indicate that English women are still not likely to tell their parents and friends that they are Lesbians. Only a small proportion indicated they had or ever would label themselves publicly. The fact that there is no legal punishment against Lesbianism is reassuring to the traveler, nonetheless, even if it is not carte blanche to ignore current social mores.
In England today, as in America, society's attitude toward the Lesbian seems to be moving into a profound phase of development, perhaps as part of the growing civil rights movement in general. Books, films, newspaper and magazine articles on the Lesbian are available today that would never have been permitted a decade ago, except as psychiatric case studies or research projects. What the dimensions of this information will do to the public mood remains to be seen. Can any society sift through the ideas being presented in the various media and find that kernel of understanding which is requisite to acceptance of sexual differences?
While minority advances during the 1960's have been too blatant to be ignored and too powerful to be relinquished in both England and the U.S., past experience with other civil rights groups suggests that the cost of gaining full equal rights will be unattainable without the support of the general public and without great dedication of time, effort and money on the part of Lesbians themselves. Their voice must be heard, not merely through the work of research, but individually and also collectively through the power or organization. Each human being can influence society's opinion toward Lesbianism in both subtle and direct ways ... and nearly everyone can make some monetary contribution toward the organizations working on their behalf. Other civil rights organizations are succeeding, why not our own?
To achieve maximum success, however, we must somehow gain more volunteer leadership and support, in both England and America, for our Lesbian organizations and publications. We need both leaders and followers, the dreamers and the doers. We must continue to sustain the movement but also to accelerate its growth and power. To those dedicated women who have already made their contributions we are, of course, effusively grateful, but it is not enough to say to that benevolent corps of stalwarts, "Thanks for the work you've put in already ... cheers and Godspeed." No, talk is not enough. More of us must now join hands in their circle of deeds and add to their contributions. It is possible to encompass the globe with a commitment of time, finances, and dreams. Indeed, this can be an era to remember ... an era for history to commemorate ... a freedom renaissance!
Although vacations are enjoyable and visits to foreign countries pleasurable, don't we all have a common task to do, as well? Why not an international Lesbian organization, or at least an international subsection as part of our existing organizations? This has been spoken about before but no concrete steps have been taken to make the idea a reality. [note]
As mankind keeps rediscovering, we
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humans need to try for the Impossible, need to reach out--for the moon, certainly, but also for human understanding. Sexual freedom is there to reach out for, and it's within our grasp if we will dedicate ourselves to its achievement--each in our own countries but internationally, too ... English, Australian, Canadian, and Yank alike.
Where are those ten stouthearted women who will soon give us ten thousand more? They are urgently needed for the "Well of Loneliness" revolution in England, in America, and the world over.
by Jocelyn Hayward
To write about the girl in 42, I have to write as much--more perhaps--about the women's wing.
Because only if you understand just how it is in this awful, aseptic citadel of female sexuality, primal and complacent, will you know why the girl in 42 is so important to me.
For instance, the first I hear of her is when the little Armenian says she is in for a sex change and the walking patients believe it word for word. I do not. Already I know enough of the walking patients to know that either they are scared of the girl in 42 or else they are looking for a gossip subject.
They gossip dreadfully, the walking patients. Slipslop into each other's rooms, slipslop down to the stark little grove of visitors' chairs by the glass doors.
"--she don't eat what they bring so how she expect to get milk for the baby--"
"--tell you, women suffer a lot for men. Two needles I'd to call for last night, dear--"
"--heard the doctor say she'd ovaries on her like beach balls. Tubes'll be all to hell too, you ask me--"
You get the idea. I mean, no one has ovaries like beach balls surely. But to listen to them, all these women have beach ball ovaries or strangulated tubes or something very nauseatingly female.
Even the grandmother with varicose veins in 15, they say, got that way from being given too many pregnancies when she was young.
All they talk about is the labyrinthine entanglements of their female organs, and their men. They use the same tone of voice for both.
When the little Armenian asks if I am
married and I say no, she says "Ah lucky"
in a tone you might use to someone who
has won ten scorpions in a raffle. She says
her husband is not a bad man. He works
quite hard and gives trouble only on Saturday nights. She is quite lucky to have got him; she could have done a lot worse.
She is making him sound like a sale-price washing machine so I ask curiously if she loves him.
I think I have said a dirty word. Her head shoots up, she stares and mumbles "Of course," and then goes on quickly to tell me how many pints of blood she lost with her '67 miscarriage.
It's a citadel all right. Its passwords are ovaries and afterbirths, clamps and catheters. Its theme is masochism, its motto: Women suffer so much for men. Its ritual garb is the flossy nightie, usually the color of cheap candy, always bought--in atonement, presumably--by the husband.
I hold no special brief for men. But I feel sorry for them here.
They walk warily through the citadel. Male doctors leave the wards quickly, often with their hands behind their backs as if
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expecting a kick. The little Filipino who collects blood samples--"Why you take so much, greedy?" shrills the fat hysterectomy in 23--looks positively terrified.
A blond radiotherapist comes with a little machine to give treatment to the grandmother. After he has left they discuss his physique in minute detail. I go to sleep and dream they are eating him.
At visiting hour you really see the citadel for what it is. My bed faces down towards the glass doors at the end of the corridor. The husbands gather there, their expressions growing warier each minute, while on this side the walking patients slipslop back to their rooms and arrange themselves on the high white altars of their beds to receive homage.
When they let them in, the husbands know just how it is. They are nervous all the time they are here, continually doing clumsy things like dropping flowers and bumping drip-feeds. When the bell rings for the end of visiting hour, they leave quickly and nervously, like the doctors.
They are hardly out of sight before the walking patients are slip slopping down from their altars to compare gifts. Then the nurses start rattling bedpans and everyone settles back with smug sighs to the evening ritual of dressings and catheters and laxatives and needles.
"He is a good man," the little Armenian says, holding up some frilly magenta horror. "But it's sure nice just to be able to turn over and go to sleep without"--she winks --"a lot of nonsense."
And I turn over too but for a long time before sleep I lie wondering if this really has to be the ultimate in human relationships-- this smug jungle of tubes and catheters and ovaries and clamps on the one side, with the other a vanquished army allowed in once daily to renegotiate its treaties with flowers and cheap nighties.
This is what the citadel does to one's thinking.
All of which--as I warned--is a great deal about the women's wing but nothing about the girl in 42.
I am curious, of course, but I don't expect to do anything about it. However, in time I get to be a walking patient too and this day, passing 42 on my way back from therapy, I glance in and see she has dropped a magazine on the floor.
So I go in and pick it up.
Right then I decide the rumor started from fear. Because she is that most fearful thing, different. The other patients are pre-eminently physical creatures. They make one think of Hamlet's too, too solid flesh, even when the flesh is yellow with sickness.
But the girl in 42 is different. She is a little flame, thinly clad in a pale envelope of flesh which is almost invisible against the pale sheets. Her hair is boy-short and so pale as to be colorless. The only dark thing about her is her great midnight-blue eyes.
If indeed she wants to be a man, she wants it for no inconsequential reason. Candy-colored nighties and the consensus of the walking patients would cut no ice with this passionate flame.
She watches me, saying nothing. I am about to leave, but the magazine catches my eye.
There is a reproduction of a painting--a great, slabby, geometrical vista of a wide land under a wide sky, powerful as a cathedral nave, with the gothic arc of a rainbow uniting the two.
"O", I say as involuntary as breathing, "it's beautiful!"
Then she smiles.
She begins to turn the pages. There are others, all of a wide land and a wide sky, with a sense of reverence deep in them.
"They are by Pierneef, a South African painter." Her voice is thin and high. Her turning hands are almost transparent.
"He sees the--the bones of a land," I say. "Like the Canadian Group of Seven."
"O yes"--she is excited--"you are right! Pierneef and Lawren Harris would have loved each other, wouldn't they!"
And I am filled with happiness because here, in the women's wing, she has said: Love, and it has nothing to do with tubes and catheters and candy-colored nightgowns.
We talk for--I don't know, perhaps ten minutes, perhaps an hour. I do not know what we talk about, but I know it is not the labyrinthine things.
When I go back to my room the fat hysterectomy is visiting the little Armenian. She says, "Did she tell you what they were going to do to her?"
"No," I say shortly. "All I know is she is very sick."
"O sure," says the little Armenian. "Anyone who wants to get their sex changed has to be sick."
I lose a small shred of temper. "The other day you said men have all the fun. So wouldn't you rather be a man?"
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The fat hysterectomy stares. "One bears one's cross," she says heavily and goes off to talk about her hormones to the grandmother.
I return, of course, to 42. There is no magazine to be picked up but I go anyway because it is the only place in all of the citadel to go and be not just a woman but a human being.
I think she is pleased to see me. We talk about art and other things but the blue of her eyes is smudged over into the hollows around them and I must not stay too long.
As I begin to leave, she says, "What do they say about me?"
I hesitate. "What do you mean?"
"The other patients all peer in at me as they go past. What is it that frightens them and not you?"
"O," I say, "I am no hero."
"What do they say?" she persists.
The flame, burning strongly, demands honesty. "That you are in here to have your sex changed."
She smiles. Perhaps she laughs, but I do not think her body is strong enough to laugh.
"They are," she says, "partly right. Perhaps twenty-five percent. One must allow them that."
I say nothing because I do not really want to know. It is nothing and at the same time everything to me.
"Please," she says. "The soul lies much deeper than that, you know."
And of course when I go back to my room I lose my temper with the fat hysterectomy.
"Are they," she says, "going to give her a--well, you know, a man's you-know-what?"
"What makes you," I say, "think they are going to give her anything? Is it always handouts?"
She is very overweight round the eyes. They are like little currants in an uncooked bun. "I just asked," she says. "After all, what else has a man got?"
"Goddammit," I explode. "We talked about art."
The currants roll. "Not much use to anybody, is it?" she says.
"If you aren't talking about art," I snap, "then shut up about your hormones too. You can't have it both ways."
The fat hysterectomy leaves rapidly and the little Armenian slipslops after her, so I have a chance to read.
The next day the flame of the girl in 42 is burning brightly, even mischievously. She says, "Why are you different from the others?"
"O," I say, "I have no beachball ovaries, no tangled tubes. No man even."
"Do you mind?"
"I am not even sure I want a man."
"Maybe they don't either. It is like a nose, you know? No one really wants to have a nose. Of course it is useful to blow and to keep one's glasses up. But the only real appeal of a nose is that everyone else has one."
"You know," I say, "none of them say they love their husbands. They say: He is a big man, or an honest man, or a lazy man. But never: I love him. Am I being stupid?"
(There seems no strangeness in talking this way. Perhaps the women's wing has got to us too; according to the little Armenian, the miscarriage in 37 has been spreading her legs and inviting all the walking patients to count her stitches.)
The girl in 42 looks up at me in the blueness of her flame. She is very ill. She says, "Love is a gift. Will you hold my hand?"
I stretch out my hand but she does not take it straight away. She looks at her own. It is like the pale wing of a pale, delicate bird.
"I would like," she says, "to give you many things. In talk, for instance. But I am a little tired. So I will hold your hand and say nothing with words and everything with my hand. And if you listen hard you will hear me. Do I embarrass you?"
I shake my head.
"Good. Now close your eyes."
No, she does not embarrass me, least of all by her touch. For one thing it is so light I hardly feel it. For another, I feel it so deeply that there is no room anywhere in me for embarrassment.
After what may be a long time, I open my eyes and her two hands are folded. She is smiling gently.
I say, a little shakily, "You talk well."
"You listen well. And no, you are not stupid."
I am at the door when she says, "Will you come back? Even though I played a trick with you?"
She smiles again. "You are a very good listener. I never touched your hand."
Of course I will come back.
In my room, the blonde from 26 is visiting the little Armenian. She is not
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blonde at the roots nor in the straggle of hair at her armpits.
"See you was visiting 42 again," she says.
The little Armenian giggles. "Maybe, when it is all over, they are planning to be married."
The armpit brunette says, "Don't mind us, dear," and laughs until she chokes.
After she has gone, the little Armenian tries to be friendly. She tells me how it feels to have a baby begin to come on the back seat of a cab.
I do not think I want to have a baby begin to come anyplace.
Next morning when I pass 42 she is not there. A nurse says they have taken her down to the operating room and she will be there several hours.
In the afternoon, the little Armenian's husband comes. He brings her a banana-yellow bedjacket. After he has gone, she says, "You think he is bringing too much things?"
"There is maybe another woman. I do not trust too much gifts, too much nicenesses."
She has made me understand many things.
After supper I walk down past 42. There is a strange woman in the bed. She has several chins and an incipient mustache.
The fat hysterectomy, slipslopping past, sees me and says, "Died under the an-aesthetic. Best thing, really."
Perhaps that is right. She was not for a world where there can be too much of giving.
So I know nothing about her--neither her name, nor what was her sickness, nor why she died. I only know that she never held my hand and that, after all, love is much more--and much less--than a labyrinthine horror.
Tomorrow they are sending me home and that is the best thing too. The citadel is no place for either of us.
On the way back to my room I listen to my feet and find I am slipslopping. I try to pick them up and I try not to cry.
(Jocelyn Hayward, a frequent contributor to THE LADDER, is a professional writer, humorist, and editor. We are happy to present here her more serious fiction.)
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USES OF SEXUAL GUILT
by James Colton
"Commonplace sophistication holds that generations of revolt are mostly symptoms of social failure," writes Kingsley Widmer in The Nation (30 Dee. 1968). "In fact, they equally serve as agents of social change."
All around us evidence of social failure and the resultant revolt meant to bring about social change are obvious. And where are the homosexuals? For the most part, in hiding.
Because they do not believe society is wrong about them. They believe it is right about them--that they are sick, that they are criminal, that they are mentally disturbed, that they are sordid. The vast bulk of them buy the whole ugly bag of accusations.
Unhappily, it looks to this observer as if they need it. Of course, to a small number, their status as pariah is vital because it's their only distinction. But what about the rest?
Without question, their guilt has its uses. Who doesn't know the alcoholic whose unhappiness at his or her homosexuality makes him a burden to himself and his friends? The fact is, he likes to drink, needs to drink, and uses his sexual guilt as an excuse.
Who doesn't know the perennial failure, the man or woman with brains and ability who never makes the top in his employment sphere because he is "afraid" his homosexuality will be discovered and he needs the obscurity of a low-paying, drudging job to protect him from exposure? Who doesn't know people of potential talent, would-be writers, artists, musicians, dancers, actors, whose neglect of their abilities they blame on their homosexuality?
No, it isn't easy for anyone in our highly-structured and artificial society to be himself. The pressures against individuality are staggering and deforming. It is hard to resist them. Anti-sexual pressures are still high--and still doubled for homosexuals. Writes Thomas S. Szasz in his paper "Legal and Moral Aspects of Homosexuality":
"In the United States today, why is homosexuality a problem? Mainly because it presents, in sexual form, the classic dilemma of popular democracy: How much diversity should society permit? Many people, eminent psychiatrists among them, do not distinguish between democracy and what Tocqueville called, 'the tyranny of the majority.'"
Numbers of Americans either simply fed up with or actually disadvantaged by the tyranny of the majority are today openly and fiercely rebelling. But the homosexual --in some ways the most disadvantaged of all--refuses to rebel. Why should he when he can--he thinks--have the best of both worlds? No skin color or other inescapable feature marks him off. He can sneak into the establishment as something other than himself.
Why fight, he reasons, what you can join?
But the homosexual cannot join society as presently constituted, and he knows it. Whatever he pretends, he is an outcast still. If he has a decent job he is never secure in it. If he gets equal treatment under the law it isn't for a homosexual offense. If he wants a political career, a civil service career, an Armed Forces career, exposure of his sexual bent can destroy it. If he wants to make love he has to break the law in 48 of the 50 states.
In his book Must You Conform? the late Robert Lindner called homosexuality "a reaction of non-conformity, a rebellion of the personality" against "a sex-rejective, sex-repressive society."
How does the homosexual handle the role?
At a recent symposium on "The Aging Homosexual" sponsored by The Tangent Group in Los Angeles, a young man rejected the private, members-only baths that have become so much a part of the male homosexual scene in U.S. cities.
"They're too safe," he said. "There's no risk involved. There's no chance the guy you make a pass at will turn out to be a vice squad officer."
Rebellious--right? It shocked a good many participants in the symposium. Yet what in fact does it show? It shows a bleak dependency on society and its present attitude for one's kicks. The absence of any threat of arrest, exposure, humiliation, punishment, results in diminished sexual satisfaction.
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This man was rejecting the role of rebel.
However honest his homosexuality to start with, he has forsworn it in favor of conformity. Yes, conformity. He does not believe in his homosexuality, cannot assert it for itself and the happiness it can bring him. His need to feel guilty and therefore hunted comes above his need for sexual release. A hostile society and its dictates are more vital to him than his own ego and its needs.
He isn't a rebel; he is a victim.
So are most homosexuals. By choice. While they can believe in their own guilt they can dodge their ethical commitment to rebel, to change the society that victimizes them. Their only rebellious acts remain private and horizontal.
But rebellion in bed is as silly and wasteful a thing as one can do there. The fun most homosexuals today have in bed is not sexual at all but lies in a kind of childish nose-thumbing at an Authority that would punish them if it knew what they were up to.
Sex has a high value of its own. Most homosexuals never find out what it is. They subsist on side-effects of sex--a rigged and forever-losing struggle against Mom and Dad, Preacher and Cop and, often enough and even sadder, against God who, if He exists, surely made them as they are.
None of this is to say that once people stop reacting by homosexual means against the hypocritical morality of our up-tight society and come out into the open and band together to change the laws and set Mom and Dad, Preacher and Cop straight on the facts about homosexuality--that homosexuality will stop.
On the contrary, homosexuality might then, at long last, really begin--for those who actually are homosexuals. Those who have been faking it, for one guilty reason or another, will be happy too--happy heterosexuals.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Colton is a Director of the newly formed Homosexual Information Center in Los Angeles. He is the author of Strange Marriage, Known Homosexual and other novels, The Corrupter, a short story collection, and such magazine articles as "Science Looks at Homosexuality" and "Suicide and the Homosexual." He is an editor of Tangents magazine. His newest novel is Hang-up, published in July, 1969, and another novel, Gard, will appear this fall. He and his wife, the poet-artist-translator Jane Race, share a house with cats, a Myna bird; a dog, a hooded rat and a big white rabbit "who runs the place."
Fire torn, cursed by breaths,
Deaths with no hold on us other than our births;
We sheltered our fears until our deaths
And walked sublimely to reminisce our mirths.
With painstaking vows shielded beneath our rights
We vexed one another with constrained remorse;
We never once shed our veils of fright
Or adventures emanating from our selfless course.
Pleading within each kiss we sought to please
Avoiding the incandescent question,
"Why is this sinful?" "Why must we appease?"
Each touch and embrace a portent of deception.
Thoroughly, surely, we held our sacred vow
Which promised in clandestine affirmation
(To worship each other's desires)
Likewise we pledged again until death, until now,
And calmly led ourselves to delve assuredly beneath the mires.
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ON SCORPIO RISING
Those men knew how to do homage,
Knew that the ram of sacrifice
Must be belted and bejeweled,
Marked with memento mori,
Carefully tended and dressed
In the ritual, feasted.
In the prime of lust and luxury,
He must go knowingly, eagerly,
As a man prepared.
Sheath him in leather, black and burnished.
Studded in chrome
Hang chains from his waist, ring his hands,
Strap on his boots.
At the feast of masks let him strip,
Give stripes, receive adoration, ram.
He who goes down before the Lord
Must be without blemish.
And let him rise in the morning,
Mount, ride through the misty streets,
Ascend at the cross road with sirens
Wailing kyrie, beautiful symbol
Of his body sailing high and then ruined forever,
Cut by the chromium jewels,
Blood spurting out of the leather like love,
like spilt seed.
No Scarlatti sonata here
for you to drown in,
no trace of patterned sound--
only unbroken stillness
as you sit at a low table
folding flights of paper cranes;
by a flock of voiceless birds.
Always In Search Of The Muse
Her smile captures me,
I endure her walk.
She is passive, silent, reserved,
Lost in her thoughts.
I watch her as she walks lightly,
And hesitates before speaking
As though timidity had caught her.
She never speaks to me
Except in a whisper;
I nod politely,
But her skin is soft
And the whiteness intrigues me.
TO A YOUNG LOVE
Take from this twisted symmetry of limb
The tangled rhythm, slow pulse of hymn,
Tortured El Greco tempered and annealed,
Wild passion fixed yet not congealed,
Urge swirled by environment yet, in girth
And reach, thrusting from anchoring earth
Against shaping wind and oppressing air
To climb, grow, blossom. You who despair,
Feel you are part of the whole design,
Lending to landscape more dramatic line
And richer mood. Less rooted, more free,
You give to the heath more beauty than the tree,
And to life, and to me.
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SEVEN POEMS BY MARTHA SHELLEY
Draw near, my friend, and share with me
This couch. The lamp is bright
And sends warm glades of light
To slide along your thigh and scatter off your knee,
Like waterfalls that splash off rocks below.
We ate--your face is shining with the heat
And richness of the food. The wine was sweet
And loosed your hand to swing in slow
White curves that measured off the rhythm of your speech.
Give me your hand, and let mine
Follow down the golden line
Of light, as far as I can reach,
Around your waist and up into the puffs of hair
At the nape, and at the hollow
Of your throat, where if I follow
Too long, may be lost in contemplating there,
In the darkening valley, on slopes that are steep.
Give me your hand, and share with me
This couch, and offer me
The cup of gold. I will drink deep.
The papers pass beneath my hands
The bleak fans
Labor to unwind the August air
In smoky streams
Tapping of a typist's keys
Tapping of a woman's heels
And a flash-by-silk blouse.
And in my ears the beating of
And half-built dreams
Of hot rice wine in ginger lands
A dark room with a sliding paper door
And alien flesh to burn my hands
Her robe fell open at the knee;
I heard crossed knees
Shifting on the sofa springs,
Beneath white words she
breathed at me.
Like the curtains at the Met
Drawn for pale Aida,
Are the folds and stripes of her robe,
Blood-color fells of velvet:
Something with blood-caked fur
Stiffly paces the chambers
Of bone caves beneath my face,
Gazing at her.
She puffs words, "Do you love me?"
Love!--is toast and tea,
An ordered house
In a distant valley
And here in me the dark monsoon
In solid rainsheets falls,
Wordless, Keening in the dark;
I hear her blood across the room.
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The love I cannot cup in my two hands
Is also most-beloved.
My younger self would not believe
What did not taste of apples or touch silk
Or funnel out in gallon jugs
Or ring on counters in candy stores
And now a face I cannot see
Her hands that I have never held
Have claimed some squatter's right
on my heart
And I cannot be free.
Some letters, though, she has allowed to me
And every night I hurry home to mail
Like a lemming scenting sea.
Your cat-dilated, almost amber eyes
(as space between beats grows smaller
on drums that light broken streets)
Your touch draws
back of my eyes.
We are too crowded in one room.
I wish I were
the rapids of the Colorado
wild within cliffs
And you a storm
come down tundra
too narrow a path
For the lightning your fingers suggest;
Your lips demure
our cruel-edged limitations.
I almost ask you
Go; let me be
some small cool thing
Crossing the Plains
In late November.
You were in my arms, yet unpossessed;
My soul moved, bruised.
against the inside of my skin
Where it touched you,
As I could hear your soul move.
We lay together, unconsoled,
Wanting something more than
Beyond words, beyond caresses.
My soul was bruised
Because I could not be
You and myself besides.
I would deck her dusky shoulders
With bright flowers, twine them
In her long, loose hair;
And I would bathe and dress,
and so prepare
For her embrace--if she came softly,
And I were aware.
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"There are tigers deep within us,"
you have told me,
your green eyes glinting gold by candlelight--
and you become an antiquary
reading from an ancient map the words
HERE IN LIE TYGERS,
while your fingers trace each letter,
discovering by touch those continents
where tigers roam
upon vast moonlit veldts.
Wind-borne or gliding on a word
I come to you each night,
turn tiger underneath your hands
and in your eyes.
Japan is disappearing by degrees
and soon we'll have no gardens left
except for a withered bonsai
in an enamelled niche;
no clogs on cobblestones,
only the rush of rubber wheels
upon cement. Ask any crane
soaring above the city.--
one day we shall behold Mount Fuji gone
and in its place a gray stone wall
with no gate.
Foolish, foolish woman, what have you done?
A lover of women, you worship only the sun,
And for all your striving, though you look the part,
Though you've treated me like a man from the start,
I am more a lady than you,
And I must be a woman too.
You cannot comprehend my quiet kind of love,
The unspoken, gentle on the mind kind of love,
That lasts far beyond the loud bar, bed, and dawn
Through dark, lonely hours when the other is gone,
Not a quickly-broken promising love,
But enduring, all encompassing love.
CHANGING YOUR ADDRESS?
If you are planning to move, please let us know six weeks before changing your address. Please send your old address and your new address, clearly marked. You MUST include BOTH your old and your new zip codes. REMEMBER, third class mail is not forwardable. Send to CIRCULATION DEPARTMENT, 1005 Market Street, Room 208, San Francisco, California 94103.
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by Dorothy Lyle
Today, when women can dress as they please for the most part, and work at most kinds of labor, few feel the need to actually pass as men the entire time. This is a very new state of affairs, however, and in past times thousands of women made their lives more palatable by pretending to be male. Good women and criminals, noble women and outrageous scoundrels, Lesbians and heterosexuals: all have posed as men. Most of them are unimportant from a historical standpoint, though many had wild adventures which would have been impossible had they chosen to live as women since, traditionally, active lives are denied to women.
Christina de Meyrac, daughter of Baron de Meyrac of Bearn, was raised as a boy (unexplained) by parents who adored her. She was taught to ride and shoot and hunt, and various other sports. In a hunting party she accidentally shot and killed her brother. Her father, in a blind rage, set out to kill her, and she took refuge with a relative, the Abbe Dizeste. He smuggled her into Spain disguised as a boy. There she entered a university for a while but was wounded by a ruffian in a street fray, in an area of her anatomy that made concealment of her sex impossible.
With the help of a Marquesa D'Osseyra she convinced the surgeon to keep her secret. She made friends with the Lady Abbess of the Ursilines and became a pensioner in the convent of the Ursilines. Ironically, she was allowed to play a male role in a play performed by the nuns to entertain the Archbishop of Saragossa, and he recognized her from her student days at the University and asked the Lady Superior why she allowed a young man in the convent. Soon after this, Christina went back to her home in Bearn, her father having died in the meantime and her mother wishing to see her.
In Beam, dressed as a girl, of course, she received much male attention. She disliked the attention, however, and again with the aid of the Abbe Dizeste, she cut her hair, dressed as a boy, and went to Paris where she joined the First Company of the King's Guard. She went by the name of St. Aubin, and since the King's Guard was a detachment of musketeers, she has been known historically as "The Woman Musketeer."
The King journeyed to Flanders, accompanied by the Guard. During the trip, while billeted in the house of a wealthy burgher, St. Aubin had to put off the sexual advances of the wife, the sister, and the daughter of the burgher. (This would imply either wild exaggerations in the accounts of her life or unlimited sex appeal.)
Her history after this is confused (and the sources certainly don't agree), but it is known that she fought in several battles in the French Army and that each time she relinquished male garb she was followed and proposed to by the Marquess D'Osseyra, son of her friend, the Marquessa. Whenever this happened she donned male garb again and went into the army. At the siege of Ypres she was wounded seriously (actually the second time she was wounded in her military career) and died of her injuries. She is described as a great beauty and apparently ran from men by becoming one--her motivations, of course, lie buried with her at Bruges, Belgium.
To turn from muskets to the open sea, we have the remarkable story of Mary Anne Talbot who went against her will (as a slave of the Captain) to sea as a cabin boy in 1792. She liked the male role, however, and after many adventures which took her from her native London to the West Indies and back to London and Flanders, she escaped her cruel master. (He was killed in battle, fortunately.)
Dressed as a sailor, she deserted and tried to get back to England. She reached Luxembourg and shipped aboard a French lugger. This ship sailed in September 1793, and she soon discovered it was a privateer. In the English Channel the ship engaged a British vessel and was captured. Mary told her story (concealing her sex) to the Admiral himself and was made a powder boy. She served on many ships and took part in several battles and was wounded several times. She was also taken prisoner by the French another time but again escaped during an exchange of prisoners. She was 01 for a while and left the Navy, but continued to pose as a man. As a civilian she shipped aboard a merchantman bound for America as a ship's steward. Her pay was fifty pounds for the voyage. (A much larger sum than was usual, and no explanation is offered for this discrepancy
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in the accounts of her life.) The captain of this merchantman took a liking to the steward, and in America she visited his Rhode Island home where she courted his daughter--only leaving when the daughter pressed for marriage. Mary eventually sailed back to England where she was abducted by a "press-gang" (men who stole sailors and sold them as slave labor on other ships).
Later in life she admitted to having been "John Taylor" of some Navy fame and worked as an entertainer, still dressed as a man. She was awarded a pension by Queen Charlotte and was helped financially, too, by the Duke and Duchess of York and the Duke of Norfolk. This was undoubtedly due to her exploits rather than any real financial need on her part. She died in 1808, at only 30 years of age, having packed a lot of living into that short span of time.
Lady Hester Lucy Stanhope never pretended to be a man, but she took over all of the masculine prerogatives, including men's clothing. She was born in 1776 to a distinguished mother and father. Her father was Charles, Viscount Malion, afterwards Third Earl of Stanhope. Her uncle was William Pitt, the Younger, possibly England's greatest prime minister. She became William's housekeeper--and his most trusted confidant, a very unusual role for a young woman. When he died in 1806 he left 1500 pounds a year to her for life. (Some sources say only 1200 pounds; in either case, a wonderful sum.)
Soon after her uncle's death Lady Stanhope moved from London to Wales. She is described as being 6' tall, very beautiful, very intelligent and witty. As an aside we are told that she was headstrong, unmanageable, and very masculine. In 1806, at age 30, she fell in love for the first, last and only time in her life with "a young English girl named Williams." After four years, when much "coarse gossip" reached her ears, Lady Stanhope took Miss Williams and her personal physician, Charles Lewis Meryon, and several servants, and fled to the East. Her ship, the frigate Jason, was shipwrecked off Rhodes, but the party safely reached Palestine and Jerusalem. She obtained equipment and the party traveled into the desert and set up a camp near the ruins of Palmyra.
Later she moved her camp to the slopes of Mount Lebanon and made friends with the sheiks of various half-wild tribes (among other privileges accorded her was visiting the harems in her male garb, which caused some hilarious situations). She prevailed upon the Pasha of Acre to Cede her the ruined convent and village of Dahar-Joon-- built upon a conical mountain. There she rebuilt the entire town and added beautiful gardens and a strong outer wall. The Arabs loved her and her charity to them made them treat her like a God. She also adopted many of their customs, which would have added to her popularity.
However, when Miss Williams died in 1828 (or 1826; the sources vary) Lady Stanhope became quite increasingly uncivilized, particularly in her treatment of servants, punctuating blows with a mace (a metal-studded club) and "lurid language." She loved horses and cats and kept dozens of the latter. When she ran out of money (after helping to conduct a few Arab wars between neighboring tribes) she locked herself up in her paradise on the mountain and fasted to death in June 1839.
Catherine Wretford Tozer was born in 1834 at Axbridge near Somersetshire, England. She was well-educated for those times, attending a girls' college until age 16, when she married her first cousin, Percival Coome (or Coombes), some 23 years her senior. He was apparently very sadistic, mistreating her, and also once was discharged as a teacher for cruelty to the students. To escape him, Catherine ran away disguised as a man, and called herself "Charley Wilson." She became a house-painter and managed, to become a member of the Painter's Union in London. (This was a difficult accomplishment since membership in unions was then, as now, restricted, and usually passed on from father to son.) Catherine, as Charley Wilson, worked for 13 years for the P & O Company in London as a painter, and during at least 7 years of this time she lived with another woman--the two being considered man and wife, of course. The "marriage" lasted until the wife died in 1897. In April of that year Charley moved to a lodging house in Railway Terrace, Kinston-on-the-Thames, and told the landlady that she was a painter and glazier, and a widower who had lost a wife and three children. Catherine Coombes is known historically as "The Gentleman Painter."
The famous author of THE CLOISTER AND THE HEARTH, Charles Reade, wrote a far more elaborate and decidedly fanciful version of Catherine's life. Admittedly, his story is more Lesbian in tone, but also it is
[p. 21] | [Page Image]
very questionable. The only possible "fact" from his version is the name of the wife of Charley Wilson. He calls her Anne Ridgway, and one or two magazine articles use this name also; but it is not a verifiable fact.
"James Allen" presents a very intriguing mystery. There has never been any proof of the original identity of the woman called James Allen who successfully lived her adult life as a happily married man. In 1829 at St. Thomas's Hospital in London, James Allen died, and an inquiry into his death provides the only known facts. In 1808 James Allen was a groom in the household of a Mr. Ward of Camberwall Terrace and Mary Allen (no maiden name is known) was a housemaid. James courted and married her, and they saved their money and bought a small inn in Baldock, England. They were liked by people and the inn prospered for some years. Then a calamity struck: they were robbed in the night of all of their money and valuables. They sold their business and returned to London, where James found work in a ship-builder's yard. He was considered a sober and industrious worker. He was injured fatally by a failing piece of timber and died on the way to the hospital. The post-mortem examination determined him to be a woman, physically perfect in every respect.
At the inquest some question was made concerning the possibility of hermaphrodism. This was declared wholly without foundation by the several physicians who had examined the body. The wife, Mary Allen, is described as having been "innocent as a baby and unaware that there was anything unusual in her personal life." She must have been!!!
Almost everyone has heard of Deborah Sampson, the most publicized of the American women who fought as men during the Revolutionary War--but some of the more interesting aspects of her masquerade have been overlooked by her more saccharine-tongued biographers. Deborah was born in December 1760. Her father was a sailor, and he died when she was 5 years old. There were many children, and the mother had to farm them out to relatives. This atmosphere surely had some bearing on Deborah's later history.
One evening she "borrowed" a suit of men's clothes and spent the. evening drinking at the local "ordinary" (tavern). For this she was put out of the Baptist Church (which comes as no real surprise). She ran away from home in 1782 and joined the army, calling herself Robert Surtlieff. She saw little war action (despite some biographies to the contrary) but did win a reputation as "a devil with the ladies." Several hilarious accounts are told of girls attempting to trap her into marriage. At one time she must have been very ardently pursued because she wrote a letter to the girl to break off the relationship, and ended the letter with "Your Own Sex." After the war she married and nothing more of her history has been recorded.
A very sad story from the days of inadequate physical knowledge of the human body and inadequate knowledge about emotional involvements comes down to us from many sources. In 1735 in Grenoble, Anne Grand jean was born. She was the daughter of a carpenter, and in his desire to have a son he raised her as if she were a boy. At age 15 a scandal was created in the town by whisperers who said she had more charms for the lasses than the boys.
Upset and overwrought, Anne confessed her love for women to the town priest. Being a good and simple man, he assumed an error had been made and told her that she was really a boy. She went home and announced this and soon was known as Jean-Baptiste Grandjean. When it was observed that Jean-Baptiste was as friendly with girls as Anne had been shy with boys, no one doubted that she was a real boy.
Soon after this, she married a Francoise Lambert and her troubles really started. The couple moved to Lyon and started a business. There an "old friend," jealous over losing Jean-Baptiste, made trouble between them, telling the young wife the very truthful truth that she was married to a woman. The wife went to another priest and this one decided that indeed she must be married to a woman. Poor Jean-Baptiste was exposed in the stocks for a time and then thrown into prison as a "defiler of the sacrament of marriage." She lodged an appeal and the Paris Medical Faculty examined her and declared her to be a woman "with a touch of hermaphrodism." (Today this would probably be a normal female with a slightly overdeveloped clitoris, a medically common occurrence.) The Parliament of Paris freed her from prison but annulled her marriage and restored her name of "Anne." She was then forbidden to have anything to do with the female sex.
No further record of her life exists. However, it is unlikely that she followed
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the decree against her since she was only in her middle 20's at that time and was quite clearly a Lesbian.
Our last subject, Madame Jeanne Dieulafoy, is perhaps the strangest of all. To borrow a vulgarism, she was a "mixed-up kid." She dressed always as a man and insisted that she be treated as a man, but didn't try to deny that she was a woman. She was married to Marcel Dieulafoy, and there is a delightful photograph of them, often reproduced, in identical evening dress. Since her hair in the photograph is shorter than his, they look like brothers.
In itself, this behavior would not be sufficiently unusual to be of interest. But Madame Dieulafoy ran a school for the education of children based on the principle that a feminine education of both sexes was the only way of teaching young people how to behave properly in society. Consequently she educated both the boys and the girls as little girls. The boys played female parts in the presentations of the comedies of the times. We don't know who played the male parts.
Her private life, and her public life, were circumspect, as far as can be determined. It would be interesting, though, to know why everyone had to be educated to be proper ladies while she played the part of a man all of her life.
Each of these women used the male disguise to "pass" into a better world-- even as light-skinned blacks have passed as white. If they lived today, almost without exception they would have had less eventful but surely less harrowing lives. It is a matter of some gratitude to realize that women do not have to resort to these disguises today, though looking at the current "liberation" movement, one wonders!
Gilbert, Oscar Paul, WOMEN IN MEN'S GUISE, London, The Bodley Head, 1932.
Stoker, Bram, FAMOUS IMPOSTERS, N.Y., Sturgis and Walton, 1910.
Thompson, C.J.S., MYSTERIES OF SEX, London, Hutchinson, n.d. (1938).
Vinton, John Adams, THE FEMALE REVIEW, OR LIFE OF DEBORAH SAMPSON, Boston, 1866.
Wright, Richardson, FORGOTTEN LADIES, Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1928.
(Editor's Note: Some contemporary sources cite Deborah Sampson as being a black woman. We would very much appreciate positive clarification of this question from our readers. This article was originally written over five years ago and was updated for publication. Miss Sampson's own memoirs in the John Adams Vinton title cited above do not indicate that she was black.)
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by Gene Damon
Not too many years ago to be remembered by anyone old enough to be reading this column, blacks were still considered a negligible civil rights force, and their efforts at self-determination and freedom were quite frankly laughed at. Well, that's changed, and not just a little. And for the past four or so years, women have been in the news ... demanding equal rights. Well, that's not new. Women have been doing that since the middle 1850's ... we all know that, and nothing much has happened ... so, naturally, nothing much ever will.
On the other hand, in 1889 the first big step toward Mack equal rights was taken in this land. So who is to say when the "worm" will turn, or if it may already have turned? All this is leading up to a plethora of new books about what the world would really be like if women ran it. Naturally, such books, in this world today, have to be couched in science fiction terms. This isn't even a new theme in science fiction ... John Wyndham's wonderful CONSIDER HER WAYS, which first came out in 1956, comes easily to mind; and there were a number of others in the later 1950's on the general theme of worlds of women only. But these were more truly science fiction, less truly sociological commentary. Wyndham's book was based on a bee hive sort of existence within the female community, with workers, drones, and queens.
THE LEAGUE OF GREY-EYED WOMEN, by medical journalist Julius Fast, Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1969, considers what happens when an enormous colony of women who share a mutated gene series giving them grey eyes and telepathic abilities set about uniting themselves and finding a way to create a male stud for the furthering of their race. Fanciful as that sounds, Mr. Fast has done his medical homework (I checked), and he is not out of line on the possibilities. Our interest here, besides the obvious, is that the women are often Lesbians ... not for any major reason beyond the lack of ability to communicate with ordinary men ... who lack the telepathic sensitivity which allows them full love. As terrible as the idea might seem to some, a world where war, hate, fighting and poverty would not be possible doesn't seem too bad.
Another, and far less plausible, view is
provided by John Boyd in SEX AND THE
HIGH COMMAND, N.Y., Weybright and Talley, 1970. This is about how it all happens when the women really do take over the world ... in high gear. It features male stereotypes along the lines one sees on television, and it fails mightily in both its larger concept and its humor, but it does end with an all female world ... presumably quite happy.
THE CHOSEN PLACE, THE TIMELESS PEOPLE, by Paule Marshall, N.Y., Harcourt, Brace and World, 1969, begs for that cliché, "a major novel." It really is that ... combining all the excellence possible in a large cast novel without losing the skills that most often shine through in the little ones. Miss Marshall is a slow and good writer with few real credits but much critical acclaim. Her earlier works, SOUL CLAP HANDS AND SING, and BROWN GIRL, BROWNSTONES, both were well reviewed. The former title was a four part collection of novellas and contained minor male homosexuals. THE CHOSEN PLACE, THE TIMELESS PEOPLE is centered about a research development project on a barren West Indian island. The central figure is Merle, a black woman, illegitimate daughter of an island patriarch. Merle has been educated, both in school and in bed, in England. Her past includes a destructive and formative Lesbian relationship. She is not a
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real person, but she is more real than most chosen for this sort of pivot point in a novel. I will be accused of much prejudice here, but Miss Marshall is a better writer, hands down, than any black male novelist I've yet read... and to that I add, hurrah for her.
Reprint news seems to be limited to THE PURITAN JUNGLE by Sara Harris, out now from Pocket Books. This isn't much, except for its kind comments re the various and sundry load carriers in the movement.
What fun it is to watch John O'Hara's amazing route. I began many years ago chronicling his progress into the field of homosexual literature. He began with a few excursions into the male aspects of the field and soon began including women... in recent years he has become more and more concerned with Lesbianism, reaching a high point in AND OTHER STORIES, which was his last short story collection (N.Y., Random, 1968, Bantam, 1970). His latest novel. LOVEY CHILDS: A PHILADELPHIAN'S STORY, N.Y., Random, 1969, is quite major. It isn't up to the level of his better Lesbian short stories, but his novels never are up to his shorter works, so faulting him on that ground is not really fair. It is a typical O'Hara novel, using his usual milieu, Philadelphia's upper class, in every way except for the really heavy emphasis on the Lesbianism. Critics are damning him again, but that is fashionable and a bit like shooting arrows at the Rock of Gibraltar... foolish. If you like him, this Is your book. Most amazing thing about the man is that he can write about women and be believed by women reading him... very few male novelists can do this. One in the eye for the critics. Perfect he isn't; great he is.
Theater nuts are asked please to watch for any printed presentation of Edward Bond's 1967 play, EARLY MORNING. This is supposed to be about Queen Victoria and Florence Nightingale... as Lesbians. Apparently this was first presented in England sometime in 1967 or 1968. It has recently (sometime in 1969) been presented as part of an Edward Bond Festival at the Royal Court Theater in London. We believe that it was the last play to be banned officially by the Lord Chamberlain, but we are relying on memory here and aren't sure. Certain magazines in the U.S. and Britain customarily publish full texts of plays. If anyone finds this one, please send a copy or at least the reference, attention Gene Damon.
Simon Cooper's THE RAG DOLLS is out from (Signet, 1970... read and forget type entertainment... minor interest.
On the other hand, May Sarton's wonderful THE FUR PERSON is out in paperback from Signet, 1970 (we feel this is probably its first paperback incarnation). It is about the finest cat book (fiction) ever written, and it tells about a cat about town, Tom Jones, and the two women he adopts (they think they adopt him), and how he becomes "with a little help from his friends" a fur person. Reviewer in PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY commented that she planned to give a number of, copies away to human-type fur people... and that will be 60 cents well spent and well received in each case.
Bantam Books has a paperback edition of THE MAGIC GARDEN OF STANLEY SWEETHEART out, 1970. Definitely worth paperback price but primarily for those interested in his potential talent. Lesbian material in it is silly.
If you cannot be present for the Convention, make sure someone who is attending can voice your vote via proxy. If you or a friend cannot attend, mail your proxy to:
c/o Rita Laporte, Nat'l. Pres.
Daughters of Bilitis
1005 Market Street, Room 208
San Francisco, Calif. 94103
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THE TRANSSEXUAL EXPERIENCE
by Karl Ericsen
I am a transsexual--a person who has changed physical sex (female to male). I have become increasingly disturbed by the wall being erected between transsexuals and lesbians. It seems to be the result of too much misinformation floating about, added to the tendency on most peoples' part to equate the two groups and therefore not understand the measures each takes in solving its particular problem, e.g., lesbians (and most heterosexuals) can't understand why a transsexual wants to be a man and think they are bowing to society in seeking a change. It is my hope that through this paper, a few more minds (and hearts) will open up and we can all progress.
The main thing to remember is that a transsexual is always aware of living a dual life, i.e., having the inner drives and desires of a male and the physique (or reasonable facsimile) of a female. Sure, I am well aware that many females "want to be a boy" at least during childhood. I am also aware that many think it more advantageous to be a male. But the transsexual does not look at it that way--something inside lets him know from the onset of conscious thinking that he is a male in the, "wrong suit of clothes". In every aspect of his life he is male except physically. He prefers and seeks male company and feels out of place with groups of females, is interested in male vocations and avocations and falls in love with females (usually heterosexual). While these may fit a masculine lesbian, there is one difference--the lesbian always know she is a female. A transsexual is constantly at war unless a sex change can be obtained.
That is a simple enough definition--the difficulty lies in pinpointing the cause(s). This is where the two factions clash and the name calling begins. I believe the "war" is a useless preoccupation because the criteria used to back up statements (biological, psychological and sociological) have not been scientifically substantiated and, therefore, facts become theories. I am not using this as a defense--only trying to get people to close their mouths and accept each other --maybe tomorrow we will have some real answers. Great leaps are being made in many related fields--genetics, behavior conditioning, endocrinology, sexual response research and so on.
Let me attempt to open a crack to the "inner door" and let you take a look at some of the obstacles a transsexual faces in making the sex change. Before we go into detail on those, I believe we should clear up some of the scandal that has come down upon the heads of the doctors who are working in this field. Of course, there are quacks--as in every field of medicine-- and the public is partly at fault in this case because it effectively restricts ethical doctors from entering this field. Our laws are so shrouded in puritanical hogwash that a doctor risks not only his reputation, but also his practice. However, I must say that the doctors I have met have been excellent. They made every effort to make a thorough and objective evaluation of me before recommending treatment. Transsexuals have their share of borderline cases (those are patients who might change their minds or who are not quite sure) and more than their just share of emotional instability (the transsexual often lives many extremely lonely and hopeless years in a world just not made for him). Most surgeons who perform the operations will not even interview a patient until he has been screened by a psychiatrist and an endocrinologist and enough time has elapsed to give the patient a chance to live and work in the new sex.
The transsexual's first obstacle is to find a doctor (or person) knowledgeable enough to know that work is being done in this field. This may seem minor to a well read city dweller but it is a real mountain to some poor kid in Wheatville, Kansas. Once the transsexual has been put in touch with an endocrinologist in the field, the problem is temporarily taken out of his hands and he is put through every imaginable test. Some hospitals (Johns Hopkins, University of Michigan and U.C.L.A.) have been using this information and transsexual subjects for research work.
The first test includes a very detailed personal history--family, medical, sexual and social, and a thorough physical examination. Besides being looked at and into from all possible angles, measurements are
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taken (often a hypogonadal condition shows up in these) a cornification test is given (testing for female hormones) and reflexes are tested (for instance, the "gagging reflex" is primarily male--gagging when an object is put near but not touching the pharnyx lining).
Next, the transsexual is sent to an endocrinal laboratory with a twenty-four hour urine collection. Tests are made to determine the level of the male hormones. A blood test is also taken and several evaluations made. The female averages from 8 to 14; the transsexual averages from 12 to 30.
Lastly, the transsexual is given a battery of psychological tests and referred to a psychiatrist.
After all of this information has been collected and studied, the patient is again interviewed by the endocrinologist. At this time the findings and future are discussed. A very frank discussion takes place and all questions are answered. The transsexual is told everything that is known in the field and what procedures will take place. If the doctor considers him a likely (and qualified) candidate for surgical procedure, he is invited to join a discussion group. In this group are other transsexuals (in various stages of change and dress), transsexual's mates, doctors and lawyers, and every aspect of the transsexual's past, present and future are discussed.
The transsexual is then started on a series of male hormone injections--these cause menses to cease, voice to deepen, body and facial hair to grow, skin to coarsen, and muscles to increase strength. The transsexual is advised to begin living and working as a male. All this is to give the transsexual a chance to sample life as a physical male and to see if it is really right for him. If he decides that it is not, the injections are stopped and he gains all of his female-ness back except his voice (once the vocal chords are stretched, they do not shrink).
After a period of adjustment, an interview with a plastic surgeon is made. If the surgeon agrees, a double breast amputation is performed. This is a rather simple surgical procedure leaving two almost invisible scars on the chest. Hospital stay is two to four days; recuperation, one week.
The second surgery is a hysterectomy. This is a very traumatic experience to most females because it completely takes away any chance to procreate. It is, therefore, given serious consideration by the doctors and patient. A true transsexual could only come away elated and with no regrets.
The third operation has not been perfected to any degree. This is the construction of a penis. It has been tried on several transsexuals without much favorable result. It would include enclosing a section of rib cartilage in a skin graft and running the urethra through lit. Most transsexuals are not willing to go through the pain and expense of this operation until it has been perfected. The doctors and transsexuals are hoping for this or a transplant to become feasible.
The social obstacles the transsexual meets are varied. Some families have completely understood and supported--others have disowned their transsexual member. Friends are sometimes slow in acceptance if the transsexual has kept that part of himself away from them. Some friends (usually friends of the family and relatives) are shocked--some think it is a change for the better and necessary. Strangers who do not know of the change never bat an eye (if the change is successful).
A sex life for the transsexual is difficult at best. Before the change he has a problem relating to women because they tend to see him as a masculine female. In sexual intercourse he is always the aggressor and can never look at himself as any part female. This presents tremendous problems. Heterosexual women would shy away from a masculine female; lesbians would be attracted to his female side (every human possesses both) but be appalled by his maleness. Another problem is his body--it is odious to him before the change and he doesn't want his mate to view it any more than he wants to--this takes much of the enjoyment out of sex. Because of these overwhelming odds most transsexuals have either abstained completely or they have had many stormy affairs which have been unsuccessful.
After the change the transsexual usually has a lot less difficulty in finding a mate. Most marry legally--once the transsexual has been changed, he can accept his body and most of the obstacles are removed and love removes the rest.
A very few transsexuals have a mate before the change who remains with them afterwards. Others try but fail, for after the change the transsexual is not the same physical person and many mates cannot accept it.
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The most difficult obstacle is the paper world. The main object is to get the birth certificate changed. Each state handles it differently. Some have sealed the old and issued a new. Some have issued amendments to be attached. Others have refused to deal with the problem. In some states the courts have forced the administrative branch to side with the transsexual--in other states the courts have made it more difficult. Sometimes it is a simple matter of writing a letter and sending the doctor's affidavit--other times it can be a costly and time consuming matter. Once the birth certificate has been changed, other papers can be changed and life can go on. If it cannot be changed, then other means must be found. Sometimes a church will issue a new baptismal certificate. In extreme cases, forged papers are a last resort.
Adjustment after the change can be trying but the problems seem minimal and laughable after his previous life. He must take steps to guard his family and self from sensationalized publicity--this is hard to insure unless he wants to change his complete life. Often he must accept a change in his vocation--usually into a much lower economy (I know of cases where years of education and hard work had to be given up). If he has not been used to the male role before the change, a whole new set of mannerisms, dress and habits must be adopted.
The transsexual realizes that many times in his life he will be criticized for what he has done. But these storms he can easily weather because they are small compared to his life before and he knows that he would make the same decision one hundred times more, because for the transsexual it is the only acceptable and available answer.
Before the Gap becomes a Chism
by Fen Gregory
A few years ago the term "straight Lesbian" would have been self-contradictory. No so today! The generation gap (or the establishment barricade, as some prefer) has struck the homophile world.
Two young women, for example, were recently refused service at a gay bar-restaurant in Oakland, California. Why? Because they looked more like hippies than Lesbians. Their "kind," they were told, were not welcome.
At a joint DOB-Women's Liberation meeting in the Bay Area the discussion ended up in a debate about marriage (heterosexual or homosexual) as an institution. Afterwards one of the young Lesbians remarked she felt she had more in common with the "straight" people at the meeting than she had with many of the Lesbians she knew.
And the San Francisco DOB Chapter discussion group found its younger members protesting the criticism of others' dress and speech habits. It shouldn't matter, they argued, what kind of clothes people wear or whether or not their language is seasoned with four-letter words.
Before the gap becomes a chism or the barricade a brick wall, we might well consider why this rupture between the generations is such a threat to the homophile movement.
For years the battle for acceptance has been fought along a particular line; one comparable to that which, until recently, the Negro followed. In fact, homosexuals and Lesbians were spoken of as a minority whose problems of discrimination were akin to those of religious and racial minorities.
More important, the argument for their acceptance into the larger society paralleled the arguments against racial and religious discrimination:
They may be A (insert any minority), but they are just as B (nice, moral, devout, etc.) as you and I. Therefore it is unfair to discriminate against them because of "A".
The strength of the argument increases if "A" is inborn, or at least, involuntary. Its validity, however, depends on "B". If it isn't true, the argument collapses.
Utilizing this approach with its emphasis on sameness creates a vested interest in moral and social conformity. The result in many cases is the "straight" Lesbian and homosexual, persons who have become rigid advocates of the social and moral status quo.
Now! Enter the young; the new morality; the belief that the individual has the
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RIGHT to be different. Basic to this attitude is the assertion that the larger society cannot legitimately dictate the life patterns of social habits of its individual members.
Fortified with this idea, increasing numbers of young homosexuals and Lesbians perceive their sexuality in the same manner as other social differences; placing sex practices (not just homosexuality) on the same level as variations in dress or life-style habits. And individual differences, according to the new morality, are not legitimate reasons for discrimination.
It is this change in premise that threatens to split the homophile movement, for its advocates have a vested interest in non-conformity rather than conformity. One's right to be different, indeed, rests with that of every other individual's.
Also it involves a new strategy. People seek acceptance, but they DEMAND their rights. Openly. And LOUDLY. Sometimes, even, DEFIANTLY.
The question as to whether or not a split in the homophile world is inevitable still remains open. However, the possibility of the older, conformity oriented homophile community becoming part of the rejected "establishment" does exist.
And it is talked about. Among the young.
BACK ISSUES OF
Prior to October/November 1968, THE LADDER was issued monthly for the most part; we now issue six magazines a year. THE LADDER year begins with the October/November issue each year.
Where available, copies of each issue in Volumes 13 and 14 (Oct/Nov. 1968 through Feb./Mar. 1970) cost $1.25. Individual issues before that time are $1.00 per magazine.
EVERY MAGAZINE IS NEW UNTIL
YOU'VE READ IT!
ECCLESIASTES BE DAMNED
By Patricia Michaels
It was a simple misunderstanding, of course. You simply read my lack of colors to be an admission while it was actually a refusal. I do not traffic in the coin of the realm... I live in my own world and there is no room for another. I came to dinner and went home scarlet, confused but unoffended. And how I thought about it, that supposedly unintellectual decision! I thought instead of eating, instead of sleeping, and when I could think no more, I drank to maintain an aesthetic distance from myself. Hollows came back beneath my cheekbones and my eyes, already deep set, no longer peered out at the world but burned in hot, honey-colored confusion. I have yellow eyes like a cat, and catlike, I have always walked alone, more alone than ever because I had just severed the one tie that had bound me to anyone. I could not give myself, and then you asked me to take you, casually, elegantly, gently.
Oh, you are gentle, and I am not. I have fought, scarring my knuckles and scarring my mind, rebelling against a world that would take my mind and run it through the stamp mill of conformity, building my own private world of books and dreams, developing the mind of a philosopher and the heart of a poet but the emotional courage of a hedgehog. To be handed something as fragile as your heart and as soft as your body... I was suddenly all sharp corners and clumsy fingers. I ran as I alone seemed to run, back to the sterile, mathematical precision of machinery, power that I could control and bend to my will. I bought a machine to tame, this time a motorcycle because I couldn't afford another car, and now I flee the winds of wrath that are of my own making.
I thought about it and decided that I had nothing that I could lose but a chance to gain the elusive wholeness that is absent in my life. You had touched a long-hidden chord in the atonic jangle of my nerves and I had responded, but I needed time to learn the intricate fretwork of so complex a melody, and with all you offered me, the one thing you could not give me was time. Your needs were immediate, and my decision came too late. So I smiled, as I am smiling now, and asked you to be happy so that I would not be sad, knowing that my inability to give had destroyed your opportunity to love.
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Lesbian Literature in 1969
an annual review by Gene Damon
For the first time in years, the report is being abbreviated in the interests of space and time.
All of the titles covered here have been reviewed in the last year in the Lesbiana column.
Statistically, and in every other way, this was an excellent year. As has been done for several years, we do not even include the several hundred paperback originals that fall into the category of hard-core pornography. These are usually more notable for their impossible writing than their erotic content. Forty-three of 1969's 66 recorded titles were hardback books. Most of these are well worth having, and there were a number of titles that cannot be fairly included in the statistics but that deserve mention again. Only titles discovered between November 15, 1968 and December 15, 1969, are included, which means that some of the titles in this issue's Lesbiana column are included in this review and some are not, but we have to have an arbitrary cut-off time. Anything missed one year is picked up the next.
Too many of the major titles were too good to select a best or even a small number of better books. From the standpoint of literature, possibly Sybille Bedford's A COMPASS ERROR; London, Collins, 1968, N.Y., Knopf, 1968, leads the rest; but personal taste will find most readers choosing Isabel Miller's A PLACE FOR US, N.Y., Bleecker Street Press, 1969. Both are major must novels. John O'Hara's late 1968 short story collection, AND OTHER STORIES, Random, 1968, Bantam, 1970, contains three pertinent stories, "The Broken Giraffe", "We'll Have Fun", and the short novel, A FEW TRIPS AND SOME POETRY. His 1969 novel, LOVEY CHILDS, also Random House, should be read by anyone remotely interested in the literature in this field. Following these closely would be THE SWEET DEATH OF CANDOR by Hannah Lees, N.Y., Harcourt, Brace and World, 1969; Olivia Manning's THE CAMPERLEA GIRLS, N.Y., Coward-McCann, 1969 (in England, THE PLAY ROOM, London, Heinemann, 1969); CATCHING SARADOVE by Bertha Harris, N.Y., Harcourt, Brace and World, 1969; and Norman Bogner's THE MADONNA COMPLEX, N.Y., Coward-McCann, 1968, Dell, 1969.
On the serious side, and less apt to please the general reader, are CONSIDER SAPPHO BURNING by Nicholas Delbanco, N.Y., Morrow, 1969, and William Bryant's literary game, ALMOST, N.Y., McGraw-Hill, 1969. Both are good books ...neither is likely to be popular.
There are always a few novels that deal directly or indirectly with sadism and masochism that are accurately or erroneously included in this field. Renato Ghiotto's CHECK TO THE QUEEN, N.Y., Putnam, and London, Macdonald, 1969, was widely and erroneously reviewed as pertinent here ...it is not. On the other hand, George Revelli's very funny COMMANDER AMANDA, N.Y., Grove, 1968, is, and sophisticated readers may enjoy it.
History lovers will like THE GODS ARE NOT MOCKED by Anna Taylor, N.Y., Morrow, 1969 (this is very major, incidentally, and well done, so it is recommended to all). A less successful historical novel, THE ROSE AND THE SWORD, by Sandra Paretti, N.Y., Coward-McCann, 1969, includes a couple of Lesbian nuns in the cast, one a good kid and one of those other kind.
There were the usual handful of minor titles... some minor only because the Lesbian in the story is dealt with more or less distantly, without the personal aspects, and some minor in terms of pertinent pages in a lengthy novel... INTERSECTIONS by Graham Ward, London, Hutchinson, 1969; FANCY by Robert Krepps, Boston, Little, Brown, 1969; THE BIG STUFFED HAND OF FRIENDSHIP, London, Peter Owen, 1969; WOUNDS by Maureen Duffy, N.Y., Knopf, 1969 London, Hutchinson, 1969; and Shirley Schoonover's fascinating SAM'S SONG, N.Y., Coward-McCann, 1969. We can fairly include here Graham Greene's autobiographical TRAVELS WITH MY AUNT, London, Bodley Head, 1969.
Inevitably several books must have special mention. THE DAKOTA PROJECT by Jack Beeching, London, Jonathan Cape, 1968, N.Y., Delacorte, 1969, is high grade science fiction with a very, very major Lesbian subplot and very well drawn characters. It is highly recommended. Three titles, all minor, must be mentioned for their literary qualities... FAT CITY, by
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Leonard Gardner, N.Y., Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1969, is one of the candidates for the National Book Award for this year; Richard Condon's blockbuster MILE HIGH, N.Y., Dial, 1969, and London, Heinemann, 1969, is simply delightful to read, and the Lesbian portion though minor has far reaching consequences; Paule Marshall's THE CHOSEN PLACE, THE TIMELESS PEOPLE, N.Y., Harcourt, Brace and World, 1969, is an excellent novel.
These five, are varying degrees of competence posing as trash, or maybe the other way around: THE RAG DOLLS by Simon Cooper, N.Y., World New American Library, 1969, Signet, 1970; THE MALEDICTION, by Julian Claman, N.Y., Dutton, 1969, Bantam, 1970; SEX CAGE by Llonka, N.Y., Vantage, 1969; THE BEAUTY TRAP, Jeanne Rejaunier, N.Y., Trident, 1969, Pocket Books, 1970; and PROVIDENCE ISLAND by Calder Willingham, N.Y., Vanguard, 1969, Dell, 1970. (Note, please, that only the vanity published SEX CAGE has so far not appeared in paperback... which proves something about the nature of trash and reading habits. Many of the better books never get into paperback, which is sad in view of the cost of books today.)
The low point in recent years was reached by Lord Snow in his THE SLEEP OF REASON, N.Y., Scriber, 1969 (London, Macmillan, 1968). This is possibly the most unwarranted bit of viciousness we've suffered in recent years. Despite extensive publicity, by the way, this book did not sell well.
Humorous fiction, or attempts at it, are either very popular or publishers wish this to be so. Six titles fell in this area, some good, some very bad. The best by far was the publishing of Lytton Strachey's ERMYNTRUDE AND ESMERALDA, N.Y., Stein and Day, 1969. This was followed closely by Robin Cook's PRIVATE PARTS IN PUBLIC PLACES, N.Y., Atheneum, 1969; THE MAGIC GARDEN OF STANLEY SWEETHEART, Robert Westbrook, N.Y., Crown, 1969, Bantam, 1970; and MRS. MOUNT ASCENDANT by John Goldsmith, London, Hogarth, 1968. Less successful was Raymond Spence's fairly funny NOTHING BLACK BUT A CADILLAC, N.Y., Putnam, 1969, Berkeley, 1969... and dreadful was GUMDROP, GUMDROP, LET DOWN YOUR HAIR by Jeannie Sakol, N.Y., Prentice-Hall, 1969.
Another novel that needs to be discussed by itself is the very disappointing LUCY by Helen Essary Ansell, N.Y., Harper & Row, 1969. Miss Ansell's novel is poor but she has already shown remarkable talent in the short story field and it is hoped she will go on writing. This is, by the way, quite major.
Three short stories: Lin Yatta's wonderful "Fitting" in EVERGREEN REVIEW, May 1969; George P. Elliott's minor and not very good "Nikki: For a Couple of Months" in ESQUIRE, June 1969; and Pamela Frankau's COLONEL BLESSINGTON, a short novel first run in the August, 1969, COSMOPOLITAN, and then published in book form by Delacorte in 1969 (this last novel is variant rather than Lesbian).
Poetry lovers are advised to watch for all of the work of new and good young poet Lynn Strongin (see "Lesbiana", October/November, 1969). The only other poetry to report is the glorious Beram Saklatvala restoration of Sappho's work in SAPPHO OF LESBOS, London, Charles Skilton, 1968, and the book length narrative poem, CASSANDRA, by -William Bentley Edmonds, London, and N.Y., Arcadian, 1969.
Once again I close with a plea for help. There is no way any one person can find all of the titles. This is especially true of magazine fiction ranging from popular women's magazines to the most esoteric quarterlies and so-called little magazines. It is also true of poetry, which is undergoing a very welcome renaissance just now. Please, those of you who read poetry as a matter of personal enjoyment, let me know about any pertinent writers... if they seem suspicious, let me hear about those too, so they can be checked and then shared with others.
Lastly, the major titles are obviously going to be found... but those "big" books with cinemascope casts often contain substantial chunks of interesting, valid and pertinent material. Some years ago reviewers deliberately neglected to mention such material for fear of being offensive. Now, many reviewers are so emancipated they no longer "bother" to mention such ordinary material as male homosexuals or Lesbians. So help, please, where you can.
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HONG KONG, November 29, 1969. Margaret Tu Chuan, local actress of note, was found dead in the embrace of her also-dead lover, Ho Miao-chu. Tu Chuan, 30, and Ho Miao-chu, 26, left notes asking that they be buried together (this was not done). Tu Chuan, separated from a husband, left a son. Ho Miao-chu, an interior decorator, had never married. In a television interview following the deaths, Tu Chuan's mother denied that her daughter was a Lesbian!! (This particular story must have been published all over the world, for it did reach me from about 10 different places ...now if you all will just tell me what's going on in the good old U.S.A....)
ANUBIS, A LOS ANGELES-centered social club for both male homosexuals and Lesbians, was illicitly raided on December 19, 1969. It has been learned since that time that two female undercover agents had infiltrated the organization: one, Louise Sulzner, an investigator for the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control; the other, Laura Jamosky, is a deputy sheriff. No arrests were made, but two citations were issued, one for selling alcoholic beverages without a license, and the other for allowing dancing without a license. This outrage took place in the private clubhouse of the organization. People present were harassed, and the police were said to be angry not to find something that would warrant any arrests being made. We wonder how many innocent people are murdered in this area each year while the law enforcement agencies concentrate on "desperate homosexual criminals," minding their own business on private property.
SEX IS A PRIVATE AFFAIR: Austin, Texas, AP. December 20, 1969. A. Dallas couple, Mike and Jan Gibson, filed on December 1, 1969 to show that Texas' laws on sodomy are illegal. Since they are a heterosexual married couple, it is quite clear that Assistant Attorney General Charles Perrott's public statement, "We have a problem if a married couple challenges this statute," is about to come true deep in the heart of Texas.
SEX IN THE DAYTIME... SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER AND CHRONICLE, December 21, 1969. Dwight Newton, writing about soap operas, comments, "The sex in soap operas is almost totally heterosexual. Homosexuality is practically taboo along with physical violence, nudity and racial integration. Among the 15 soap operas monitored this week there were but two blacks--one black male detective... and one black female secretary... Generally speaking, the television soap opera is a lily-white world. Correction: a lily-white heterosexual world."
FREE PARTICLE: NEW MAGAZINE ARRIVING. December 30, 1969. In an interview with Dunbar Aitken, chairman of the Gay Liberation Front in San Francisco, the San Francisco CHRONICLE announced the beginning of a new magazine, FREE PARTICLE, which Mr. Aitken describes as a "scientific and literary journal by and for male and female homosexuals." We haven't seen one yet as this is being written; presumably we will and will comment then.
SOCIOLOGICAL APPROACHES TO HOMOSEXUALITY: BERKELEY, January 1970. Yes, that is just what it sounds like, the name of a college course--a two-quarter course--at the University of California, Berkeley. Numbered Sociology 191, the course has been approved by the Sociology Department of the University for the next two years. It is accredited and to be given on campus. The instructor is Roxanna Sweet, whose doctorate is in criminology. Dr. Sweet is familiar with the Bay Area homophile community, and it is felt that she will do an outstanding job. Many area organizations have made contributions to enable the course to begin (educational monies have been frozen in the area by the Reagan administration), including DOB, CRH, TAVERN GUILD and SIR. (Other groups have been contacted and will undoubtedly contribute as well.)
HBBA, San Francisco, January 1970. Those initials stand for HOMOPHILE BETTER BUSINESS ASSOCIATION, and the group concerns itself with informing the homophile community of unfair business practices aimed at them... wonderful ...To date, all we have seen is their introductory letter and a list called "Alert Notice" covering January-February 1970 and citing a number of parties engaged in questionable enterprises.
CALIFORNIA TEACHERS' UNION ADOPTS HOMOSEXUAL RESOLUTION:
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January 1970. The California Federation of Teachers, at their annual meeting in Los Angeles, December 27-29, 1969, adopted an unprecedented resolution demanding the establishment of sex education programs and "the abolition of all laws or other governmental policy which involves non-victim sexual practice." The resolution was written and presented by Morgan Pinney, assistant professor of accounting at San Francisco State College, and an active member of the militant COMMITTEE FOR HOMOSEXUAL FREEDOM. This federation represents thousands of teachers at all levels of education, and the successful passage of this resolution is an enormous breakthrough for all of us concerned with our civil rights in all areas of private behavior.
The resolution reads as follows:
BECAUSE millions of American homosexuals are oppressed by the American System,
Because homosexuals are harassed and intimidated by the police,
Because the self-hatred caused by the system's oppression is the most hideous result thereof,
Because their ability to hide the sexual nature (unlike blacks, whose race is obvious) keeps homosexuals immobilized,
Because the government's anti-homosexual policies set the tone of homosexual oppression as nation- al policy,
THE CALIFORNIA FEDERATION OF TEACHERS DEMANDS:
(1) The abolition of all laws or other governmental policy which involves non-victim sexual practice.
(2) A vigorous life and sex education program at all school levels which explains the various American life-styles.
WHAT GROUP DID YOU SAY? Long before you read this there will undoubtedly be another 10 new groups with very similar names in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. There are almost as many groups for them as there are gay people, and the last year has created a number with almost identical names... all sounding vaguely like GAY LIBERATION and GAY WOMEN'S LIBERATION. Eventually, since they are all radical groups, they will begin to be referred to collectively as GAY LIBERATION, in much the same way that WOMEN'S LIBERATION is a catch-all term covering some 20 different organizations. We try in these pages to keep them all sorted out... but don't be surprised if you are confused--so are we. Latest example is that the GAY ACTIVISTS' ALLIANCE was formed in New York City in January 1970. This group represents a dissident group from both MATTACHINE SOCIETY of NYC and GAY LIBERATION FRONT. Despite the even more radical name, this group formed to get away from the "do your own thing" philosophy of the "front" group. And on and on...
WIN MAGAZINE, January 1970. This issue of the radical WIN magazine is devoted to the Women's Liberation Movement and includes a reprint of Martha Shelley's excellent essay, "Stepin Fechit Women," from the first issue of COME OUT.
ALLEN GINSBERG on the witness stand. Chicago, January 1970. In the Chicago "7" trial, witness for the defense, Allen Ginsberg, was harassed by the prosecution in an attempt to impugn his character by asking him to read one of his poems on a homosexual theme. They may well have regretted it, convictions or no, because Ginsberg's shaming replies have been printed coast-to-coast. Among other things he said: "We have many loves, many of which are suppressed, many of which are denied. ...Becoming aware of these loves is the only way this nation can save itself and become a democratic nation."
WBAI-FM, New York City, has a regular program called, "By and for the Homosexual Community," every Thursday at 9:00 p.m.
FAMILY WEEKLY, January 4, 1970. We don't know what this newspaper-type magazine is, but suspect it is a local item. This issue of FAMILY WEEKLY has a ridiculous and highly insulting article on women, called WOMEN WILL CHALLENGE MEN, listing a handful of token females in top jobs...bleah!!!
DEL MARTIN AND PHYLLIS LYON'S wonderful article on the Lesbian, which first appeared in MOTIVE MAGAZINE in the March/April 1969 issue, was reprinted on January 9, 1970 in the LOS ANGELES FREE PRESS. We believe this "underground" newspaper has very wide circulation at least in major cities, and are pleased that the article could, therefore, reach so many.
MIDWEST MAGAZINE, CHICAGO SUNDAY SUN-TIMES, January 11, 1970,
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Article by Judy Nicol with the utterly senseless title, SHOULD WE RECOGNIZE WOMEN'S FIGHT? The article itself Is good... for what it purports to be. Wait, Chicago, till you all hear about the issue of RAT I am going to talk about later.
SAY IT LOUD--WE ARE GAY AND WE ARE PROUD; Los Angeles, January 11, 1970. More than 250 homosexuals and Lesbians, led by Rev. Troy Perry, chairman of the Committee for Homosexual Law Reform and pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church, marched down Hollywood Boulevard this rainy Sunday evening, in a peaceful demonstration for civil rights.
SYDNEY J. HARRIS, syndicated columnist often mentioned in these pages, in his January 13, 1970 column called JOURNALISM RAZING BARRIERS TO WOMEN, hits hard at his own craft (the males in it) for excluding women. He concludes with, "THE MOST ENORMOUS PREJUDICE IN THE WORLD IS THIS ANIMUS AGAINST 50 PERCENT OF THE HUMAN RACE." Thank you again, Mr. Harris.
A PARADE OF GAY PICKETS: San Francisco, January 16, 1970. Some 60 members of the Gay Liberation Front picketed American Broadcasting Company's station KGO-TV (and radio), protesting the firing of KGO-radio's Leo Laurence. Laurence, an ABC network news editor, was fired the day after he took part in a Gay protest against the San Francisco EXAMINER. Only two arrests were reported, and no violence... the pickets carried the usual "Gay Love Is Good Love" and "Love Thy Brother" signs... (Love throwing that "usual" in there... remember when it wasn't so usual???) Union Local 51 of the National Association of Broadcast Employees has been fighting the firing for Leo, and he has been receiving his pay check regularly from the station since the firing.
CONCEPTION, MISSOURI, January 15, 1970. KANSAS CITY STAR for this date carries the story of Daniel Gorham, dismissed from the Immaculate Conception Seminary at Conception, Missouri for his letter to the editors of LOOK magazine that appeared in that magazine's January 13, 1970 issue. Mr. Gorham describes himself as president of THE VINEYARD, an organization founded in 1967 for both heterosexuals and homosexuals who wish to give themselves to the church. In his letter Mr. Gorham specifies that the church has not turned its back on homosexuals (though his dismissal would not indicate much else), and further said that homosexuals might belong to Vineyard though they were still active in homosexual affairs. After the letter appeared, says the STAR, a St. Joseph, Missouri television station asked Gorham for an interview, but later Gorham's school made him cancel it. He was also forbidden to talk to newsmen, but that was overlooked, obviously. At the time of the appearance of this article, the dismissal was not certain but was dependent upon the wishes of a conservative bishop of the church. Ironically, the article makes It fairly clear that Gorham is, himself, not homosexual.
MORE DANIEL GORHAM: KANSAS CITY STAR, January 16 and January 21, 1970. Daniel, dismissed from the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Conception, Missouri, has been accepted by the Senru Cenacle at Jarrel, Texas, another Catholic seminary. We wish him well.
BELATED NEWS: On January 19, 1970 we were informed that the long-promised book on Women's Liberation, which is to feature a complete history of DOB, along with addresses, etc., is finally scheduled again for publication. It is now firmly titled THE HAND THAT CRADLES THE ROCK; editor is Robin Morgan, and publisher is Random House... time now due: May 1970. We also learned that in addition to Gene Damon's chapter on DOB, there will be another chapter on the Lesbian in the book, authored by our own Martha Shelley. It is noted, also, that the Lesbian is the only special group to have "double" appearances in the book.
TEXAS LAW OUT: Dallas, January 21, 1970. The previously cited attempt to have the Texas sodomy law thrown out worked. On this date a three-judge United District Court in Dallas unanimously declared the law unconstitutional.
SAN DIEGO, LOS ANGELES, DOB AND REV. PERRY. Friday, January 23, 1970. Special to THE LADDER. Twelve visitors from the San Diego DOB chapter attended the meeting of the Los Angeles chapter, and the approximately 40 women -attending heard Rev. Troy Perry speak about the METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CHURCH.
CLEVELAND, CHICAGO, RITA LAPORTE AND ALAN DOUGLAS: Special to THE LADDER: Television and radio audiences across the country were
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treated to Interviews with Rita Laporte, national president; Eve Devon, president of Cleveland DOB, and Stacey Smith, member of Cleveland DOB, late in January 1970.
They took part in a two-hour panel discussion on the Alan Douglas Radio Show on January 23rd and taped a half-hour television show. Audience reaction was favorable and we have received reports from all over the western and northern portions of the U.S. where these shows were carried. The trip to Cleveland, partly financed by the station, gave Rita a chance to meet with the newly chartered chapter. Eve Devon, chapter president, reports that the "participants enjoyed themselves immensely." The Cleveland chapter has been inundated with requests for information ever since. ON TO CHICAGO: Rita Laporte arrived in Chicago on Sunday, the 25th of January. Sharon James and Kay Kelly of the Chicago DOB were on hand to greet her at the airport. Later that evening a meeting of the group was held in Rita's honor at the home of a member. Various plans were gone over to give publicity to the group and increase its size. Aleta Styers, past president of NOW, was the featured speaker at the meeting. Currently serving on NOW's Public Relations Committee, Aleta spoke of the Lesbian's role in the feminist movement and stressed the point that the goals of the Daughters of Bilitis were not unlike those of her organization in many respects.
NOW EMPLOYMENT CONFERENCE: CHICAGO, January 24, 1970. Several members of the Chicago DOB attended this day-long meeting of NOW in Chicago, which featured prominent women from all over the U.S. speaking on women's problems ...except, of course, for the Lesbian. Much of the material, however, including the areas dealing with work, was applicable to all of us. And the burning brand that tops them all is that in 1968 the median income for year-round full-time MALE workers in the U.S. was $7,814, and for WOMEN, $4,560.
WOMEN'S LIBERATION IN CHICAGO: Just prior to the NOW meeting, the CHICAGO TRIBUNE ran a long article on the Chicago Women's Liberation group ... so-so coverage.
NO SPACE. We haven't room to report on all the suits being filed across the country on behalf of women who are being discriminated against in job situations. It is enough to note that some 20 such cases are clipped and sent to me each month ... surely an enormous increase and a good sign. VATICAN CITY, January 26, 1970. The Vatican has refused accreditation to a West German diplomat, Elisabeth Muller, on the grounds that she is a woman. The Vatican spokesman made it clear that the Vatican will only allow men to hold high-ranking diplomatic posts to the Holy see. This is a serious outrage, and we hope something will be done about it.
ORDER DENYING REHEARING: January 27, 1970. With that cold legal term, the fight for the listing in the yellow pages... reported here a number of times during the past year... was denied. On April 25, 1969, CRH, SIR, TAVERN GUILD and DOB filed suit against the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company for refusing to list all of the organizations under "Homophile Organizations" in the yellow pages. As reported last issue, the suit was found in favor of the defendant, and now, the rehearing has been denied. Big Brother now decides whether you can find your own people... as always.
BERKELEY TRIBE, January 30, 1970: Gale Whittington reports in this issue the January 18, 1970 harassment of Arthur Ornales, a Mexican-American homosexual. Ornales' apartment was invaded by two military policeman and four city policemen without search warrants and without permission. They questioned him about an, AWOL soldier. On learning he knew nothing of the soldier, the policemen beat up Ornales ... shoved him into a bathtub and struck his face and chest repeatedly. An account of this atrocity did not appear in the San Francisco establishment press: THE CHRONICLE had an article about it but it did not appear, at the request of the police department, according to the TRIBE. Although there are about 90,000 homosexuals in San Francisco, they are still subject to the whims of the police, and complaints from citizens are given the cold shoulder by the "authorities."
IN PURSUIT OF THE AMERICAN WOMAN: HARPER'S MAGAZINE, February 1970. Edward Grossman's thus-titled article is a reasonably intelligent look at women's liberation from a male viewpoint. While not as good as Richard E. Farson's articles, this is certainly second-best, and it covers the subject from every possible literary and sociological aspect as well... worth reading, if you can keep your temper during the slips...
SACRED HEART COLLEGE, Wichita,
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Kansas, February 1970. The students of the Sociology Department of this school compiled 28 questions for Rita, Laporte to answer... by long distance, having Rita tape the two-hour question-and-answer session for their use. The tape and several issues of THE LADDER were provided to the school.
BACK ON THE HOME FRONT, San Francisco, February 1970. While Rita has been roaming far from home to speak in various other areas, the San Francisco chapter has been speaking locally to various groups. The Council on Religion and the Homosexual lined up women from the San Francisco DOB, NOVA and GAY WOMEN'S LIBERATION to speak, and during January talks were given at San Francisco State College, Berkeley High School and Sequoia High School in Redwood City, California. As this is written we have no further information regarding the group identified to us "as GAY WOMEN'S LIBERATION, and suspect it is only an auxiliary of one of the male groups in San Francisco... we are inquiring and will report if anyone bothers to answer the inquiry. (See "Women's Coalition" report.)
RAT, February 6-23, 1970. With this issue, RAT magazine (it is not a typographical error--the magazine is named RAT) was liberated by women of the Women's Liberation Movement in New York City. The paper's sub-title is "subterranean news," and it is a political hodge-podge... imitative and derivative, or maybe it is just that pseudo-revolutionary cant can be repeated just so many times before its effect wears thin. In any case, this issue of RAT is about women, and it contains an article by Robin Morgan-- "Goodbye to Ail That"--that would be must reading if it had come wrapped in almost any other kind of garbage.
KPFA, Berkeley, February 7, 1970. Special to THE LADDER. Roland Young gave the homophile movement another public boost on his February 7th radio show, on KPFA, Berkeley. A portion of the program was devoted to questioning Leo Lawrence, Don Burton and Sheila Finney (of the San Francisco DOB chapter) about the increased activity of homophile organizations in the Bay Area. The participants found a friend in the black radio announcer. In addition to extending his personal well wishes, Mr. Young offered to publicize events of the Daughters of Bilitis on his show.
FREE, University of Minneapolis' homosexual group, appears to be growing and making substantial strides. Their third newsletter, dated February 10, 1970, indicates they are pretty well organized and doing well. Good for them.
DEAR ABBY, February 12, 1970. Abby's column for this date (and close dates in other cities) contains a letter from a mother lamenting her lack of a grandchild because her only child is homosexual. Abby's reply is sensible, but she suggests that those whose children are dead are the only ones worse off... which is a change ... remember when we were a "fate worse than death"?
WHIFFENPOOF'S VANQUISHED: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, February 12, 1970. The tables down at Mory's, Yale's all-male refuge, have been attacked by the female Yale student body. Members of the law association and the women's alliance staged a successful sit-in on February 5, 1970. Results unknown at this time.
HOUSTON CHRONICLE: February 15, 1970. Unlikely as it might seem, this paper's Sunday section article on women's liberation is one of the finest of the short studies yet to appear. Arthur Whitman's "Gals Who Picket, Protest and Publicly Burn their Brassieres" is good, despite the terrible title and the male authorship. He even manages to point out that the movement is similar to the black movement and the homophile movement.
MORE ON REVEREND PERRY: NEW YORK TIMES, February 15, 1970, carried a fine article on Metropolitan Community Church and the work it is doing for homosexuals and Lesbians in Los Angeles. The resultant publicity is excellent, inducing even such far-away areas as the DETROIT FREE PRESS columnist Shirley Eder to run a short mention of the church and its purpose, and San Francisco CHRONICLE writer John Dart provided a good write-up for the group, too.
OPEN AIR PUBLICITY? KQED radio, San Francisco, February 16, 1970. Rita Laporte was interviewed by feminist supporters Mr. and Mrs. Baranco at noon on KQED live. The one-hour question-and-answer session was done outdoors at Zellerbach Square on a cold and windy day. Reports indicate the interview was successful except for the fact that the interviewee "developed uncontrollable shivering and turned blue." Oh well, proves we are human.
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METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CHURCH and ANN LANDERS: February 16, 1970. Ann's column for this date (and close dates in other cities) has a letter from a Los Angeles resident who signs himself "Resident of the World's Largest Open-Air-Lunatic Asylum," all about Rev. Troy Perry and the MCC. Rev. Perry and the church aren't named, but the poor guy is shook up to think there is a church for homosexuals. However, even with his animosity, he makes one very telling remark: "When the word gets around, you won't be able to get into the place." Ann's answer is excellent...
IN THE STILL OF THE NIGHT. February 17, 1970. Special to THE LADDER. Sally Jessy of Station WIOD, Miami (NBC) interviewed Rita Laporte by long distance telephone at 1:00 A.M. this date. The 30-minute interview was live at 4:00 A.M. in Miami (audience??). Interview Was as a result of Rita's letter in PLAYBOY last summer.
PUBLICITY GOES ON AND ON. The power of the press, especially for a group as small and financially restricted as DOB, is a blessing. That long-ago PLAYBOY letter referred to above also recently (February 1970) brought us inquiries from New Zealand women interested in starting a chapter of DOB...
JILL JOHNSTON, VILLAGE VOICE, and have you read anything like this lately? This woman has a column called DANCE JOURNAL which appears regularly in VILLAGE VOICE, discussing everything but the dance... which confuses some of the readers not old enough to have heard of Havelock Ellis. The dance this lady discusses is of vital importance to us all... the life dance. Her February 19, 1970 column, WHAT SEX?, is must reading in its analysis of sexuality, feminism and revolution. If you are curious and too lazy to buy it, write to me and I'll send you a photocopy.
PRAISE WHERE DESERVED: MAIDEN VOYAGE, VOLUME I, NUM- BER 3, February 1970. DOB chapter newsletters may not, under our bylaws, be sold, and each chapter is required to publish one when able to do so, so they survive on donations from the kind and interested. Boston chapter's newsletter, MAIDEN VOYAGE, shows just how much real progress has been made, in the field of rights for Lesbians in the last 14 years. With its 12 neat pages of information on many subjects, articles, news of chapter events, programs for chapter work, it is 10 times the "magazine" our beloved LADDER was in its first year of publication. If you'd like to see a copy, write to the Boston chapter address, elsewhere in these pages, and INCLUDE AT LEAST $1.00 (don't be a charity case).
AND WHILE WE ARE IN BOSTON: Special to THE LADDER. The Steve Fredericks Talk Show on WMEX devoted an hour to upcoming Massachusetts law reform bills, February 20, 1970. Panelists on the program included Laura Robin of Boston DOB, Frank Morgan, president of HUB (a Boston men's, group) and Boston lawyers Alan Cook and Peter Connolly. The three bills in question cover those items being currently debated in many states, the restrictive sex laws, which hurt heterosexual and homosexual alike (though seldom, ironically, affect Lesbians).
MORE IN BOSTON: On February 23, 1970, members of the various male homosexual groups there testified before the Judiciary Committee of the state legislature in favor of these bills. DOB's testimony was submitted by letter. It seems fairly apparent that most states will eventually adopt similar laws. . probably within the next 10-20 years. This all means that some 25 years from now we will be about where ordinary homosexuals and Lesbians are today in Great Britain. . in precisely no different a position than they were BEFORE the Wolfenden Laws were passed, as reported In these pages in CROSS, CURRENTS February/March 1970 by Yorke Henderson, writing for the San Francisco CHRONICLE. Legislation is, in this instance, like taking "one baby step" in "Mother, May I?"
SATURDAY REVIEW: THE NEW FEMINISM, February 21, 1970. In a fairly inclusive article, Lucy Komisar of New York City's NOW covers the general aspects of the new feminine revolution. Not the best coverage at all, but in this magazine it will go where it will do more good than even the better coverage seen in some other magazines. We were left out, naturally, but times are changing, as they sing in the telephone company jingles.
YELLOW PAGE FIGHT STILL GOING ON: San Francisco CHRONICLE, February 28, 1970. Attorney David I. Clayton, acting on behalf of DOB, Council on Religion and the Homosexual, Society for Individual Rights (SIR) and Tavern
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Guild, appealed to the State Supreme Court of California on February 27, 1970. The suit asks the court to overturn a State Public Utilities Commission ruling which backed the telephone company's refusal to list the organizations in the yellow pages.
ATLANTIC MAGAZINE, March 1970. The entire issue is devoted to "Woman's Place" and the general tone of the whole issue is sick. One article, "What Are You Supposed to Do If You Like Children," by novelist Anne Bernays, is unbelievably vicious. Why she hates women so violently might make interesting clinical reading, but it does not belong in even a lukewarm picture of the liberation movement. The title is especially irritating when even the most conservative are now pointing out that we either voluntarily restrict birth or the "big brothers" are going to do it for us. Miss Bernays may be remembered by readers of THE LADDER for her 1962 minor Lesbian novel SHORT PLEASURES. Though paperback reprints seldom include any biographical data at all, we noted that the 1964 reprint of SHORT PLEASURES explained that Miss Bernays was a graduate of one of the 7 sisters but was safely married and the mother of three.
NEW YORK DOB: PAGEANT MAGAZINE, March 1970. This issue of PAGEANT contains a verbatim reprint of Enid Nemy's NEW YORK TIMES column on Lesbianism which was partly about the N.Y. chapter of DOB. Very wide coverage, but this is a mixed view... loaded with too much Dr. Socarides... (Those of you who wrote to suggest that Dr. U. Sockitome, THE LADDER, December/January issue, is related to Dr. Socarides are thanked for your views.)
PLAYBOY AGAIN. March 1970. PLAYBOY FORUM continues to provoke interesting comments on civil rights for homosexuals... we recommend reading this section of the magazine, even if you can't stand the rest.
BRITAIN WOMEN'S GROUPS: NEW YORK TIMES, March 2, 1970. Bernard Weinraub reports that 15 equality groups have sprung up in Britain during the last year.
28 PER CENT MORE COMPLAINTS were filed by women in 1969 than in 1968 with the Labor Department on charges of unequal pay for equal work... good. (WALL STREET JOURNAL, March 3, 1970.)
ANN LANDERS AGAIN: March 6, 1970. A mother asked Ann to rerun a recent column on Lesbians because she has "a-daughter in college who writes she has fallen in love with her roommate." Ann's reply was first to find out if the roommate was a boy or a girl... and her usual second half-reply, suggest therapy, and if not, LEAVE HER ALONE.
SAN DIEGO, March 10, 1970. Bobbi Gove, president of San Diego's chapter, spoke to about 40 students in a social science course at San Diego State College ... usual basic data... response was good, and this is encouraging in this area, for unlike much of California, this is a conservative locale.
NOW WE ARE NINE: President Rita Laporte is happy to announce that as of March 15, 1970 there are NINE CHAPTERS OF DOB... their addresses are listed on the official page elsewhere in this issue. . Newly chartered groups are CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, RENO, NEVADA and MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA. For those of you in the still-unchartered groups, it is encouraging to you (we hope) to add that the Reno, Nevada chapter has been in the works for about a year-and-a-half ... so don't be Impatient--it just takes work and time.
AND YOU LAZY SOULS who live in or near DENVER, COLORADO and PORTLAND, OREGON and DETROIT, MICHIGAN, get going, at least investigate your nearest group and maybe help a little, too. The rewards are great.
DENVER DOB, P.O. BOX 9057, SOUTH DENVER STATION, DENVER, COLORADO 80209.
PORTLAND DOB, P.O. BOX 8857, PORTLAND, OREGON 97208.
DETROIT DOB, P.O. BOX 4490, DETROIT, MICHIGAN 48288.
NEWS, DAMNIT, IS IMPORTANT: ALL OVER THE U.S., EVERY DAY, EVERY MONTH, EVERY YEAR. That is the headline and dateline I'd like to burn into all of your memories... I can only put material into this column if you provide it to me. I need much more from the New York. City and Los Angeles areas... and if any of you in any other city or town in the U.S. see anything at all about HOMOSEXUALS, LESBIANS, CIVIL RIGHTS FOR EITHER OR BOTH, WOMEN'S RIGHTS, etc., and don't take the simple time to clip it, mark the publication name and date on it and send It to me, you are denying some of your own people, living
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somewhere else, from seeing the news. Please, please help ... I'd rather be inundated with 500 copies of a single clipping than miss one scrap of national or local news on these topics.
FLASH NEWS... NEW ORLEANS now has a DOB group forming, and you can reach them at DOB, P.O. Box 24033, Lakeview Station, New Orleans, Louisiana 70124.
(The following letter was sent to Mr. Herb Caen of the San Francisco CHRONICLE on January 26, 1970, by the "Action Core" of the San Francisco DOB Chapter, the Social Action Committee of NOVA and the Gay Women's Liberation (S.F. Group).)
Dear Mr. Caen,
We are deeply concerned over the "news" Item which appeared on November 17th in the Chronicle, an item apparently released by Attorney Melvin Belli's office, which Involved the firing of the 5 stewardesses from Western Airlines. The item read as follows:
"Notes of a Newsnik: Five stewardesses on the S.F.-L.A. run, fired for alleged lesbianism, have retained Attorney Melvin Belli to fight their fickle fate... "
As a Newsnik, your abilities as a news gatherer need some developing. There were only 3 girls involved, not 5. They were not stewardesses, but held high positions in the management of Western Airlines." The charge of "lesbianism" was never mentioned. Only one of the girls had specific charges brought against her, charges which Implied lesbian activity, but which were so absurd in nature that they were subsequently dropped, and the Airlines rehired the girl. Only one of the women is being represented by the Belli office. Another girl has been dismissed from the airlines, but no charges have been made public; the woman herself is not even aware of them. She was subsequently replaced by a man, who has been at Western only a year--as opposed to her 18 years of service. She is fighting her dismissal on the grounds of female sexual discrimination, and is taking her case through the EOC.
Whether or not the women are gay is beside the point. What we question is why the Chronicle would treat the subject of anti-lesbian job discrimination so lightly. We in the gay community experience enough pressure and fear in our lives simply In our efforts to get by. The threat of expulsion from jobs is a real and frightening prospect to everyone who is homosexual. We at least, Mr. Caen, are fully aware of our tenuous position in society, as you do not seem to be aware--at least aware in the sense of what it means for a gay person to lose his job. It is not pleasant to hear one's life described as a "fickle fate" in your glorified gossip column.
Your cute and clever attitude treats the homosexual as an object, not so much of disdain or disgust, but of sly ridicule. We are those laughable fairies with the limp wrists, or the bull dykes in their tailored suits and cropped hairdos. Humor is fine-- in fact, many gay people will be the first to laugh at the stereotype above, but this kind of humor is not so funny when it fails to elucidate the problems in back of "it-- problems which deserve far more serious concern than this item Indicated they do.
If you're setting out to titillate the general public, then why don't you carry the joke a bit further--titillate the good straight world with this--tell them that a person's sexuality is hardly a matter of public concern. Tell them that a homosexual can function just as well in a job situation as anyone else. Tell them that one's sexual proclivities are not sufficient grounds for the dismissal of anyone, unless they interfere with one's job.
That will undoubtedly titillate them no end. And perhaps one day the point will even sink home.
(Editor's Note: There Is never room to include the dozens of letters sent by staff members of THE LADDER, by Rita Laporte, and by other members of DOB to periodicals and newspapers. However, whenever any article appears that we feel requires a reply, one is sent. Some are printed, some are not. Those that do get into print always get mentioned in THE LADDER. They bring us, new people, sometimes from half way
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around the world. More importantly they assure us of OUR voice being heard.)
Dear Miss Damon:
I thought you and the readers of "Lesbiana" might be interested in knowing of the existence of the Tartan Book Sales, P.O. Box 914, Williamsport, Pennsylvania 17701. They are a mail order house specializing in hard cover editions of current titles at really astonishing prices. What pleased me more than anything, though, when I received their free catalog (I'd sent for it) was discovering several books of special interest to us, including some you've reviewed recently.
So, any of your readers interested in building a library of hard cover titles ought to send for a catalog and start ordering.
Re May Swenson's poetry (THE LADDER, February/March, 1970). You missed the best of all, suggest you all read "A Trellis For R" in the Winter, 1969 issue of THE SOUTHERN REVIEW, page 78.
(Editor's Note: Three readers brought this poem to my attention.)
Dear Gene Damon:
Dr. James Pike spent much energy in the pursuit and defense of personal honesty and free choice, both ideals close to the concern of DOB members. Since his death, his wife, Diane Kennedy Pike, is working to hold together the organization he initiated for those who feel the inadequacies of the traditional church and wish to affiliate with a transitional group. Information about The Bishop Pike Foundation (formerly The Foundation for Religious Transition) can be obtained by writing P.O. Box 5146, Santa Barbara, Calif., 93103. A complimentary copy of their publication, New Focus, may be requested.
Carla S. Virginia
(Editor's Note: Bishop Pike had ex- pressed an interest in our work in the past, Carla. He was scheduled to speak at a DOB convention in past years, but was unable to at the last moment. Those who value freedom everywhere mourn his loss.)
To: Readers of THE LADDER From: ORPHAN VOYAGE, a program for persons of illegitimate birth and other social orphans, including "adopted" orphans.
I have been reading THE LADDER for many months, having been introduced to it by one of the members of ORPHAN VOYAGE. I have been quite interested for two reasons: One, many members of ORPHAN VOYAGE are of homosexual persuasion; two, THE LADDER is presenting, through its letters column, a preliminary dialogue about the relationships among different minority groups, persons of different afflictions. In the December-January 1968 issue, Helen Sanders stresses the differences between the Negro and the Lesbian. The Negro, she says, is born this way. Well, so is the bastard. Also, she stresses, the Lesbian can "pass" and few Negroes can. So can the bastard pass--if he has been adopted. But he does not pass inwardly. And here is an important common factor. That is, we of different afflictions can resemble those in other groups in one way while differing from them in another. Is this a disadvantage or an opportunity?
In the sixteen years that I have been "directing" ORPHAN VOYAGE, I have, of course, been very much aware of the efforts of other people to overcome their social handicaps and have often pondered whether I might learn from their efforts something to help the people I have been the most concerned about, people adopted and denied knowledge of their ancestry, forbidden to make any approach to their natural family. To be quite frank, I have not found too much help in this way. The members of ORPHAN VOYAGE perhaps resemble THE LADDER readers in the relative invisibility of their condition and the problem that is presented to them in any effort to overcome their handicaps: Becoming visible. Oh it is difficult to remove the cloak!
Some of the DAUGHTERS OF BILITIS seem to believe that if society would pass laws giving them status, permitting them marriage, ceasing to discriminate, that they would acquire a sort of social security, a sense of belonging which they lack now, and which it is so painful to lack. They seem to be wanting something similar to the
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conditions of adoption, whereby persons of illegitimate birth can apparently become members of society without prejudice. But as I know, adoption does not overcome illegitimacy, but only veils it. People vary as to the willingness they feel to live under a protective veil. Would it not be the same for the Lesbian, for any homosexual, if society should actually give them legitimate status? There would still be something lacking, and many would chafe and all the answers would have been used up.
I, as an adopted person, and as a past social worker and researcher in the social sciences, confronted just such a situation in my middle years. Adoption gave me security within society, but not within the larger world which includes nature. If one is to live as a part; of this larger whole, one must have human ancestry. I groped my way into the population of adopted people, gathered courage to look for my natural mother, found her, wrote about adopted people, encouraged them in their desire for wholeness, and tried to conceive of a program which would answer an impossible demand: How can an individual who finds himself placed between two warring factions, society and nature, belong to both?
Let me describe, briefly, what I have attempted to build, for persons whose handicap is described in such different terminology than your own. I have tried to build something for them which society has frowned upon in its policies. I have tried to circumvent the sealed birth record which confronts adopted people as they mature. I have tried to do this in a way which can, for at least some adopted people, solve their failed sense of identity. They have been offered by ORPHAN VOYAGE a Reunion File, to which they may come and register their names and circumstances, hopeful that those they wish to rejoin, their natural parents, will some day do the same. In this way, for these few people, a reconciliation will be possible in a deeply realistic way. They will thus be able to lay the "ghost" of absent parents, they may become somewhat familiar with their ancestry, they may learn directly and in the perspective of time, why it was they were "abandoned" in infancy or childhood.
As I have seen in some cases, people are immensely relieved to have these questions answered in this way. They take heart from an enlarged sense of human identity; they share the human condition with people who are entirely legitimate--yet who are really not so different. For when one penetrates behind society's definitions of status, one finds that there is a deeper substrata within which the conflicts of society are solved. Of course it is difficult to venture beyond the definitions of society; it is a lonely type of venture, and not everyone is equipped to engage in it. For those who are, ORPHAN VOYAGE stands ready to offer its resources, its Reunion File, and its efforts to lend association to adopted people. One cannot come out of such an experience unscathed, but earlier scars do have a way of disappearing under the impact of reconciliation.
I have written these words for two purposes: One, to offer the services of ORPHAN VOYAGE to those members of the DAUGHTERS OF BILITIS who might be interested; and to raise questions in their minds as well as in my own about how much can be learned by two differently-organized associations (dealing in apparently different afflictions) from each others' programming. From reading THE LADDER I am not clear whether the Lesbian finds herself in conflict with society or with nature or with both. Not knowing this, I can hardly make any suggestions about programming other than outlining as I have above how the adopted person finds himself or herself in relation to society and nature. It is fortunate for us that a solution is inherent in the situation.
A final word. There are so many individual differences. People disagree violently about solutions to afflictions. What helps one does not help another. Is there any way through this problem? When I released my first study, "The Adopted-Break Silence", it was severely criticized by professionals because it was an "inadequate sample", or because the participants were thought to be overly sophisticated (as readers of the SATURDAY REVIEW). But it has proven to contain a valid hypothesis. The study was based on the life history approach. The questions answered related to various facets of that life history. It could be seen in this way that what might seem different at one age became a similarity at another. Is not something of the same possible for the homosexual? Are there any life history studies made of their lives? Is there a desire to have such studies made?
(Editors Note: Miss Paton welcomes inquires from orphans regarding ORPHAN VOYAGE. These, however, should be directed to THE LADDER editor.)
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Whatever Happened to Sally?
by Del Martin
She was a pretty young woman--short, dark-haired, slim, brown-eyed, soft spoken. When she first showed up at the DOB office she appeared shy and nervous. She hadn't broken up with her girl friend, and she wasn't contemplating suicide. But like a lot of young women who come to DOB she wanted to meet some Lesbians, wanted to talk to them.
She had to be honest though. She was a graduate student, a nurse who was doing a sociological study on the life style of the female homosexual. Could she attend the meetings, discussions and social activities? Would she, an outsider, be accepted by the women in DOB?
Well, for one year she did and she was-- and then she disappeared.
Sally had made quite an impression on the group. She was warm, understanding, sensitive to them as human beings. She could laugh with them and at herself. The girls opened up to her in trust. And then, paper done and class over, this warm, almost intimate, friendship ended.
Whatever happened to Sally? we asked. We never did receive a copy of her research paper, as she had promised. Five years passed. The Council on Religion and the Homosexual was invited to send speakers for an inservice education workshop for nurses at a San Francisco hospital. Dorr Jones and I were assigned to do the job. The program was in session when we arrived, and we sat down at the back of the auditorium.
A pretty, dark-haired woman turned around. "Hi, Del," she grinned in recognition. It was Sally--shy and nervous once again. Then to my surprise she rose and strode to the platform. She was somewhat apprehensive because, as she said later, I had been involved and I was present at her first attempt to discuss publicly her adventures in DOB.
Sally began by saying she intended to discuss female homosexuality, that so much had been reported on the male, but little Was actually known about the Lesbian. As females, they are still basically women with the values of a woman and have more in common with women in general than with the broad term homosexuality, she observed. Most people think of Lesbians as masculine, but this is not the ease.
In courtship Sally pointed out that Lesbians have the same kinds of concerns as other women--warmth, attraction, emotional ties with the sexual secondary, common interests, companionship. While sharing was emphasized, physical beauty was down the list. The goal is "marriage" and building a home. A high premium is placed on long lasting relationships, and those who have achieved this become counsellors and role models. There is less incidence of promiscuity. If it exists, it is discreet--certainly a womanly characteristic.
While Lesbians as a rule are not as subject to arrest, there is a great deal of concern with the law, Sally observed. There is concern also about appearance and image, how to present one's self to the larger society so as not to be offensive and obvious.
Sally alluded to certain stages and phases in the life of the Lesbian. At first she may dress like a man in order to identify herself as a Lesbian in order to meet others or out of hostility against a repressive society. But she found that there was less need for this manifestation of behavior when the Lesbian came to accept herself.
In the social aspect of Lesbian life, Sally found that most prefer home parties to gay bars, that they tended toward private circles of friends with similar socio-economic interests. New Year's Eve, for example, would be spent at a home party and not out in public, for the Lesbian would want to be with her mate at midnight.
The Lesbian is very concerned with rejection--even by another woman as well as society. Because of her sensitivity to the other person's reaction, the Lesbian is prone to gentleness and exclusiveness.
In the area of security, Sally noted that many Lesbians worried about what would happen to them when they grew old. Emphasis was placed on job security. For fear of losing her job the Lesbian was forced to assume a double identity and used a fictitious name in relating to DOB or was known in the homophile community by first name only or a nickname.
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When asked if Lesbians were troubled about not bearing children, Sally admitted this was an area of concern to some. She stated that a number had been heterosexually married and did have children whom they were rearing. When questioned as to what kind of life they might wish for their children, more times than not they expressed the desire for them to grow up "straight."
As for the Lesbian's desire to change, Sally found that the emphasis was placed rather on feeling comfortable and acceptance of self.
Asked about male and female roles in the Lesbian relationship, Sally indicated there was not a sharp difference, that there was an. evolution of roles dependent upon who has what interest and ability. While there may be marked differences early in the relationship or among younger Lesbians, the difference is more in attire than self image. The one may be slightly more masculine in subtle ways, such as the use of make-up or in manners. There is little correlation in the sexual role where there is more a concept of sameness. Passive and aggressive is more an attitude than a life style, Sally concluded.
As to value of an organization like DOB, Sally noted it stemmed from a concern for general welfare and mutual benefit, helped individuals to find self knowledge and self understanding, served to educate the public, provided a safe meeting place where one could let one's hair down and participate in in-group discussions, and lent support in times of crisis.
Regarding the Lesbian's feelings about men, Sally said that would depend on the characteristics of the men they came in contact with. She found no particular hostility toward men in general.
When she first began her study on Lesbianism, Sally said she naively and openly discussed it with her women colleagues. The responses she received included dead silence, non-verbal anxiety, analysis of her motivation in undertaking the study, defensiveness. As result of the study, Sally admitted she did have to sort out her own feelings. That is why she did nothing with her report, why some five years later she was only beginning to come out and speak. about it.
Whatever happened to Sally? She came to understand herself better as well as others. She became a nurse among nurses. She is now the director of education at a San Francisco hospital.
(Del Martin is one of DOB's founders. She and Phyllis Lyon are now working on a definitive study of the Lesbian for a major publishing company.)
A Brother's Viewpoint
by Jack Stroud
I AM A HETEROSEXUAL MALE, 38 years old, divorced, and the father of two healthy boys aged 10 and 7. For the past 22 years, I have lived with the knowledge that my sister, ten years my senior, is a Lesbian. On Gene Damon's kind invitation, I am honored to give "my side of the story," that is, what it has meant to me to learn, to adjust to, and accept the fact that my older sister is, as we used to say, "not like other girls."
It is an awesome task and requires, as I see it, a good understanding at the outset between reader and writer as to my purposes in accepting it. In the first place, I support the objectives of DOB and of its publication, The Ladder. I believe that it is nothing less than humanly and spiritually right to accept fully as brother or sister any person, regardless of race, color, previous condition of servitude, or sexual orientation, who lives with a concern for other people and for the right of everyone to self expression consistent with the common good. Specifically in the case of homosexuality, I believe that no one, whether secure in his conviction of heterosexuality or fearful of exposing a latent or real homosexuality, has the right to ridicule, denigrate, or prosecute the gay male or female who practices his or her love and sex ideals privately and honorably. If I can be of the smallest help in furthering this kind of human and humane viewpoint, I shall be compensated many times over.
In the second place, much of my income
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is earned through writing, and perhaps the best contribution I can make at present to the acceptance of homosexuals and Lesbians by our society is an article in a publication most concerned with the problem. I am not writing to see my words in print. On the contrary, I approach this assignment with a deep sense of humility and commonality.
Finally, let it be understood that I welcome reactions, including violent disagreements, to my experiences and beliefs. The idea is to begin a conversation or dialogue (perhaps multilogue is a better word) between people who are concerned with one group's denial of certain basic rights; it is to suggest, in minds and hearts that may not have opened up sufficiently as yet, that it is not the homosexual who is a cancer in society, but people's attitude toward him or her; and it is to stimulate new ways of regarding and coping with a situation as old and, I suspect, as lasting, as mankind.
It was a warm summer evening in 1947 when my sister, back east from the Women's Army Corps in California and a couple of years of civilian employment there after the war, asked to talk with me and explain something about her that was important for me to know. We sat at the dining room table in our parents' country house, and a 26-year-old woman haltingly, sometimes tearfully, explained to her 16-year-old younger brother how she didn't like men but preferred women, how this was why she had to leave the W.A.C. before her enlistment was up, and how sorry she was to have to tell me this.
Both of us drank a bit too much; and when my sister went to bed around midnight, I remained highly overwrought and went down to a nearby lake for a time alone under the stars. Rowing out onto the lake, I alternately sobbed convulsively and cursed God for visiting on me and on my sister this unnatural, evil curse. I was a little drunk, a little more shocked, and greatly confused. What did it all mean? Was my sister some kind of inhuman ogre?
I was not the only one shocked. I was soon to learn that my (our) father and mother were equally, if not more, dismayed. "When we first heard that Mona was in trouble," one of them said, "we of course thought there was an illegitimate child. Now that we know the real trouble, we only wish there had been such a child!"
Thus were my frightful suspicions confirmed: my sister had done, and was, something unspeakable. All news of her actions and condition would be suppressed where possible. We would hug the deadly secret to our bosoms.
For a while--about two years--I did not see Mona very much as I finished prep school in Massachusetts and she lived for a time in New York and then went to Oakland, California. Then in the fall of 1949, being a restless sort myself, I drove out west to spend some time, perhaps a year, with my sister. I got a job in a small printing shop and lived with Mona and her mate in my sister's house. Lots of my own hangups were involved in this ill-fated sojourn; not being at all trained psychologically, I don't pretend to know what they were. But I respected, or at least wanted to maintain a respect for, my sister; I felt I could talk to her as I could not with my parents; and, in fact, I was quite dependent on her as I had been since she had changed my baby diapers.
That stay was to last not quite three months. Whatever I had expected to find out west with my older, and wiser, sister, I did not find. We all drank too much on several occasions; once I had to sit through a sexy dance by Mona's mate as Ravel's "Bolero" filled the room (I felt quite uncomfortable because, however appealing she looked, my knowing she was queer made the whole performance unexciting to the point of disgust); and the "three's-a-crowd" situation broke apart one evening in November, after which I returned to New York.
Since then, some 20 years ago, my sister and I have not spent more than a few days together at a time, and these times have been few. But mark my words: she has been very often on my mind and in my life, and her effect on me has been far greater, in many areas, than I sometimes care to admit.
There were the times--and they are legion--when I found myself unable or unwilling to carry through a relationship with a girl to its logical conclusion, when something or a number of somethings prevented me from expressing and acting out a beginning love for another person. In large part, I think now, this was my upbringing and parental outlook restraining me and had little or nothing directly to do with my
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sister. And yet ... could I, too, be homosexual? (I had had; as most boys do-- I know now, but knew not then--a couple of homosexual experiences which had been quite pleasant.) Was homosexuality something catching, like the "flu? Did it run in families?
I began to get the unmistakable impression that most girls rather objected to boys, that women considered men more or less animals only, led by the penis, interested in quick sexual satisfaction and not the least bit concerned with the higher things in life--with sensitivity, Creativity, love and compassion. Did not my sister, my older, wiser, sister, believe this and express her belief frequently?
Then there were the implicit assumptions --sometimes the explicit declarations --that I was latently homosexual and trying desperately by outward conformity to hide the fact from others, and especially from myself. This was a horrible thought to contemplate!
Why was it so horrible? For several reasons. I suspect that the strongest of them was my own ignorance of what homosexuality was. I simply did not understand the condition, or phenomenon (I didn't know what to call it, much less describe it). And as the years went by without my going to bed with a girl in spite of several opportunities, I could not shake myself free from a feeling of dread.
There was another reason for homosexuality's horror to me. My parent's suppression of the whole "sordid" affair (and I don't blame them; they too, faced society's censure if the knowledge should out). And then--well--a feeling sometimes of great personal lack: I did not have a "normal" sister, hence not a normal family, and I felt substantially deprived.
But the days of wine and sorrows over these matters are largely over for me now, and I have hopes are coming to a close for my sister as well. I reached, between a year. and two years ago, a sure knowledge deep down that I am heterosexual. I am glad of this, because I am not looking for one more problem to deal with. And I am glad for my sister, who has found a purpose she believes in, and one I believe in: a bringing into the open, for discussion and acceptance if not for enthusiastic acclaim, the proposition that the homosexual has a right to his or her private life and emotions and loves to the very same extent that any other human being has that right.
I look back and know beyond any doubt that my own process of adjusting to and accepting my sister's Lesbianism was a long and hard one. I also know that it does not compare with her difficulties. But the point is that homosexual and heterosexual alike were and are faced with obstacles, some or many of which need not have been in the way.
Had there been, for example, a greater understanding, or just a greater tolerance, of the homosexual in our society, the pressures on my sister, on me and on our parents would have been to some extent dissipated. If people's minds now were generally more open to the fact that the homosexual is a human being with talents and needs similar in many ways to any other human being, then today's and tomorrow's families' with one or more homosexuals or Lesbians would surely have an easier and more amiable adjustment leading to higher individual and social productivity.
No doubt such a millennium is a long way off, if it ever comes to pass. But if this magazine and the people it represents can serve to move us all closer to an understanding of the Lesbian by the larger portion of people who willingly or unwittingly erect barriers to her right to live, then to all of you in DOB, I salute you!
Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright by Jane Alden
A little over six months ago, we, that is we, the employees of the U.S. Embassy in Paraguay, hired a cashier for the tiny PX we've been running in the roach-ridden basement of our chancery. This new employee was so stunningly beautiful, as the cliché goes, that you'd have taken her for an ex-movie star just beginning to put on weight: really gorgeous, and everything in giant-size, like a billboard Coke ad. She reminded us of an overgrown Betty Grable: huge blue eyes; miles of blonde hair piled into a somewhat sloppy beehive; perfect legs measuring at least two yards to the thigh. And no wedding ring.
Because the PX was mostly stocked with nauseating snack materials and exotic liqueurs, I seldom bothered to shop there.
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But now I began haunting the place. Just watching this Amazon tapping away at the cash register keys was a delight. She'd joke a little while adding my purchases; and her soft, husky voice would echo in my ears the rest of the day.
Shortly after her arrival, I began to have vivid, always-the-same dreams. In them, this big, voluptuous blonde would charge into my apartment and pounce on me like a tiger in heat. We would go down on the floor together, growling and purring, "consumed with passion," as the saying goes. Sometimes I'd wake myself up bellowing, "Leslie, Leslie!"
I couldn't find anyone around the Embassy who knew any more about her than that her first name was Leslie. It was rumored that she'd come to Paraguay from San Francisco to study Spanish, but no one really knew why. Just when I'd braced myself to defy protocol and invite her to my apartment for dinner, Leslie disappeared.
I thought at first she must have been on sick leave, but she simply never came back to the PX. Her replacement, a baggy wife of one of the Embassy officers, remarked that she'd heard Leslie had been fired for "irregularities"; but I was afraid to delve too deeply into the matter for fear of calling attention to my "unnatural" interest in her. Embassies thrive on gossip, especially about unmarried females who appear to prefer that state to the more conventional joys of husbands and children.
Between my daily work in the file room and my reading of Henry Miller at night, I'd almost stopped thinking about Leslie and having my Tiger Dreams. Then, three weeks after her disappearance, she telephoned me. She told me she was in trouble but wouldn't discuss it over the Embassy telephone, which we were both convinced was tapped. We arranged to have dinner together to talk over her problem. For the rest of the day, my hands were clammy.
Waiting for her at the restaurant, my heart beat so fast I began to worry about congenital heart failure. The mystery; woman finally stalked into the dining room wearing a magnificent white leather coat with fox collar. I seated her at our table with more pride than I'd felt in years. She looked superb, and all the males--and females--stopped their eating and stared at her. That's just the effect she had.
After our second round of martinis,
Leslie revealed that a group of auditors
hired by the Embassy had uncovered fraudulent cash register tapes and had accused her of stealing several hundred dollars' worth of merchandise. The Security Officer, Pat Doyle, had taken her passport as bond until the PX investigation was complete. Until her innocence was established, she could neither get another job nor leave Paraguay. She called Pat names I hadn't heard before or even read in Tropic of Capricorn. I didn't much care for Pat myself, but that's another story.
At two A.M., I hailed a taxi. Leslie blew me a kiss, and I repeated my promise to see Pat about her problem as soon as I got to work.
Promptly at nine next morning, I paid a call on Pat. During my impassioned defense of civil liberties in general and of Leslie in particular, he cleaned his nails with a letter opener. Then he handed me her folder. Aside from the usual statistical information, I learned she was 46 years old. I was thinking how well-preserved she was and trying to memorize her home address when Doyle broke in.
"As you see, this gal's a mess. Divorced four times and now living with a Peruvian exiled guitar player, no less."
"You mean exiled Peruvian guitar player," I snickered dismally. My hands were perspiring so badly that the ink started to smudge Leslie's report. I glanced at an auditor's notarized statement concerning the PX thefts and then came to a handwritten confession signed by one Leslie Chaves de Valle de Jones de Zarate, admitting she'd stolen $340 in goods from the PX while working as cashier. I was stunned as much by her audacity as a thief as by her marital history. How did Jones get in there?
"How'd you squeeze this bogus confession from Mrs. Zarate--with a rubber hose?"
His pop-eyes peered into mine unblinkingly.
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"Come off it, jane. Got an interest in her or something?"
My blush belied my words. "Of course not. Ridiculous. Me? Couldn't care less for women, let alone such a--uh--criminal. I just hate to see the Embassy gang up on her. Isn't she a human being?"
"You got me there, kiddo."
Had I been infinitely braver, I would have slapped him. As it was, I had to settle for a more womanly measure to save Leslie's honor at the Embassy, pulling a ballpoint pen and a check book from my purse. I wrote a check for $340 in a none-too-steady hand.
Doyle started to argue, but he must have noticed something in my manner that stopped him short. He took my check as if it were contaminated.
"Well, thanks, anyway, for clearing up the PX problem. Would have meant piles of paper work. Might as well take her the passport, my dear. If that's what you're after. And I sincerely hope that's all you're after."
I snatched Leslie's passport and ran from the menace of Doyle's look as if I'd been stabbed. And the more I thought about how truly criminal Leslie was, the more I worried that my perceptive Security Officer would label me guilty of misconduct, either by association with her or because I had simply one emotion he could not tolerate: I loved her. For this, I would be sent back to Washington in abject disgrace, my clearances revoked, banned from government service for life. My stomach began to gurgle with an incipient ulcer, and one of my migraine headaches slithered into the tiniest wrinkles of my brain to stab and burn. I finished the rest of the week in bed--heating pad on fevered brow, one might say.
Leslie called me a few Mondays later, asking about her passport. Oblivious to telephone tappers, I informed her that she could pick up her precious document at my apartment. She was silent for a moment, but didn't beg off or protest. I guess she figured that a deal was a deal. Perhaps she was proud of being able to barter her favors at $340 in spite of her age. I ended our conversation before she could reconsider.
Leslie trudged into my apartment a little after eleven, looking like Betty Grable Struck By Lightning. Her eyes were glassy, her nose red, and I could smell cognac on her breath. Embassy cognac, no doubt. I solemnly handed her the passport, which she crammed into her purse without comment. Then with absolutely no pretext of enthusiasm, she unbuttoned her blouse right there in the front room. I suggested we survey my bedroom and guided her in that direction, but she veered into the bathroom for an aspirin and some mentholatum.
When she emerged, I was in bed, hunched over on one side to give her room to climb in. My God, what a big Betty Grable she was! The bed frame trembled when she lay down, and I tumbled against her warm side like a toy doll. In seconds, she started snoring husky, sonorous snores that reminded me of an asthmatic bulldog I'd once had the misfortune of owning. I prodded her awake and began to caress her full breasts, but her sigh of forlorn endurance utterly froze me.
"Got a cold, honey," she murmured. Then I felt like a pygmy trying to mount an indifferent and indisposed elephant. When she started snoring again, I quit.
I am a quiet sleeper and am unused to sharing my bed with anyone, least of all with a snoring hulk of cold germs, so I savagely pinched her awake and ordered her from my apartment. Ordered, mind you. She heaved herself out, presumably dressed, and finally slammed the door, behind her as she departed amid a stream of Southern Gothic oaths.
Almost as soon as the door shut, I fell asleep in a haze of cognac and mentholatum. Then the Tiger Dream returned. A bright, beautiful Leslie bolted into my apartment with a feline gleam in her eye, growled, and pounced upon me as of old. I joyously grappled with her, and our animal passion was so mutually overwhelming that we sank to the floor intertwined, panting in a fury of synchronized lust.
Then my alarm clock went off.
(Jane Alden writes that she graduated from the University of Maryland in 1958. Sought fame and fortune as Assistant Editor, Children's Books, New York publishing. house. Soon loathed children's books. Discovered that Uncle Sam is a Big Spender. Has been wasting taxpayers' money ever since. Spent two years in Lisbon and four years around South America. Recently returned to Washington, D.C. Next post: Laos?)
[p. 47] | [Page Image]
MEMBERSHIP in the Daughters of Bilitis is limited to women 21 years of age or older. Write to your nearest chapter.
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By Gene Damon and Lee Stuart
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A thousand adult readers regularly receive THE LADDER, a magazine circulated throughout this country featuring news and views of the homosexual and the homophile movement of particular interest to women.
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The Ladder, June-July 1970, Vol. 14, No. 9 and 10
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[p. 2] | [Page Image]
ONCE MORE WITH FEELING
I have discovered my most unpleasant task as editor ... having to remind you now and again of your duty as concerned reader. Not just reader, concerned reader.
If you aren't--you ought to be.
Those of you who have been around three or more years of our fifteen years know the strides DOB has made and the effort we are making to improve this magazine. To continue growing as an organization we need more women, women aware they are women as well as Lesbians. If you have shy friends who might be interested in DOB but who are, for real or imagined reasons, afraid to join us-- write to me. I will send you a sample copy of THE LADDER, a copy of WHAT IS DOB?, and a copy of the article, "Your Name Is Safe", which shows why NO ONE at any time in any way is ever jeopardized by belonging to DOB or by subscribing to THE LADDER. You can send this to your friend(s) and thus, almost surely bring more people to help in the battle.
And for you new people, our new subscribers and members in newly formed and forming chapters, have you a talent we can use in THE LADDER? We need writers always in all areas, fiction, non-fiction, biography, poetry. We need photographers and artists, and CARTOONISTS. We need you--in any way you can help.
For you whose time and talents will not allow you any other way to help, send us money ... every dollar helps. We don't like to ask, but as many of you know, if we did not beg, there would be no magazine. So, once more with feeling, we ask you to help us in our mutual fight for our rights.
A thousand adult readers regularly receive THE LADDER, a magazine, circulated throughout this country featuring news and views of the homosexual and the homophile movement of particular interest to women.
Most of our readers are women 21-45 years old who have devoted a major portion of their leisure time to assisting the Lesbian to become a more productive, secure citizen. Most of our readers believe that discrimination against the homosexual is unfair and unjustified. To these readers your advertisement places you on record as an ally in their personal area of deep concern. Our readers are apt to become and remain loyal customers. Charges for single insertions of advertisement copy are given below.
Please mail your advertising copy and check in full to:
P.O. Box 5025--Washington Station
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Repeated advertisements at reduced rates.
[p. 3] | [Page Image]
Published bi-monthly by the Daughters of Bilitis, Inc., a non-profit corporation, at P.O. Box 5025, Washington Station, Reno, Nevada 89503.
NATIONAL OFFICERS, DAUGHTERS OF BILITIS, INC.
|Vice President, West||Jess K. Lane|
Chapter Presidents are also included on The Board
THE LADDER STAFF
Lyn Collins, Kim Stabinski,
King Kelly, Ann Brady
|Production Editors||Robin and Dana Jordan|
|Secretary to the Editor||Tracy Wright|
THE LADDER is regarded as a sounding board for various points of view on the homophile and related subjects, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the organization except such opinions as are specifically acknowledged by the organization.
IN THIS ISSUE:
|Poetry by Gabrielle L'Autre||
|In the Air Milk Rain short story by Lynn Lonidier||
|This is Not For You review of Jane Rule's book by Isabel Miller||
|Western Homophile Conference Keynote Address by Henry (Harry) Hay||
|Confessions of a Pseudo Male Chauvinist by Martha Shelley||
|Bennett short story by Leanne Bosworth||
|We Need This Now by Lorita J. Whitehead||
|Nine Poems by Elsa Gidlow||
|Ladies, Cowardice Does Not Become You by Lennox Strong||
|The Best Women Are Thin and Rich A Guest Editorial||
|Say It Isn't So by Rita Mae Brown||
Poetry by Carol Lynk, Susan Smpadian,
and Marion G. Norman
COVER photo and photo on page 11 (JANE RULE), by Photographer Lynn Vardeman.
Copyright 1970 by Daughters of Bilitis, Inc., San Francisco, California
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Oh, yes, you stay quiet,
Keep properly to your side,
Contain your arms and legs.
There is room enough in the bed
For a gaping chasm between us.
Must you breathe?
I hang stubbornly to my ledge of precipice.
Your soft, soft breathing
Wafts towards me,
Impersonal as a stray breeze,
Caressing my face.
You stir ever so slightly.
The covers move,
Grazing my bare arm,
Sliding along my hip.
So there is no contact
And yet there is.
Unless I arise and go,
Breaking the invisible strands
That pull me towards you,
I know that I shall glide your way,
Nulling the void that separates us,
That I shall take you in my arms
And startle you to wakefulness
With a ferocious want
You cannot or you will not or you dare
PORTRAIT OF A LADY AS A CAMPSITE
I, too, would creep to your warmth,
Tent under your hair,
Invade your mouth,
Explore your apertures;
But these men and men have done.
Let them bivouac on your surface slopes,
Light signal fires across your plains,
Burrow into your trenches!
I want more:
To tap your inner sources,
To swim in your arterial rivers,
To breast the tides of your thought,
To swirl in the currents of your moods,
To steep in the waters of your hidden depths
Till I take tone of your inner color,
Shape of your lost caverns,
Cadence of your secret rhythms.
I want to love you.
I saw desire rise in his eyes,
Ignited by the sight of her olive skin
Vivid against the stark white of her dress.
Raising the blonde child in her arms
Above her head, she whirled slowly,
Laughing, preoccupied with the child.
His wife, his son.
For the body he had intimately possessed
And smugly knew he would have again.
Oh, I must beat mine down,
The desire whelming from my depths.
That must not be,
That swims in my envious eyes,
That neither of them must see.
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In the Air Milk Rain
By LYNN LONIDIER
A friend of mine learned he had cancer.
I went to emergency. The nurse had to ask me where it was, it was so small. The doctor said scar tissue--foreign matter from a vaccination which had built up.
It grew larger. My friend got worse. The cancer spread.
I returned to the hospital. The doctor felt of it and said cyst.
Twice I the appointment while imagining it was getting larger.
My friend was taken away in a wheel chair. He had a hood over his head. He was thirty-three years old.
I felt the bump on my arm. Was it possible I had contracted cancer from my friend? We used the same bathroom and ate from the same plates.
I kept the third appointment.
The nurse stepped out of the room. I got the hospital smock on and peered at the remarks on the hospital chart.
I have heard of people avoiding going to the doctor when they had a mysterious bump on their bodies, and the bump proved fatal.
I lay on my stomach. Two interns came to watch--one, a young man with a shaved head; one, a woman. Both felt of my arm beforehand. I glimpsed at the woman. I thought of her while the needle was in my arm. I thought of her as I felt a surgical implement probe my leaden arm. This woman asked me where I had gotten my third right finger gold ring.
In the ground.
Jeanne was holding Carol's arm outstretched Carol's hand was lightly touching Jeanne's breast
Now the needle was out of the arm and Jeanne was standing very close to Carol Carol tried to imagine Jeanne as severe in appearance but Jeanne's looks made it impossible to do so Carol remembered reading somewhere that women doctors possessed more masculine traits than any other group of women but Jeanne's dark hair though closely cut held softly to her head she wore large earrings and she had on a ring that resembled an engagement ring but it was on the fourth finger of her right hand Carol wondered if perhaps some function of the left hand by M.D.'s made doctors prefer the right hand for their rings the diamond was set higher on the ring than Carol recalled seeing in engagement sets
Jeanne joked to the receptionist about not operating on Carol (most cases in dermatology involve slow close examination or mynah surgery) how flushed Jeanne became at causing laughter her neck then her cheeks then, upward to her hairline Carol wondered how Jeanne would react to intensification of some woman loving her
Jeanne told Carol come in two mornings later they agreed on 8:00 Jeanne said what we look for is a rising in the skin area or a bruising what we do is measure it
While she sat in a college class Carol wondered who was Jeanne's lover
Carol may have dreamed about Jeanne
All she really knew was what she wanted Jeanne to be like
Maybe all this was just a dwelling on doctor instead of diagnosis
Carol feared the skin test might read positive
Two mornings later she will look at my arm notate negative and that will he all why am I making so much out of this yes Carol had gone there with some suspicion of illness within her she had wanted a skin test instead of an X ray because she feared radiation so much radiation was already in the air in the milk in the rain
Carol's heart was racing ahead to the moment she would be in the office with Jeanne would Jeanne remember to come in as early as 8:00 either way was no indication of Jeanne's awareness of Carol's feelings for her perhaps Jeanne wouldn't come perhaps she didn't feel comfortable enough to be alone with a girl that breathed faster with her near perhaps Jeanne had arranged
[p. 6] | [Page Image]
for another doctor to do the reading perhaps her boy friend the man with the shaved head
The clinic was open Jeanne was there Jeanne told Carol bring your purse with you it isn't safe to leave it around you know (undertone) the receptionist can't be trusted
Jeanne's remark showed the receptionist and Carol laughing and Jeanne turning red
Jeanne led Carol into an office Jeanne resumed the position of holding Carol's arm outstretched the hand was again held against the cloth of Jeanne's breast Jeanne felt of the spot where the needle had gone in there was no color or raising while Jeanne was doing this Carol moved her hand over the curve of Jeanne's smock there was electrical contact between their eyes it came and went so fast neither was sure it wasn't of protest neither could believe Carol's hand had sought and Jeanne had not moved away Carol's voice nudged Jeanne and her eyes covered her over
Jeanne looked at Carol's face a face so intent on touch and reaction to touch and it was surrounded by long blond hair you have the urge to separate feel the fineness of then stroke then watch it fall into place again when Jeanne heard the sound the longing it made her further not move for if she moved how could she have heard another wanting her
A blush started at Jeanne's dress collar and went upward to her hair
Carol imagined it moving across Jeanne's breasts also
How close they were standing Jeanne noticed how the girl's presence seemed to have gotten larger as she was looking at her Jeanne broke from Carol moved as far away as she could Carol's head did not turn downward but her hair seemed to wilt
Jeanne held onto the table behind her she was breathing hard she was waiting to calm she recognized she had wanted this closeness with the girl she had been reluctant to stop she wouldn't betray the girl she didn't feel threatened by Carol so much as she did
by her own slowness to move away from Carol this frightened her she felt hysteria and couldn't stop the red from forming under her skin it increased it was profuse
Perhaps the girl would betray her she would deny it but how could she protect herself from the transparency of her own feelings
Uh the test shows negative do you want it on paper
Carol nodded and made appreciation in her eyes that the woman was not going to call in anyone Carol wanted to disappear under the sky
Jeanne handed Carol a scribbled note and refrained from looking at her maybe Carol had never done anything sexual with a woman before and was as lost from it
When Carol was fifteen there had been a girl in one of her classes who--------
Slowly their eyes told each other about each other this was followed by what is it like to kiss when they were alone at one or the other of their homes they kissed
The narrowness of the townspeople kept them from sniffing out and condemning two girls who went together did everything together and held to each other inside each other's empty house but the same people fear what they do not know they are always on the verge of passing from ignorance to intolerance suspicion always did exist
Carol and her love were coverted by people's naive overestimation of the naivety of two girls
But Carol had had punitive upbringing she sought praise did well in school but through love she had gained guilt
She left her parents left her town left love and in college did not know what she wanted there she turned to therapy
In a little office she learned that retribution does not have to go hand in hand with feelings that it was all right to love a woman if she wanted
Carol expressed love for her therapist (by
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telling her) and overheard her tell the office secretary keep your ears open if you hear me holler come running (laughter) a ridicule-laden inference that the therapist was not safe when alone with Carol
The therapist entered where her desk was where Carol waited where confidential matters were supposedly kept Carol did not reveal that she had overheard the therapist had seemed so accepting so understanding people fall in love with anyone who seems caring of their thoughts
Carol still loved the therapist though she never went back
Carol and Jeanne did not make a parting remark the receptionist had engaged Jeanne in the next patient to be seen
Carol did not dwell on the encounter it frustrated her that she had to avoid seeing the woman again Christ how she wished she knew her name maybe after Carol left the woman had told someone what had happened maybe the doctors and nurses had had a big laugh about it it would be a long-standing joke with them Jeanne would turn red making her vulnerability to the men doctors more appealing
Jeanne saw many patients that day she was careful with each one but late afternoon she developed such a headache she could not go to med seminar the redness had seemed to linger
Before she went to the resident hall and after the nurses left she went through the office files for Carol's name
Jeanne copied name address and noted Carol's birthday
She herself was twenty-nine Carol a girl herself a woman
She noted in the remarks that in the past Carol had had anxiety reactions to illness Carol was the sort of person that every year or so needed reassurance she had not contracted some fatal disease what she needed was a love to sustain her from death this was not in the records but Jeanne recognized the malady it takes a very special person to eradicate another's awareness of death and since she herself handled many fatal cases she had to be wary of absorption in malignancies
They were waiting for the swelling to go down from the anesthesia. They could no longer tell where the growth was because it was within the swelling.
In clinical language, the resident and the interns tried to diagnose what the bump might be before they removed it. Each had a different theory. They agreed it was deep. We'll take such-and-such incision.
How could they be so casual about not being certain where it was.
During the course of the operation, I expressed my viewpoint on the war. The lady intern informed me the man operating on my arm had served in the armed forces as an M.D.
There was joking amongst the resident and the interns--doctor and patient dissented over the war (the advantage he had over me)--he had not sewn me up, yet!
There was discussion of their weekend.
They encountered so many people and so much death, they could be casual in the presence of someone who had cancer.
Even after the growth was removed, the doctor could not say it was not cancer. He held up a bottle containing what he had removed--tissue that resembled, filter-tip fiber disseminated by the liquid it was in, a pimplish core centered within. Repulsive, yet, not to be let go of.
The resident took a long time doing the stitches. I heard him say to the interns I was young; it was important I not have scar disfigurement.
Why should I be attractive. Statistics were half of all the men would be maimed or never come back. But I didn't dare be vocal on the war while the doctor was sewing me up.
I wasn't certain he really was careful. He might want to get even with me--his, a contradictory existence.
And I was going to have to wait a week for the diagnosis.
But I might not live that long.
I decided I would ask for a TB skin test. I was applying for a job which required one.
[p. 8] | [Page Image]
I might have TB. I have sputum in my throat, which has continued to thrive for three, four years. I never tried to get rid of it. I have a cat and a dog, and I have been told doctors won't treat throat infections of owners of fur-bearing animals.
Jeanne had been in the city for over three years without having found a steady lover or mate often she thought it could not continue much longer I will find someone in the next month or two then she realized a year had passed since she started thinking the thought and two years and Jeanne was in the midst of men perhaps her failure (that is how she thought of it) to find a man resulted from the franticness of the hours kept by interns and M.D.'s herself and those who dated her how many days had, she only gotten an hour or two of sleep
The times Jeanne was on a date were always tightly wound almost desperate she didn't have much contact with men in other professions they might not understand how work kept her yet she had read somewhere that most women doctors married men in other fields
She had come into contact with a lot of men dying
Perhaps she made excuses for herself when it came to finding a man
Charles was less assertive in his love-making than she with him she found herself holding back her thoughts and her gestures and assuming a role of naivety whatever the night required to make him feel everything was the way it should be she in turn felt impatient angry and developed headaches
Carl too had suffered a relationship with her he began to harbor competitiveness toward Jeanne when they were involved in clinical diagnosis the resident physician finally had to transfer him to another floor because he began to make up diagnoses to refute Jeanne's and insist on their accuracy when results from the lab proved otherwise the chief resident had called them both in and told them point-blank he must separate them
Jeanne's last date was with a man she could not help but equate with money Al took her places showed her a good time and yet she could not even feel as much for him as for a friend she had her roommate say she was not in the last time he phoned however as the weekend wore on she found herself traipsing downtown with a group of nurses who wound up their evening at a movie Jeanne wishing she had not declined him not caring for Al but being with him would be better than wallowing in all that time and dwelling on the complaints of her patients until she felt possessed of malignancy
Jeanne knew what it was like to have a bump that appeared on her body be fatal she had felt herself consumed by the slow-moving fury of the power of certain cells over others only to come out of her dread on Monday when she again confronted so many patients she had no time to dwell on her death
Early evening two or three weeks from the time Jeanne and Carol had been drawn toward liaison Jeanne faced Carol in a doorway
Jeanne (the name Carol had given her) Jeanne's face was flushed as if she had just caused laughter by something she'd said
They stood inside the room and looked at each other
Why did you
I had to see you
Jeanne's face was burning in the dark Carol hadn't turned the light on
They were standing they looked at each other and saw near
You won't tell
All of a sudden they took hold of each other as two people might who hadn't seen each other for years like strangers remembering they had once been lovers
And the two women mouthed each other their flesh wanting out of their clothing
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I will I will here
On your breast
Yes ooh love me
I will I will here
They were on top of the bed
Jeanne lay on her back her arms and legs outstretched
Carol was over her centering over the edges of Jeanne's breasts
Both caught a glimpse of something they had seen moving in water
Carefully carefully Jeanne lifted Carol's finger in between her legs in through the hairs into the wet Carol moved her finger in and out and knew what the woman was like inside and almost fainted upon the sound of woman-sounds
Faster the room went
In the middle of making love Carol stopped
Do you love me
I don't know you but I love you
Because darkness was around them Carol could not see if Jeanne was embarrassed or Mushed but she guess it
Why do you always turn so red
Ask me that and that's enough to make me do it that's the way I am my blood is near my surface do I feel hot
You are hot sexy hot
Well continue please
They smiled knowing what was to be done
The woman intern came into the room. She removed the stitches. She gave me a skin test. She did blush easily and hold my arm in such a way that my hand touched that part of her dress which contained her breasts.
I'd rather have a woman who treats m'good, 'n a man who treats m'bad.
In books the penis is everything the bigger the better in one of Faulkner's books a man uses a corncob to do it with because it is larger
Might as well use the handle of a hammer
The two women knew better of the implement
Jeanne had wondered when a man was in her what was the matter that she didn't feel it more Carl had wanted it in right away and Charles did not know how to get it in and no matter how big she couldn't feel it once it was in the harder they did it the more insensitive to it she became
Al she could not let enter her
(How close you feel to the one above is how much you will feel)
As soon as Carol put her finger in Jeanne turning her own delicious body onto the woman a rush of heat came
Carol's hair came down into Jeanne's the brown and the yellow mixed together made a most deep rich color Jeanne had Carol's tongue in her mouth through it Carol was lost to all but to ANIMALS! BREASTS! coming over her great wreaths of hair loveliness
Jeanne was on fire blazing and Indian she went down to the dance of Carol's heart all around
When one was too tired the other would
Jeanne tilted her thigh upward and Carol spread her legs over it so the TWO TOUCHED so that the rivers moving between them fitted together
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They could go on like that and sometimes did 'til morning brought them 'round
They turned a light on smoked cigarettes and gazed at each other's moonflesh and Carol said who gave you the ring of the ring on Jeanne's finger
My parents did for graduation
Carol then saw a drop of blood replace the setting there it was as plain as though it had always been there Carol didn't say anything she didn't want to alarm Jeanne she tried to kiss it off but it stayed it was like a pin prick it was round and perfect and irremovable
Father and Mother both had had cancer. It tends to run in families.
Some doctors and psychiatrists maintain that at people who are overly-busy, overly-conscientious, drive themselves hard, and are nervous, are prone toward cancer.
Do they care for you
My father's dead I write to my mother every two or three weeks
Strange that Jeanne's ring had acquired a red jewel and she really hadn't answered
Jeanne's parents in giving the ring to her had wired it to her conscience so it gave off blood (a peculiarity of her family lineage) whenever she strayed from their ways
It was a case of mistaken diagnosis the laboratory had gotten Jeanne's and Carol's charts mixed it was Jeanne who had disease and Carol who went free to bemoan the loss of the woman clear passed the grave
As though the bed were a pyre amongst all the heat of love and neither woman had a remedy for fire is the color of guilt through all centuries it has been so in The Scarlet Letter a remnant of conscience the mark on the adultress's forehead stayed on
When Jeanne left Carol the ring turned from ruby to diamond
I cannot live with someone who cannot live with herself the red color of the ring came and went Carol waited awhile then left Jeanne
So Jeanne lay there and died (mortification it used to be called) and Carol could not do without her
Carol regarded Jeanne's outstretched form as that of the Saviour as all lovers are to each other and that implied a certain amount of death but in the morning Jeanne had to be alert to the line of patients waiting when she arrived with clothes on in the dermatology department of the impersonal hospital
I like to feel the bump I like to play with it ooh are you sure you won't let me remove it I simply can't leave it alone it's so cute
I'm sure Silly
Carol knew now that they would both live because they loved each other and could laugh about it without the burning starting
Love made death clear up and go away
Carol moved Jeanne's hand from the tiny lump in her flesh to between her breasts Jeanne's hand curved into the softness and stayed when they were asleep both had their hands on each other's breasts and if a hand slid off that was enough to awaken and once more grasp the security of roundness
How good to live
The woman in my story died only because I wanted to at the time my friend died. I was feeling illness all around, and I knew too much. I knew it was years experiencing intense love feelings for women-- coupled with my father's-, mother's-, and friend's failing--that caused the bump to come. People can cause cancer to come onto their bodies. A change in cell growth occurs when too much unhappiness builds up in the system. It is a way of passing
[p. 11] | [Page Image]
sentence on oneself. Cancer as self-imposed death.
Both women were in myself; aspects of myself in both women.
One died and one lived.
Actually, the growth proved non-malignant; the skin test proved negative. I was healthy. The scar on my arm is only slightly visible to look at.
I want Jeanne and Carol to continue to love one another for many years. It's possible --love above death.
Since these visits to the hospital, I have seen the woman intern driving a car in a lane of traffic opposite mine. I don't think she saw me. If she had, she probably wouldn't recognize me from that day in the office until now.
(Lynn Lonidier writes that she is too much involved with her work to be much of anything but its reflection. She lives in Southern California in a "tropical paradise" and admits to varied tastes including unusual foods. Her poetry, and articles pertaining to poetry, have appeared in many periodicals including TRACE, EVERGREEN REVIEW, MASSACHUSETTS REVIEW, San Francisco REVIEW, THE HUMANIST, FORUM, etc., and in THE LIVING UNDERGROUND; AN ANTHOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN POETRY. A collection of her work, PO TREE, was published in 1967 by the Berkeley Free Press.)
This is not for you
By JANE RULE
N.Y., McCall's 1970
Reviewed by Isabel Miller
Good news--our lovely bright Jane Rule has published another novel. It's a letter to a girl named Esther, who is now a nun and will never read it. I don't think anything would be eased for Esther, or cleared up, if she did read it, but she might enjoy it; it's dazzling.
Kate (the narrator) and Esther meet as students at a women's college. They're rich, intelligent, serious, philosophical, poetic. They're in love with each other but Kate won't let anything happen. She has no reluctance about making love to other girls-- just Esther. An open lesbian named Sandy takes an interest in Esther, but Kate keeps them apart, thinking, "You are not to spend yourself on a Sandra Mentchen. I haven't saved you from myself for that."
Kate and Esther travel in Europe. Kate picks up two men, Andrew and Peter, and the four of them then travel together. Esther doesn't especially like Andrew and Peter or like travelling with them. Kate goes back to England, leaving Esther with the men. Andrew wants to talk with Kate, but she's very closed and can't. He asks, "Why do you always run away?" "To keep from hurting people who aren't bright enough to protect themselves," Kate says.
Kate and Sandy have a little fling-- once only, Kate's favorite way. Sandy asks
Kate why she doesn't just go ahead and make love to Esther. Kate says, "It's just not her world, not her sort of thing." Esther's opinion is never asked.
Esther asks Kate why Kate doesn't want her. "Because I don't want to want you. It's as simple as that," Kate says.
There's a party. Esther says, "Absolutely everybody's kissed me tonight but you." Kate says, "Then it's probably time to go home."
Kate says, "It's time you met some men." (Esther is surrounded by men, but they're all homosexual so they don't
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count.) Esther says, "All right, Kate."
They finish school, go to England. Esther obediently meets a creep named John, who, Kate says, "sounds like a Penguin Classic." Kate is "jealous and hurt and frightened," but doesn't tell Esther so.
There's a Christmas houseparty. Esther kisses Kate's hand. Kate tucks Esther into bed and lies awake for a long time--wondering whether mother will go to the Christmas Eve services!
Mother has a stroke. Kate goes back to America to be with her. Esther, later, comes too. They play chess a lot, have talks about philosophy and religion. Kate's "mind and body ached with obscenities of their own." What to do but kick Esther out? As she's leaving, Esther says, "You do love me-- you do want me. Or you would have let me come to you years ago." "No," Kate says.
Esther lives for a year with a lout named Christopher. Kate sleeps one night with the night nurse, name of Mac. I like Mac, but Kate doesn't.
Kate and Esther go to Los Angeles to visit Sandy, who's a concert pianist and cheerfully mated to a girl. Esther, who is attracted to Sandy's girl, says, "Kate only allows me to sleep with men." Sandy says to Kate, "You're the most indecent prude I've ever known." That rolls right off Kate. She knows she's being fine and noble.
Esther takes up with a junkie/pusher/ thief named Charlie. ("At least he's not homosexual," Sandy says.) Kate minds about Charlie. She says, "His whore and his mate. His slave and his keeper." "And I would have been that for you," Esther says. Kate touches her hand and leaves for Washington. "For one of my nervous, negative morality, risking failure is less terrifying than risking success. I could more easily have died for you than lived with you."
In Washington she works hard, has no clearance problems, reads reports at night. Even Esther's mother reproaches her for not loving Esther, who has been arrested for possession of Charlie's marijuana. Instead of helping Esther get out of jail, Kate sleeps with the boss, a married lady named Joyce. I liked Joyce, but Kate didn't much. "I was glad of her, grateful for her, as I'm sure I couldn't have been if I had really, loved Joyce as I loved you ... I couldn't be guilty of you. I hadn't that kind of courage." Joyce says, "You're an absolutely standard type, you know--the crude prude." It rolls right off Kate.
Esther's rich mother buys Esther off the grass rap. Esther travels, sending postcards without return addresses. She gets engaged to a very uptight doctor named John. On the wedding day, Esther and Kate kiss, being "careful of each other's makeup." Esther goes off to be married, saying, "This is how it should be. This is how you told me to do it."
Kate, now twenty-six, goes to Greece to work for a relief agency; she wants to save the world. She falls in love at first sight with her boss, name of Grace, crowding sixty. After a long time, Grace, once, takes Kate to bed. I guess Kate likes it--she doesn't say. Grace says, "I have never been in love, except with my work." Nothing about Kate changes that.
Esther gets a divorce and contemplates entering a nunnery--an enclosed order. Kate goes to see her. "I would miss you," Kate says, but doesn't look at her. Esther enters the nunnery anyway. Now Kate is writing this letter which is not to be sent and feeling, I guess, generally pleased at how self-disciplined she's been. She's part Indian--maybe that's why she's so contemptuous of pain.
Why does Kate sleep with only women she cares nothing for or who care nothing for her? Why does she "protect" Esther-- poor sweet vulnerable needful Esther-- from herself and Sandy, but not from all those appalling men? In short, why does she despise lesbianism? Damned if I know.
Does Jane Rule know? I think if she did she would have said. She writes so wonderfully. If she'd write Establishment, she'd be one of the Titans. She can say what she wants to say, and there's room for everything in the wonderful loose free shopping-bag form she chose. It can go from narration to scenes and back again without a scratch, and leap across years or make pages of a minute, just as Jane pleases; I feel safe in saying she doesn't know.
But she doesn't need to. Suffice it that she's observed correctly and written everything down and given us this tragic admonitory tale of what happens when you make moral decisions for other people without consulting them, when you despise love, when your emotions are inaccessible to you, when you're closed and cold and self-righteous and condescending--when you're a prude: you drive your girl to sick men and drugs and doomed marriages and. divorce. You make a nunnery look warm and yummy.
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(Jane Rule lives and works in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her first novel, DESERT OF THE HEART, appeared in the United States in 1965. Her short stories have been published in magazines in Canada and the United States. She has often contributed stories to THE LADDER. Her next novel, AGAINST THE SEASON, will be published by McCall's in 1971. Chapter Two of AGAINST THE SEASON appeared in the October /November, 1969 issue of THE LADDER.)
(Reviewer Isabel Miller is the author of the popular Lesbian novel, A PLACE FOR US. Under her own name she is a well-known established novelist. She also has contributed a story to THE LADDER.)
Western Homophile Conference Keynote Address
By HENRY (HARRY) HAY
Introduction by Jim Kepner
(My chief function in speaking here is to make an introduction. So I hope my friend, whom I am about to introduce, won't mind if I am a bit perverse about it. My method is perverse, in a way. It is a little like introducing Troy Perry by first saying a few kind words for Mohammedanism.
I want to introduce one of those persons who has had a really revolutionary effect on the homophile community in the United States, and a person who isn't much a believer in reformism, so I want to say a few kind words for reformism first.
Without changing the system, without overthrowing the Establishment, whatever that is, we have made a hell of a lot of progress in the last twenty years. I don't think those of you who are under thirty can begin to appreciate just what it was like for homosexuals two decades ago, and some you older ones have forgotten.
We had no organizations of our own. No publications of our own. Bars--we had plenty of them, and some just as wild as any are today, but the arrest rate in some of the liveliest ones was great enough that if the same thing were to happen today, we'd be storming City Hall in a half hour. We couldn't meet in Churches--the very idea was unthinkable. For that matter, we couldn't meet much of anyplace else either. I spoke in this Church, the most progressive Church in Los Angeles, just ten years ago, and the Church was pretty upset about it afterward. I could go on a long time, but I just wanted a quick reminder, before we start talking about throwing out the system, of how much progress we have made.
It took revolutionaries to get that progress rolling. Until the homosexual cause began to be a bit respectable, it was only the revolutionaries that had time for it. Everybody else was afraid of their shadow.
I was thinking about starting a magazine, or a defense organization, as early as 1942. But I didn't do it, I drew up some plans, talked to a few friends, but nothing came of it. Nothing at all.
One person was more persistent. In 1948, the dream became a bit more than a dream, and by 1950, the spirit became flesh and moved among us. The spirit, the hope, the dream that homosexuals had suppressed for centuries burst forth here in Los Angeles, and travelled to San Francisco and to San Diego within a few more months. The first homosexual organization, the first mass homosexual organization was born twenty years ago --the first Gay Liberation Organization.
I would like to introduce to you my very dear friend, and mentor and antagonist, the man who first brought us out of Egypt, if not quite over the Jordan, the father of the Homophile Movement, Henry Hay.)
With all the members standing in a circle made suddenly transcendent through the fellowship-power of its crossed-hands couplings, the Moderator requests that they each repeat after him the following:
"Let us hereby resolve that no young person among us need ever take his first step out into the dark alone and afraid again!"
Does that sound like some fragment of a Gay Liberation ritual? Well, it is! It is the concluding sentence of the New Member Welcoming Ritual of the first Gay Liberation Movement in the United States ... the original Mattachine Society, 1950 to April of 1953.
That first Movement called Homosexuals
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to a brotherhood of love and trust; it called Homosexuals to rediscover their collective--as well as personal--self-respect and integrity. It raised into consciousness, for the first time, the concept of the Homosexual Minority complete with its own sub-culture, with its own Life-styles. It struggled to perceive--however dimly, and with little language to help it--that, in some measure, the Homosexual Minority actually looked out upon the world through a somewhat different window than did their Heterosexual brothers and sisters. The Homosexual world-view surely deviated in dimensional values from that of its parent society ... a world view neither better nor inferior--but athwart
Rejecting the ultimately unexaminable assumptions of Heterosexual Psychiatry, mired as they were--and still are--in the obsolescent modes of Aristotelian thinking, the first Movement called to its own fellowship to search themselves and their several cultures to find out at last "what WE are" --"WHO we are". It called to its membership to assemble these findings and then introduce to the Parent Society that widening dimension of spiritual consciousness our contributions would bring. And finally, upon the gift of such contributions, it postulated the integration of our Minority into the Parent Society AS A GROUP ... not a "passing" assimilation by individuals but integration by the total group ... for this was 1950-53 and Montgomery and Birmingham and Selma still lay in the unpredictable future.
In the scant generation between that largely non-verbal THEN--and now, a host of new scientific modes of discourse have flooded us with resources, with language, and revelations, to firm up our early hesitant footings ... Ethology, Etho-Ecology, Bio-Genetics, Cultural-Genetics, to name a few. Penetrating voices, speaking in these dimensions that presage new horizons of higher consciousness for the Spirit of Man, have caught the ear of the new generations who would be free ... Konrad Lorenz, R.D. Laing, Herbert Marcuse. And within their contexts, WE ARE THERE--if we will but seek at last to define and disclose ourselves.
In the long years between the miscalculations of, and the headlong flight of brothers from, that first dream of Liberation-- and Its rebirth in the Spring of 1969, the many elements of the earlier Society ... continually grouping and regrouping ... devotedly attempted to retain such basic principles of the Mattachine Idea as were salvageable when the root thinking (the radicalism motivating and inspiring the original vision) had been precipitated out. Adjusting their sights to the more tried-and-true forms of the middle way the new groups sought respectability rather than self-respect, parliamentary individualism rather than the collective trust of brotherhood, law reform and quiet assimilation rather than a community of rich diversity within the Family of Man. One might say that they sought to be exactly the same as the D.A.R.--except in bed.
This is not to say that the long and futile struggle, of the Homosexual Minority Movement to wear shoes that could never fit, did not have its gallant and contributive aspects. For it did--and a number of the consequences are far-reaching. Occasionally these managed momentarily to deodorize spots in our putrefying Society within which the Organizations wheel-and-deal. Also, in the larger healthier growing edges of social-consciousness Homophile organizations have postulated several right questions ... albeit for mostly the wrong reasons.
Yet--for all that--until now, the head count of the memberships throughout the United States was never able to equal the thousands who rallied, in California alone, to the original Mattachine Idea between 1950 and 1953. Why do the shoes of middle-class respectability and conformity never seem to fit? Why do our essays at right questions time and again bear witness that we postulated wrong reasons? Why is it that Homosexuals presumably high-principled and disciplined enough to join and serve the Minority's Democratically-run Service Organizations comprise so small a percentage of the Minority? Why is it that non-organized Homosexuals--in their thousands over the years--opine smugly that Homosexuals kid themselves when they think they can effectively organize at all ... because they really have nothing in common but their sex drives? Why? Why? WHY?
Because... when the Queens of closet rank chose to seek respectability by turning their backs resolutely on their brothers and, sisters of the Street, they shut out from their perspectives the first and primary task laid upon the Minority by the Original Mattachine Vision--the task of discovering "What ARE we?" "WHO ARE we?"
We Homosexuals know much about
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ourselves we've never talked about--even TO ourselves. History knows much about us that it doesn't know it knows ... but WE could recognize it if we would look. Myth and Legend, Tradition and Folk-ways know much about us that has been deliberately obscured by endless politically-motivated Conspiracies of Silence ... WHICH WE CAN EXPLODE IF WE WILL. As the Free Generation, and the Third World, have revealed beyond any possibility" of longer denying it, our vain-hallowed culture is slowly sinking into a veritable kitchen-midden of obscenely-generated unexamined assumptions, learned by rote, inherited without question, and having not one shred of a basis for possible justification in the modern world. That the three largest oppressed Minorities in the United States today are victims of politically-motivated unexamined false assumptions, sanctimoniously parading as religious Revelations of our Hallowed Western Civilization, should come as no surprise.
From the marriage of Hellenistic philosophy and Judeo-Roman politics, projected to God-head and named Christianity, we proudly inherit through REVELATION the unassailable proof that Women are inferior From the Divine Revelations of Renaissance Humanism, and the Reformational Elect, we inherit the unassailable proof that both Women and non-Whites are inferior From the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant "Best of all possible Worlds" we inherit the unassailable proofs that both non-whites and Queers are inferior
Second-class citizens ALL ... it should not be surprising that as oppressed and harried Minorities we three learned lessons and share certain levels of consciousness in common. As with the largest oppressed Minority --Women--the Homosexual Minority knows the shape and substance of Male Chauvinism--we too have lived under its lash all our lives. As with the second largest oppressed Minority--the non-Whites, the Homosexual Minority knows the bitter harvest of being the Village Nigger!
Women know that no man has ever been able to describe or project what it means to be, and to feel like, a self-appreciating woman. Yet she does not need to be explained or defended. She is existential. She IS! Today Blacks are making it unmistakably clear that no Whiteman has ever been able to describe or project what it means, and feels like, to be a self-appreciating Black. Nor does he need to be explained or defended.
He is existential. He IS! We Homosexuals know that no Heterosexual man has ever been able to describe, or begin to project, what it means to be, and feel like, a self-appreciating Homosexual. To update Descartes, COGITO ET SENTIO ERGO SUM! And for each of our three Minorities--to know this is to make us free within ourselves, requires us (whether we like it or not) to move to social consciousness, and foretells our several potentials as allies in the struggle for the new world a-coming.
What is it that we know of ourselves that no Heterosexual as yet has begun to perceive? It is that we Homosexuals have a psychic architecture in common, we have a Dream in common, man to man, woman to woman. For all of us, and for each of us, in the dream of Love's ecstasy ... The God descends--the Goddess descends; and for each of us the transcendence of that apotheosis is mirrored in the answering glances of the lover's eyes. FOR WE SHARE THE SAME VISION ... Like to Like. Heterosexuals do not partake of such a communion of spirit. Their's is ... other. And--in this mating of like to like-- what is it we seek? Not the power and vanities of dynasty, not wealth or property, not social contract or security, not status, nor preferment, as does the Parent Society. We seek union, EACH WITH HIS SIMILAR-- heart to mirroring heart--free spirit to free, spirit!
We are a Minority of a common Spirituality, we are a Free People ... and we have always been so--throughout the millenia, each in his generation! No allegiance, no sanctions, no taboos or prohibitions, no laws have ever been encompassing enough or powerful enough to stand between us and the pursuit of our Dream. It was no accident, no poetic stroke of whimsy, that translated our persons--in the King James Testament--as "Fools", nor translated our vision guests as "folly". Tradition knew us well--"Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread!" Throughout our millenia we were, and are how, in the faithful service to the Great Mother--Earth--Nature, and in loyal service to her children--the people who preserved the Great Mother's ecological harmonies, both psychically and materially, in the ritual of their everyday lives. To those of her communities who granted us respect and acknowledged our integrity, we gave loyalty beyond ordinary measures of endurance ... Les Societes Mattachines of both Feudal and Monarchial France give
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ample testimony to that. BUT--to tyrants, and to alien usurping Gods, the clear unflagging flame of our Dream was--and remains still--heresy--treason--witch-craft --the unforgivable sin. Towards the expropriators of the Spirit of Man we Homosexuals "are forever alien; in their eyes we are forever Anathema!
We Homosexuals are a Minority who share each other's Dream whether we speak the same language or-not, who share a common psychic vision whether we share the same cultural make-up or not, all the days of our years. Though we are born with all the aggressive fighting instincts of our common humanity, the psychic architecture-- characteristic to our Minority natures--begins to reshape and redirect these vital energies with almost the first stirrings in us of spiritual consciousness. The aggressive competitiveness, taken for granted as an eternal, verity by our Heterosexual Parent Society, in us redirects, under the guidance of the Blueprint of our Minority nature. In us, this genetic redirection transforms our perceptions of unconsciously-inherited animal. Maleness or Femaleness into appreciations of--nay even a life-long passion to call forth, to call into being, the grace and tenderness behind that competitive strength, the humility and compassion behind that territorial ruthlessness, in our fellow siblings of the Great Mother. For grace and tenderness, humility and compassion are revealed to us as being implicit in the aspect ... the spirituality ... of the Masculine Ideal, the Feminine Ideal. He who answers, she who answers, our call into being is our LIKE, our SIMILAR, ... the one who finds in our aspect the ideal we find in his,--that ideal which we can understand in him, in her, and cherish in ourselves, because we share its outlook in common. This shared commonality of outlook is a world-view totally unfamiliar to the accrued experience of our Parent Society. It is a view of the life experience through a different window.
The Free Generation, the young Millions, now striving to perceive the dimensions of the Family of Man, also seek to achieve that redirection of the fists of territorial aggression into the compassionate hand-clasp of the Community of Spirit. That capacity for redirection has characterized our Minority from the beginning. We were its proving-grounds in the processes of natural selection. We carried--we carry, through the millenia of lives-experiences,-- the promise that one day all mankind might be able to learn to make that redirection manifest.
For three hundred years, our useful contributive past in Western Culture has been pulverized and effaced by deliberate politically-motivated Conspiracies of Silence. In this hell of Anomie, we--of the Homosexual Minority--have been reduced to semi-conscious rudder-less wanderers, driven like sheep to conform to social patterns which atrophied our perceptions and shredded our souls, beset on every side by the bacilli of--to us--alien value-judgments which riddled the very sinews of our Dream. But now, even in this late hour, there is a light at the end of our long tunnel. There are voices on the wind giving dimensions to the freeing of the Spirit of Man. The time is now for our Minority to begin at last to comprehend what we have known for so long. The time is NOW for us to speak of, and to share, that which we have lived and preserved for so long. The reappearance of the "Gay Liberation Ideal" calls to each of us to stoke anew the passionate fires of our particular vision of the Community of Spirit. The breath-taking sweep of "Gay Liberation" challenges us to break loose from the lockstep expectations of Heterosexual life patterns so obliterating of our natures. Even the Free Generation, seeking a widened angle of worldview, challenges us to throw off the Dream-destroying shackles of alien thought that we may exhibit, at long last, the rich diversities of our deviant perceptions.
To liberate our Minority life-styles, we first must explode once and for all the obscene unexamined assumptions by which we bind ourselves into the obsolescent social conformities ... as for instance our concern for the "Image" assumption. I conform to no Image; I define myself. WE DEFINE OURSELVES! To a people who would be free--images are irrelevancies. Again--we assume that to govern ourselves we must enact forcible restraints upon each other, and that the cumulative detriment will be negligible so long as these restraints are patently disguised as "Democratic" procedures. In this field the great unexamined assumption is that Robert's Rules of Order achieve a maximum of free expression within a minimum of collective restraints. To the competitive, to the territorialists, to the ego-ridden, to the status-seekers, of our decaying Society, the parliamentary coercions of "majority" votings ... of special interest lobbyings .... of cloak-room obligations
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cunningly connived ... of filibusterings and steam-rollerings ... do appear to provide a set of minimal repressions whereby the random aggressions of delegates may be controlled. The sad truth is that, because of the failure of the Spirit of Man to surface into collective consciousness in our Western Society, these procedures serve only to assure the continued domination of the pecking order.
All this is NOT of us! these are the shoes which never have fitted us; these are the shackles of alien thought that--brain-washing us to accept a world-view through the WRONG window--hold us to our bondage. Our Homosexual Liberation Movement must consist of far-ranging Communities of Free Spirits. What have Free Peoples to do with politely-masked repressions of one another? With coercions, or with claims-laying upon one another? What have Free Peoples to do with the voting principles that divide people from one another, or with the pretentious mounting of resolutions? Each of these restrictions seeks to shame and cajole the many to conform to the ego-mania or the wishful-thinking of the few. Have we permitted our perceptions to become so atrophied that we can assume fellow Homosexuals, or ourselves for that matter, vulnerable to being shamed and cajoled by brainwashed sell-outs in our midst? Being shamed and cajoled by pressures inimical to our natures has been the ever-present bane of our Homosexual life-experience; we are past masters in the arts of dissembling, and/or vanishing under an invisible cloak, whenever such pressures threaten.
The Community of Free Spirits is not just a fantasy in the minds of wool-gatherers such as I. It has a history of long-lasting and exceedingly viable Societies outside of Western Europe (and even smaller contained communities within Western Europe) to recommend it. Anthropologists who, in recent years, have learned to perceive societal systems as things-in-themselves wholly within the context of their own self-developed referants, confess that individual life-styles within such systems are more free than life-styles conceived in Western Civilization. Our Homosexual Liberation Ideal mandates such a community of Free Spirits. Not for us the constrictions of political parties, of leaders who presume to speak for us, of experts who conspire to think for us, of alliances that obligate us to act in the name of others or that permit others to expropriate the use of ours. We come together in a voluntary sharing of a spiritual outlook. We touch hearts. Together we grow in consciousness to generate issues, AND ACTIONS UPON THESE ISSUES, which make manifest the fleshing out of our shared world-vision. We consense, we affirm and re-affirm the Free Community of Spirit, we acknowledge a spokesman to voice our thinking when such voicings seem called for. Sometimes we may do a thing together and so we will act in the name of the Community. Other times we are, each or several, off on our own thing and here we act in the name of the self-liberated (or in the name of the group, depending entirely upon the specific Group's feelings in the matter.) BUT--within this Community--let the Spirit be betrayed, let coercion or opportunism attempt to bind any of us against our will ... and PRESTO, like the Faeries of Folk-lore, suddenly we are no longer there. Shame me, call me names, resolve me to a position I do not share, couple me to an opinion I do not hold, vote my presence to an action against my grain ... and I'm long gone. "Once bitten, twice shy!"
Our Faerie characteristic is our Homosexual Minority's central weakness ... and, paradoxically, also the keystone of our enduring strength. For whether we are self-liberated, or still self-imprisoned within the territorial conformities of our oppressors, we Homosexuals are moved to answer ONLY when the call is to the special characteristics of our psychic natures. We Homosexuals are moved to act ONLY when the call--as heard in our hearts--is a Spirit call to freedom.
(This address was delivered to the Western Homophile Conference, held at the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles, February 14, 15, 1970.
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Confessions of a Pseudo-Male Chauvinist
By MARTHA SHELLEY
I've always admired "masculine" women, despite the popular prejudice against women who step out of their traditional roles. This attitude has roots in my childhood. Somehow, inside the shy, bespectacled little girl was the vision of a woman jet pilot--the first woman on Mars--a woman brain surgeon--a guerrilla fighter in the French Resistance. Well, I haven't become any of those things, just a radical lesbian, a writer for the gay crusade--so I guess I'm not the epitome of passive femininity, even if I never did learn to fly a plane.
However, after I became involved with Women's Liberation, I began to notice something about myself that embarrassed me. I didn't really like women. In bed, yes --but all my friends were men. In rejecting the woman's role, from knitting to cooking to wearing mascara, I had also rejected women--except for women jet pilots, executives and astronauts. And since none of my female acquaintances piloted planes or managed General Motors for a living, I snobbishly (and self-destructively) treated women as sex objects and men as intellectual companions. In short, I was a pseudo male chauvinist.
So who's kidding whom? By identifying with the male oppressor class, I didn't become male or get any more privileges than other women. An Uncle Tom in a starched shirt makes a little more money than a black porter, but that doesn't make him white. As a pseudo male chauvinist, an Aunt Thomasina lesbian, I wasn't expected to do the dishes or bring my male friends their pipes and slippers--but I didn't come within light years of getting an executive job. And I didn't even get a mink.
I was putting myself down by despising my own sex for the roles we have been forced to play--despising the slave for being in chains instead of directing my anger towards the slavemaster who put her there. The trap of pseudo male chauvinism was so easy to fall into. It's easy to say: "How can I talk to someone whose head is full of recipes, soap operas and floor wax? Why didn't she go on to college and learn something? She must be lazy or halfwitted."
Not brainwashed. It never occurred to me that the average woman has been brainwashed into passivity and subservience-- just as homosexuals have been brainwashed into guilt feelings (which most of them still have). Women's oppression is the oldest form of oppression in the world, the deepest-rooted, the most subtle, the most widespread throughout the world. Blacks got the vote 100 years ago and are still struggling in agony against their oppression. Women, after oppression which goes back to the dawn of history, have not been liberated by a mere fifty years of possessing the right to vote. (Note: many people who accept the notion that bigotry is brainwashed into people are the very same people who say, "Why don't blacks or women study harder and pull themselves up by their bootstraps?" This line of thinking which finds excuses for the exploiter but condemns the exploited, is very popular in the United States today. Another example: the cigarette advertiser whose job is to get people hooked on a slow poison, "has to make a living within the system." The nicotine addict "should have more will power." In other words, you should have resisted all those ads that are calculated to undermine your resistance. If you didn't, it's your fault, not the fellow who makes the money off your habit--and I hope you have Blue Cross.)
It is easy to look at the kindly, intellectual gentlemen around me--and to forget that the leisure time they put into intellectual pursuits was stolen from wives and mothers who darned their socks, cooked their dinners, and worked as shop-girls to put these men through graduate school. Kingman Brewster, president of Yale University, recently objected to admitting more female students; he stated that it was the task of Yale to produce 1,000 male-leaders for the U.S. every year.
Male leaders!--these self-assured, college-educated lords of the earth, every one of them brought up to believe that it is his birthright to rule over at least one woman!
I went to college (not Yale) with these gentlemen, saw them in all their arrogance of power--and to my shame, I admired them and strove to be like them. As gentlemen assured of power and status, they were polite to me--noblesse oblige--and I closed my eyes to their lower class counterparts. Now the lower class male hasn't got as many people to lord it over as does the, upper class male. Furthermore, he is less polished, more direct. He doesn't seduce you by candlelight.
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Every time I walk out in the street, in the ghetto where I live, I am subject to the open, brutal arrogance of these men. There's your male chauvinism laid on the line, the reality behind the courteous smile of a bank manager who refuses to consider you for promotion.
The charming southern gentleman, who has a thousand carefully constructed arguments in favor of maintaining segregated facilities, is but the thin veneer over the lynch mob. He will not stoop to do the dirty work--let the rednecks do it. The male psychology professor who argues for the necessity of male--leadership and the importance of a woman building a man's ego, is but a mask on the face of a rapist. And the woman psychologist who backs him up and gently, deviously tells you to go back into the kitchen, is our pseudo male chauvinist. She's got her Uncle Tom job--and I wonder what it does to her mind, to her own sense of self-esteem, to behave in a way that is so contemptuous towards her sex.
Now before you go around beating yourself over the head for being a pseudo male chauvinist, or even worse, buttonholing some other woman and accusing her of the same, remember that most of our sisters haven't had too many choices. If you want to make it on the job--even just to keep the job--you have to kowtow to the men. Any woman who wanted to get ahead in any profession has had to play the game of being nice to the men, trying to convince them that she was not a threat to their egos, letting them take credit for her suggestions. And this sort of behavior--if you want to write for a newspaper, you get stuck with the fashion page and after a while you begin to justify what you are doing--will continue to be necessary for most women until the consciousness of the nation is changed; until the new consciousness of Women's Liberation has spread across the land so that no woman will be unaware of what she is doing.
I have walked on 42nd Street at night and seen dozens of my black sisters walking the streets in order to sell their bodies. They were well-dressed--better dressed than I was. And I have worked in Harlem and seen the schools they went to, and I have worked in downtown offices in New York City for $.75 a week--offices where they wouldn't hire a black woman to do anything but sweep the floor at night when no one could see her face--and do I dare criticize these sisters? They couldn't get that $75 a week legitimately, and now they get $75 a night illegitimately. It's better than welfare, better than domestic work. And now that some jobs have opened up for black women, do you think the prostitutes can go straight now? Who will hire them, women with convictions and jail sentences? When black women college graduates are dying to get those secretarial jobs?
The psychology professor who defended the domination of the male was a man I admired ... I craved the respect, the attention of the intellectual male and flattered myself to think that I was considered superior to the average housewife. Except I wasn't. To those men I was a bit of a freak, like a talking dog--amusing, but not to be taken seriously. And down in the ghetto I knew exactly where I stood: "Hey, baby, wanna f---?"
Many educated and/or butch-type women behave just as I did. Most straight women prefer men to women as friends, and will break dates with other women at the last minute if a man calls up. Many butch-types of my acquaintance--including myself--have expected their lovers to behave as housewives; in other words, we have often oppressed other women in the same way that men oppress straight women.
It isn't easy to become aware of your own oppression. It's much easier to avoid noticing a humiliating situation, to pretend that it doesn't affect you--that other women may be oppressed by their husbands or lovers or bosses, or may be brainwashed
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but not you.
If you think that you aren't particularly oppressed or brainwashed, try this test: pick up a copy of "Playboy" magazine and look at the cartoons. Do you think they're funny? Now look again at how they portray women--as stupid broads, ever-eager sex objects. Turn on your television and watch the commercials--the ignorant housewife listening to the authoritative male voice as he tells her which floor wax to use. Look at a "woman's" magazine.--compare its vocabulary and intellectual content to any men's magazine. Do you notice these insults to your sex--or do you just pass over them, assuming that the average housewife really does have an IQ of 35 and deserves to be addressed in this manner? Would you notice if they were insults to your race or religion?
If you aren't aware of these constant, daily insults, you've been brainwashed into ignoring and accepting them. If you prefer male friends or male bosses, if your "respect" for other women consists of opening doors for them but despising their conversation --welcome to the pseudo male chauvinist club.
And if, after reading this article, you think I mean YOU--yes, you personally-- welcome, sister, to Women's Liberation.
By LEANNE BOSWORTH
Seeing her on the bus every day--she must live outside the city. Takes the bus almost as far as you do. Such pretty hair-- would look wonderful spread out on a pillow. So chic--to impress all the young execs at the office, you suppose.
Look down at your loafers--what the hell, Bennett, it's a print shop. You'd break your neck. You got used to being your own kind of girl a long time ago. Smile at yourself. Look at you, giving up your seat to an old lady--not to show up the guys, but you're next to her now.
"Sorry, didn't mean to squash you." (Didn't you, Bennett?) From now on you take an earlier bus. Think about this sometimes, though, and wonder about that every tenth man statistic. Are you too picayune? Fastidious, you comfort yourself. After Lea, what else could you be? But it's been a long time--so long that the spring doesn't even hurt this year.
How alone we are. The Isolated Society. Being gay doesn't make the difference; being urban does. "Reach out toward me. Care for me. Be my friend." All together now. In buses. In car-pools. In apartment. complexes. At lunch counters. Never any privacy. Never any closeness. Always the asking eyes.
"Excuse me, thank you, I'm sorry, excuse me" DAMN! Wrong stop. Her stop. Tomorrow is even-up-your-keel day.
"Need some help? You look confused." Smile Bennett--she's smiling. "Wrong stop. I don't function in the morning."
"Coffee help?" Look up. Meet her eyes and know that there is now a question in yours.
"Around the corner." Walk and say nothing more. Feel the irony and the self-mockery --and don't swear--for God's sake don't swear at her. Lipstick for you tomorrow, Bennett. When you start getting picked up by stray people-collectors, it's getting bad.
The door is held for you and you realize that you have been out-classed. She has taken the street side of the walk. She has seen you seated first. She has ordered. Before you know it, you're angry.
"Now wait a minute, I'm ..."
So sit there. Wonder how to articulate an exclamation point. Feel the laughter bubble up in her (and you!). But the coffee has come and you are being ordered to consume the sweet roll and informed that you didn't eat breakfast. You are going to be late for work, Bennett.
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We Need This Now
Recently on television I watched an interview with a few girls on the radical flank of the Women's Liberation Movement. The name of the particular group I did not catch, nor the names of the girls I most remember. This is what I remember, as close to the exact words as I can recall. The interviewer (CBS News) asked, "Then you think that all relations between men and women must end?" "Yes." "Then will women turn to women?" "Yes. As sisters, rebels, comrades-in-arms." "But what will women do about fulfilling their nature? What will women do for love?" "No one knows what woman's nature is. And love is just a word. It doesn't mean anything. Love doesn't exist. It's just a word we've got to throw out."
"Love doesn't exist." She could have said, "Yes, some of us will love women, some because they have always loved women sexually and will always want to, others because they are too bitter and resentful of men. And some will still love men, but either in totally open and passing relationships or, if long-term, on an open and equal basis which seldom exists in marriage as it is today. Others of us will love both men and women. Still others, like me, will make no ties of love with anyone, because sex in our experience has been repulsive and love a fraud." Something like that would have shown some comprehension of the range of people, the range of experiences and needs and capacities and possibilities, some sense of the breadth and depth of human existence. But what does she say? "Love doesn't exist"! She legislates that for all mankind and womankind. That world she would legislate for us all is a world so hollow and dead and nightmarish, I wonder how she can keep from slitting her throat with the horror of it. A world which exists only for roving bands of comrades-in-hate. After those bands dedicated to disillusioning human beings with what they call the illusion of love have done their work, let us hope there will mercifully follow bands of missionaries to teach people how to commit suicide as quickly and painlessly as possible. Or perhaps by then such missionaries will be funded to build huge prisons or hospitals where we can sit in our hygienically solitary cells and learn to be catatonic, to forget that we live in our bodies and breathe air.
That girl made me think of something I just read in a beautiful book (a book that she must read). The book is Loren Eiseley's The Firmament of Time, and this is the passage:
Some time ago, in a magazine of considerable circulation, I spoke about the role of love in human society, and about pressing human problems which I felt, rightly or wrongly, would not be solved by the penetration of space. The response amazed me, in some instances, by its virulence. I was denounced for interfering with the colonization of other planets, and for corruption of the young. Most pathetically of all, several people wrote me letters in which they tried to prove, largely for their own satisfaction, that love did not exist, that parents abused and murdered their children and children their parents ... It was all too plain that these individuals were seeking rationalizations behind which they might hide from their own responsibilities. They were in the whirlpool, that much was evident. But so are we all. (Atheneum Publishers, p. 132)
Who can contemplate the dazzling miracle of our exploding universe without wonder and awe and love? "The wonder of wonders," wrote Heidegger, "is that there is something rather than nothing." That is a statement of love. Who can really see the miracle that is a leaf, or a spider's web, or paintings left on the wall of a cave, and not feel wonder and love? We can't unless we are capable of wonder and love. We can't love anything unless we are capable of loving ourselves. We can't love anything unless we are capable of loving each other. Love does not exist? If that is true, then let us end ourselves, for we are dead.--But NO! Love does exist! The word does have meaning!
Another girl said that all pregnancy must end, not only because of the population explosion but because all women hate pregnancy, that pregnancy is hideous and hell and that it has never been more than that except in the myths of men. (She may speak for many women, but she doesn't speak for me. Bearing and nursing my two children was a private and personal, overwhelmingly glorious experience for me, one which had nothing to do with any male myth, or any myth.) The alternatives which she sees are, of course, test-tube babies and the rearing of all children by state institutions.
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Certainly children would be better off in institutions than in homes of violent conflict, of lovelessness, of neglect, which unfortunately means many children now. They would be better off in institutions than in such homes only because there they might have a chance--a very little higher than zero--of making a loving connection with some human being, whereas in such homes, or with a single parent alone who hates herself and them and life, they would have no-chance at all. But certainly childrearing in institutions is no positive alternative. Studies ranging from machine-fed rhesus monkeys to autistic children have given clear enough pictures for anyone who wants to look at the kind of automaton vegetable we could expect to emerge from such institutions. A full-fledged human being which, contrary to these girls, I take to mean a being capable of curiosity and growth and wonder and love, does not spring fully armed like Athena from her father's skull (or from fatherly sperm in a tort); a child must be taught to grow, and the teacher is human love. A child gathers together his sense of identity, his sense of self-esteem, of confidence to explore and express himself, from the loving eyes of others. It is as simple as this: a child must have that love or he does not grow. Or he grows only into a fearful, bitter, spiteful person incapable of anything but hate. I have been told by a psychiatrist whom I respect that it doesn't matter whether it is a father and a mother, a father, a mother, a grandmother, an aunt, a nanny, whoever-- as long as somewhere someone (or ones) establishes a deep and lasting loving relationship with a child. We don't need to resort to test-tubes to control the population explosion. The women who do want to have babies shall have to restrict them to two, and the women who don't want to will no longer feel any moral or social compulsion to have children. With that compulsion gone, the numbers of children born will be reduced to the possible level and at the same time the many ways children can be raised with love can open and flower in all their possibilities. Two women together could raise children--their own or someone else's--or two men, or a woman alone, or a man alone, or a woman and man together as it has been--as long as those children are raised in love! The answer is not to institutionalize ourselves more; children for decades now have been so institutionalized by schools, market and media which give only a cynical damn about them, that as a culture, independent thought, clear and fresh perception and genuine feelings have almost dropped from our capacities. Certainly in performance we seem capable of little more than mindless roving (or milling) in gangs, gangs of sheep stupor or sheep hate. The girl who said from her absolute cynicism that love does not exist is sheep-sister to her sheep-brother counterpart on Madison Avenue who has been telling us for years now that love, that greasy kid stuff, does not exist, that love we all know (how long we've looked at his cynical wink) is no more than Gadget Sex, the realities of which are bad breath, bacteria in the armpits, and--bless us--the cash-nexus. And she believed him! Big brother taught little sister--and look! She has swallowed the whole putrid mess without a hesitation or a gulp, down to the last soggy corn flake. Another victory for the vegetables, for the loveless. Allies under the cloth.
No, the way is not to test-tubes, eugenics and institutions, to more and more lovelessness. One of the right ways has already begun. It is to attack the cynical lovelessness which sells us love as Miss America, and Bunny Girl, and "Super Feminine Deodorant Spray," and "Slims.". And all the fury should not be spent just for women's plight. The standards of identity, of what one can expect from life, are just as putrid and cheap and empty for the men. No human being in any positive sense of the word could emerge from the blueprints for humanity presented by our media, manufactured by our industries and swallowed, in lieu of anything else, by millions! Is that why we have become so violent as a people? I think so. Because no one is living his life! The attack against Madison Avenue's Woman has, as we all know, started. But once that makes a dent--and even before it does, even now--the image presented to men as Man, that timid, mindless corporate cog who fills his well-groomed slot either in the Sex industries or the Big Kill factories and then goes home to the TV Football Circus and to play Bunny Boy to Bunny Girl with plenty of Mennon After Shave to salve his sense of his own uninterestingness-- that death trap must go, too. Most men fulfill that image (these cynics--they know what they're doing) just as most women fulfill the one oozed out to them, but all of them--men and women--are loveless and unfulfilled and miserable! Woman, yes,
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By ELSA GIDLOW
Let us leave off loving, my Lady,
You have kissed me grey
And still I have no peace.
We thought we could make the night
A tapestry of passion.
Dear love! What a vain caprice.
Where's the immortal design
We thought we had splashed on the indigo cloth?
And where is the cloth?
Dawn is forever the cynic:
He shows us love is the flame,
Our flesh the eternal moth.
Lady ... loose me and rise.
We are brief as apple blossom
And I am shadowed by thought of the end.
The hours are thieves, Time a beggar
And we have little to spend.
I ache for the brush in my hand.
The thrall of the compliant pigment
Governs my blood.
I will paint you, my Lady,
The after love glow in your face;
I would deify you if I could
With enchantments of color,
Bind you with fetters of terrible beauty
Fast to my canvas forever,
Give you the eternality God has denied you,
Bind you to life with art's sacred chains
That death cannot sever.
Love has betrayed us enough with its treacherous wonder;
Let us go now while we ache with its magic
Or what is the gain?
Art is our one immortality,
All we may win from the gods
In exchange for our labor and pains.
In a dogs' world
Is no distress to the cat.
Though less elegant--
Be less wise?
I have robbed the garrulous streets,
Thieved a fair girl from their blight,
I have taken her for a sacrifice
That I shall make to this fleeting night.
I have brought her, laughing
To my moon-enchanted garden.
For what will be done there
I ask no man's pardon.
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INVOCATION TO SAPPHO
Psappha of Mitylene on
miracle of a woman
let me declare
Not light years love years:
on how many love years
across fields" of the dead
does your fragrance
travel to me?
Since maidenhood in brain blood
by you haunted
in my own armpits I have breathed
sweat of your passion
in the burning crotch of the lover
tasted your honey
heard felt in my pulse
lure of your song's beat
By dust of five-and-twenty centuries
by book-consuming flames of
the hate-filled churchman
your fame only haloed made
Sappho, little and dark
The Beautiful, Plato called you
(though his Republic had
grudging use for poets
Sappho, whose veins ran fire
quivered to loves illicit now
in your day
honored by the noblest
Sappho, all roses
do we not touch
across the censorious years?
You're jealous if ! kiss this gin and that,
You think I should be constant to one mouth;
Little you know of my too quenchless drouth.
My sister, I keep faith with love, not lovers.
Life laid a flaming finger on my heart,
Gave me an electric golden thread,
Pointed to a pile of beads and said,
Link me one more glorious than the rest.
Love's the thread, my sister ou a bead,
An ivory one, you are so delicate,
These first burned ash-grey--far too passionate.
Further on the colors mount and sing.
When the last bead's painted with the last design
And slipped upon the thread, I'll tie it so,
Then, smiling quietly, I'll turn and go
While vain Life boasts her latest ornament.
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OF A CERTAIN FRIENDSHIP
Odd how you entered my house quietly,
Quietly left again,
While you stayed you ate at my table,
Slept in my bed.
There was much sweetness,
Yet little was done, little said.
After you left there was pain,
Now there is no more pain.
But the door of a certain room in my house
Will always be shut.
Your fork, your plate, the glass you drank from,
The music you played
Are in that room
With the pillow where last your head was laid.
And there is one place in my garden
Where it's best that I set no foot.
(Elsa Gidlow was born in England, grew up in a French-Canadian village and moved to New York City at age 21, where she became associate editor of PEARSON'S MAGAZINE. Her first book of poetry, ON A GREY LINE, appeared in 1924 (Chicago, Will Ransom publisher). In 1925 she migrated to California and for a number of years edited a trade journal before becoming a full-time free lance writer.
Her poetry has appeared in dozens of magazines: VOICES, SATURDAY REVIEW, PEARSON'S, NEW MASSES, AMERICAN POETRY JOURNAL, POETRY, etc., and in many anthologies including CALIFORNIA POETS, N.Y., Henry Harrison, 1932, TODAY'S LITERATURE, N.Y., American Book Co., 1935, and that omnibus volume of variant and Lesbian poetry, CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN WOMEN POETS, edited by Tooni Gordi, N.Y., Henry Harrison, 1936.
LOVE'S ACOLYTE: GIRL TO WOMAN
Many have loved you with lips and fingers
And lain with you till the moon went out;
Many have brought you lover's gifts;
And some have left their dreams on your doorstep.
But I who am youth among your lovers
Come like an acolyte to worship,
My thirsting blood restrained by reverence,
My heart a wordless prayer.
The candles of desire are lighted,
I bow my head afraid before you,
A mendicant who craves your bounty
Ashamed of what small gifts she brings.
You say you will not think of me:
You shut me out and count your beads,
The chaplet of your rules and doubts.
But lovers never think of creed's.
You'll fill your mind with serious things:
You'll think of God, or Infinity,
Of a lover whose last charm is gone,
Of anything in the world but me.
Yet every thought will lead you back,
Infinity grow far and dim,
And God, with His sense of irony,
Will never let you think of Him.
Now you are gone I kiss your dented pillow
And wonder if it hungers like my breast
For the dear head we both have held in rest.
I said once: Love alone cannot assuage
My thirst, my hunger, love has no reply
For that wild questioning, for this fierce cry;
I said, there is no kiss can feed me now,
Perhaps love is life's flower: I seek the root;
Yea, I have loved and love is dead sea fruit.
Yet I lie here and kiss your dented pillow,
A trembling girl who loves you overmuch--
A harp in anguish for the player's touch.
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must have the jobs she qualifies for, the pay she earns, the degrees she earns, the participation and recognition all her many creative and cultural contributions deserve--I couldn't agree more, we all couldn't agree more--but we must realize at the same time that most of the jobs men now monopolize stink and are not fit work for human beings. While we are fighting for the. full participation of woman we must also fight to create a culture that is worth participating in What good have we served if we attack Maidenform bras and then work to help produce more Maidenform bras, more collapsible, souped-up cars for Bunny Boy and Bunny Girl to (as the advertising goes) "escape in" (once we're not all so desperately unsatisfied with our lives, will we buy more cars, and that kind of cars?), more guns and rockets and firebombs for Bunny Boys to play pop-gun with, pretending at self-esteem and purposefulness they do not feel? While we're attacking the empty, loveless Image of Woman and, I hope, equally the empty, loveless Image of Man, we must also attack the empty, loveless jobs. That means we must work for (not just against) culture in a really huge way; we must all of us think together and work to create meaningful, purposeful, self-fulfilling (and non-polluting) work, the production of objects which are of solid high quality (not foods full of fillers and additives and poisons, not objects which in the making poison and which by calculation fall apart in the hand), objects which are really useful, not just junk which only mindless and mesmerized Bunnies would buy, objects in which a woman or a man making or selling them could take pride, not just cynical contempt. We've got to help create a climate of widely active and high quality art and thought as well, so that there is a viable alternative to mindless Muscle Shows and loveless Deodorized Sex between automatons. I think about that all the time. Let me tell you my dream of what we might do, and then you tell yours. Maybe together we can find ways and begin.
What I dream of, which I think might offer economic alternatives to psychological buying and to war industries and at the same time be an antidote to institutional anonymity and conformism, is to create in every town, in every city, borough or area, a spring festival on the Athenian scale-- with locally written and produced and acted theatre, sport competitions for all ages, writing competitions awarded with substantial prizes and local publication, and the same for painting and sculpture, and for music composition and performance. People's imaginations are so starved for real food, if it could be begun in a really vital way even in one town or city area, I think it would attract so much interest (and money, too) that it would spread like brush fire. I'm thinking of something like the Shakespearean Festival in Ashland, Oregon, which I understand (and hope) depends on local effort, but I think of that made much broader and combined with the dancing and singing in the streets of the Carnival in Rio before Lent. Not Shakespeare or Ibsen or O'Neill or Williams. Let all those be done by professional companies and by local players during the year; for the Festival let it be only locally written plays new that year, so that people will start at last to use their human imaginations again, use them from scratch. And poetry readings. And a market created where made or grown things can be bartered, not for money but in exchange --a song or poem for a hand-thrown pot, a painting for a hand-made and personally designed chair, a designed and made dress or pair of sandals for a basket of grown flowers. Maybe such a Carnival, such a Festival, would revitalize all our activities: maybe we could restore again real "participatory democracy," like the so desperately missed town meetings that once upon a time really were meeting, and maybe our churches so that religion could mean something again, and certainly not least, our schools. Maybe education could again become more than schools; maybe even we could learn to talk to each other again, to teach others in a neighborhood square as Socrates and Plato did. This, anyway, is my dream. Is it impossible, hopelessly naive? Then tell me your dream. Let us dream together and then work together to make it happen. We've got to change an economy which depends for its life-blood on an idiot level of culture, and we've got to change the idiot culture which would want such an economy. That's exactly the "revolution" we hope we are in, and nothing less will do. There is simply no point in throwing away your Bunny costume only to sit and make more of the same for others to be caged in.
And, lastly, let me make a plea for tolerance, for comprehension of our human range and our positive human possibilities. What was finally most appalling about those
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girls interviewed was the way they projected their own attitudes and needs as the rigid and fixed Truth for all women, now and forever. What both the advertisers and the missionaries of categorical destruction need to realize is that human activities such as religion, art, schools, marriages, friendships, and love are not rigid Platonic Ideas relayed from a demon god through their media messengers in the popular culture. They are open-ended; they are creative; in other words, they are what the people in them are able to make them or not make them. A lot of marriages are miserable, a lot of homosexual relationships are miserable, a lot of single people without any ties are miserable; but, conversely, heterosexual people can also be happy, and many are; homosexual people can be happy, and many are; single people can live full and loving lives, and many do. Certainly if people can only think of themselves and others in the popular stereotypes, then what they do together can only be the popular stereotype. We must always keep in view our human creativity, our human freedom, our human range. We must not dictate to each other. I believe with all my soul, as does every reader of this magazine, that women have the right to love women (and men to love men) and that all covert social tyranny and all overt official law against homosexual love between consenting adults must be struck down. But doesn't the heterosexual or the bisexual person have the same rights to exist and fulfill herself? I and other bisexuals have insisted on our right to love members of our own sex as much as purely homosexual people have. No law and no group could keep me from loving a woman. And just as no law and no group can keep me from loving a woman, so I will not allow any law or any group ever to tell me that I should not love a man. Love and sexual patterns of people, whether homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual, are nobody's business but the people's themselves. Don't we know this by now? Can't we have the same toleration and respect for others different from ourselves which we have always asked for? Should I and the woman I love abandon the husbands and the children we love and with whom we are deep deeply happy just because it is now being pronounced over us that love does not exist, that child-bearing and rearing are hideous, and that marriage is hell? Exchanging one kind of fat cat Puritan tyrant for another kind is not to improve matters. What we need--desperately need--is to exchange lovelessness in all its forms for love--real love in all its many varieties: between women and women, between men and men, between women and men, between parent and child, between youth and age, between black and white, between teacher and student, between worker and his work, between citizen and his community, between the human mind and the experience of being alive. Nothing short of that will do.
(Lorita Whitehead is 31, a U.S. citizen now living in Vancouver, British Columbia. She is a graduate of University of Wisconsin, is married and has two children. She considers herself a lazy but sometimes publishing poet" and has appeared in a number of Canadian little magazines, and in the States in THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY. POETRY NORTHWEST, and THE LADDER.
Ladies, Cowardice Hoes lot Become You
By LENNOX STRONG
The most literate view of the Women's Liberation movement is not found in the underground papers and organizational pamphlets but in the new quarterly, APHRA. Published from the home of Editor Elizabeth Fisher, Box 335, Springtown, Pennsylvania 18081, at the modest cost of $3.50 a year, APHRA is named for Aphra Behn, the first woman to make her living as a writer.
The first two issues of APHRA--Volume 1, No. 1, Fall 1969 and Volume 1, No. 2, Winter 1970 - make it clear that LADDER readers are, for the most part, going to want this quarterly.
Contributors include novelist and poet Jane Mayhall, poet and short story writer Jean Garrigue, novelist and short story writer Isabel Miller, and short story writer Sylvia Berkman. All of these names are familiar as well to students of Lesbian literature, and the last three named have made substantial and excellent contributions to the field. Indeed, Miss Miller's story "Coming of Age in Pectoral" (APHRA, Winter 1970) might well have appeared in the
[p. 28] | [Page Image]
. Leading feminist Rita Mae Brown has a poem in the Winter 1970 issue, and readers will be pleased to read an essay of hers reprinted from another liberation magazine in this issue of the LADDER, entitled "Say It Isn't So."
The by now-famous liberationist play BUT WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY? by Myrna Lamb is in the Fall 1969 issue. This is not pertinent here, but the play is excellent.
On the negative side, there are a couple of snide remarks made about Lesbians in one of these issues. A small point this, but a valid one in any assessment of the Women's Liberation movement. Only by fully recognizing the assistance more than available in their own ranks and elsewhere among Lesbians, will these women succeed in obtaining our mutual goals.
The quality level in APHRA is astonishingly high in so young a magazine, and Miss Fisher is to be complimented for this and encouraged to reach even higher. Wholly absent, and pleasantly so, is the shrill tone sometimes found in the periodicals that feature news in the movement. The only low note sounded, as far as I can determine, occurs in the Winter 1970 issue in an article called "The Woman's Rights Movement: 3 Views" by Nora Harlow. This consists of a collected review of three non-fiction titles in the field. One of the books reviewed-- EVERYONE WAS BRAVE by William L. O'Neill, Chicago, Quadrangle Books, 1969, is deservedly scored for its "sexist" views. However, in refuting Mr. O'Neill, Miss Harlow makes the mistake of misinterpreting (to put it charitably) the life of a very famous and clearly Lesbian woman, Carey Thomas, long-time president of Bryn Mawr. Whether or not Mr. O'Neill is using the comments on Lesbians being prominent in the women's movement as a weapon, it does not enhance Miss Harlow's rebuttal to refute something that is quite patently true and, indeed, can be proven.
What it amounts to is this, sisters. Those among you who are not Lesbian would be wise to recognize that some of your best friends are, and not alienate them. Ladies, cowardice does not become you.
The Best Women Are Thin And Rich
"Silva Thins are like women ... the best ones are thin and rich ..," Feel insulted? You should ... on two counts: as a woman and as a consumer.
I haven't made up my mind yet if Silva Thins are symbolically appealing to homosexual males, with their aloof man who won't let a woman near his Silva Thins ... or if they feel their "hero" is the epitome of masculinity. Personally, I find him intolerable. Perhaps that's because I'm neither thin nor rich.
This is the sort of advertising that nauseates me. To some, Silva Thins may taste rich ... others (male or female) may like the size. But what in the world good women have to do with good cigarettes is beyond me, and an insult to anyone's intelligence.
What is this big kick that's on to make women look like absolute fools? White knights are flying in and out of their windows ... marriages are about to break up shortly before the Man from Glad enters with his lock-proof, seal-proof, water-proof, mustard-proof plastic bag ... the most important thing a woman can do is sit around a card table talking about furniture polish ... if your breath is bad he won't marry you ... and your husband has to show you how to make coffee because you're a Maxwell House bride. About the best thing that could happen to a woman these days is to eat Cheerios because they give her go power. And finally ... there's a cigarette for the two of you ...
The problem is that it's so subtle. We can't see the forest for the trees. Constantly we're bombarded with these degrading ads to the point that we begin to accept them, ourselves. Striving for identity is a hard thing these days. They pick the most typical woman ... put her in the most typical kitchen ... with the most typical appliances so we can all identify with her. Rats! I don't want a typical kitchen.
And then there's Rosemary DeCamp, with the Borateem package in her left hand, saying, "Well, you know me ... I like my clothes really white ..." I know her?
It's really getting out of hand, and despite the Women's Liberation Front's extremist tactics ... I hardly think they're getting anywhere ... as long as the ads keep telling us that the best women are thin and rich.
(Reprinted from THE WEEKENDER, Traverse City, Michigan, April 23-30, 1970.)
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Say It Isn't So
By RITA MAE BROWN
Female Liberation in Boston has long contained some of my favorite people in the movement. Last November at the Congress to Unite Women the New York radicals fought side by side with our Boston sisters to cut through some of the NOW bullshit. We felt good about each other and when ten of us went up there over the Washington's birthday weekend, we were elated. Our joy was short-lived.
Saturday night, Female Liberation presented a panel discussion that divided between Marlene Dixon's endless rap on women's history and Roxanne Dunbar. That in itself was pretty demoralizing. Ms. Dixon was at the podium entirely too long. Although our patience was strained by the length of her delivery, our spirits began to shred when we recognized that old professorial delivery, so popular among males in our academic whorehouses. I don't like to be talked at. That whole let-me-tell-you-something approach reeks of male identification. But in all fairness to Ms. Dixon, she may not have had time to discover new ways to transmit information. And isn't it part of our oppression that when given a chance we will imitate the male?
Sitting in the big hall, obviously bored beyond belief, my eyes began to travel the obese,gilt framed pictures of our founding fathers. There was Admiral Preble, whoever the hell he was, and Samuel Choate, George Washington and John Quincy Adams. And behind the mothers of monotonous monologue there was the largest, most god-awful picture of Daniel Webster on the floor of the Senate ... body poised in a heroic tremble, arm thrust forward and mouth open. It was his famous "Liberty and Union, now and forever" address. Just in case people couldn't identify this stirring scene, underneath the picture in large gold letters was "Liberty and Union, now and forever." Above the senators, like a chorus of imprisoned angels, sat the women--all in bonnets, all neatly attentive to the goings on below. What shit, I thought. What real, visible shit. At this point the speakers had somewhat quieted themselves and asked for audience participation. I shot my mouth off with the following:
Sitting here in this room, looking at all the pictures of rich white men and simultaneously listening (I listened a little bit) to your rap on women's history, things begin to have a new perspective. Look at the picture behind you--we are still in the gallery and not on the floor like those women. It seems very clear to me that no woman in this room is bound by laws made by dead men, made when none of us had a voice in government ... laws still preserved by rich white men today. To hell with those rich white men. They are polluting our environment and poisoning our souls. Our struggle is against the male power system which is a system of war and death. If in the process of that struggle we are forced to mutilate, murder and massacre those men, then so it must be. But simultaneous with that struggle we must also struggle to build a culture of life and love. We must respect and love each other. To date, the women's movement has consistently rejected women who are trying to build a new way of life, a life of loving other women. If we can't love each other, if we can't learn to grow together, then we will only have a rebellion against the male death culture--a rebellion which may be successful. But I think we are capable of revolution. To love without role, without power plays, is revolution. I believe these are our goals.
This was followed by applause from the audience and stunned disbelief from the panel. Ms. Dixon picked up on the struggle against the death culture. Roxanne Dunbar also commented on the battle lines. This was followed by an embarrassing silence. Questions were then hurriedly solicited. Forty-five minutes later, Cynthia Sun stood up and in a low, controlled voice repeated painfully:
I'm tired of hearing about the oppression of women. I'm tired of hearing a slick public relations rap that doesn't come from the gut. Let's look at the oppression right here in this room. You women on the panel have used your heterosexual privilege to silence the topic of love--especially since that topic was love between women, which would seem to me to be critical to the movement.
Another stunned silence. Marlene Dixon allowed as how some of her best friends were homosexual. At this point a woman two rows in front of us exploded with, "She said it! She actually said it!" Laughter. Roxanne evaded the question again and again until I yelled, "Your silence is oppressive. Why do you oppress us?" Then she
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delivered what will always be in my mind one of the most incredible raps I've ever heard. "Sexuality is not the key issue. What I want to do is get women out of bed. Women can love each other but they don't have to sleep together: I think that homosexuality is a chosen oppression whereas being a woman is the root oppression. I don't think it's that important."
What we all want to do is get women out of bed. Sexuality is the key of our oppression. We are continually seen in sexual terms, we are defined by our genitals as brutally as a non-white is defined by pigment, be it red, yellow, black or brown. To ignore the issue of women loving other women, to label it lesbianism and divisive, is to turn around and define me and all my sisters in the same manner in which women are defined by men, by my sexual activity and function. The only way we are going to get ourselves out of the bed is to see each other as human beings. The entire Haymarket chaos was a vivid illustration of the fact that we see each other as men have taught us to see. One of the panel said lesbianism isn't an issue unless you wear a neon sign. Can anything more precisely illustrate how we oppress each other? Why is fighting to have your oppression recognized and dealt with, wearing a neon sign? In other words, no one will know you are homosexual unless you tell. Bullshit, sisters. One doesn't get liberated by hiding. One doesn't possess integrity by passing for "white." We are trying against all odds--from the male culture and from our "sisters" in the Women's Liberation movement--to develop a life style where there are no roles, where there are no power plays, where a human being is a human being and not a collage of male-identified, half-smashed roles.
After the meeting, women in the audience came up to us. Many realized for the first time how women tear each other apart. Many who had never given the issue a first thought identified with our rage. One young woman said, "I don't know what I am. But I do know shit when I see it and they really shit on you."
Another woman mentioned that it was absurd to try to divide oppression between lesbian and woman's oppression as the two are solidly intertwined. One woman simply said, "Thank you," hugged us and hurried out.
As we went down the long, steep steps to the road we talked among ourselves about how class split the old feminist movement. Our movement is splitting over the "lesbian" issue, or more precisely, women's oppression of other women. We must deal with this in a constructive way or we will be at each other's throats just as we were in Boston. For a moment, I thought I heard the rustle of our skirts. Over one hundred years ago a meeting of abolitionists was threatened by a mob of angry, violent white men. One of the men who was an abolitionist escaped through the window and the hall was filled with trapped women. At that time, each woman took the hand of a black sister and calmly walked down that same row of long, long steps through the mob-- their courage earned them a safe passage. I looked around at my "lesbian" sisters and realized we were quite alone--the Female Liberationists had exited out the side doors,
(Reprinted from RAT MAGAZINE, March 7-21, 1970, WITH PERMISSION).
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MY HEART IS STILL A SCHOLAR
I know some day I'll mourn my utter loss
Of fiery passion that you offer me,
And weep afresh on youth's swift-faded gloss
And search the earth alone and hopelessly.
I know too well that I shall blindly grope
And linger on half dazed and half disguised,
Inimical to youth and life and hope,
Denying love, myself always despised.
Do not think the earth would near collapse.
If at this moment I should quit your life forever,
And leave you clinging to some outworn maps
Recalling plans we dreamed in calm despair.
My mind perceives the fate that lies in store,
My heart is still a scholar learning more.
the lonely listeners to jukeboxes,
draped out over the country
on endless counters, drinking
the light liquid speed of caffeine,
dreaming a form on the next
vacant stool, such a long lonely
line of them in the harsh counterworld,
holding hard to their seats, to their songs--
to the place least intrusive in a dream
WITH SOLEMN EYES
I know your heart has arms for only God,
With solemn eyes that feast on things divine
And contemplate with purity unmarred
Upon that which will rid your soul of mine.
I know the latent misery and pain
That lies in spiteful blindness to my flesh,
And all those pleasures long forgotten lain
In vice's graveyard cloaked with virtue's veil.
Yet when your eyes dwell longingly on mine,
As two candles that reflect a face divine,
All doubtfulness has made its own decision
To let people come and see in them His vision.
But be not loath to say it is not so,
I am your love, and all you'll ever know.
I have watched them
lazily weaving through
the summer pattern of
the peach tree.
I have heard them
droning on and on
and wondered what
they have to talk about.
I have seen them
round your head
drink in the wine-sweat,
of your body
as you run up the sand-dunes.
I have brushed them away
I have run my fingers
through the golden cluster
of your hair,
bathed in the deep-seaness
of your eyes,
brushed away the flies.
Marion G. Norman
the day's dwarfed hours
slept round three minutes,
grey against gold,
like the clouds around
the space of sky the sun
Light split to our time
through the clouds hole,
our vision for those moments,
turning gold our memory
of the day.
We woke for a dream, we
who live in the grey, and
drank the nectar
glow of one another's beauty,
turning liquid gold in the sun's
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LOVE'S FORSAKEN FOOL
It cannot matter if I play the part
Of Love's forsaken fool, left lost and blind,
Who seeks in poignant places of love's start
The substance of a dream I once did find.
But still your truant heart succeeds to stir
The shackled memories of days that were
Like scattered leaves my eyes-just chanced to meet
To grasp my mind, and guide my wandering feet.
And now I cannot cry my tears of grief,
For they are jaded things with no sensation,
But slowly like a worm upon a leaf,
They move along a path of desolation.
Your words are echoes now, but do not fail
To soothe this crazed heart's wince, and whine and wail.
The sweetsour savor of secret taste
weaves through our lives, and leaves
false cloths of lovely innocence
to drape upon our tables
set with ecstasy, to hang about us
and keep our hunger hidden.
This is how we live, meal after meal
is taken round the magic cloth,
deep in a mad tea party,
till trails of left love stain
and mix new offerings with their
foreign spices, sharpening our tastes.
Now we cloy our appetites in ever fear
of famine, sowing seeds
for later feasts against the day
the cloth wears through, leaving
us suspended round the cluttered table,
guilt running from our eyes in tears.
We fought with the sun for summer,
burning days out with the sun's flame
which we held at either end,
working it to a skein of light
around us, and weaving sturdy
images of ourselves within.
Even in the warm nights,
we'd merge with the glow when,
full with memory of sun,
we burned our eyes on lights
the night threw at us,
and our lids surrendered.
Then melted heavens coursed
as falling stars, still bursting
color at our eyes, which, weighted
down by all that heavy light in dark,
struggled to see us whole
in the blur of the sun-wrecked season.
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WOMAN: November 29, 1969. A member of the Australian DOB group (Melbourne Chapter) has sent (by slow mail) an article from this issue of this English magazine, entitled simply "Love,". by Marje Proops. The article is excellent in its down-to-earth examination of a very ordinary Lesbian couple. The author quite frankly begs the audience to realize that it is the "love" that matters, not the biological sex of the partners. From the general tone of the material surrounding the article, it is clear that WOMAN is a general magazine for women, similar to REDBOOK or COSMOPOLITAN. All the more amazing in view of the acceptance registered in this article.
EDWARD SAGARIN VS. FRANKLIN KAMEN'Y: SEXOLOGY MAGAZINE: February 1970. This issue of the venerable and respectable magazine about sexuality in human beings, features an excellent debate: IS GAY AS GOOD AS STRAIGHT?, with Dr. Sagarin on the "no" side and Dr. Kameny on the "yes" side. I suspect even the fairly biased might well opt for Dr. Kameny.
LEO LAWRENCE WINS, ABC LOSES: BERKELEY TRIBE: February 13, 1970. Leo Lawrence, ABC newscaster and writer, was fired by Station KGO in San Francisco. Following this, his union had him reinstated.. The day after that, the station started proceedings once again to have him fired. Their charge is simply that he is a homosexual, and he admits it.
WESTERN HOMOPHILE CONFERENCE: February 13 and 14, 1970. LOS ANGELES. This conference, similar to the other regional meeting, ERCHO, was held at the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles. Twenty-two western homophile groups Were present. Highlight of the conference was the Keynote Address by Henry Hay, the man who founded the original MATTACHINE SOCIETY in 1950. (His address, citing the priority order of prejudice in our society, appears in full in this issue.)
KNBC-TV, LOS ANGELES. SPECIAL TO THE LADDER: Reporter Lyn Collins covered the eight-part look at the homosexual presented February 18 through 27 by Channel 4, Los Angeles. This project was some years in the making, and the final results were less than satisfactory. It was, says Miss Collins, "obvious to any gay viewers that the show was put together by heterosexuals for heterosexuals." Only one of the segments included Lesbians--the February 20th airing. Lesbians were attacked more bitterly by the heterosexual male moderator than the male homosexuals were in the other segments. The usual idiot conversation about what makes Lesbians took up much of the air time, followed by endless shots of gay bars, though later the narrator did comment that these "bar types" comprise only ten per cent of the Lesbian population. A brief shot of an L.A. DOB meeting, including shots of Rita Laporte (who was imported months ago for the filming) and president of the DOB group in L.A., Delia Villarreal. The purposes of DOB were aired, so that was good publicity. A few shots of an atypical Lesbian couple completed the segment. Generally bad press.
DETROIT FREE PRESS, BOB TALBERT: March 1970. A nasty quip about DOB in this man's column prompted a local DOB supporter to write him a letter. It did not get printed, but she did get a nice apology in a personal letter. Wish we could demand retractions, but that day is tomorrow.
BOSTON DOB MAIDEN VOYAGE: March 1970. Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon's MOTIVE article on Lesbians was reprinted in this issue. This deserves very wide reading, and we are looking into the possibility
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of reprinting in pamphlet form for this purpose
NOW HAS A NEW PRESIDENT: March 1970. Aileen Hernandez of San Francisco is the new National President of National Organization for Women, replacing Betty Friedan Mrs. Herandez is an honor graduate of Howard University, with a Master's from Los Angeles State College. She has held a number of high governmental appointee positions, including serving on the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (she was the first woman and the second Negro so appointed). Mrs Hernandez indicated in an interview in the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE that she intended to direct NOW more heavily into the political arena and to work to break down its all-white, middle class image. She is, as she recognizes, a good step in that direction personally.
GANDICE BERGEN, San Francisco CHRONICLE: March 1, 1970. Drama Critic Stanley Eichelbaum interviewed Miss Bergen about her plans--personal and filmatically speaking--and obtained this comment: "I have no prospects right now. Maybe men actually believe I'm a Lesbian, because I played one in THE GROUP. I've been told I was too convincing. I even made the cover of the Lesbian Review" (the LADDER, April 1966).
VERY EARLY ONE MORNING IN NEW YORK CITY. SPECIAL TO THE LADDER: On March 8, 1970, 167 men were arrested in the after-hours bar, The Snake Pit. They were held inside the bar for an hour-and-a-half after the raid on the bar, and then arrested, herded into paddy wagons and taken to the Sixth Precinct station. It must be made clear that the police claim they are trying to clear up after-hours bars which are unlicensed and filthy hell-holes by and large, and that they CLAIM they are not specifically harassing homosexuals. There is strong evidence that this is both TRUE and NOT TRUE. This particular incident became national news when one young man, Diego Vinales, terrified that he would be deported (he is not a national) from this country for being homosexual, and apparently wanting to stay here, broke from his captors, raced to the second floor of the station, and threw himself through a window. He landed on an iron picket fence below. The fire department and police worked to free him (saw him loose) from the fence, and he was taken to St. Vincent's Hospital with parts of the fence still in his flesh.
All of the other 166 men were charged with disorderly conduct; charges later dropped, of course--but Diego ... he was charged with "resisting arrest."
Over 200 men and women, members of the Gay Liberation Front, Gay Activists Alliance, four or five Women's Liberation groups, the women's RAT newspaper collective and miscellaneous members of various other groups, including DOB and N.Y. MATTACHINE, gathered to form a protest march and marched to the hospital to keep what many termed a death vigil (since the horribly wounded man was not dead, this was not taken to be wholly in good taste). Father Weeks of the Church of the Holy Apostles offered a prayer for the man, and the group then returned to Sheridan Square.
As a result of this, the VILLAGE VOICE and a number of other periodicals finally had some good words to say about the Village gays, who have been protesting in ways and manners not altogether to the liking of the conservatives.
Very ironically, on the heels of this, New York City's Representative Edward I. Koch accused the Police Commissioner, Howard R. Leary, of permitting the Police Department to resume a policy of harassing homosexuals with illegal arrests. Mr. Koch, a Democrat-liberal from Manhattan, made the statement in a letter to the Commissioner asking him to explain the arrest of 167 men at the Snake Pit on March 8.
The whole affair is bound to be viewed with mixed emotions. The bars being raided are pits; they are filthy, they are unsanitary, and they do victimize and use the homosexuals who frequent them. The police have some point in wanting to get rid of them. On the other hand, if there is even a smell of police discrimination against homosexuals as a group, this has to be stopped. Deputy Inspector of Police Seymour Pine, who ordered the raids, said, "Even if I were anti-homosexual, it would be stupid for me to go after them because they have become militant and well-organized. I am not against homosexuals--I am against after-hours clubs." As unpleasant as the news may be, the man's remarks are extremely telling. We are told over and over again that the only way to win your rights (says the Establishment) is to take them away by force. Why just being entitled to them isn't enough, we do not know.
NO EXCUSABLE HOMICIDE: Los Angeles:
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March 8, 1970. Rev. Troy Perry of METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CHURCH led a memorial service for Howard Effland, beaten to death by the Los Angeles Police Department a year ago. Over 200 people showed up for the services, held in front of the Dover Hotel on Main Street, the site of the vicious and cruel death. After the services Rev. Perry delivered a letter to the Police Station demanding an end to both entrapment and brutality.
BOOKS TO LIBERATE WOMEN: NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW: March 8, 1970. Marilyn Bender discusses the new trend in publishing circles to "get" a book on Women's Liberation in the works. She compares it to the rush a few years ago to get books on blacks. Some ten to fifteen books are in the works now with the first one due out in July from Doubleday: Kate Millett's SEXUAL POLITICS. And for those of you patiently waiting, she cites publication date of THE HAND THAT CRADLES THE ROCK, edited by Robin Morgan, as due from Random House in the fall, just about one year after original scheduling.
RADICAL THERAPIST: VILLAGE VOICE: March 12, 1970. In Minot, North Dakota, a group of young psychiatrists and psychologists are trying to start a monthly journal, the RADICAL THERAPIST. They hope to reach those who are no longer impressed with "Establishment" definitions of mental health, adjustment to society, Women's Liberation, etc. They plan to publish bi-monthly, with a tentative cost of $6 per year. They are searching for contributors and support.
A portion of their statement includes this: "Therapists by training, what we have been taught is increasingly irrelevant in this changing world. The modes of therapy we were taught are increasingly revealed to us as biased, elitist, male-supremacist and racist. We are expected to maintain the status quo and accept our rewards. But this we are no longer prepared to do."
EEOC CITED: HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION meeting: March 12, 1970. The minutes of this meeting point out that homosexuals would be wise to take complaints to the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunities Commission) for arbitration.
MOVE TO END JOB DISCRIMINATION: San Francisco CHRONICLE: March 13, 1970. The Human Rights Commission of the City of San Francisco gave backing to a campaign for city legislation to prohibit job discrimination against homosexuals in both public and private employment. The Commission voted 11-1 to recommend that the Board of Supervisors of the city hold public hearings on the subject. This is an excellent step in the right direction, and Larry Littlejohn of SIR is responsible for this action, since he requested the action at the Human Rights Commission Board meeting in November 1969. Thank you, Larry.
MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY: March 14, 1970. According to the DETROIT FREE PRESS, this school is taking steps to stop discrimination against women ... good for them.
SISTERHOOD IS POWERFUL: NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE: March 15, 1970. Susan Brownmiller, in a generally good essay on Women's Liberation, made the error of speaking of Lesbians as the "lavender menace." The "Letters" column of the March 29 NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE contains an excellent reply by Lois Hart of New York's Gay Liberation Front. Right on, Lois.
A CURE FOR CRIME: DETROIT FREE PRESS: March 15, 1970 and on. Norval Morris and Gordon Hawkins, qualified lawyers and professors of law, have developed a total cure for "crime" in the true sense. This would involve the substitution of laws governing only those things that are governable, with the resultant ending of the vast majority of unnecessary monies spent in controlling non-criminal "crimes." Among their suggestions are the basic removal of all laws concerning those areas of behavior that are not, in any sense, subject to criminal jurisdiction. These include the obvious: ones: the ending of all laws on drunkenness in public, narcotics, gambling anywhere and everywhere, restriction on the use; of the laws on loitering, vagrancy and disorderly conduct to incidences where they actually apply, removing all restrictions concerning sexual activities between consenting adults, and the ending of all juvenile court jurisdiction over juveniles in cases involving anything for which they would not be in the jurisdiction of the Court were they adult. Their book, THE HONEST POLITICIAN'S GUIDE TO CRIME CONTROL, was published recently by the University of Chicago.
THE PUBLIC SPEAKING GRIND: March 12, 1970, Rita Laporte spoke at Await High School in Mt. View, California, to over 200 students. Questions came in
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faster than they could be answered. An adult present commented that today's high school students are more aware and more mature than yesterday's college kids ... good; After the "formal" session, the classes gathered on the lawn with Rita and teacher Tim Young, and continued the discussion for another half-hour.
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF A WOMAN: March 17, 1970. Over 100 women marched into the offices of the LADIES HOME JOURNAL on this date and demanded the editor throw down his typewriter and leave ... leave the whole thing in their hands. It did not work out quite that way, but when the dust cleared the women had won some very important concessions. They were given an entire issue to write and were promised a column in each issue thereafter. More importantly, they were to be paid for the writing. This particular event was covered in virtually every newspaper in the country, and most of the comments were without editorializing, but virtually all of them, at some point in the write-up, mentioned that some of the women were wearing slacks. What we wonder is this: Where do the writers live between stories that they do not see women all over the place wearing slacks?
KANSAS CITY STAR: March 19, 1970. Three members of the PHOENIX SOCIETY, Kansas City's male homosexual organization, spoke before the influential congregation of the B'nai Jehudah. Usual questions and answers on homosexuality.
AUGUST 26, 1970: THAT IS THE. DAY. CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Sunday, March 22, 1970, announces Betty Friedan's proposal for all American women to stage a sit-down strike on August 26 to bring home to men the importance of women and their need for civil rights. This is supposed to be followed by an all-night candlelight vigil at the "halls of political power." Realistically, I giggle to think of the condition of American halls of business following a day when all the women quit working ... that would be some holy mess.
WOMEN IN REVOLT: NEWSWEEK: March 23, 1970. Young Helen Dudar of the New York Post reported on Women's Liberation for NEWSWEEK, and did a creditable job. Unlike many such articles, she managed to include a few paragraphs on the influence of Lesbians in the movement. Among other things, she quotes Robin Morgan as source for the information that Lesbians are now being welcomed as "sisters" and that the idea of homosexuality is being considered as a means of population control and a path to equality.
BOSTON DOB ON TV: March 25, 1970. SPECIAL TO THE LADDER: Boston reporter Laura Robin covered the appearance of Boston President Ann Haley on the WBZ panel show, "On Woman Today," aired at 9 A.M. over Channel 4. The week before Easter dealt with the topic "Sex," and the March 25, 1970 segment dealt with "Homosexuality." Guest panelists were, besides Ann, Dr. Charles Socarides of Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York; Rev. Robert Weeks, minister at St. John the Apostle Episcopal Church, Manhattan; and Frank Morgan, president of the Homophile Union of Boston. Questions from moderators took up one-half of the program, and questions from the audience, the other half. Dr. Socarides monopolized the entire hour, driving home again and again his personal view that homosexuals (and Lesbians) are pathologically ill. Even the moderators seemed to find him incredible. Rev. Weeks disagreed with Dr. Socarides, saying that from his experience the problems encountered by homosexuals were caused by the attitude of society toward homosexuality. He said he hoped for greater acceptance in the future. After Dr Socarides got in a plug for his new book, Ann Haley got in a plug for DOB, Boston.
VERY BUSY DAY FOR BOSTON: March 25, 1970. Three members of Boston DOB spoke before the unique Brandeis University group enrolled in a" course entitled THE HOMOSEXUAL AND SOCIETY. This course was offered by the university at the request of the student body, and is the only credit course of this nature on the East Coast. (Editor's Note: There are several such on the West Coast, and we understand that similar courses are in the works in many schools across the land). The Brandeis group is more concerned with an examination of homosexuality as a life preference than as a clinical study ... GOOD for them. It is possible that Boston DOB will again speak to this group. Session consisted of the usual questions and answers on life styles.
SAN JOSE STATE COLLEGE ATTACKED: March 25, 1970, Trustee Dudley Swim (known for his extreme conservatism) objected to the fact that San Jose State College has a course on homosexuality. The school's president, Hobart Burns, said he would have been happier
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without the course, but that experimental courses were run by the students and they chose to have it. Right on, babies.
CHURCH FUNDS CUT FOR ALLOWING HOMOSEXUALS TO MEET: DETROIT FREE PRESS: March 27, 1970. The Episcopal Diocese of Detroit has cut off funds to the historic old St. Joseph Church and its rector, the Rev. Robert Morrison, for allowing a homosexual group to hold regular meetings in the church. Rev. Morrison is said to have the "strong support of his inner-city organization."
SATURDAY REVIEW AND RITA LAPORTE: March 28, 1970. The April/May issue of the LADDER commented on the article, "The New Feminism," by Lucy Komisar in the February 21, 1970 issue of SATURDAY REVIEW. The following letter from Rita Laporte ran in the March 28, 1970 issue:
RE: "The New Feminism" (SR, Feb. 21). I wish to point out a misstatement in Lucy Komisar's article, namely: "The one organization with a constitution, board members, and chapters ... throughout the country is the National Organization for Women." There is also the Daughters of Bilitis with a constitution, board members, and chapters throughout the country and overseas. Its founding was in 1955, and it has published a magazine for women, by women, since 1956.
What women would have the courage to do this fifteen years ago? Lesbians. We have been challenging the "sex role system" for millennia. We are neither man-haters nor man-lovers, which gives us a measure of detachment in the battle for our full human rights as women and as lesbians.
Feminists are fabled not only "aggressive" and "unfeminine," but --and fortunately for us-- "lesbians." In their hostile stupidity, men are giving us lesbians a helping hand. They are forcing feminists (at least 80 per cent of whom are not lesbians) to recognize, to understand, and to accept the most downtrodden and despised of all minorities.
Daughters of Bilitis, Inc.
San Francisco, Calif.
The LADDER received free publicity in the first issue of IN UNITY, new publication of the Metropolitan Community Church, Volume One, Number One. Thank you.
POTPOURRI: WASHINGTON, D.C.; NEW YORK CITY; DETROIT, MICHIGAN; MIAMI, FLORIDA, and on and on: March and April 1970. Clippings poured into DOB (bless all of you) from all over during theses months, all dealing with various local aspects of women's rights, many concerning appointment of women to higher-ranking jobs, political for the most part, and women in "unusual" jobs. Some of the headlines would have sounded like science fiction a few years ago: "FIVE WOMEN WILL LIVE UNDER THE SEA"; "FEMALE COMMISSIONER IS CHOSEN IN DADE COUNTY"; "HAIRCUT, LADY? OR A SHAVE?"; "UD LAW FRAT FINALLY OPENS DOORS TO COEDS"; "FEMINIST EFFORT GROWS IN GROTON"; "WOMEN PILOTS?"; "NEED A JOB, MOM? TRY THE TROOPERS." It becomes increasingly apparent that though small in numbers and bolstered by only a fraction of the male population, the women are winning in isolated instances all over the country. The big headline stories tell only a small part of the real victories, for it is in the courts, the individual companies and the political arenas where the irrevocable victories will be won.
MONIQUE: April 1970. Theaters all over the U.S. are running this movie. It may be another skin flick, but some of the comments make it sound fairly good. WE ARE NOT SURE, but thought you might like to hear about it. It concerns--we warn you-- a menage a trois, which is a man's idea, not a woman's, ever.
BOSTON ON THE MOVE: SPECIAL TO THE LADDER: April 1970. In the last year-and-a-half, five homophile organizations have started in Boston. Besides our own chapter there and the often-mentioned HUB (HOMOPHILE UNION OF BOSTON), there is a COUNCIL ON RELIGION AND THE HOMOSEXUAL which just began in early 1970. Of extreme importance, however, in terms of liberalization in education, is the announcement of the formal recognition by Harvard of a homophile group on campus. The group is formally called HARVARD GRADUATE STUDENT HOMOPHILE ASSOCIATION, but it is simply another extension of the many, many loosely affiliated groups generally called STUDENT HOMOPHILE LEAGUE existing on
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about thirty eastern campuses and a few western ones as well. The Harvard daily, HARVARD CRIMSON, ran an article on this on February 20, 1970.
L.A. FREE PRESS: April 1970. L.A. DOB was featured in an article in his paper by reporter Verda Murrell, sometime, in April 1970. At press time, however, we had not seen an issue and cannot comment beyond this mention.
WAGS LOSE, GIRLS WIN, LOVE TRIUMPHS: April 1970. Antonitta Garland, age 23, and Sandy Hagen, age 20, joined the Wacs last September 30, 1969. However, Antonitta enlisted in Nashville, Tennessee and Sandy enlisted in. Brooklyn, New York. Thrown together during basic training, they fell in love, just like in the stories. Not too long after they discovered their hitherto unthought-of life style and mutual love, so did Uncle Sam, in the form of a friendly Wac sergeant. After that they suffered a lot of harassment. Managing to take leave at the same time, they just kept on going, heading for California in the belief that "if they had a chance anywhere," it would be there. Never having known they were Lesbians before, they knew nothing of the organizations. Their stopping place was Los Angeles, and they found an ad in the LOS ANGELES FREE PRESS for the METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CHURCH. Morris Kight, a leader in Gay Liberation in Los Angeles and a member of the church, received several of the "tentative," not-quite trusting calls the girls made to the church before both sides agreed to meet and talk.
Mr. Kight immediately began arrangements to get the girls out of the Wacs with honorable discharges. He talked with C.H. Erskine Smith of Birmingham, Alabama (the attorney in the Wac case covered in the LADDER article, "Wacs Prevail Over Army," August/September 1969); Dr. Franklin Kameny of Washington MATTACHINE SOCIETY, and the ACLU. On February 12, 1970 (Lincoln's birthday) Kight arranged with the Army to turn the girls over to them at 1:30 P.M. in the courtyard of the First Unitarian Church in Los Angeles The girls were there, the press was there, Kight was there, but the Army wasn't.
Negotiations began all over again, and it was finally decided that the girls would fare best if they were driven back to their original station, Ft. McClellan in Anniston, Alabama. They were taken there by private car. Verbal assurances that the women were to receive honorable discharges on March 18 at Ft. McClellan were received by the women and by Morris Kight. As this is being written, we have no further information, except the pleasant information that the girls plan to live in either San Francisco or New York City and that Antonitta Garland is an English major and plans to write fiction and poetry. We wish them well and admire them for their courage. It takes guts to fight the system in public--at 20 and 23, it takes guts.
IMPORTANT REPRINT: COSMOPOLITAN: April 1970. Vivian Gornick's superlative article on Women's Liberation entitled "The Next Great Moment in History" first appeared in the November 27, 1969 VILLAGE VOICE. COSMOPOLITAN carries it with the title, "The Women's Liberation Movement!" This is must reading,. and the magazine will be easily available to most of you.
COUNTDOWN 2: April 1970. This is a magazine in paperback form, published by New American Library. Apparently this is. the second issue of a continuing magazine which would imply the first was COUNTDOWN 1 (we have not seen it). This issue contains "Women as Objects, Toys and Commodities" by Uta West, a good general run-down on Women's Liberation including some nice words on the Lesbian element in the movement.
WOMEN ARE 38 PER CENT OF THE LABOR FORCE: FORBES MAGAZINE: April 1, 1970. Labor Department reports indicate that between 1958 and 1968 the number of working women increased 32 per cent to a total of 29.2 million working. This is almost 38 per cent of the total working force in the country.
KENT STATE UNIVERSITY WOMEN ASK DOB FOR HELP (KENT, OHIO): April 2, 1970. In a letter to Rita Laporte, a group of women at KENT STATE requested help from DOB in putting together a course for credit on Womanhood. They wish to include Lesbianism in the course. At time of writing they have been directed to the nearest chapter of DOB, Cleveland, Ohio. More on this later.
THE INDEPENDENT FEMALE: VILLAGE VOICE: April 2, 1970, contains a short notice of this new play now being written for the San Francisco Mime Troup by Joan Holden. This Is said to be a Women's Liberation play with a heroine named Gloria who gets "fits" of independence. Seems she is Inspired by a "tough Lesbian
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chick" (fellow office worker?). The girls pull off an office workers' strike. Shades of Betty Friedan's August strike date.
MORE VOICE: Same issue of VILLAGE VOICE (April 2, 1970) reviews a 1924 (right, 1924) movie called MAN OF THE HOUSE by Carl Dreyer. Dreyer (Carl Theodore Dreyer) is a little-known in this country, but this Danish director is considered one of the all-time great movie-makers. MAN OF THE HOUSE is said to be a Women's Liberation movie, and is supposed to be available for rent from Contemporary Films (a New York firm?) on 16mm.
DOB IS BUSY IN BOSTON: April 3, 1970. The Boston Chapter held a public discussion session on this date for members of the heterosexual community, who honored the invitation, for the most part, by failing to arrive. However, a number of members of various other Boston organizations (primarily male) came, and the panel of six DOB members and the audience enjoyed the discussion.
YWCA JOINS WOMEN'S LIBERATION: UPI: April 5, 1970. Planning their triennial convention in Houston, April 13-18, YWCA officials announce their unhappiness at being relegated to a back seat in Women's Liberation, pointing out they have been in the battle since 1867.
HARVARD AND MANY OTHERS: NEW YORK TIMES: April 5, 1970. Two feminist groups have charged Harvard,.the University of Maryland, the University of North Carolina and the City University of New York City with discrimination against women in admissions, financial assistance, hiring, promotion and pay. We commend the action taken, but wonder why limit it to those schools? We would be more interested in seeing a list of schools where this discrimination does NOT exist.
KINSEY AGAIN San Francisco CHRONICLE: April 6, 1970. As of this time the well publicized study of homosexuals and Lesbians now going on in San Francisco seems to be reaching most of its goals. However, they are still desperately in need of black Lesbian subjects. If you live in the included Bay area, are black and a Lesbian and have not been interviewed, please contact the Kinsey researchers at 771-0466. (Editorial note: Having worked several times in close contact with the Kinsey Institute, as it is popularly known, there is little doubt but that they will do everything possible to present a fair and unbiased picture. Helping them is helping all of your people; please do help.)
FOLLOW-UP: NEWSWEEK: April 6, 1970. National DOB. President Rita Laporte had a long letter in this issue of NEWS-WEEK in reply to the WOMEN IN REVOLT article which ran March 23, 1970 in that magazine. Text follows:
We Lesbians are not only being welcomed into the women's rights movement, but, welcome or not, we have been most active therein from the start. Though most of us pass as heterosexual, those of us who can afford the risk are working in the movement as known Lesbians.
Like our heterosexual sisters, we range from conservatives who prefer to work in NOW to radicals who belong to various gay women's liberation groups. We bring to the movement our unique strengths for the benefit of all women. And in turn, our heterosexual sisters are helping us with our particular weaknesses: the fears and insecurities engendered by the need to live double lives. Great as our differences appear. from conservative to radical, from Lesbian to celibate to heterosexual, they are minor compared with the forces, as yet more underground than visible, that unite all women.
Rita Laporte, National President
Daughters of Bilitis, Inc.
THE VOICE: ISSUE 98: April 7, 1970. This is a Hollywood-based entertainment magazine which we had not seen before. It is strictly for use in the Los Angeles area. but after seeing it we are wondering why so many people speak of San Francisco and New York City as the homosexual centers of the western world. In any case, in this issue, DOB gets a boost, and we are most grateful.
ANOTHER RADIO SHOW: BOSTON DOB AND HUB: April 10. 1970. Four women from Boston DOB and one man from HOMOPHILE UNION of Boston discussed homosexuality and Lesbianism with two moderators on a closed circuit radio. WCSB-AM at Grahm Junior College in Boston. The two-hour program, from 7 to 9 P.M., was the longest session on radio in a series called "Encounter" regularly held at the school. It is felt that this particular exposure was most beneficial for the audience, since it was clear from the telephone calls from the listeners that many of the
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Common misconceptions were cleared up completely in the minds of the listeners.
GROVE PRESS: April 13, 1970. A number of women invaded the editorial of fices of GROVE PRESS and raised a bit of hell. Nine of them were then carted off to jail. Primary target is the denigration of women by Grove in their publications and films, although other demands were in eluded: day care for children of employees; equal pay for women doing the same work as better-paid male employees--the usual line of protest. As a result of this, nine employees of Grove were fired, including leading editor Robin Morgan.
NBC-TV: April 16-23, 1970: FRANKLY FEMALE, program moderated by Betty Groebli, featured Dr. Franklin Kameny, Dr. Charles Soearides, Anka Ehrhardt and Lilli Vincenz. Discussion on acceptance of homosexuality, with no. difference indicated between the male homosexual and the Lesbian (despite the fact that this program is a daytime program, geared to and aimed at a 90 per cent female audience). Everything in the discussion and audience participation went well though, reports our Washington "car and eye," though Dr. Soearides continued his personal vendetta (you may have noticed he goes around the country speaking with or immediately following representatives of homosexual groups), and the positive portions were the well-worn ones.
AND STILL MORE RADIO EXPOSURE: BOSTON DOB AND HUB: April 19 1970. Guests on the Bob Sterling Smith COLLOQUY show on WHDH-FM on this date were Gail Carpenter of Boston DOB and Frank Morgan of HUB, along with Rev. Robert Winget from the Church of Our Savior in South Boston. Excellent airing was made of this show, since it was run at 9 A.M. on this date and repeated in the evening at 10 P.M. Primary discussion this time was on the liberation aims of the homophile movement in general. Rev. Winget urged heterosexuals not to seek to impose the sexuality that feels right for them upon others. He urged churches to welcome homosexuals. (This was the second program in a series, the first having been on April 12 and featuring speakers from HUB and STUDENT HOMOPHILE LEAGUE).
LOOK MAGAZINE: April 21, 1970. Someone named Michael Thomas has an "editorial" in this issue on "Battle of the Sexes--1970." If there was ever any doubt in any woman's mind just what the average well-educated man thinks about women, this is must reading. The naked loathing for any woman who does not get "all wet-eyed and reverent over motherhood" and who does not "make you breakfast in the morning and nurse your kids and keep quiet when the boys drop in ..."
BOUQUETS to Laura Robin of Boston. Laura has been providing the material used in this column from the Boston area, and a measure of their usefulness is that she provides about ten times what I can use in terms of space and national interest. We need this sort of reportage on the public service encounters your local groups have in your area ... CHAPTERS, ARE YOU LISTENING?
NEW YORK CHAPTER: PUBLIC SPEAKING. SPECIAL TO THE LADDER: New york DOB President Ros spoke on Lesbianism at the Ninth Annual John Hunter Fuehs Memorial Lecture presented by the Queen County Chapter of the American Academy of General Practice on Sunday. April 12. 1970. from 2:30 to 5:30 PAL Other speakers included Dick Leilsch of MATTACHINE, N.Y.. speaking on male homosexuality: and Drs. Isadore Rubin (editor of SEXOLOGY MAGAZINE). Albert Ellis and Philip K. Kaufman. Dr Kaufman was narrator, and Dr. Leo Woolman spoke on transvestism and transsexualism. Over 500 people heard the talks, with the majority of them doctors and their wives. This sort of presentation helps to point up the differences between categories so often confused in the public mind.
MINORITY STUDY: SPECIAL TO THE LADDER: April 22 1970. On this date two members of DOB. N.V., Julie and (Jinny, joined by two men from MATTACHINE, N.Y., spoke to about 120 women and two men, all psychology and sociology students at the Manhattan College of the Sacred Heart, Purchase, N.Y. They were warmly received and, happily. Julie and Ginny were asked to return to speak to another group of girls at this well known Catholic girls' college in the New York area.
"WHO WILL LISTEN IF YOU HAVE A CIVIL RIGHTS COMPLAINT?" is the title of a new government pamphlet explaining how and where to file civil rights complaints. This pamphlet will provide direction for those with complaints of discrimination based on race, color, religion or sex. Order by sending 20 cents to the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.
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Dear Gene Damon:
I'll wager that lesbian pornography fills a greater need for many of us than simply the one for vicaries.
Most of us have problems with hostility towards ourselves as women and as lesbians, towards the women we love and the world at large. I think that nowhere is this hostility so obvious as in the intimate relationships we have with other women. Many viewers of the gay scene have detected the explosive elements of gay relationships, and we are very defensive about this. Most of us are well-adjusted enough to keep those elements operating on a subtle level, at least. But it is on this subtle level that I have discovered them to be most energy-draining, destructive and confusing.
All of us are strongly conditioned by our cultural environment; most of us are not too aware of how we manifest this conditioning. So many lesbians share the history of early heterosexual involvements that were sad, unfulfilling and often damaging; we share this history with many heterosexual women, too. Why do some of us become repeatedly involved with men, and why do some of us become so immediately and exclusively involved with other women in relationships as taut as high wires, lived out on such a tense plane that only two exceptional, unusually compatible women can handle until they're able to surpass that plane?
I believe that we are often negatively conditioned by the hetero atmosphere. Usually--and especially in the pre-coming-out adolescent years--lesbians get only encouragement towards heterosexuality and all the trappings of society's rubber-stamp approval of heterosexuality (hetero-dominated advertising, for example). We all grow up with the idea that it's right, normal and expected that men and women use each other sexually. I think lesbians often enter into early heterosexual involvements because they're encouraged by society, and it's acceptable to release early sexual drives in experimental physical expressions with boys. But lesbians--and surely many heterosexual women--suffer guilt in these relationships, guilt they're only vaguely aware of. Some of them know that the sexual arousal is not a response to the boy himself but rather "what he is doing to her." They know they're using the boy because there's something missing, the emotional involvement just isn't there: they know the response is not to man as a real and warm human being. Confused by. a world that urges her to live out the role of woman as man's love object--and man as woman's!--which the lesbian's instincts tell her is morally wrong, she sometimes enters into her first lesbian relationships in this confusion which has festered into guilt and even contempt for herself and all women. Surely if she despises a part of herself for having been exploitative--even unconsciously--she naturally transfers this contempt to other women: her image of them as a group, and individual women in particular.
Here is my point: in my own life I've found it extremely easy to become sexually involved with men. I can even make a "pass" at a man, but never, never a woman. Even if I suspect strongly she's gay, I suffer inhibiting guilty confusion that freezes me. The moment of physical expression comes only after much game-playing, subtle hinting, absurdly and ill-disguised probings. All of it is energy-draining and destructive and breeds an atmosphere of coy dishonesty. In contrast to me, I have found a very few well-adjusted lesbians who do not suffer such paralyzing inhibitions. It is much easier for them to come to a woman with desire. But almost all of them have, at some time, felt like me. Now, the times I have identified with lesbians in either literature, movies (like "The Fox"), photographic sequences, I have experienced such dramatic release and relief (from guilt?) that it's apparent I'm getting more than vicarious experience. I need to read good lesbian literature, and with the inclusion of erotic scenes; I need to see pictures of lesbians together--tasteful pictures--; and I need to see "Gay is o.k." on the screen-- for my own sanity! And I suspect that this need has little to do with whether or not I'm currently involved with a woman. Surely if I lived on some American Lesbos where gay was the rule and not the exception, I wouldn't need all this so strongly. But even there I'd need to see my culture acknowledging the validity of the lesbian
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experience, and in. all the usual taken-for-granted ways: in advertising, in fashions, in positive attention from the news media, and in the promotion of homosexually aware organizations and causes, of marriage and legal counselling. I'd want marriage "laws" and other legal protections for individual lesbians as well as couples. I'd need--I need!--all this to feel like a human being, a full human being.
And so I say that no matter how poor the pornography, no matter how tasteless the advertising, how negative the attention from the various media, right now it all has value. Cultural awareness and acknowledgment provide some kind of mirroring for us, and even a distorted mirror is better than none at all. Surely the mirror will become less distorting as awareness of homosexuality and its validity as a human experience-grows, and cultural consciousness is penetrated by positive acceptance and not mere curiosity and then indifference.
As a member of the Boston DOB I must ask you to withhold my name if you use this letter. I am wondering why DOB does not join actively with the many dozens of male organizations (such as HUB here in Boston) to fight for our mutual goals? And why are so many Lesbians interested in women's liberation?
I also wonder why you seem so liberal in the magazine and yet I hear you aren't in favor of our taking a stand on issues like the war in Vietnam.
(Editor's Note: I am liberal where I am liberal. I am conservative where I am conservative. This has nothing whatever to do with DOB, nor do your liberal or conservative views have anything to do with DOB. But the formal answer to your question follows).
All of the homophile organizations are primarily for men except DOB which is exclusively for women. Organizations such as Mattachine, New York and its new satellites (of which HOMOPHILE UNION OF BOSTON, HUB, is one) and other old line groups (TANGENTS, ONE, SIR, MATTACHINE, S.F., etc.) tend to be apolitical on the quite reasonable grounds that male homosexuals are to be found in every race, religion, age group, profession, trade and political affiliation and that they have, primarily, only ONE thing in common, their sexual orientation, and therefore, only ONE battle to be fought first.
DOB has always also adopted a deliberate apolitical stance believing that Lesbians are also as widely diversified. There is, however, one further very basic difference. When all the male groups have achieved their rights many Lesbians believe they will also join in the bounty. There are theoretical, even logical reasons to believe this is true. It will not, however, do any such thing because it will not alter the fact that the fully accepted male citizen in our society is accorded first class citizenship while women are still lesser human beings.
For these reasons DOB occupies a unique position in the homophile movement. Long before the Betty Friedan-inspired upsurge in the rights of women battle, we were very active in this area. Many articles appeared during the very early years of THE LADDER on women's rights. This was at a time when you NEVER saw anything about the subject in the general media. A sampling of letters in the early issues also shows an enormous concern in the rights of all women. Women's rights have a much more direct bearing on the lives of ail Lesbians than any comparable issue has on the lives of male homosexuals.
This leaves us betwixt and between and, we must so remain--allied where mutually profitable with the male homosexuals and their organizations and allied automatically with the burgeoning drive for freedom being waged by many thousands of women all over the world. Regardless of what dozens of subordinate classifications we might have we are human beings first, women second and Lesbians third. We haven't had to battle for the right to human status for about 400 years now ...we are still vigorously battling for women's rights and even more for the right to be Lesbians --freely and equally.
To the Editor:
The February/March LADDER'S comments" on Manfred DeMartino's latest book, The New Female Sexuality, fails to point
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out that this book was not intended to deal primarily with Lesbianism but rather with nudity. Mr. DeMartino is writing another book which will focus on Lesbianism and which presumably will make greater use of the material obtained from DOB subjects.
Research Director, DOB
Dear Gene Damon:
I didn't care for "Personal File" by Carla (the LADDER, February/March 1970). I don't understand bi-sexuality. I don't believe anyone bi-sexual can be considered a Lesbian. If I wanted to give a copy of the mag to a hetero to help explain Lesbianism and this hetero had already pre-judged all Lesbians, they would bypass the truth in the mag and pick this personal file as an example of what Lesbians are ... kink of flakey people, indecisive, who sleep around. Her remark about "dismissing sexual fidelity" but believing in marital fidelity makes no sense (to me) ... and here's the point: bi-sexuality can only produce infidelity, and in most cases, promiscuity. This is also my reason for not caring for this type of thing in the LADDER. If I were a missionary in the cause of Christianity, I wouldn't begin to preach it by showing the killing that has been done in the name of Christianity. Proselytizing is only done with examples of good or worth in the belief. How can we benefit by showing the unsavory? Especially when faced with the type of minds we are trying to reach? For our readers I guess this type of thing is o.k., and perhaps has merit ... maybe some can identify with it (and, I hope, make a moral decision after reading it), but to reach "the outside," it won't make it.
Ann Carll Reid
Dear Miss Damon:
THE, LADDER has opened a whole new world for me I didn't even know existed before this. That person who wrote saying that DOB opened up a new life for her was so right. For me, for now and the near future till I can get out on my own, THE LADDER and DOB are all I have or can allow myself to have. They are the hope and promise that I may someday find peace in this world. I read THE LADDER each time it comes and I become alive. The great loneliness was near to being unbearable till by sheer luck I came across the address of THE LADDER and DOB. It came at a time when I really needed it. Thank you for my life and peace.
Thanks again for your wise advice and encouragement. It helped me through what was a very trying time. I calmed down and recently met a woman several years older than I. Now I am happy, contented, at peace. I wish I could announce my happiness but you seem to be the only people I can announce it to. I wish I were in a position to tell others who are as miserable, hopeless and lonely as I was, that a little waiting, patience, courage as well as pain will make you more ready and able to love someone when you find each other ...
I felt your readers might enjoy this 1946 essay (portions) by Dorothy L. Sayers, called "The Human-Not-Quite-Human" and appearing in the book UNPOPULAR OPINIONS:
By Dorothy L. Sayers
Probably no man has ever troubled to imagine how strange his life would appear to himself if it were unrelentingly assessed in terms of his maleness; if everything he wore, said or did had to be justified by reference to female approval; if he were compelled to regard himself,. day in, day out, not as a member of society but merely (salva reverentia) as a virile member of society. If the centre of his dress-consciousness were the cod-piece, his education directed to making him a spirited lover and meek paterfamilias; his interest held to be natural only insofar as they were sexual. If from school and lecture room, press and pulpit, he heard the persistent-outpouring of a shrill and scolding voice, bidding him remember his biological function. If he were vexed by continual advice how to add a rough male touch to his typing, how to be learned without losing his masculine appeal, how to combine chemical research with
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seduction, how to play bridge without incurring the suspicion of impotence. If, instead of allowing with a smile that "women prefer cave-men," he felt the unrelenting pressure of a whole social structure forcing him to order all his goings in conformity with that pronouncement
He would hear (and would he like hearing?) the female counterpart of Dr. Peek informing him: "I am no supporter of the Horseback Hall doctrine of 'gun-tail, plough-tail and stud, as the only spheres for masculine action; but we do need a more definite conception of the nature and scope of man's life." In any book on sociology he would find, after the main portion dealing with human needs and rights, a supplementary chapter devoted to "The Position of the Male in the Perfect State." His newspaper would assist him with a "Men's Corner," telling him how, by the expenditure of a good deal of money and a couple of hours a day, he could attract the girls "and retain his wife's affection; and when he had succeeded in capturing a mate, his name would be taken from him, and society would present him with a special title to proclaim his achievement. People would write books called "History of the Male," or "Males in the Bible," or "The Psychology of the Male," and he would be regaled daily with headlines, such as "Gentleman-Doctor's Discovery," "Male-Secretary Wins Calcutta Sweep," "Men-Artists at the Academy." If he gave an interview to a reporter, or performed any unusual exploit, he would find it recorded in such terms as these: "Professor Bract, although a distinguished botanist, is not in any way an unmanly man. He has, in fact, a wife and seven children. Tall and burly, the hands with which he handles his delicate specimens are as gnarled and powerful as those of a Canadian lumberjack, and when I swilled beer with him in his laboratory, he bawled his conclusions at me in a strong, gruff voice that implemented the promise of his swaggering moustache." Or: "There is nothing in the least feminine about the home surroundings of Mr. Focus, the famous children's photographer. His 'den' is panelled in teak and decorated with rude sculptures from Easter Island; over his austere iron bedstead hangs a fine reproduction of the Rape of the Sabines."
He would be edified by solemn discussions about "Should Men Serve in Drapery Establishments?" and acrimonious ones about "Tea-Drinking Men;" by cross-shots of public affairs "from the masculine angle," and by irritable correspondence about men who expose their anatomy on beaches (so masculine of them), conceal it in dressing-gowns (too feminine of them), think about nothing but women, pretend an unnatural indifference to women, exploit their sex to get jobs, lower the tone of the office by their sexless appearance, and generally fail to please a public opinion which demands the incompatible. And at dinner parties he would hear the wheedling, unctuous, predatory female voice demand: "And why should you trouble your handsome little head about politics?"
If, after a few centuries of this kind of treatment, the male was a little self-conscious, a little on the defensive, and a little bewildered about what was required of him, I should not blame him. If he traded a little upon his sex, I could forgive him. If he presented the world with a major social problem, I should scarcely be surprised. It would be more surprising if he retained any rag of sanity and self-respect.
Dr. Peck had disclaimed adherence to the Kinder, Kirche, Kuche school of thought.
Los Angeles, California
Dear Gene Damon,
"The Uses of Sexual Guilt" by James Colton might be dismissed as an irrelevant bore were it not for its appearance in THE LADDER. The Lesbian is starved for meaningful articles about Lesbians and yet in the one publication presumably by and for Lesbians we must be "treated" to yet another male homosexual exhortation. This, in itself would not be sufficient cause to propel me to write you, for I have become inured to the ever increasing spate of literature dealing with male homosexuality.
What prompted me to break my silence is nothing less than fury, fury at the not so subtle implications that Lesbians are riddled with sick guilt and that they use sex in twisted ways as outlets for this guilt. James Colton's analysis of the problem shows his knowledge of male psychology in general and male homosexual psychology in particular. I would have no quarrel with his article had he confined himself to the male (though I would wonder what he was doing in THE LADDER). But he tosses in a 'she' or a 'her' now and then, thus betraying his abysmal ignorance of the female and the
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Lesbian. What right has Mr. Colton to speak of female psychology? "Well, I'm married to one, aren't I?" might be his reply.
I am a woman and a Lesbian. I am also a professional person, one of those few fortunate women whose salary approaches that of male homosexuals in the professions and who would lose all should word of her Lesbianism leak out. In short, I am as qualified to speak about the psychology of Lesbianism as Mr. Colton is to speak of the psychology of the homosexual. In addition, having the wisdom of the female, I never pretend to a definitive knowledge of the male. I let the intelligent male speak for himself while continuing to wonder at the conceit that permits him, in blind and humorless confidence, to set himself up as an authority on the female. (It was nice of Mr. Colton to insert the word 'male' before 'homosexual' in speaking of the members-only baths.)
Now permit me to present the Lesbian side in this matter of sex and guilt. The "woman with brains and ability who never makes the top in his [sic] employment sphere" is, in 99 out of 100 cases, stopped because of her sex. The males, homosexual and heterosexual, who are above her form a tightly closed shop to block her advancement. The "obscurity of a low-paying, drudging job" is the best that most women, Lesbians included, can find. And the Lesbian, of all women, fights hard against this injustice, fights till fury and frustration threaten to destroy her "brains and ability." If she is an artist, she may have to resort to using a man's name. But she will most certainly NOT blame her Lesbianism. No, the homosexual is not "the most disadvantaged of all" for he can enjoy the advantages of both worlds: the male and the heterosexual. The Lesbian, particularly the Mack Lesbian, is THE MOST DISADVANTAGED. At best she can pass as a mere woman. She is insecure in her lousy job. If she wants a political career, forget it.
Yes, I have long known about the male homosexual who needs the excitement of possible discovery to achieve orgasm, so important a goal for the male. What has this to do with the Lesbian, for whom sex is an intimate and; most private expression of love? She hates any threat of discovery-- the merest hint of such a possibility and all desire to make love dies. Sexual expression for the Lesbian has nothing to do with rebellion or conformity, conscious or unconscious. It quite simply expresses love. And love, as opposed to pure sex, does not seek punishment. Nor, for the Lesbian, does sex have a high value of its own. Its value lies in its deep meaning and joy as the pinnacle of love. Pursued for its own sake or worse, it becomes nothing less than disgusting.
The male homosexual in our male chauvinist society suffers the guilt of society's judgment that he is not quite a full male, not quite the mighty and superior creature the heterosexual male is said to be. We Lesbians, being women, cannot hope to achieve the status of mighty maledom, nor do we wish to, nor do we see it as mighty. (I leave to one side the problem of the Lesbian 'male' or 'butch' chauvinist, a minority within the Lesbian community.) Our problem is not one of aspiring to become fully male, to be accepted as heterosexual males are, but to become accepted as full human beings, to be and remain WOMEN, women different from other women only in that our emotions lead us to love another woman rather than a man.
Now, why are so many Lesbians still in hiding? Most certainly NOT because they have bought "the whole ugly bag of accusations." Some, yes, but most, no. At the risk of becoming tiresome, I must repeat once again that Lesbians are women, members of that oppressed majority, second class citizens who are not considered "persons" within the meaning of our U.S. Constitution, creatures who have only recently in history emerged from that legal class comprising children, the insane, slaves and women. We Lesbians are born with this handicap--no male homosexual is. And we must work, along with our heterosexual sisters, to overcome it. Added to this crippling heritage we bear the stigma of our Lesbianism, or homosexuality, if you will. We, intimidated from birth, also fear loss of economic security, a weak security at best for all women. In addition, we are generally more concerned than the male about hurting our families. These two concerns, very real and conscious and in no way "sick," keep so many of us in hiding. And I am one of these. Nor am I proud. I am more often ashamed. My justification is that, should I openly proclaim myself, I would cease immediately to be able to do anything at all in the cause for Lesbians. Keeping my job, my status such as it is, and my economic security is all that enables me to work underground toward that day when all of
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us, Lesbians and homosexuals, may live free of fear
Dear Miss Damon:
I have lately fallen into a bad humor with respect to radical activists and have made a step backward from radical to liberal. Convinced that our society is in critical need of radical change, it is with disappointment that I observe that those elements dedicated to change are conspicuously lacking in desirable personal qualities. All the way from SDS to GLF one hardly sees anything but psychic and moral weaklings who seek to abandon all personal responsibility for their existence. Curiously, they all tend to look alike, as physiognomically undifferentiated as they are psychically undifferentiated; in short, characterless. They have little or no sense of self, and therefore no self-respect, and they display an almost psychopathic disregard for other's rights. They are compulsive exhibitionists who will demonstrate at the drop of a hat without any real cause that can arouse public sympathy; thus, the public has grown understandably indifferent to the spectacle of demonstrations, which renders useless an important tool for communication and (valid) social change.
The GLF and other similar groups have been pulling some boners lately that may result in reprisals against organized and unorganized homosexuals alike. New York DOB itself got a faceful of their contempt recently. Gay power was up in arms when the police raided an illegal after-hours joint operating without a shadow of a license and arrested the proprietors and some hundred or so male patrons. One of the men, trying to escape, leaped from a second story window and was impaled upon an iron spike of a fence. One gay power group decided to run off leaflets to protest, so they broke into the DOB office and damaged their new mimeo which cost the chapter a great deal of money. Their excuse was: dire circumstances justify dire means. An especially annoying fact is that they had every opportunity to ask for permission to use the machine and they didn't. They would have got permission, too, due to a misguided loyalty I wish I had the power to get straight.
There is no reason why the DOB, chapter or national, should carry men on their backs. Why women are so willing to bear this burden is something I'll never be able to understand or sympathize with. The hot-blooded loyalty that women are bound to display toward men (homo, hetero, bi, poly) is conspicuously one-sided: the men do the taking, the women the giving.
In spite of real anger it was all the New York chapter could do to vote to censure the offenders, and there were many who proposed forgiveness on the grounds that we're all in the same "thing". What this "thing" is that we're all in, I wish someone would tell me. There are no grounds for alliance between Lesbians and male homosexuals, no emotional or sexual affinity. The public is already under the impression that female homosexuals are merely opposite-sexed versions of male homosexuals, which is a nasty distortion of reality. It seems to me that many homosexual women serve the same supportive functions for homosexual men that heterosexual women serve for heterosexual men. How silly! I can't help thinking that if a WLM group had broken into DOB and wrecked the mimeo there would have been hell to pay and no maudlin tears about loyalty and togetherness.
Gay power is a man's thing, with a sprinkling of silly women who follow along on the assumption that whatever the men do is smart. I heard, one girl say, "I don't belong to GLF. I hate it." Nevertheless, most of the women who wouldn't actually join it feel honor bound to defend any male homosexual simply because he is "one of us", a baffling identification. The quality of a human relationship is the quality of the sentiments invested in it. If the men reveal neither hide nor hair of a human sentiment, how can they be grouped with us?
Lesbians should tend their own garden and stop squandering their resources. I heard one of the girls telling about a gay girl friend of hers who was beaten up by a gang of heterosexual males. The account didn't raise an eyebrow. Just let them hear about a male getting beaten up! All the guns roil out in an instant. I just don't understand it. I guess it's, like B. Friedan says: "Women don't think they're important enough to fight for." It makes me so mad I feel it is my duty to protest in an effort to shock women into some sense of proportion. If women go down fighting, it's a cinch they'll be championing a cause that is not their own.
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purpose of the
Daughters of BILITIS
A WOMEN'S ORGANIZATION FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROMOTING THE INTEGRATION OF THE HOMOSEXUAL INTO SOCIETY BY:
1. Education of the Lesbian, enabling her to understand herself and to make her adjustment to society in all its social, civic, and economic implications--by establishing and maintaining a library of both fiction and non-fiction literature on the sex deviant theme; by sponsoring public meetings on pertinent subjects to be conducted by leading members of the legal, psychiatric, religious and other professions; by providing the Lesbian a forum for the interchange of ideas within her own group.
2. Education of the public, developing an understanding and acceptance of the Lesbian as an individual, leading to an eventual breakdown of erroneous taboos and prejudices--by public discussion meetings and by dissemination of educational literature on the Lesbian theme.
3. Encouragement of and participation in responsible research dealing with homosexuality.
4. Investigation of the penal code as it pertains to the homosexual, proposing and promoting changes to provide an equitable handling of cases involving this minority group through due process: of law in the state legislatures.
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MEMBERSHIP in the Daughters of Bilitis is limited to women 21 years of age or older. Write to your nearest chapter.
THE LADDER is a bi-monthly magazine published by Daughters of Bilitis, Inc., mailed in a plain sealed envelope for $7.50 a year. Anyone over 21 may subscribe to THE LADDER.
CONTRIBUTIONS are gratefully accepted from anyone who wants to support our work. We are a non-profit corporation depending entirely on volunteer labor. While men may not become members of Daughters of Bilitis, many have expressed interest in our efforts and have made contributions to further our work.
THE LADDER and Reno Chapter:
P.O. Box 5025
Reno, Nev. 89503
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1005 Market Street, Room 208
San Francisco, California 94103
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Cleveland, Ohio 44120
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The Ladder, October-November 1970, Vol. 15, No. 1 and 2
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THE LADDER, published by Lesbians and directed to ALL women seeking full human dignity, had its beginning in 1956. It was then the only Lesbian publication in the U.S. It is now the only women's magazine openly supporting Lesbians, a forceful minority within the women's liberation movement.
Initially THE LADDER's goal was limited to achieving the rights accorded heterosexual women, that is, full second-class citizenship. In the 1950's women as a whole were as yet unaware of their oppression. The Lesbian knew. And she wondered silently when her sisters would realize that they too share many of the Lesbian's handicaps, those that pertained to being a woman.
THE LADDER's purpose today is to raise all women to full human status, with all of the rights and responsibilities this entails; to include ALL women, whether Lesbian or heterosexual.
OCCUPATIONS have no sex and must be opened to all qualified persons for the benefit of all.
LIFE STYLES must be as numerous as human beings require for their personal happiness and fulfillment.
ABILITY, AMBITION, TALENT--
THESE ARE HUMAN QUALITIES.
Repeated Advertisements at Reduced Rates
CONTRIBUTIONS are gratefully accepted from all who wish to support our work. We are a non-profit publication depending entirely upon subscriptions, donations and volunteer labor. If you bought this copy of THE LADDER from a bookstore or newsstand, please subscribe.
(ORGANIZATIONS OR GROUPS wishing to order bulk quantities of THE LADDER may do so at the rate of 10 copies for $8.00. Send check or money order with your order to THE LADDER, P.O. Box 5025, Washington Station, Reno, Nevada, 89503.)
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THE LADDER STAFF
|Director of Promotion||Rita Laporte|
|Production Editor||Hope Thompson|
|Circulation Manager||Ann P. Buck|
Lyn Collins, Kim Stabinski,
Gladys Irma, King Kelly, Ann Brady,
Robin and Dana Jordan
|Secretary to the Editor||Tracy Wright|
|Can Women Unite? By Rita Laporte||4|
|Beginning, Short Story by Isabel Miller||7|
Questions for Casandra,
An Entertainment by Melinda L. Brown
|Sexual Politics, A Review by Hope Thompson||13|
|Minor Works of Djuna Barnes, by Carol Lynk||15|
|Personal File: Four Friends, by Margaret Fulton||17|
Dance Lesson, by The Class Workshop.
Drawing by W.B.Edmonds
Poetry by Lyn Collins, Kathleen McKinnon, Paul Mariah,
Robin Jordan, Anne Hayden, Carol Wilde,
Martha Shelley, and Georgette Morreaux
|Lesbiana, by Gene Damon||36|
|You're Stepping on My Model T, Short Story by Jane Alden||40|
Illustrated by Candi McGonagle
Good Old Golden Rule Days, by Diana Sterling
Illustrated by Kate McColl
COVER: Poster from Charon Productions,
P.O. Box 9117,
Berkeley, California 94709. ($2.00 postpaid)
Back Cover: Pappa Cottontail: King of the Bunnies, Song by Winifred Gandy Cartoons by Jules Feiffer and Candi McGonagle
Published bi-monthly at Box 5025, Washington Station, Reno, Nevada, 89503. All rights reserved. No part of this periodical may be reproduced without the written consent of THE LADDER.
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Can Women Unite?
By RITA LAPORTE
We all know the usual answer to this one. There is no need to list the unflattering qualities attributed to women that are supposed to make it impossible for them ever to cooperate in significant numbers to accomplish major goals. This is simply the "nature" of the female. The other side of the coin is that she is not very competitive, except in the one area vital to her-- catching a man, and hence is not suited to the rough and tumble world of men where the important affairs of humanity are handled. She is neither cooperative nor competitive. But she makes up for this with her mystical gift for serving a man and raising his children.
If one is a man, this is a delightful and self-serving "fact" of nature. Aristotle distinguished three kinds of people: freemen, slaves and women, all basically different. It took only about 2000 years to discover that Aristotle was wrong about slaves. Any group has the potential for enslavement if the exploiting group is powerful enough. However, about half of any slave population consists of men, and it is not altogether wise for some men to enslave others. Even a male slave is heir in some fashion to the manly virtues and telling him he is not does not work forever. Now, females--that is another story. Anyone can see that they are really different and hence inferior. For their own good they must be owned in some manner by a male. (We will skip the ego-enhancing aspect of such ownership.) There is another marvelous thing about women: they actually enjoy a slave status. They love the protection that belonging to a strong man provides. Every woman yearns to find her lord and master and it is here and only here that she understands the meaning of competition. She has sharpened her wits and wiles over millennia in her fight for survival--snaring and keeping a man.
Men, on the other hand, according to Lionel Tiger in MEN IN GROUPS, have learned to work together, originally in the "vital" occupation of the hunt They have perfected the arts of leadership and followership. Biologically they are the sex capable of dreaming great dreams and carrying them to fruition, dreams requiring the smooth working together of large numbers of men. While men look to other men where great accomplishments are to be wrought, women look to a particular man for their protection and fulfillment, having no mind for the larger, more important affairs of society. Natural selection over millions of years has equipped the male for the cooperation required to carry out the grand designs of humanity. It is thus a scientific "fact" that the male is meant to govern and to handle the vital affairs of society.
We could look at this "fact" in another way. Only by banding together and following a leader can men find strength, for they are emotionally and spiritually weaker, more dependent and more sheeplike, than women. This animal-like urge to band into groups, while giving the individual members a feeling of potency, also necessitates fighting to defend the prowess of their leader against other, exactly similar groups. (My Daddy is stronger than your Daddy.) And so flowered the art of war.
Women, on the other hand, are determined by no such group pull. Women who wish to cooperate with other women do so on the human, not animal, level. Not being pushed by instinct to fall into gangs behind a more powerful woman, they are free to join together intelligently and they are free to leave the group by intelligent choice when they feel the group is up to no good. With no male-like biological compulsion to join a herd, they are free to cooperate where that is the wise thing to do. This makes it impossible for vast hordes of women to be led into activities destructive to the human race. At the same time it makes agreement harder to come by. Obeying animal urges is easier than making conscious decisions to follow a certain course of action. Living on our distinctively human, as opposed to animal, level is not easy. Yet this is what we women must do. We must pioneer a new and better form of cooperation, a new and better sort of leadership.
The women's rights, or women's liberation, movement consists of very diverse persons. Outside the movement are millions of women dead set against it. Switzerland now has an association of females dedicated to defeating the right of Swiss women to vote. What is amusing about these silly women is that they will not be allowed to vote against the right of women to vote. Perhaps there is a message here: anti-feminist women are powerless indeed and we
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should not give them a second thought. Inside the movement it would be folly, a pitiful aping of men, to expect to rally all of us behind one leader and one platform. So what do we do, we women who, for whatever reasons, are driven by discontent with the status quo?
It is not a foregone conclusion that women will free themselves from slavery and usher in a better world for all. What are some of the pitfalls awaiting the women's movement? I have thought of some simply by observing my own reactions to articles about the movement. I find myself becoming furious at times, for a moment forgetting that these writers want essentially the same things I want and that, beyond disagreement on many levels, there is a very real unity of purpose among the awakening women of the world.
As a Lesbian I especially fear a split between heterosexual women and Lesbians. Not only are Lesbians hated and feared by most women, but many Lesbians lose no love over their straight sisters. All of us, straight and Lesbian alike, have heard much about how terrible Lesbians are. We are the only really "respectable" scapegoats left. For me at least this side of the split has become one big bore. I can no longer bother to get angry at such ignorant, heterosexual drivel. But the other side, what Lesbians think of straight women, is seldom heard. While these women damn Lesbians without fear of reprisal and out in the open and earn points from their men besides, Lesbians are quite capable of giving as good as they get. So far they do this in private, among themselves. What we all, at one time or another, think of straight women is hardly flattering. The straight woman is a weak-willed jelly fish endlessly fawning on the almighty male whom she fears and hates and treats with unbounded contempt. But she dare not let him know this for he is her meal ticket and she will do anything to insure her own survival, short of standing up to him. She is the ultimate hypocrite. If she can wangle a few rights without angering him, fine. If not, she will retreat.
Gloria Steinem is quoted in Time, August 24, 1970, as saying, "Men think that once women become liberated, it will mean no more sex for men. But what men don't realize is that if women are liberated, there will be more sex and better." So there we have it from the heterosexual woman's point of view: "I'll make a deal with you, dear. If you allow me more freedom, I'll give you more and better sex." What a sellout! It has been my conviction all along that the reason women should have equal rights and responsibilities in a world of human beings is that they are human beings. As a Lesbian I am nothing less, one of God's children, a subject in my own right and an object to no one. I would be the last woman to promise better sex to men in the hope they would give me a little more freedom. Freedom is not something I have to pay men for--it is my birthright.
It is this attitude, this fear of displeasing men, that worries many Lesbians in the movement. Will straight women eventually give up as men, notoriously unchivalrous, fight back more and more below the belt? There is a large reservoir of goodwill in the hearts of feminist Lesbians. We ache to see the unhappiness of so many of our straight sisters, to see how men take advantage of their goodness. But this reservoir is not infinite. I have often found myself trying to justify the ways of straight women to angry Lesbians. I cannot see either Lesbians alone or straight women alone succeeding in the revolution for greater humanness in all people. We Lesbians are fewer in number than you heterosexual women, but we make up for this by our greater determination to live whole and free. Men give us none of the questionable advantages they give to straight women nor do we desire those "advantages". We are committed from the start to total victory. Compromise with members of the ruling sex does not tempt us. We look to the day when we can converse with men and women and enjoy the company of people who are no longer bound up in heterosexual chauvinism. If a by-product of this human maturing is more and better sex for the sex-starved heterosexual male, find and dandy. Better still, perhaps a result will be better LOVE for the sex-strangled male.
Lesbians, being unconcerned with the libidinal problems of the master sex, are nevertheless unavoidably entangled with that sex, employment being a prime area. Here we have to swallow arguments applicable only to heterosexual women employees: Women are just marking time on the job until they find a man and/or begin breeding; it is bad business to give them management training or to consider them for promotion. Try to imagine the fury and frustration of the Lesbian when she hears this. If she speaks up to say this has no
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bearing on her, she is fired on the spot. She says nothing and seethes. She knows she and her Lesbian sisters are a major factor in giving women in the labor force a good reputation, while many of her heterosexual sisters drag that reputation down. Small wonder that some Lesbians come to hate straight women, not as straight women hate lesbians--out of ignorance--but out of a realistic appraisal of the facts. This kind of divisiveness, Lesbian against non-Lesbian, must be overcome and can only be over-come by goodwill on both sides.
There are other areas of divisiveness having nothing to do with the Lesbian-heterosexual dichotomy, a dubious dichotomy based upon male chauvinism in the first place. An area that particularly gets my dander up is the notion that only Socialism (whatever that is--the articles never say) will free women from male exploitation. I am a little surprised that otherwise bright women should slavishly follow the thinking of an old, 19th century male or some current "In" neo-Marxist. This is something of an emotional reaction on my part for, if following some old or new male is correct, then so be it. An idea is not to be discarded simply because it sprang from a male brain. (In my youth I thought all good ideas came from men only). No, my objection has, I think, good logic, or I should say, good "psycho-logic" behind it. I see the human being as the basic unit in any society and in any political system. A social system can be no better than the people who make it up. And people are plagued with ignorance and stupidity, with selfish ambition, with cruelty, with hatred, with fear, with their very finitude in all directions. A political system can be better or worse, but it cannot create human nature.
We are, all of us, still prone to magic shibboleths and incantations. MARXISM! Che! Mao! (I can almost hear Red Chinese youth crying, out of earshot of government officials: CAPITALISM! Nixon! Goldwater!) I expect this from men, the sex more given to magic, to secret societies, to fraternity foolishness. I am saddened and alarmed that so many otherwise liberated women should stoop to this. Join the class straggle (in a country where most of us are middle-class?) and wipe out exploitation, the profit motive, the desire for success and who knows what other human traits! Some of what I read sounds as though I myself should be destroyed in the interests of women's lib. I came up the private school route, governesses, Europe, college and graduate school--hardly the desirable working class background. Whether the current crop of revolutionaries would forgive me this in light of my having driven a streetcar and worked in factories, I cannot say. This reverse snobbism can be more vicious than the common variety, for those used to power wield it with more humaneness than those who suddenly acquire it.
I know a good deal more about human nature than about political systems and am frankly out of my depth with the latter. I think of a political system as a means of concentrating power in order to accomplish the goals of society. I have no idea what "Power to the People" means. If every citizen has the same amount of power as every other citizen, no one has any power. How can 200,000,000 individuals take equal part in the management of our country, from deciding Supreme Court cases, to voting on federal and state laws, to passing local ordinances, to running corporations, to setting up medical standards, to putting out a new Betty Crocker cake mix ...The problem here is one of Power. And power is dangerous. Some women seem to be saying that we must abolish power. The only way I know of abolishing human power is to abolish human beings.
Any group of people will engage in some minimal cooperation and will decide in some fashion who is to, do what. Unavoidably some individuals acquire more power than others, even without meaning to. One man throws his spear farther and more accurately than another. One woman grows better vegetables than another. Someone makes a better basket. A social or political system evolves with some people more highly regarded than others. Elitism rears its head. This is a dirty word today, but elitism is not bad per se. It is so only when the elite in question is based upon false values, as many elites are today.
We are not born equal in genetic endowment, something no amount of social reform or radical revolution will eradicate. Some people will become better at certain tasks than others and some people will gather up more power than others. Power in the right hands is all to the good. Power in the wrong hands must be combated. We women must think out the problem of power--perhaps we can bring to it some new solutions. But it is no solution to try to tear down women who have gained a measure of power within the heterosexual
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I have noticed a curious development among some women and one I find amusing. In their fear of power they have decided to remain anonymous, to refuse to speak up in public or to give interviews to members of the media. If all of them cannot be equally famous (or notorious), then none will be, for fame, even short-lived fame, brings with it a measure of power. But this strategy does not seem to apply to women who have been safely dead for some time. On the contrary, the prominent women of the past, particularly those who spoke up on behalf of women, are written about and admired. We women DO have a history and one to be proud of. Must our leaders all be dead before we are permitted to admire them? Cannot we allow ourselves to have some live leaders?
What is this fear of leadership? Again, leaders, the embodiment of power, can be dangerous. But how can we do without them? To go back to what I said in the beginning: women are not instinctually bound to follow leaders. We must use our minds in deciding which potential leaders to follow. We are free to choose some and reject others. We are free to follow leaders in part only. We can follow some here and some there. I can follow a Lesbian-hater where I find common ground with her. We can differ over which intermediate goals are most urgent: acceptance of the Lesbian, repeal of all abortion laws, child care centers, equal employment opportunities, etc. There is no reason why we should all agree on priorities for we cannot all of us be working in all areas at once. Underlying all our disagreements, even our rages at one another, there is unity and we all feel it deep down. WOMEN CAN UNITE!.
You say, "They show what becomes of people who have no spiritual life."
I say, "No spiritual life!"
"Irene said herself she's not a Christian. And certainly she's done things a Christian woman wouldn't be able to do. Most un-Christian women couldn't for that matter."
You have not understood her. You have got hold of a few externals and shut your mind to all the rest.
I say, "You might equally think that because she was sustained by the great spiritual force of love, she was able to take a moral action that saved the lives and health and happiness and sanity of several people--her children, her ex-husband, his new wife, herself, Laura. How many's that? Eight"
But my heart is out of the argument. I don't really hear you, your words. I hear only that my friends don't delight or move you, that you don't approve of me or them, that you wouldn't want for us a life like theirs. Well, I must be reasonable. I have spent six weeks in refining and defining my feeling for you. Shall I call those six wasted weeks? What might I have spent them on Instead? And haven't they been, often, blissful? Should I regret the hours I spent wondering what it meant that you caught my cold foot and warmed it in your hands?
From far away I hear you. Something about evil not being able to produce good, something about our having only Irene's own assertion that everything worked out well for everyone.
I say, "We have only her assertion for any of it. If she didn't say there'd been a divorce, we would have no way of knowing it. Believe one, believe the other. Is she a reliable reporter of her own life, or isn't she? To me she seems reliable."
"And those are your friends!"
"Yes!" I say. "And I think most people would honor them and honor me for having won their friendship."
It is done. There will be nothing. How can I live without your caress to imagine? In these six weeks, such dreams have become the breath of my life.
Can I claim you led me on? Yes and no. You piled hope on me with one hand but unloaded it with the other. I suppose what you put me in would come close to being literally a flap--back and forth, the winds of hope and despair. And now it will be only despair, my emotion a limp rag, broken balloon, sagging in one dull position.
The cab leaves us at my building. You pay the driver. I go up the steps and unlock the door. I wait. I am not certain you will come in. The cab drives off. You stand at the bottom of the steps. Perhaps you need an Invitation. I can't speak. I hold the door invitingly as though I expect you. Awkwardly you climb the steps. Stumble. I am reminded of the many times I've stumbled
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in walking with you--how awkward one can be on feet numb with love and doubt. You are awkward. You are a big lady, tall, and fond of food. At her age, you will be a magnificent mountain like Irene. It's one more reason you should have liked her.
I thought we could make a long happy life. I thought it was hopeful that it's taken six weeks, which have made me love you more and more. I spoke to Irene of the time it was taking, as a good hopeful thing, and she said yes but not necessarily. She said that she had loved and waited for years and ended with nothing, nothing at all, not even a kiss after years of waiting love. So it can go that way too, she thought I should know. Now I will have to ask her whether not having had a kiss makes it easier afterwards. I think it must. She told me once that it's harder to give up real children than imaginary ones. That was to suggest that I should know myself now and choose what I really am. And it's probably likewise easier to give up a fantasy kiss than a real one.
Well, so much for the ouija board. I suppose Laura pushed it. It said, yes, you're gay. It said introducing you to them would precipitate our love, but it would be up to me to make the first move. In my fantasy I can easily approach and touch and hold and kiss you, but in life the ouija statement is ridiculous. You are a scholar, you are tall, you are four years older than I, you pay the cab, you buy the theater tickets, you pick up the checks at dinner. It isn't possible that if you loved me you wouldn't be able to move towards me.
You sit on my couch. I used to plot how to get you there, keep you out of the chair, make you sit beside me. You go there now by yourself. "Drink?" I ask.
"No. Thanks. I can't stay." But you do stay.
"I'm sorry the evening was such a bust," I say.
"I knew we shouldn't on a Friday. The fish and everything. They didn't really respect that. And I doubt you did either. I resented, I must admit, the three of you sitting there boasting of the religions you've outgrown, so confident that in time I may mature to apostasy too."
"I don't think that was meant."
"Have you considered that I may not?" you say. "Do you ever seriously think that J may have found the true faith and that I may keep it? And that I may want friends who respect it? And that I may not want to share my life with someone who is just waiting for me to get over it?"
No, I haven't thought of that. But I think I won't say so. Could I become a Catholic for you? I don't know. Laura has made an occultist of Irene, but I doubt it was set up as a pre-condition.
"People who love begin to agree, I think," I say. "I suppose your faith would influence whomever you lived with. Irene has taken up Laura's superstitions--says, 'Bread and butter,' like a child now."
"Catholicism is not a superstition."
"That was just an example,. Why are you trying to pick a fight?"
You are quiet. I think I know why you want a fight--so we can make up. I say, "I think I'll have a drink."
"Then I will too."
I go to the kitchen. Make drinks. You stand in the doorway watching me, but as I come towards you, you fade back to the couch. I wish I knew what to do. I set the drinks on the coffee table.
I say, "I'm sorry you don't respect their life. It's what I'm looking for, I think."
"I didn't say I didn't respect it."
"Oh, I thought you did."
"It tempts me very much. Perhaps as an idea more than as a real thing. I would hope that even living such a life, I could be a Christian good person and do some good in the world. They seem completely unaware of anything that doesn't relate to their own --peculiarity. I wouldn't want to be as narrow and cut off as that. I would want to live in an ordinary house in an ordinary city and move among ordinary people. They've made their own little false world as though the sexual function is all they define themselves by and all that interests them about other people."
"You misjudge them. They're interested in more things than anyone else I know. Economics, politics, art, history, architecture, music, the occult, psychology. When they take me walking in New York, I realize I've spent my life with my eyes shut."
"And yet they live in a homosexual neighborhood and devote the evening they first meet me to a discussion of what one would hope were intimate and painful revelations, which I have not requested, and I do not speak in kind."
"They were talking to me. They were assuming that I'd told you about them, which I had."
"Where did you meet them?"
"Where? At their house. I was taken
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there by a friend."
"I've wondered what she is to you."
"A few months. Summer to summer. A year."
"Intimate and painful revelations-- haven't you just told me you disapprove of that kind of talk?"
"Only from those I've just met. Tell me. Why did it end with Barbara?"
"Many reasons. We never did get along. The last thing was that she wasn't--faithful to me. So I left."
"Did she want you to stay?"
"She didn't want to fail again. In that way she wanted me to stay. It wasn't reason enough. I thought if I had to suffer anyway, I might as well have some of the positive things of life. Like children. Like money. Like a respectable home."
"Yes. That's what I thought. Suffering being my fate, a loveless life. Have those anyway. And there were plenty of men ready to oblige me. And no women to confuse me."
I stop. You know what comes next. One
of us should say, "Until--" but neither of us does.
I say, "I talked with Irene and Laura about it. I thought Irene's life might be my guide. I might go her way. She's had it all-- the whole range. Life can go that way. She proves it. But she doesn't recommend it. Even though some of us think it ended well for her.
"What does she recommend, as though I need ask?"
"I said nobody interested me. She said when I became internally ready someone would."
"Such as Herself?"
What! You don't know anything or understand anything or deserve the evening they gave you or the weeks I kissed my pillow calling it by your name. I unname my pillow, I call back my love.
Oh, God, despair. Not to love you or hope for you or wait for you or plan for you or wonder what you mean and why you keep me waiting. There has been more pleasure in waiting for you than in embracing anyone else in my whole life. Not loving you brings back all the clouds and knots and griefs I ever fought against. I suffocate. I die. I would try to drink my drink but I think I would choke.
We sit side by side on my couch, which is my bed. I am unable to speak, and for reasons of your own you don't either.
My cat jumps to your lap. You pet him although you don't like cats. Just tonight, at Irene and Laura's, you said, "Well, I like Tigger but that's because--" and then left the sentence for me to finish in my heart. Many times you've petted him on my lap and caught some of my leg or hand in the caress.
I watch your hands. Skillful, strong hands. Short nails, no ring, no polish. They are hands I dreamed would heal me. Tigger's hairs fall and cling to your dark slacks. It's wild to have a cat. I think I'll try to get Barbara to take him back Hairs on my furniture, on my clothes, cat food in my refrigerator, kitty litter in my bathroom. It is mad. I think I will make my life very stripped and simple and get a lot of sleep.
You say, "I see I made you angry."
"No. You just remind me that there is a reason, after all, why I spend twelve hundred dollars a year on a shrink. I was planning to give him up. I felt so well."
"My heart's just held together with a little spit and brown paper, too," you say.
"Don't you see how scared I am?"
I reach out and lay my hand on Tigger's back. Your hands are very near and do not move away. Awkwardly and anxiously I capture one. You let it lie in my hand. I take courage to improve the relationship, to bring them palm to palm. Experience with men makes me so afraid; so many times I have let my hand be taken and felt only boredom or oppression. I couldn't bear to make you feel such things. My sins of insincerity are coming home to roost.
I am not ready. I cannot immediately recover from the despair of so few minutes ago. Memory must guide me: until you spoke against my friends and the kind of love they symbolize, I longed for you. Somewhere inside I still must long for you. If you will receive me now now is the time even though I have to so by memory. I remember many times that would have been better: the night we watched TV and you almost put your arm around me but then played with the ornament on the wall instead; the many nights you have said you were leaving and then loitered against the door unable to go; the afternoon you
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warmed my feet. If I had let you catch my eye any of those times, we, would be already begun and not have this doubt and pain to go through.
Since it was I who held us back before, you leave it to me now. I have never done this, darling! I have only waited and let things happen.
Still holding your hand I lean against your shoulder. Because you do not move, I trust that you don't object. But what a thing to trust in a woman! I turn my face. It is at the level of your neck, which is a good place to kiss you, so I kiss you there and you sigh and tilt your head back to give me your whole throat. The wonderful flow of power and possession and desire I feel at this sweet gesture makes me sure that I can, after all, be the one who makes the moves and starts things. It is easy and natural now to get up on my knees and lean above your lifted face and take your glasses off and kiss your eyelids and face and mouth.
I feel a nervousness in you and I let your mouth go so you can tell me why. Your glasses worry you. What have I done with them? Have they fallen? Am I bending them? I say, "No darling." I show them to you. "Look, not even smudged." But to ease you I put them on the table beside our evaporating drinks. We laugh. I like you very much. I say, "There's nothing the matter with either of us that a year or two of happiness won't fix."
You say, "This is terrible. I'm going to fall in love with you."
"You already have. It's all right. I won't hurt you."
"I'll just want to make love all the time."
"That's not terrible. That's nice."
"But I won't want to work and I won't get the good of my fellowship and it'll be awful."
"And I'll have to take care of you. I thought I was the baby and you were the grownup, but it's the opposite. You're a little lost child and you need me and I'm here and I love you."
Something in you draws back. Have I offended you? No. I think I have said something you've heard before. Jesus God, who do I look like? Who do I sound like? Does my kiss feel too much like somebody else's? Can't we have fifteen minutes without problems?.
Gently I press your side to lay you down. You resist and then go. I lie against you, petting and, kissing. Tigger leaps to the couch back and watches. I'd like to be watching, too. I have never seen two women kiss. It must be nice to see. I wish movies showed it. They show other kinds of love. Why not ours?
I consider opening your shirt but you press so close that I think you don't want me to. It's all right. There's plenty of time. As many as sixty years maybe. Twenty-five plus sixty equals eighty-five. Twenty-nine plus sixty equals eighty-nine. Quite possible, as healthy as we'll be once we get happy.
But you are crying. My cheek is wet with your tears. How bravely you cry, without a sound.
I say, "What is it, angel?"
"I have to sit up. My nose is plugging."
I let you up. You sit very straight. Tigger jumps into your lap. I go get you a Kleenex.
I say, "What is it, baby?"
"I find. That. In my heart. I am. Married to someone else."
"A girl. Woman. I knew at school. It was very hard for me. Because not natural, you know. And the Church has no sacrament for it. But I needed it. And maybe I rationalized or something--I came to feel that it was somehow a secret sacrament and no more unacceptable in the eyes of God than any other childless marriage. Because we didn't avoid children, we just couldn't have any. Through no choice of our own."
"Where is she now?" I ask.
"She's in Chicago."
"Chicago! Then you saw her last month."
"Yes. She said it's definitely over."
"Only last month!"
"Nothing's happened between us for two and a half years but I always felt it would again, you know?"
"But now you love me," I say. "It's all right. I still loved Barbara until I began to love you. It always overlaps. You can't expect to stop until you have someone else. That's why you went there, to be divorced, so you could love me. And now you do."
"That's not the point. She can divorce me, but I find I can't remarry."
I shake my head and reach for my drink. It is mostly melted ice, but it helps. It keeps me from saying this is a conversation too surrealistic to keep track of. It keeps me from saying, well, nobody can say you're one of these no-good, reckless, irresponsible, amoral modern kids. I feel many such
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unwise thoughts crowding to be said.
"Can you have a roll in the hay?" I ask. I may as well have said the other. Before I can hurt you more, I go to the bathroom and wash my face and breathe a while and comb my hair.
When I come back, you have your coat on. "I'll phone you," you say.
You have never got away so fast before. You are in the hall when the panic hits me. I run to the door and call your name. You come back. I kick the door shut and stumble into your arms. Your big body enfolds me. You kiss me a long aching goodbye but afterwards you still say, "I'll call you.'.
It is morning. I haven't slept. I wait for it to be late enough to call Irene and Laura. They are my mothers and will comfort me and tell me everything will be all right and that I will soon be happy. At ten I can wait no longer. Irene answers, not crossly but strangling with sleep. I choke and say nothing and hang up. Ten o'clock on Saturday morning is too early to call even the fire department.
So I call the shrink at his home in Connecticut. This I may do because I pay him twelve hundred dollars a year to be there for me to lean on. He too is sleeping but I think of the money and have no pity. I am crying, I find. He makes me very young. I curry favor.
"You'd better come up," he says. I am to go to his house and we'll talk it over. He'll meet me at the station. I suppose I am to see a healthy household and be given a pill and watched. A good enough way to spend a Saturday I have no possible use for.
From Grand Central I phone Irene and Laura again. Irene answers, still asleep, although it is now eleven. But since I can be no other inconvenience all day, I am bold and speak. Her voice brightens. She calls me dear. (She would have done the same at ten!) I say I'm on my way to Connecticut. I say the ouija was right in saying I would have to be the one to start it. "Then it has started--how good," she says.
I say, "Well, there are problems. What's the noise in the phone?"
"Pay phones always do this. It's nothing."
"What did you think of her?" I ask.
"Well, I'm not a quick judge. I liked her. I felt she's someone who doesn't have to have everything her own way--who can discuss. And any problem you can discuss you can get somewhere on."
"You think so?" I say. Oh, poor Irene, liking you and being judged by the Spanish Inquisition in return!
She says, "I regret I yattered so much. I was so curious about her I was afraid I'd try to pump her if I didn't yatter." Non-Christians have morals you wouldn't understand.
I say, "What's the clicking in the phone?"
"It's signalling the operator to make her ask you for a nickel."
"I have to go. I can't talk on this phone."
"How long will you be gone?"
"Till Monday morning," I say and wonder where that came from. Yes, it is what I want her to tell you if you ask her where I am.
"Call us when you get back, please." Her voice is loving and concerned. She would have been this way at ten.
But the train is a good enough place to be. I get glimpses of the Sound. I need the sight of water. I need to walk and get very tired and think. I need to decide how many more times I can let a woman break my heart before it breaks beyond repair.
I will rent a hotel room in Connecticut and walk and get very tired and not come back until Monday. I want you to ring and ring my phone and lurk at my door. If you ask Irene and Laura where I am, I will know there's hope for you and me.
(Isabel Miller, frequent contributor to THE LADDER, is the author of the popular Lesbian novel, A PLACE FOR US. Under her own name, she is an established novelist and short story writer. Her story, "Hope Deferred", appeared in the February/March 1970 issue of THE LADDER.)
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??? QUESTIONS for CASSANDRA ???
By MELINDA L. BROWN
I am just desperate, I don't know who to turn to. My girl up and left me, my dog died, my mother won't let me in her house, and I think the boss is about to up and fire me. I don't see no way out except suicide. Please help me.
Ugly To Boot
You really are in sad shape. Luckily, I have the perfect solution to your problems. Sign up immediately for a remedial English course. (Your grammar and punctuation are incredibly incorrect, dear.) Pray that you have an attractive female instructor. After that, you need have no fears. The educated person always succeeds.
What about joint checking accounts? We have been together for five years and can't decide if we should have one or not. We argue all the time.
Rose and Lily
Dear R and L,
I advise against it. Obviously the two of you need something to quarrel about, and the checking-account problem provides a subject for your arguments. Just think, if you ever decided one way or the other, you'd probably break up. Don't take the chance, dears; money comes easily, but love does not.
I am twenty and my girlfriend (I'll call her Sadie) is twenty-two. We have been sharing an apartment for a year, going to bars, and all that stuff. Yesterday, a friend of Sadie's asked her what I was like in bed. When she said that I wore striped pajamas and slept like a log, the friend laughed. Now we think maybe we are missing out on something. Could you fill us in?
Gracious but you two are so innocent! You do need help, and fortunately I am able to provide just what you are looking for. Send four dollars ($4.00) in stamps (no coins, bills, checks, C.O.D.'s, or money orders) to Cassandra, in care of this publication, and I will send you my new booklet, just off the presses, Sex for the Lesbian. Forty illustrations (in color) are provided with the booklet. It should solve your problems quite nicely.
I am so distraught that I don't know what to do. Four different times during the past month I have gone to McMurphy Bridge to jump off into the bay and kill myself. Each time I lost my nerve and decided to live. Yesterday I went to the bridge again, and this time I didn't lose my nerve. Unfortunately, someone had put a heavy wire mesh above the railing, and I couldn't get through it. What shall I do now? I am determined to die. Please answer quickly.
Deirdre of the Sorrows
Not only are you distraught; as well, you've lost all semblance of common sense thinking. Buy a pair of wire-cutters, dear.
I don't know who the Ladies of Llangollen are. (I'm not even sure that I'm spelling it correctly.) No one will tell me. Am I a failure?
Terrified in Detroit
I am 64 years old, with fourteen children, five grandchildren, and a great-grandchild on the way. Last night I suddenly discovered that I have been a Lesbian all these years. Do you have any words of advice for someone like me?
Old And Gay.
Dear O and G,
Yes: better late than never.
I am really in a mess. My dad says that he'll kill me if I don't stop fooling around with girls and settle down and get married. My girlfriend Alice says she'll kill me if I ever leave her. The thought of violence absolutely terrifies me. To make matters even worse, my mom says she's going to kill me, my dad, and Alice if we don't stop yelling at one another. Who shall I listen to? What shall I do? I have tried to be patient and
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reasonable, but it doesn't seem to work.
Betty in Burbank
My dear, how absurd to think that you could be reasonable with a group of people like your father, your mother, and Alice! Try the obvious solution to the problem: buy a gun and threaten the three of them. Pacificist though I am, still I must admit that there are times when violence is the only answer. Besides, if worst comes to worst, remember that life in prison will be infinitely more pleasant and peaceful than is your present situation.
This girl I'm going around with, Elsa, thinks that I am a fellow. But I'm not. The thing is, I am afraid that Elsa will find out that I am a girl, because we spend so much time playing touch football together. In fact, touch football brought us together to begin with. Don't ask me to give up sports, because Elsa is very sports-minded and I'd lose her if we stopped sharing athletic interests. But I may lose her anyway, if she touches me in the wrong place and discovers the truth. Do you have any suggestions?
Yes. Why don't you take up croquet? If you have no lawn available, try tiddly winks.
I am very much in love with a girl who has a revolting skin condition. She has huge purple splotches all over her face, her arms, and her legs. (I'm not sure about the rest of her body, but I'll let you know after this weekend.) My problem is this: all my friends say that this girl is disgusting and that I should stop seeing her. I know you are a broadminded person who speaks the truth. What is your comment?
The girl sounds disgusting. You ought to stop seeing her.
I am twenty-three years old, with green eyes, long black hair, and a good figure. My parents are dead, and I live alone on an inheritance my uncle left me. I think I may be a Lesbian. How can I be sure?
I can imagine how worried and distressed you must be at this moment, and I am longing to help you. However, I will need more information. Please send me (by air mail) your telephone number, your measurements, and the hours each day when you are free. I will do my best to assist you in this matter.
Cassandra can clarify you. questions! Write Cassandra, in care of this publication, stating your problem and enclosing a self-addressed stamped envelope.
By HOPE THOMPSON
Kate Millett presents sexual politics, what it is, its history, in a straightforward manner and almost entirely in the words of men. A short discussion of Henry Miller, Norman Mailer, and Jean Genet at the beginning sets the tone of the book. There follows a section on the theory of patriarchy, that social structure that ensures the war between the sexes. Theory is examined from the points of view of ideology, biology, sociology, class, economics and education, force, and anthropology. A long, interesting section recounting the historical background of the sexual revolution from 1830 to 1930 is followed by a thorough review of the counterrevolution from 1930 to 1960. The last third of the book examines closely the writings of. Lawrence, Miller, Mailer, and Genet. Readers inclined to pooh pooh the substance of the book are perforce constantly reminded sotte voce that they are reading what the great male minds of the past 100 years or more have written. Ms. Millett has picked her quotations with consummate skill and judgment and has acquainted the reader with the content of these men's thoughts in expository prose seldom equalled for clarity and honesty, an honesty that some of these men would find embarrassing. With great subtlety of wit and without distortion of meaning she has quietly allowed the enormous, subterranean humor of the whole patriarchal system, its essential ridiculousness, to rise up before the reader. Her section on Freud and his pompous theory of female sexuality (penis envy and its consequences) is a gem of its kind. She
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allows Freud, in his own words and with his own ideas, to do a takeoff of Freud. Whether one is struck by the humor of sexual politics, or only by the contorted lengths to which men have gone to justify the oppression of women, one cannot avoid feeling how ominous it all is. Perhaps the horror into which patriarchy has led us can be defeated only by a cosmic laugh that shakes us all back into sanity.
The origins of patriarchy are shrouded in guesswork. Perhaps the discovery of paternity coupled with the human (as well as animal) propensity to accumulate property and the female's short and very pregnant life conspired to bring it about. Ms. Millett defines patriarchy as the domination by all males of all females and a similar domination by older males of younger. The three components of patriarchy are: status, the political component; role, the sociological component; and temperament, the psychological component. In various ways, these are all rooted in nature or biology, or so our male thinkers would have it. Views of patriarchy are examined in: the theory of Engels, the "wisdoms" of myth, conclusions from male notions of female sexuality, and the effluvia of some 19th century poets and novelists, among them Tennyson, Swinburne, and Wilde and representing revolutionary, chivalrous, and fantasy aspects.
The section on the counterrevolution takes a good, no-nonsense look at the Nazis and Soviets, at Freud and his female dupes (Helene Deutsch and Marie Bonaparte-- excellent examples of women who find joining the enemy the way to status), Erik Erikson and how he thinks to soothe women's ruffled feathers over Freud's blunt penis envy with "chivalrous" hokum about women's "inner space"--replacing women's eternal and tragic loss of a penis with her eternal and glorious possession of a womb, and finally with a discussion of modern functionalism, that pseudo-objectivism underlying the social sciences that insidiously move from what is (description) to what should be (prescription). These thinkers of the counterrevolution, these brave and ingenious researchers into the TRUTH, are what I cannot help but call "ball-thinkers."
SEXUAL POLITICS is so good, so thorough, so much a must reading for all of us in the sexual revolution, no matter how conservative or radical our stand, that I feel a bit of a traitor in saying I find errors of overstatement and a crucial omission. "Psychosexually... there is no differentiation between the sexes at birth. Psychosexual personality is therefore postnatal and learned." (p. 30). Ms. Millett gives some muddy heterosexual evidence for this statement in studies of gender identification, but the evidence falls far short of proof. We simply do not know whether and to what extent there may be already existing personality potentialities in the newborn. Babies do not behave alike, even at birth. Recent work of Konrad Lorenz on the possible biological inheritance of behavior patterns in animals speaks against the theory that all is learned. "For the sexes are inherently in everything alike, save reproductive systems, secondary sexual characteristics, orgasmic capacity, and genetic and morphological structure." (p. 93). This is an awfully big "save" and may well cancel out the first part of the sentence. We had better withhold judgment until a good deal more evidence is in. I hate to see Ms. Millett fall into the method of mere assertion, that method that ultimately destroys any argument and that she so well exposes when used by others.
What Ms. Millett treats us to is a view of all humanity seen through male myopia. Without having to say so in so many words, she makes it clear that a wider vision is necessary--the vision of the female to correct the monumental blind spots of the male. This is an enormous improvement, but hardly enough for the Lesbian reader. Ms. Millett's cultural milieu is still limited, limited this time by a larger circle labelled "heterosexual." A truly human view is not possible without incorporating the corrections afforded by the insights of the Lesbian.
Patriarchy is not possible without a total insistence on a heterosexual life style. The two go hand in hand. Each male must own and subdue at least one female. The homosexual is something of a problem, for, as Ms. Millett points out, he is a deserter in the war of the sexes. But as such he is still a part of the army, though forced to live out his life in hiding and always risking being caught and executed. The Lesbian is no part of this patriarchal-heterosexual scheme. She has never been a part of it and is, for that reason, the ultimate key to the destruction of that scheme. Ms. Millett follows the time honored expedient of omitting altogether or glossing over as unimportant, the stubborn phenomenon of Lesbianism. "A sexual revolution would require, perhaps first of
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all, an end of traditional sexual inhibitions and taboos: homosexuality [which she elsewhere defines in accordance with usage as meaning male only], 'illegitimacy,' pre- and extra-marital sexuality." (p. 62). Like Queen Victoria and later the Soviets, when they decided to legislate against homosexuality, SEXUAL POLITICS passes over in silence what heterosexual patriarchy finds most terrifying of all: women who cannot be bullied in the politics of the bedroom. Sexual freedom means nothing if it does not include, along with the variously qualified noes of heterosexual women, the unqualified no of Lesbians.
The excellence of SEXUAL POLITICS is not betrayed by its occasional overstatements, by the weakness of its presentation of female sexuality (still today in the hands of male researchers to whom women all too readily listen, Ms. Millett included), and its lack of discussion of what women mean by "sexual freedom." Its excellence lies in its bringing together all that has led up to the 1970's and in thus clearing the way for further thinking in the year 3 ahead. Even the omission of Lesbianism, the total acceptance of which is fundamental to a radical and successful women's movement, is not a fault for by its very omission it becomes glaringly present.
A LOOK AT SOME MINOR WORKS OF DJUNA BARNES
By CAROL LYNK
The novel NIGHTWOOD is, of course, the most brilliant of Djuna Barnes' Lesbian works. Yet here and there throughout all the literary gems she has produced we can find more sapphires, if you will excuse the pun, shining. Some are unpolished in subject matter and we know only by feeling the cut of the jewel its nature. There are, though, several bright pieces she has offered the casual miner for the taking.
A NIGHT AMONG THE HORSES (N.Y.: Horace Liveright, 1929) is a collection of short stories and poems. Two of the poems and two of the stories are of unquestionable interest here.
"Lullaby" is not one of Miss Barnes' best poems. It is awkwardly constructed, beginning with a pattern of meaning, but never establishing it enough to please the reader's expectations. Its rhyme is forced with no constant rhythm to carry it. It is a welcome poem, nevertheless, because it is unusually forthright. Miss Barnes' forte is a forbidding obscurity. Here one knows what she is saying immediately. She tells us of her youth as a tomboy, her closeness to animals, and her dependence upon her mother. We see all three of these elements repeatedly in her other work. In NIGHT-WOOD, for instance, what is Robin, if not a tomboy stained with adulthood? Nora is introduced with her dog as an integral part of her. And Miss Barnes asks in NIGHT-WOOD: "'Love of woman for woman, what insane passion for unmitigated anguish and motherhood brought that into the mind?'" In the poem she draws a clear picture of the three above-mentioned characteristics and their relation to her adult self when she replaces the dog she slept with as a child with a girl "that lies on my arm". She replaces the need for her mother to protect her from harm with thoughts of self-inflicted hurt, and her camaraderie with boys in her youth with her loneliness. One could go deeply into this poem as a summation of Miss Barnes' work and life, into its significance in a study of the Lesbian as conceived by that writer; but there are other pieces to be mentioned.
Another poem in the same collection is dedicated "To the memory of Mary Pyne" and is called "Six Songs of Khalidine". Many of Miss Barnes' poems deal with sorrow over a woman who has died (e.g. "The Flowering Corpse" from this collection; "To the Dead Favorite of LIU CH'E" from DIAL magazine, April, 1920; "Crystals" from THE NEW REPUBLIC, June 20, 1923). "Six Songs" may be the only poem on this subject which indicates definitely that the woman mourned may have been a lover. Miss Barnes writes: "It is not gentleness but mad despair / That sets us kissing mouths, O Khalidine, / Your mouth and mine." She calls her Khalidine "my little love", and asks of the woman in the earth: "... has not the mountain's base / Here trembled long ago unto the cry / 'I love you, ah, I love you!'" The poem itself, besides telling us more of Miss Barnes, is a beautiful thing, full of strong emotions powerfully expressed. Its rhythm
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is regular and easy and the poem is filled with skillful rhyming. Miss Barnes' ability as a poet is proven here.
"The Dove" is a strange one-act play included in A NIGHT AMONG THE HORSES. It deals with two sisters and a young girl, the Dove, who lives with the sisters. The Dove resembles Miss Barnes' deceased lady love characters physically, and Robin of NIGHTWOOD in personality. The three live in an apartment filled with unused swords and guns which symbolize their inaction. The sisters play with the thought of death by violence as some sort of consummation of their loveless lives. The Dove is their awaited lover, but will not play her part until she uses a weapon on them. The reader swims in the sexual inferences of the play's action and awaits a resolution of the almost-plot in much the same way as she would the happy ending of a more conventional love story. As always, Miss Barnes packs the work with magically involving emotional turmoil. It is brief, yet tells the story of years. It is violent, yet a love story. It is sexual, even erotic, yet painfully pure in spirit. It should be performed.
Even stranger is the short story in this collection called "A Little Girl Tells a Story to a Lady", also in SELECTED WORKS OF DJUNA BARNES (N.Y.: Farrar, Straus & Cudahy, 1962) with the title changed to "Cassation". Again a young girl goes to live with an older woman. Miss Barnes gives us in this story, a picture of Sapphic love in the sense that it resembles what our male oriented civilization knows as Platonic love. The older woman is teacher and lover, sharing her view of life with the younger; finally seeming to prepare the younger for life without the teacher. The story's importance is just that relationship. We do not often see in literature women sharing the same realms of intellect with men. That the writer should be a modern woman, still embracing the high ideals of a culture in many ways superior to ours, perhaps suggests a quality about ourselves of which we can be proud.
These four examples are only the more obvious of many of Djuna Barnes' short works which this reader has unearthed. There is more work scattered through old magazines possibly forgotten even by Miss Barnes, who now lives in enforced solitude in New York. Her most recent appearance in print, after a lapse of many years, was in. the December 27, 1969 issue of THE NEW YORKER magazine. It is the poem of an aged woman fighting death. Barnes-worshipers await more beauty from the fight.
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Personal File: Four Friends
By MARGARET FULTON
Some of my best friends are straight. In fact, with the exception of my beloved, only one of my friends is not straight. This means that almost all of these friendships reached a point at which, if the friendship were to grow and deepen, the friend had to be informed of the true nature of the relationship between Ann and me.
Since I met Ann when I was in college, my friends there were the first to know about how we felt about each other... after we ourselves figured it out. My best friend and roommate at school was Jennifer. I have always had a secret desire to be tall and rangy (I'm 5'4"), and Jennifer was tall and rangy--perhaps that is what first drew me to her. She had a well-earned reputation as a kook. A natural actress, she had a knack for making people believe the most incredible tall tales, and she enjoyed playing eccentric roles. She was also an extremely intelligent and perceptive young woman, however. Perhaps one of the many 'Jennifer-stories' will illustrate this.
Jennifer was invited for a drive by one of the local young men who patronized the bar most-frequented by the students of our women's college. The ride ended up at another bar, this one in the black ghetto. Jennifer's companion was well known in the bar, but as the only other white and a stranger, Jennifer realized that she was probably going to cause unnecessary tensions among the other patrons. She decided, therefore, to be French for the evening. She could easily affect a French accent, and by doing so she was an immediate hit. Several men, who would probably have regarded her with some distrust if they knew she was a white American, asked her to dance and then joined her and her escort at their table. The talk covered a variety of subjects, and Jennifer realized even more than before that, as a foreigner, she was in a position to learn things that it would have been difficult if not impossible for her to learn in her ordinary guise. One of the men at the table asked her how she liked America. She replied that she loved it, so much so that she had been reading about American history and the constitution, etc. Several of the black men expressed some disagreement and discussion ensued. By the end of the evening, Jennifer knew something of the black man's feelings about his country, and the men present had come to the conclusion, to their expressed surprise, that with all its flaws, America was an OK sort of place to live.
For all her cool, however, Jennifer still carried with her considerable remnants of her puritanical upbringing, and I approached telling her about Ann with considerable trepidation. Even if she wasn't shocked and/or disgusted, I feared that she might well feel uneasy about continuing to share a suite with me. It was a sunny winter afternoon when I. finally summoned my nerve. She was brushing her hair in her room and I was sitting on the bed in my room, watching her through the short connecting passageway. I got up and went to the passage, leaned against the wall farthest from her, and cleared my throat.
"I love Ann," very softly.
"Yeah. I know you do," again absently, but with a small added note of puzzlement.
"No, you don't understand. I really love her."
For the first time, she looked at me, obviously still unaware of what I was trying to say.
"You know, the way you love someone that you want to marry."
Comprehension came. If with it came any shock or distaste, she hid it well.
"Have you done anything about it?"
"Anything beyond telling each other that you love each other... any of the usual things that go along with loving someone."
A moment of consideration, then a grin, "Thank God. If you hadn't, I'd be really worried that you were abnormal."
Jennifer and I are still friends.
Telling Jennifer, and getting the reaction from her that I did, made telling other people somewhat easier. Allen was the boy-next-door (actually he lived around the corner). We walked to school together all through grammar school, built forts together, went down the railroad tracks to pick raspberries. It was in the raspberry patch, when we were both ten, that Allen explained the facts of life to me. Just explained, no demonstrations, because we thought of sex as another strange thing that
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grown-ups did. When I was in my freshman year at college I decided that I wanted to know what sex was all about, and Allen seemed a likely candidate for instructor, so I wrote to him. The next time I went home for a vacation, Allen called for a date and my education began. Our sexual relationship continued sporadically throughout that school year. It was mutually pleasurable physically, but no more than that. Allen and I had grown apart during our high school days, and we really had little in common. He had flunked out of college, because he had more interest in booze and broads than in books, and he was violently anti-intellectual, perhaps to prove to himself that he had chosen to leave school. We stopped seeing each other when I went off to camp in June, and when I came home in August, I met Ann.
Two years later Ann and I parted--with many tears, and supposedly for our mutual benefit. That Christmas Allen came home on leave from the Air Force. I could hardly believe my eyes. He had always been tall, and had potentially good looks. Now, thanks to the rigorous training he had received as a paramedic, he was broad-shouldered and narrow-hipped, and smoothly muscled. And thanks to the self-confidence that passing the numerous selective tests in the Air Force program had given him, he was beautiful. This time around we were friends as well as, in the physical sense, lovers. I told him about Ann, and he said he had experimented with homosexuality, but he hadn't liked it. He said he was sorry that things had not worked out for me, and he meant it. Despite the fact that neither of us was in love with the other, our mutual affection and need might have led us to serious commitments, but the Air Force saved us by sending him to Germany.
Allen left in March, and in July, Ann called and asked me to visit her. I flew to Boston, where she was in graduate school, with many conflicting emotions and no clear idea of what I was doing. By the end of the weekend I knew exactly what I was doing. A lucky series of events allowed me to put off graduate school for a year without too much static from my friends and relations, and at the end of the summer I moved in with Ann. My letters to Allen became newsy and stilted, and I was unable to respond to his elaborations on a motorcycle trip through Europe that we had half-seriously planned to take after his discharge from the armed forces.
About a year after I had moved in with Ann, and only shortly before I was due to leave for the West Coast and graduate school, I went home to visit my parents. Allen was home on leave. For the first couple of days that I was there, although we saw each other often, we really said little to each other. I began to think that our former closeness was a short-lived product of loneliness. But one evening he took me to see Romeo and Juliet. We arrived at the theatre quite a bit early, and Allen suggested that we stay in the car and talk instead of going right in. He began to talk about himself--how he had changed since I'd last seen him, what he now felt he wanted out of life, and how much it bothered him that we seemed to be wearing masks for each other now that we hadn't been wearing before. I agreed about the masks and decided to contribute my part to shedding them.
"Do you remember my telling you that I was involved with a girl a couple of years ago?"
"Well, we've gotten back together. I live with her in Boston; she's the reason I'm living in Boston this year instead of, going to graduate school, or living at home."
He nodded again, "I thought maybe that was so, but I couldn't ask you, you know. I just had to wait and hope that you would tell me... that you'd trust me enough to tell me."
"I wanted to tell you before, but it didn't seem to be the kind of thing to write in a letter, and then when I saw you again I wasn't sure I knew you."
"I know. You don't really know me, you couldn't. And I don't know you, but I want to know you. And I want you to know me, too."
"The most important thing to know about me is that I'm very much in love with Ann, I'm happier with her than I have ever been, and I plan to spend the rest of my life with her... after a year or so of separation while I go to school."
"If you're happy, I'm happy for you." He leaned over and kissed me on the cheek and we got out of the car and went to the movie.
When my vacation was over, Allen drove me back to Boston and spent several very pleasant days with Ann and me before he had to leave for his new base.
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Jill and I had been friends at Girl Scout Camp. When we were fourteen we had a crush on the same counsellor. When we were fifteen we were both in the Counsellor-In-Training unit and were rather close. After that summer we exchanged Christmas cards for six years, but no more. Then the year that I was not seeing Ann, my senior year at college, Jill called me while I was home for Thanksgiving and asked me why the hell I didn't come to visit her and her husband. I couldn't think of any good reasons why not, so I went. The only thing that may be better than finding a new friend, is rediscovering an old friend. Six years are a long time when they fall between fifteen and twenty-one, but with Jill and me they represented a period of parallel evolution. We discovered that we had read and liked the same books, favored the same music and had developed very similar outlooks on the world. She told me about her first love, whom she had lost because of religious differences and resultant parental disapproval, and she told me about Sam, her husband, who wasn't first love but was the perfect mate for her. I told her about Ann, but because I was a little unsure of Jill, and because I thought it was all over anyway, I referred to Ann as "he."
I met Sam and agreed with Jill's appraisal of him. He was easy-going and soft spoken--a good balance for Jill's ebullience. Throughout that year I saw a lot of them--going home more often than I generally did. When I moved to Boston, I didn't see J ill for several months--not until I came home for a few days at Christmas. If I had been tempted to tell Jill about Ann before, I was much more so now that Ann was no longer in the past but very much present. As we sat in her living room, talking about what each of us was doing, I weighed the pro and con of telling her and decided for the pro.
So I said, "Remember that guy I told you about?"
"Well, it wasn't a guy, it was a girl. It is. a girl. The same girl. I'm living with her now and... well, I'm very happy, and I just wanted you to know the whole truth."
"Why didn't you tell me before? Didn't you trust me?"
I mumbled something about 'you never could tell how people would react', 'why upset people unnecessarily about past history', and other inanities. Despite my foolish fears, there was no reticence or uneasiness on Jill's part because of my confession. She wanted to know all about Ann. Her comparisons of aspects of my relationship to Ann to aspects of hers to Sam led me to be more open and frank about things than I had yet been with anyone other than Jennifer. Jill hasn't met Ann yet, but I'm sure she'll like her when she does.
Finally, allow me to talk about Dr. Simons. Talking about Dr. Simons is something I do rather often, because next to Ann he is the single most important influence in my life so far. When I went to college I thought that I would probably major in English or History, and with an eye to the latter I enrolled in Dr. Simons' introductory Greek class. In a little while I forgot about English and History and steeped myself in the glory of Classical Greek. Dr. Simons bore a more than passing resemblance to Neanderthal man, but when he started talking about Greek he was beautiful. His love for his subject was infectious and I caught a severe case of it. Dr. Simons was not a man you felt neutral about. You either worshiped him or hated him. My freshman year I worshiped him. My sophomore year he was on leave to do research in the Aegean. My junior year I hated him, at least for a little while. But as he forced me to work beyond what I thought was my ability, and as I found out that I could do the work he demanded, I began to respect him. By he end of the year I was back in the ranks of worshipers. When he asked me to be his student assistant, I was overwhelmed with pride and with fear that I wouldn't live up to his faith in me.
So senior year I was his assistant. Ann and I had parted in September of that year, and I threw myself into my work, complaining all the while that it was only in fiction that throwing yourself into your work did any good. But being around Dr. Simons did a lot of good. He demanded a great deal of me both in class and in my assistantship, but he was always enormously pleased when I gave him what he asked for. I started to know him as a person and my respect for him grew, even as he was fostering my own self-respect.
I'd never met his wife, although I'd seen her and knew her to be lovely and quite a bit younger than he. She would occasionally call him at the office, and when he spoke to her the affection in his voice was so apparent as to make me embarrassed about
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being in the room. When the end of the year came and the major project I had been working on for him was not quite finished, he asked me to move into his house for a couple of weeks after graduation, to finish it up. Again happy but fearful, I accepted. Fearful, because it's one thing to know someone in academic surroundings and quite another to know him in his home, and because his wife was an unknown quantity.
My fears, as usual, were groundless. Dr. Simons' wife was as charming and intelligent as he. A pianist, she spent hours each day practicing or giving lessons. Dr. Simons clearly regarded her profession as equally as important as his own. He would no sooner have asked her to type something for him than she would have asked him to stand and turn pages for her; and yet each of them had an active and informed interest in the other's work. In short, their relationship, at least to this observer, was ideal. If one can feel part of a family after two weeks with them, I did.
I had had several opportunities to tell Dr. Simons about Ann. Once, when I first started working for him, he mentioned that the trouble with his assistant of the year before was that she was so "goddamned normal". And I thought, well there's an opening if I ever heard one... but I let it hang. And when he met my father, who expressed concern that my academic career would lead me away from marriage and child-bearing, Dr. Simons told him not to worry because I had my "feet on the ground" and whatever I decided to do would be right. And I thought, there now, you could tell him... but I didn't. Instead when something said recalled something about Ann, I spoke of a "young man in Boston"
When I put off graduate school for a year, Dr. Simons was disappointed, and again I mentioned the "young man". He wrote to me advising caution, but assuring me that he recognized that love was more important than academics, and that he would respect whatever decision I made. By this time I was feeling pretty crummy about . deceiving him and denying Ann.
A few months after I moved to Boston, an opportunity arose to visit the Simons, and I discussed the situation with Ann. She advised calling him and telling him the facts. So I called him and said that there was a ride available to his area of the world and would he be able to see me this coming weekend. He was delighted and urged the visit. I told him I'd call him when I got to town and hung up. Then I beat my head against the wall for a while, paced the room and cursed myself for three bloody kinds of a coward. Ann, sitting quietly on the sofa reading, suggested I call him back. I did.
"It's me again. Margaret. I just thought I ought to tell you that there'll be someone with me. Uh... the girl I'm living with."
"Oh, fine, fine. Girl? I thought there was a young man."
"Uh... no... there was never a young man..."
"Oh... Margaret, is there something you want to tell me?"
"No," and I hung up.
Now I was feeling infantile as well as cowardly, and I beat my head harder than before. Ann got off the couch and came over to me and held me close.
"Darling, call him back."
"I can't. I've already called him twice."
"Three times lucky. Call him and tell him. You know you won't sleep until you do."
"You're right, of course."
"Of course. I don't know why the hell I'm urging you to tell someone I never met some very private facts about me, but I am, so do it... Now."
And I did.
"Hello, Dr. Simons, I..."
"Thank God, you called back, sweetheart. I was just lying here, thinking..."
"Well then you've probably figured it out. All the time I was talking about that young man, I was really talking about Ann ...I wanted to tell you, but I couldn't."
"Well I'm really honored that you did, sweetheart. Margaret, do you think this is a permanent thing?"
"Yes. I'm as sure of it as I can be of anything. I love her very much, and I want you to meet her."
"And I want to meet her. Elaine and I will look forward to seeing you both, this weekend."
"O.K. Listen, I'm sorry about all this nonsense."
"Forget it. Sleep well."
That weekend we did see them. Mostly we saw Dr. Simons, because Mrs. Simons had to go to a lesson. Ann and Dr. Simons found each other to be kindred spirits, and I just sat back and watched them appreciate each other.
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I am proud to know the four people sketched here, among others that I won't bore you by describing. Their acceptance of Ann and me is immensely important to me, as, I think my trust in them is important to them. And that's what it's all about, isn't it? Acceptance and trust.
(Editor's Note: There was a strong desire on the editor's part to change the word "straight" used in this article to heterosexual or some other word without the loaded connotations. However, there is, apparently, no other synonym for heterosexual, even in such modern works as THE RANDOM HOUSE DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, 1967.)
By THE CLASS WORKSHOP
On Friday, April 3, 1970, the women of Gay Liberation Front held the first All-Women's Dance. Previous to this there had been other "GLF" dances, but these were not well attended by women. The response to this first All-Women's Dance was in fact excellent. At peak there were somewhere near 250 women dancing together. The atmosphere was warm and close and for the first time publicly, those of us from Women's Liberation who attended realized a. fuller, more expanded meaning of what we have been referring to in the Women's Movement as "Sisterhood."
Those who came to the dance from WL foresaw that other WL members would attend. We were all quite surprised to see one another. From this spontaneous public support voiced by the presence of several WL groups it was evident that a recognition of sisterhood with all women was ready to be lived and dealt with in the Women's Movement.
Although several WL groups were represented, in comparison to the membership in the Women's Liberation Movement and in regard to the number of women in total who attended the dance, WL participation was in the minority. And where were our other sisters? Why hadn't they attended?
Coincidentally or otherwise, nearly all the women in the "Class Workshop" attended the dance. (The "Class Workshop" was initiated by members of "The New Feminists" to study the problems of "Class" in the Women's Movement--represented in the workshop are Chips & Scraps, The Feminists, Redstockings, a Secretaries' group and WITCH). At the dance we who came from the workshop were aware that a turning point in the Women's Movement was implicit in the dance. We were excited to talk about its significance and did so the following night at the "Class Workshop" meeting. We decided to write a public statement of our responses to the dance. Both those of us who went and those who did not wrote about our feelings toward the dance. Here are our responses:
A dance has connotations of all the normal (oppressive) ins. and outs of male/ female sexual relationships. Dancing is sexual. This is what I thought about when I heard of the women's dance, sponsored by GLF women. Our group decided to go. Friday was a bad day at work, worse than usual, and I didn't feel like doing anything. We met at 8:00 at a sister's place to discuss the dance. Whether we'd go or not. A liberal discussion of Lesbianism. (Some of us had had "experiences with women"--I when I was 12--but this made no difference.) Since being in WLM my relationships with women have been "political" --a new group of women friends in the last ten months. Friendships grew out of this slowly. I had made up my mind not to go, not because I am dedicated to having emotional/sexual experiences only with men but out of fear of breaking down this political, nearly formal relationship with my sisters and sisters would meet; I talked at the meeting with the idea of being persuaded. I had already made up my mind not to go. A sister suggested we go, to have fun. She went. I didn't go because I'm afraid of my feelings for women. It is not that simple. I know men hate women, hate me--I am afraid of them; men have said they love me and it didn't always feel so bad, maybe because I told myself (they told me) it feels good. I am afraid of making love with women (this is where the idea of lesbianism takes me), I am afraid of my body; to think of going to the women's
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dance made me think of all these things-- the fears are laterally spread across my mind, like the idea of climbing up something high when I know I am afraid of heights--I am the object of the lover, object of the fail. Afraid of the repetition of these roles. Afraid of dancing with sisters because it means "sexual." It's quite a list of abstractions--it's pretty much what I imagine that scares me. I went home because "I'm exhausted" and watched the television.
Lesbianism is the supreme insult and threat to the male.
It insults him because it implies that you prefer another woman to him. He is indignant at the fact that you would compare him to a "mere woman," that you would actually consider a woman his equal.
Sexually you are stripping him of his age-old prerogative--he is not your only source of love and affection. You have a choice and implicit in that choice is that your needs and pleasure are equal to or have priority over his. This is the reason the "lesbians" (and let's keep in mind that the word lesbian is a male supremacist distinction which artificially defines love among women as purely sexual) are ridiculed and persecuted in our male supremacist, bourgeois society. This is the reason that the oppressor has called the Women's Liberation Movement "a bunch of lesbians."
All of us must recognize the political significance of what is called by men "lesbianism." We cannot afford to push aside this issue because of cultural biases or fear. Let's face the truth: the greatest threat to men is solidarity among women, and "lesbianism" epitomizes this solidarity.
Let us also remember that our political views are expressed in our everyday actions. They reveal both how we think and feel about ourselves and our sisters. Whom do we in fact prefer to be with, to work and plan with, to play and dance with?
The Wednesday before the "GLF Dance," I made a public declaration in my Women's Liberation group that I would no longer relate to men in any kind of emotional relationship. Men, I said, had infected us and the world with the disease of "Heterosexuality." I had concluded that the only potentially "healthy" emotional relationships that could take place were with other women.
Once before during my trip through Women's Liberation. I had come to believe that relationships with other women had to be a part of Women's Liberation. I call this my bisexual stage. The short affair I had ended not entirely as I would have liked to. The problems that opened up I wasn't able to deal with to my satisfaction. It's different now and I see more what I think has to happen relating to other women, the single, most important thing being to transform whatever "Male-Heterosexual" orientations we have in ourselves.
At the same time I declared myself a potential lover of women. I announced I would attend the "GLF Dance" and asked if there was anyone else who wanted to go. One other member in the group said she would attend.
Most of the other members objected to the idea of a "dance." I also objected to the formal aspect of a dance, which I had associated with "heterosexual" relationships. But in spite of the label, I saw the possibility of having an experience that would counter the limited "dance" definition, and that was that there would be present "only" women in a social context of "wanting" to relate to women, as opposed to relating through men.
What I experienced at the dance was the sense of reopened emotional feeling without restriction, for women. When I danced close to another woman the feeling of her body flooded me with emotion: Thinking about this afterward, I was aware of how much feeling for each other we do have, yet are told not to express, and how this must really stultify our personal relations. For me the dance was my first public step in affirming total sisterhood.
The All-Women's Dance was an expansion of space for use by women in both a literal and psychological sense. It aroused in me an incipient sense of possession and freedom men feel everywhere else. For once I felt relatively inconspicuous and able to achieve the detachment necessary for freedom in action rather than the compulsive involvement women are usually made to feel. The dance impressed everyone from Women's Liberation so well that this opening space will not be lost but will be fought for as our right.
On a more subjective level I was moved but experienced no great upheaval. It was not anything like a religious conversion. The idea of women loving each other just
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became more palpable and natural to me. I don't know how and I don't know when, but I'm just open.
I guess I'm naive but I had expected Women's Liberation to be better represented at the women's dance. I mean, we have an all-women's movement; we have all-women's meetings; we had an all-women's mixed media show at the AU a month or so ago--it didn't seem to me Like such a big step to go to an all-women's dance. But apparently it is. When I suggested going to people in my small group, I was greeted in some cases with shock, but mostly with rationalizations: "Lesbians are always putting down heterosexual feminists" was one of the more thoughtful ones; mostly it was, "I don't like to dance," or "I'm too tired." Well, it's no surprise that lesbians put us down--the movement has so far been pretty carefully anti-lesbian, so what's in it for them? It's also no surprise that many women don't like to dance or think they don't--a dance with men is a parade, a cattle auction, a drag.
Dancing with women is something else again. it was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life--a total high. And it turns out that it was a big step. Because I am learning to love women, and the dance was a first step.
In WL I have developed a closeness with women and found that I enjoy having women friends. Yet I always felt a fear of expressing my feelings in a physical way by hugging or touching. The fears had lessened as the warmth and love I feel for other women have deepened. When I heard about the dance I felt that it was a chance to express my feelings openly. The dance was exciting to me because of the warm feelings I received from the women there, many of whom I had never met before. The women were open and expressed their affection to each other freely. I also felt a sense of belonging since the women here also loved other women and showed it. I felt that I had broken out of an old shell and could relax and enjoy myself at a dance, which I had never been able to do before.
I was standing by the wall--lined up with the other chickens--all waiting to be picked out by the Almighty BOY who would choose YOU and give you some reason for feeling you had a right to live.
That is the one memory I have of the
only dance I ever went to. That was thirteen years ago, but the vision remains and it stinks.
Anything that calls itself a "dance" still brings forth this same repulsion. I automatically transferred the feeling to the "All-Women's Dance." I discredited women by thinking we would take on the values of the other sex.
I'm not against the wall anymore. I apologize to my comrades and to myself. The oppressor already knows that if we unite we will have the strength to win. They therefore do everything in their power to keep us in an antagonistic relation to each other. Lesbianism is a division among us that they are particularly careful to maintain. They have imposed social and legal penalties against it so as to make us afraid to love other women. They are aware that if they can keep us from loving and respecting each other they have robbed us of our greatest strength. The dance signifies a turning point in the Women's Movement, for we are beginning to recognize in a basic way what "Solidarity" really means.
(Reprinted with permission from RAT. Originally entitled WOMEN'S LIBERATION.)
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KARATE NO MEDIA JOKE: Coast-to-coast coverage: June, July and August 1970. Many areas of the country have available low-cost or free training in self-defense for women, and more and more women are taking advantage of these courses. Rapes and assaults, frequently with vicious mutilation and death as the end result, are increasing nationally and particularly in our larger cities. Beverly Koch, writing in San Francisco CHRONICLE, July 27, 1970, about the Stanford University course in self defense for women, covers the basics and points out the serious need for this sort of training to begin in high school, when "the heaviest socialization of women takes place... they get the idea they can't defend themselves."
BITE THE HAND THAT. FEELS YOU: New York City: June 20, 1970. Sixty young women from a New York women's liberation group held an "ogle-in" on June 9th at a construction site on the corner of Park Avenue and 57th Street. They ogled men, whistled at them, and made the sort of comments about the men that men at such job sites customarily make at all passing women, whether fresh from the cradle or ready to tumble into the grave. "It seemed," said my reporter, "to make the men very, very nervous..."
WOMEN'S LIBERATION CANDIDATE WINS IN NEW YORK: UP: June 25, 1970. Bella Abzug, 49-year-old lawyer, trounced incumbent Leonard Farbstein, 67, for the Democratic Congressional nomination in New York's 19th Congressional District. The 19th Is heavily Democratic, so that primary victory is tantamount to election. She will be running in November against Harry Farber, a Republican-Liberal candidate.
LONG-HAIRED HARD HATS: Wallace, Idaho: June and July 1970. This summer a group of women from 18 to 25 are earning their summer educational money working as a "slash crew" for logging camps. They make $2.22 an hour minimum and are, obviously, in it for the money. Everyone, including the men on the logging crews, is pleased with the arrangement, all having had severe doubts at first. Slow process, this education bit.
LUTHERANS- VOTE ORDINATION OF WOMEN: WASHINGTON POST: July 1970. At the biennial assembly of the Lutheran Church in America in Minneapolis, the delegates voted for the first time to allow ordination of women as ministers. The Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church (second largest Lutheran body) felt this move would imperil Lutheran unity. Women were recently granted the vote in the Missouri Synod at church legislative sessions, but Rev. Dr. J.A.O. Preus of the Missouri Synod pointed out that since Eve was formed from Adam's rib, women have a lower place of distinction in the creation (does one laugh or cry here?).
KANSAS CITY WOMEN'S LIBERATION: July 1970. The Kansas City group, divided into some nine separate areas of interest, has common quarters at the ECSTATIC UMBRELLA, 3800 McGee, Kansas City, Missouri 64111. This address supersedes any you may have seen in either group or national media in recent months; the former address is not valid. They issued their first newsletter in July--short but literate, and not outstandingly noisy. Good.
MORE ON APHRA: WASHINGTON POST (July 1970): A small article buried in the "woman" section, unsigned (and, unfortunately, on my copy not dated) and headed, "It's No Cosmopolitan" gives a good review to the new literary periodical, APHRA. However, it is not the "first" such, just the second: we won in that race by some 14 years. No hard feelings, however-- very happy to see APHRA around.
MORE CHURCHES CATCHING UP TO THE WORLD: July 1970. At the 1970 General Assembly of the Unitarian-Universalist Church, a number of statements were made concerning homosexuals and bisexuals. Among these, item number four: there are Unitarian-Universalists, clergy and laity, who are homosexuals and bisexuals. (No kidding!) The assembly made the basic resolutions supporting an end to all discrimination against homosexuals in employment or anywhere else and the usual consensual adult recommendations. Unlike other church bodies reported previously in this column, they add no trailers--no if's, and's or conditions. We are grateful, only wish the hard rock groups (and I do not-mean music) would follow suit.
CHI CHENG OF TAIWAN, SUPER GIRL. CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: July 1, 1970. Watch for this name, as this 26-year-old seems destined to become one of the greatest athletes of all time--not women's athletes: athletes. Chi Cheng is a runner and is said to be destined to star at
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the next Olympic Games.
OF THIS PURE BUT IRREGULAR PASSION: VILLAGE VOICE: July 2, 1970. Jill Johnston, who has made her Lesbianism patently clear to all but the most obtuse in past VILLAGE VOICE columns on the dance of. life, now publicly states the fact for us in this column. Unfortunately, she also introduces a conglomeration of theoretical philosophy that will confuse anyone who is not thoroughly familiar with Lesbian literature. More unfortunately, she includes a public attack on a famous--and rightly so--woman in women's liberation whose personal reputation for kindness and compassion is nationally known. Inexcusable bad manners, Jill, no matter what excuse you might give. Tacked to the end of this column is a lengthy look at Colette's magnificent THE PURE AND THE IMPURE and the even more important study of the celebrated LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN, including a wonderful excerpt from the celebrated diary of Lady Eleanor Butler. Recommended reading, with a lot of "eye" editing as you go along.
NUN POLICEWOMAN ELEANOR NEIDWICK: BARSTOW, CALIFORNIA DESERT. DISPATCH: July 7, 1970. Eleanor Niedwick is a nun and a policewoman in Washington, D.C. She is 25, and she is happy with her work. She is a member of the Order of the Daughters of Wisdom, founded to work with the poor. There are about 5,000 today, and they work as nurses, teachers and social workers... and policewomen now.
THE RIGHT TO MARRY IN PUBLIC AND NOT IN PRIVATE PLACES... OPENLY... San Francisco CHRONICLE: July 7, 1970. In what must be the most unusual editorial this not-unusually liberal newspaper has ever done, entitled "A New Look at Homosexual Marriage," we find the following: "Marriage is the public announcement of a civil contract between two people showing binding Intent to share their lives. It is also a personal contract, showing intent to share their mental and emotional resources. Members of the heterosexual majority derive great security, pride and social acceptance from this "rendering public" of an honest social commitment in the eyes of 'God and Man.' It would seem only in keeping with the times that consideration be given to. allowing the homosexual minority the same rights to this sense of fulfillment." (It has been known for years that many a sympathetic minister, often gay, would privately marry male couples or Lesbian couples. It is also being done publicly but without legal sanction in churches such as METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CHURCH in Los Angeles. The time has come, however, to make it possible for two men, two women, or whatever, to marry and take advantage of the many institutions designed to benefit couples in our society if they wish to do so.)
TRACY KNIGHT AND MARJORIE RUTH JONES: COURIER-JOURNAL: July 9, 1970. This Louisville, Kentucky paper reports that Jefferson County Attorney J. Bruce Miller has ordered that a marriage license not be issued to these two women. They had applied for a marriage license because they felt they had, as a Lesbian couple, the right to the same legal rights and tax benefits that heterosexual couples have. Their attorney, Stuart Lyon, concluded that they would not fight the case to win their rights.
MORE TRACY KNIGHT AND MARJORIE RUTH JONES: COURIER-JOURNAL: July 11, 1970. Jefferson Circuit Court was asked on July 10, 1970 to force County Clerk James P. Hallahan to issue a marriage license to these two Louisville women. Stuart Lyon, attorney for the Lesbian couple, said the women had reconsidered their previous decision to not force the issue in court. Mr. Lyon and David Kaplan, his law partner, argued in the action filed: "Concurrent mores, customs and practices do not indicate a public policy which is contrary to the marriage between parties of the same sex. The consenting parties to this marriage are taking no action detrimental to the interest of any other party or parties, nor will their marriage do injury or violence to the person or property of any other party or parties." Tracy Knight is 25; Marjorie Jones is 39.
LABOR OF A DIFFERENT SORT: Burlington, Iowa: July 19, 1970. Charlotte Bixenman, 29, has become a card-carrying member of a construction and general laborer's union local. She is believed to be one of the first women members of such a group.
MELBOURNE SUNDAY OBSERVOR: July 19, 1970. Australia is many years behind even the U.S. as far as liberal views on sex orientation. It is gratifying to find this newspaper (and from its size we would guess this is a Sunday supplement sort of publication that belongs with some regular
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published newspaper) producing a relatively calm and not too stupid look at a series of Lesbians. They do cite (but do not identify) some survey that found out of 123 Lesbians, one in four wished to be heterosexual. This seems impossible, based on various studies that have appeared in the U.S. and years of dealing in this field, but this was a British study and possibly there are differences. Not good, not really bad--encouraging only because it is something that could not have appeared a short while back.
WOMEN'S JOB FIGHT BEGINS: KANSAS CITY STAR: July 20, 1970. The U.S. government went to court for the first time to fight for equal employment rights for women since discrimination against women was banned by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Suit was filed against Libbey-Owens-Ford, Inc., and United Glass and Ceramic Workers of North America, AFL-CIO and its local No. 9. The Justice Department said women workers in the company's Toledo, Ohio plants were discriminated against. The department said Libbey-Owens-Ford hires women production workers in only one of its five Toledo plants, assigns them to less desirable and lower-paying jobs with the least opportunity for advancement, and subjects women to a higher frequency of layoffs. The union is being cited because union management contracts deprive female employees of an equal opportunity to compete with their male contemporaries for the more desirable, better-paying jobs. Libbey-Owens-Ford employs 200 women and 5,200 men in its Toledo area plants.
MENS LIBERATION??? NEWSWEEK: July 20, 1970 reports on men's liberation groups openly wishing to act as "Gents' Auxiliary" to women's liberation. They naturally include the fact that many homosexual men are included but, also cite the many who are not. Boston, Berkeley, San Francisco and New York are said to have groups.
SMALL CONSENSUS: WASHINGTON POST: July 25, 1970. Forty women attended a coordination meeting with Representative Edith Green (D. Oregon) on unifying efforts to end discrimination against women. Elizabeth Boyer, representing Women's Equity Action League (WEAL), spoke of her group as the far right but added that they were most willing to go through establishment processes to gain their goals. She also said that some "men were referring to women's liberation as the 'Women's Mafia Movement' "--charming. Most of the groups attending were, in fact, the most right wing (establishment-oriented) groups.
DR. EDGAR F. BERMAN SEXIST EXTRAORDINARY:
July 29, 1970. Nancy L. Ross, reporting in
the Post on Dr. Berman, who frankly feels
that women are extremely inferior to men
and is happy to say so in as many ways
possible in public as can be managed,
doesn't betray in her article a shred of
loathing for the man. It will be amusing,
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though, to see if his views damage his career in the future. If not, then it is safe to say that his views are held by the majority of men, and if this is so, then there isn't room on this planet for both sexes. Dr. Berman on women:
1) Referring to Patsy Mink's request that he be fired for sexist views, publicly stated on the grounds that if he held similar views (i.e., congenital physical and mental inferiority) on negroes, he would not be allowed to hold public office, Dr. Berman said your "feline ploy of equating my dissent with racial prejudice certainly does not reflect even male congressional standards of debate." He called Mrs. Mink's letter (to Humphrey asking that Dr. Berman be fired) "a typical example of an ordinarily controlled woman under the raging hormonal imbalance of the periodic lunar cycle--thus proving the point against which you rail."
2) "In fact," he wrote, "the same glandular secretions producing the reactions which you say do not exist, endow most 'real women' with their most endearing and genteel charms..."
3) "Genes are our fates and hormones our masters. You can't break with instinct. Living on a farm, I find we are not too far removed from the animals. You only have to watch a sow suckle her young and the boar wander off to realize we live more by our reflexes than our intellect."
The events that began the furor over Dr. Berman actually took place on April 30, 1970, when the Democrats' Committee on National Priorities was meeting. Dr. Berman recalled for Nancy L. Ross that they were discussing "vital issues like Vietnam and the Middle East, and Pasty Mink brought up women's rights." Dr. Berman challenged Mrs. Mink, saying that "women's physiological and psychological characteristics, especially the menstrual cycle and menopause, limit their potential for leadership." A number of Washington area physicians have stated there simply is not scientific or medical basis for this supposition, including Dr. Thomas Wilson, gynecologist at George Washington University.
When asked her views of her husband's behavior and statements, his wife Phoebe, who is a Baltimore real estate broker and the owner-publisher of a small newspaper, asked not to become embroiled and added, "I am not a very interesting person anyway."
THE SPOKESWOMAN: This is a new news service from the Urban Research Corporation, 5464 South Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60615. Cost is $6 per year for a neatly printed, stapled news sheet covering major national events concerned with all aspects of women's liberation (more accurately, with women's rights). Editor Susan Davis is doing a good job, and if you want to know what is happening that will affect your future, this is a good over-all look. Example of its usefulness can be seen by this: I have been getting and reading PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY for fifteen years of my life, but I hardly ever look at the children's book section of this periodical. But in the July 30, 1970 SPOKESWOMAN (Vol. I, No. 3) I found an announcement that sent me scurrying to the July 13, 1970 PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY. Thirty-eight book publishers (children's books) were queried by PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY about the effect women's liberation was having on their editorial considerations. Sixteen said the current movement was not affecting their editorial decisions; sixteen said it definitely was, and many of these cited titles. The other six gave less specific answers. Several publishers said they were issuing books reflecting the new surge of interest in the rights of women. And most interesting of all, publishing house Crowell, which launched a WOMEN IN AMERICA series in 1969, has scheduled a book on the life of Rachel Carson called SEA AND SKY, and for 1971, TO THE BARRICADES: THE ANARCHIST LIFE OF EMMA GOLDMAN. (See "My God It Happened to Me Too" in August/September 1970 issue of The LADDER.)
GLADYS GUY: Seattle, July 31, 1970. The first woman to hold the job of area director for the Labor Department's wage and hour division, Gladys Guy, was appointed to that post for the Washington, Alaska and Northern Idaho area on July 30, 1970. Previously she was a Nevada field examiner for the Veteran's Administration, a job causing her to cover seventeen counties and 11,000 square miles of sagebrush. Speaking about sex discrimination, she said, "The law has provided us with a good basis, but it's women's responsibility to complain about sex discrimination when it happens to them. I think someday we'll see complete equality but it won't be very soon.
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The best we can hope for now is full enforcement of the equal pay law."
FEDERAL CONTRACTS TO SET JOB EQUALITY FOR WOMEN: NEW YORK TIMES: July 31, 1970. Secretary of Labor James D. Hodgson announced that the government would set employment goals for women in some federal contract work to eliminate discrimination because of sex. He explained this was to "achieve equal employment opportunity for women among government contractors by applying the concept of goals and timetables." This is apparently to be similar to the Philadelphia Plan which was used to establish quotas for racial minorities in federal construction contracts totaling $500,000 or more.
THE JOB SCENE: JULY AND AUGUST 1970: Clippings from coast to coast show that women are doing many jobs that have previously been considered male territory only. THE MOTHER TRUCKERS, a New York City based furniture and equipment moving firm, is owned and operated by a woman and staffed primarily with women. Early in July, six women successfully scaled 20,320-foot Mount McKinley in Alaska. Possibly the most publicized break-through was that accomplished by the five female aquanauts who lived underwater for two weeks near St. John, Virgin Islands. Their two-week stay was part of a seven month program called Tektite II, involving a total of seventeen underwater research missions. The majority of the women are already qualified scientists, and the rest are engaged in academic programs toward that end.
. BEACHHEAD REVIEW: LADIES HOME JOURNAL: August 1970: Six months ago a group of feminists installed themselves in LADIES HOME JOURNAL offices, demanding the resignation of the editor, and a few other things. In return for vacating the premises, LHJ gave the group eight pages of a "future" issue. Finally in August 1970, eight pages of basic women's liberation dogma appeared. Reading it from the viewpoint of having been reading the field for two or so years thoroughly, none of it seems new. For this magazine, this audience, however, it is very new, and the results should be excellent. We were amused to note The LADDER left off the list of publications, though interested in seeing that the New York City group RADICAL LESBIANS got listed under the organizations.
END OF BERMAN, ALL POWER TO THE WOMEN: WASHINGTON POST: August 1, 1970. Dr. Edgar F. Berman, whose sexist statements are reported at length elsewhere in this column; resigned his prestigious position on July 31, 1970 under pressure. When asked about his future position in the Democratic. Party, he replied, "Zero." In the same interview Dr. Berman seemingly cut his throat even more deeply by reiterating his views on the emotional condition of women making them unfit for key positions. But to really reach the bottom of Dr. Berman's opinion of women, we quote: "The whole world seems to be uptight if they will take this as a question of principle... the National Priorities Committee was discussing problems such as the Middle East, Vietnam and. the balance of payments when Mrs. Mink testified on women's rights. I think women's lib has its place, but not in that class." Goodbye, Dr. Berman.
TV GUIDE advertises itself as the magazine with the most circulation. We hope it is true, for the August 8, 1970 issue contains a short, basic article on women's liberation by Edith Efron. Quite rightly, she concentrates on the issues of concern connected with TV advertising, the portraying of women as mindless slobs... However, she also names most of the leading spokes-women and cites their over-all dissatisfaction with media coverage, the distortions of statements in particular. We hope most of TV Guide's audience read it... we hope.
FINAL ZAP TO DR. BERMAN: WASHINGTON STAR: Sunday, August 9, 1970. The following letter appeared in LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
SIR: Dr. Edgar Berman's (top Democratic Party planner, who has resigned his party post after saying a. woman shouldn't be President) hysterical terror of "raging storms by female hormones" illuminates a lot more about his own hormonal inadequacies than it does about human physiology. As an endocrinologist in good standing, I was startled to learn that ovarian hormones are toxic to brain cells. In Dr. Berman's physiological demonology these nasty little sex steroids poison the human brain and reduce it to a pitiful caricature of its potential competence.
This would make the human female one of evolution's sickest jokes; and for one mad moment I thought that the good doctor was recommending universal castration of female infants to preclude the
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further debasement of humanity's greatest treasure--its rational brain.
In all fairness, though, I think this overstates his solution to the problem. He only warns that if these irrational creatures are allowed to play responsible roles in our now perfect society, then we shall live to see a society riven by wars, famine, racism, inflation, pollution, panthers, student revolt and changing skirt lengths. This is a clarion call to all those humans who are genetic testicular hormone makers to unite to prevent the decline and fall.
Hormones are destiny, he pontificates, and then as a final sad irony he raises the spectre of a Bay of Pigs directed by a woman instead of by John F. Kennedy. Dr. Berman selected a curious example of hormonal health.
John Kennedy, whom I admired greatly, did not suffer from storms of female steroids, but it is well known that he did suffer from a deficiency of adrenal cortical steroids which are vital for normal responses to life stresses. He was treated with cortical hormones especially during periods of emergency. What price hormonal control of destiny then, Dr. Berman?
All of this clarifies to some degree why we Democrats lost the 1968 election. If Dr. Herman's (he formerly was personal physician to H.H.H.) political advice to Hubert Humphrey was as sound as his knowledge of medicine, the whole enterprise was doomed from the start.
Dr. Estelle R. Ramey
Department of Physiology & Biophysics
Georgetown University Medical School
FROM FOURTEENTH TO NINETEENTH
TO NOW, MERELY 102
YEARS: WASHINGTON, D.C., August 10,
1970. The House of Representatives, by a
vote of 350 to 15, voted today to amend
the constitution to prohibit discrimination
on the basis of sex. The 14th amendment,
ratified in 1868, states clearly that no state
shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction
the equal protection of the law.
Some women thought that included them,
but in 1872 when they tried to register to
vote in the presidential election, they were
rebuffed and the courts held that the states
could make such a "REASONABLE" exception
of the law. Fifty years later, the
19th amendment finally gave women the
vote, after quite a fight. Today's vote is the
first time the House has ever voted on the
amendment which has been INTRODUCED
EVERY YEAR SINCE 1923. Even now, with such a large vote, fifteen men still felt they had some unspecified god-given right to hold women as slaves. Chief enemy-- and a man we feel will not. rest easily in his grave--is Representative Emanuel Celler, a Brooklyn Democrat who arrived in the House the same year the amendment did. 1923. The Judiciary Committee, over which Mr. Celler presided for 21 years, never held hearings on the amendment. It wasn't important enough to consider. Mr. Celler, in his last ditch battle to stop the passage, said, "There is no equality except in a cemetery," which presumably means women can look forward to equal rights when they die.
THESE MEN, ALONG WITH CELLER, VOTED TO KEEP YOU A SLAVE: Representative Thomas G. Abernethy of Mississippi, John D. Dingell of Michigan. Lucien N. Nedzi of Michigan, W.R. Poage of Texas and Jerome R. Waldie of California, all Democrats; and John W. Byrnes of Wisconsin, Glenn R. Davis of Wisconsin, David W. Dennis of Indiana, Earl F. Landgrebe of Indiana, Paul N. McCloskey, Jr. of California, William M. McCullouch of Ohio, John P. Saylor of Pennsylvania, John G. Schmitz of California, and Charles E. Wiggins of California, all Republicans.
MUCH MORE TO BE DONE: Now that the House has passed this essential act, the senate must pass the legislation by a two-thirds vote, which it has done twice in the past. Following that almost automatic step, each of 38 state legislatures must ratify it to put it into the constitution, and there is no time limit on the state action. So the battle is not yet won. (NOTE: Opposition has risen in the Senate. More news next issue.)
PROMINENT SUPPORT FOR -SAME
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SEX MARRIAGE FROM, RITA E. HAUSER: St. Louis, August 10, 1970. Laws prohibiting marriage of two persons of the same sex are unconstitutional, Rita E. Hauser, New York lawyer and U.S. representative to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, stated today at the American Bar Association's panel on women's liberation and the constitution.
"Such a requirement," Mrs. Hauser said, "predicates reproduction as the legal consideration of marriage, and that view, I submit, is no longer reasonable or consistent with fact. Indeed, one can argue that limiting reproduction has become a social goal and I know of no better way of accomplishing that than marriage between the same sexes. I am not arguing this as a social policy; I am arguing that the right to marry, a right guaranteed by law, cannot be premised on sex distinctions which serve to deny equal protection of the law to all persons, whatever their tastes in life may be."
Mrs. Hauser went on to say that she feels men should not be compelled to support women to whom they are not married except where minor children are involved, and that women should be drafted on an equal basis with men.
DIRTY POLITICS ALWAYS WITH US: UPI, August 11, 1970. Representative Clement Zablocki, Democrat-Wisconsin, said today Vice President Spiro Agnew or another spokesman should state whether the Nixon administration endorses the statement of U.N. delegate Rita E. Hauser that marriages should be allowed for members of the same sex. In a floor speech, Zablocki said, "Mrs. Hauser's speech to me represents an example of the moral rot infecting the nation." He said "such nonsense" did not come from a radical but from a "responsible official" of the administration. Mrs. Hauser is the U.S. Representative to the United Nations Human Rights - Commission.
RITA CHANGES HER TUNE A BIT: SINGING UNDER PRESSURE? WASHINGTON POST: August 13, 1970. Apparently alarmed at the responses to. her statements at the American Bar Association's panel, with Representative Wayne Hays (D-Ohio) asking for her resignation (asserting that she was "promoting homosexuality and lesbianism") and the homosexual segment cheering her on, Mrs. Hauser attempted to repudiate those remarks. "I personally don't think it's desirable social policy at all to legalize marriage between members of the same sex," she said; "a very strong argument can be made" for such legalization if the Equal Rights Amendment becomes law, she emphasized. The UPI story reported in this column did not, of course, mention the Equal Rights Amendment discussion, and Mrs. Hauser felt her remarks were taken out of context, and actually she had made them facetiously. Confronted also by the report of White House press secretary Ronald Ziegler that President Nixon "does not support nor has he supported nor will he support marriages between the same sex," she attempted to clarify her statements by emphasizing again the ominous implications of the Equal Rights Amendment which primarily concerned her. In response to her repudiation of her statements, Hays said, "Maybe she'd better quit making silly arguments like that, even facetiously, in public."
WOMEN'S LIBERATION: August 26, 1970. PREPARATORY PARTY AND JILL JOHNSTON: August 10, 1970. At a party held to drum up funds for the August 26, 1970 women's strike, VILLAGE VOICE columnist Jill Johnston stripped to her underpants and went swimming in the pool. Various papers carried the story: The NEW YORK TIMES writer Charlotte Curtis gave such a confused and venomous accounting that it is hard to tell precisely what happened. AP write-up which appeared around the country seemed more to the point. Some 200 women attended the party at the home of Mrs. Robert Scull. The sponsors were Betty Friedan and Gloria Vanderbilt Cooper (the latter failed to show up, reportedly because her husband forbade it?). Representative Patsy Mink, heroine of the hour for having put Dr. Berman (see elsewhere in this column) out of a job and into hot water, spoke on the need for educating the public to the presence of sex discrimination. Journalist Gloria Steinem prophesied that the 1972 election campaign would concentrate heavily on women's liberation. During Miss Steinem's talk, Jill Johnston took her swim. She identified herself as a writer and a Lesbian and said her swim was in protest of those in the movement for women's liberation who don't like Lesbians. While not advocating unorthodox swims, this episode does dramatically illustrate the one major weakness in the women's liberation movement. Unlike any other "minority" group, women have
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the power to literally take over the world tomorrow If they will band together to do so; all they have to do is accept all women.
(A FULL REPORT ON THE EVENTS OF AUGUST 26, 1970, WOMEN'S LIBERATION DAY, WILL BE IN THE NEXT ISSUE OF THE LADDER. PRELIMINARY REPORTS FROM ON-THE-SCENE OBSERVERS IN BOTH WASHINGTON, D.C. AND NEW YORK CITY WOULD INDICATE THAT THE NATIONAL NEWS MEDIA DELIBERATELY PLAYED DOWN THE ENORMOUS NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS IN THESE TWO CITIES....
drips on the sidewalk
and I stand here waiting
for the bus
did I ever have a life?
has it always been
(three pills/day & I
guarantee you'll never
the stars in their
vaguely Greek dance
I felt the old sorrow
will it go on
(last summer I thought
I lived--yes, I lived
once--once beside the
blue-green waves of
some then hysterical
now calm sea)
alas that I did not die
To a Girl on a Swing
The sun breaks over her head
Breaks out the banquet of an afternoon
Swing, little girl
Alone in the park
Her shoes kick out a valley of dust
beneath the swing.
The sun in a slow roll
Stirs up the dust
Traces a fine sweat on her face
Swing, all your afternoon.
Time enough, to learn the ways of men
Eyes like steel-tipped quarrels in the bow
Cocked and aimed
Time to learn the walk, of a deer
through the gantlet
Of hunters on the street
If I could stay in the park with you
And listen to the slow creak of the swing
And the sparrow's song of victory
And the silent orchestra of summer fire...
The click of a bolt in breech.
is our sunset
Brings down the day
Brings me to my feet
The dust is down.
A night breeze rides in the empty swing.
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"I loved you, Atthis, long ago, when my own
girlhood was still all flowers, and you--
you seemed to me a small, ungainly child."--Sappho
When snow lies heavy
and I am old,
will you recall
down the corridors
and tavern rooms
of your million homes?
being much older,
remember the young girl
who stood before you
in midnight bars
and plucked strings
of an invisible lyre
while awkwardly singing
to you alone
hymns of some special
submerging the evening
in the water-fire of
one personal mortality?
being so very old,
will forget the gifts she
Or will you recall
that she was just another
awkward young girl, never
having realized that
consecrated more than
your beers, and,
the minutes of your time
with the godhood
of her presence?
(Paul Mariah, poet, is editor of MANROOT, a San Francisco based poetry journal. His list of credits would fill two pages. A true liberationist, Paul is a supporter of Women's Liberation, Gay Liberation, Lesbian Liberation. Or, more properly, he loves free people..
Though you and I both know
soon we'll be walking down
the street holding hands,
I must make you understand
(please, take my hand)
...they're staring at us.
I do not blush from shame.
I only wish to be held tighter
(yes, it's true we're gay.
Turn our cheeks? One f.ing finger
to you, Dearie, and you and you:)
But we'll hold hands in silence
and walk on. I do not know
what they said to turnt-backs
only that I kept steady pace
with you, Love, at my side.
I love you. I do not lie.
(Can't you tell by the smile
on our faces? And by our hands
and fingers that are entwined!)
Our hands have grown together
& understand the clutch of the other.
AN INVITATION TO DANCE
There are those who do
and there are those who talk
I ain't the latter.
But the Ladder,
sideswiping the structure
trying to balance
the ball-going belle
ready to swing
and be swung.
Let's blend simultaneously
the stars, our nights,
beyond our being.
Come on, let's ball,
commingle and let go--
Inside one another.
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"Plaisir d'amour ne dure qu'un moment; chagrin d'amour
dure toute la vie."
I am the one
whom all love
Once a dove
now grey sparrowed
I met Lois--
wearing a blue windbreaker
manager of the softball team
by the silence
I offered her
One one infinitely cool
took me in her arms--
Because I came out of the womb
does not mean I got a
on the world;
for when my feet hit the ground,
that pigeon-toes walk
on each other:
hence, no progress.
The scars on my ankles
are the only badges I have.
My soul goes astray
I am not I
and I know
you are not you
Something comes between
a sharp steel wedge,
clefts a log
that was a tree
This new pale stalk
of half-born leaf
from this silent room
tries to coax
passion's mingled breath
like ours that unfurled
the jungle-full leaf
OUT TO SEA
I only know the counting
until I can kiss you
and feel you tight
against my thigh
and know that love's waters
from our burdened love
are mixed and are abundant
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Sometime I shall lie still and think of you.
My scheme of nerves shall rest like a small town
At night, beneath the moon, while up and down
The byways move the servicers: those who
Attend the sleepers' needs, yet scarcely stir
The silence--thus, serene as darkened streets
The thought of you will move. Till bell-tower greets
The light, I'll hug the fireside warmth, and purr...
But not just now! Times Square on New Year's Eve
Were some vast morgue compared to me tonight
Seething with sentience, every exit tight
With traffic mad for home yet cannot leave...
Some time I shall lie still and think of you,
But not when hunger's charge has run me through.
When the sun was just up, and the air
was sharp and as clear as crystal,
I walked alone slowly, dejectedly,
kicking the ground of my stubborness.
Leaves fell on me, but I did not feel them,
I came to a dead log and kicked it away,
and where it had been lay an object.
I picked up the dead robin of my dreams,
and remembered yesterday.
"Some day," I said, out of that mauve-edged lull
Left in the pulsing wake of passion spent,
"Some day, my exquisite one, I'll write some lines
That are worthy of you: delicate, powerful, warm--
A play, it may be: wonder, come to life,
And breaking in a strong pentameter..."
She turned her soft sweet body over against
My bones. Her great dark eyes came open wide
With black stars down in them; her nostrils flared
A little, and from between those sculptured lips
There came a whisper, sliding along my flesh,
Thrust to the core of me, sudden and deep,
By her loveliness, by her lifted breast:
"And sell it?"
I walked alone at daybreak
along the beach,
and came upon two seagulls
resting at the water's edge.
At my approach they flew
away up into the sky.
Watching them I
reached for your hand,
and clutched instead emptiness.
As a child I walked
cold streets of cement,
The sunshine fell on others,
and nothing touched me.
When I was twelve
my body changed and
boys looked at it.
A question arose in my mind.
When I was thirteen
Andrea kissed me in
the girl's bathroom,
and my question was answered.
She sat there, lost from me,
belonging to no one but herself.
Alone, as I knew myself to be
I could see no reason for staying,
So I got up, walked out,
and shut the door of the house
where I used to live.
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Kind sleep evades her in this midnight hour--
Her heavy lids, rising and falling
Like closing curtains, review again
Kaleidoscopic closed circuit memories.
Cold cream lines the pores of a youthful face
Where old age stood upon it hours ago
To play a woman far beyond her years--
A character not too unlike herself.
And-the still-sprayed hair, sagely grey
Like brittle hay in winter snow, marks off
The pointed nose and full round lips
Beneath the sleepless, vacant flickering eyes.
Her restless body shifts from left to right,
Turning away with a questioning sigh
To try to separate herself again--
The actress from the acted--in her mind.
She turns once more, but sleep evades her still,
And she will turn and turn until the dawn:
Reviewing what she was and is to be,
Deciding how to meet the coming day.
No, Daddy, I'm not ashamed
Of staying in her bed last night,
Last week, last month--all the times
You knew and never guessed.
Now I think my body quite complete:
Woman's parts, a woman's heart,
Blood as quick as any man's,
And restless, as you are now.
Can you remember what it meant
The first time you slept with your girl?
Were you ashamed to be a man?
Then why would you shame us?
For twenty years, her figure, dressed
In tattered levis, moccasins,
And ragged sweatshirt, stalked along
Not knowing what it feared or sought.
Now our naked bodies stand
Above the cluttered clothes we will
Not wear again: Rejoice with us--
We would not change things if we could.
my only name!
in the dark arms of
this fragile night
i cannot find you;
the you that is me.
yet deep within
i see the real morning
and in this lonely moment,
i know what it was
me in this shape.
i reached out
to touch every surface of life,
defacing myself in the mirror
while in that terrible center,
spoke to me and said,
"you are not alone."
and the truth of
raised me from my death.
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By GENE DAMON
The discovery of Lesbian titles, especially those where no mention is made of the fact in reviews, is a chancy business. For many many years it was difficult because reviewers would take almost any out to avoid mentioning Lesbians or implying such might exist in a book. Now, with the recent "liberation" of our literature, it is old hat ...and no one bothers.
But the search methods remain the same ...read the reviews, beg people to tell you of things they find, and, best of all, watch for nuances in one book that let you know that sooner or later the author is likely to write in the field.
This worked out beautifully well for Gene Damon until she also became editor of THE LADDER, which cut down on reading time and made review reading a frantic and cursory matter. So, I apologize for missing what is surely one of the finer minor studies in recent years, Janice Elliott's ANGELS FALLING, N.Y., Alfred A. Knopf, 1969. And worse, I probably never would have found it if a kind reader in Columbus, Ohio, had not written to ask why there had not been a review in this column. It was chagrining to run to my files and find the "watch" card made for Miss Elliott back in 1966 over her novel, THE GODMOTHER, which is not pertinent but which made me feel she would enter the field someday.
ANGELS FALLING is a family chronicle novel with none of the flaws usually found in this very enjoyable and very popular genre. The mother of them all, Lily Garland, is dying, and the family gathers to watch and wait... and while they do, we hear all about it. Lily, born Lilian Candish in 1901, grows up to join the heroic ranks of the first feminists... to burn with the zeal to free women, and to fall under the spell of Maud Weatherby. Maud is a romantic opportunist and women's rights, the suffragette movement, just one of her roles in this book. But Lily is brought to Maud's side by the awkward and strangely beautiful Connie Garland, with whom she falls ardently and totally in love. Connie, in an anguished scene that surely must be implying more than the novelist cares to explicate, rejects Lily. Some time later, accidentally, Lily sees Connie kissed by the evil Maud Weatherby; and off she runs to the waiting arms of Connie's brother, weak and stupid Andrew Garland. The children of this pair are the vulture children around the dying bedside.
The downfall of all is timed to the death of Lily, on whom little blame should rest, unattractive though she becomes before the novel's end. Every character in this book is real and believed... alone enough credit to the novelist. Daughter Frances, seen earlier in the novel before Lily and Andrew, who actually began it all, is as classic an example of repressed Lesbianism as literature has to offer. Most will like best the early third of the book, but it's a good story and Miss Elliott is most talented. Looking further into her work, it seems she has written seven novels, only three of them out in this country or to come out here. Included is a new one, THE KINDLING, which will be watched. I'd be grateful if some kind English reader might check her earlier titles out for us, all published in England by Seeker and Warburg as follows: CAVE WITH ECHOES, 1963; SOMNAM-BULISTS, 1964; BUTTERCUP CHAIN, 1967; THE SINGING HEAD, 1968.
Reprints finally got checked out and so we have the very early Kingsley Amis 19.61 novel, TAKE A GIRL LIKE YOU, out from Signet, 1970; Ernest Borneman's THE MAN WHO LOVED WOMEN, Signet, 1970; Susan Sontag's THE BENEFACTOR, Avon, 1970; and VERY surprisingly, a reissue of Ann Bannon's second novel in the famous series, I AM A WOMAN, Fawcett, 1970. For those of you who have NOT read Ann Bannon, don't deprive yourselves any longer. Her almost classic series of paperback Lesbian novels are collector's items these days.
There is something intensely shocking about reading "The Invisible Sorority" by Nancy Love in THE IMPROPER PHILADELPHIANS, N.Y., Weybright and Talley, 1970. This book is a collection of "in-depth" articles from PHILADELPHIA MAGAZINE, and the verso of the title page includes dates back to 1964... which must not be far from the original publication date of this article... which refers to DRUM as if it existed, and to the possible beginnings of the short-lived Philadelphia chapter of Daughters of Bilitis some many years ago. The shock is two-sided--the relative reassurance that yes, indeed, still today, many Lesbians live bar-oriented lives (the milieu study begins with the inhabitants of a gay bar for women); and, on the
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other hand, that there is little else in the article that remains true today, so some things must be better. Nancy Love, it must be mentioned, was uncommonly good in her work. At the time of writing, she could be considered unusually brave. There is the usual tendency to find the more unusual Lesbians and concentrate on them, but the handling is not unkind. For this reviewer there was some real shock in finding the distorted life story (seriously and erroneously changed) of a dear and close friend and long time LADDER contributor, Jody Shotwell. The disparity in the account of Jody's life (supposedly an interview and therefore presumed to be accurate) is serious enough to possibly cast doubts on the integrity of the reporter from this standpoint, but again, there is no question about the sympathy of the writer. It's hard to imagine who will buy this book, outside perhaps of the Philadelphia area. But for a nostalgic look at the way the world was some few four? five? six? years ago... o-k.
Cellestine Ware has contributed an enormously important basic examination of WOMAN POWER: THE MOVEMENT FOR WOMEN'S LIBERATION, N.Y., Tower, 1970. Though I have faithfully followed the movement publications to an extent I suspect far surpasses the general reader interest, this book provided to me my first step-by-step look at exactly WHAT happened on a daily level in Boston, Chicago, New York, etc. ... after Betty Friedan's NOW got the current resurgence of interest in the liberation of women off the ground. Cellestine Ware, herself one of the founders of the organization known as THE NEW YORK RADICAL FEMINISTS, in Chapter One of this book outlines the entire history of the major "national" (in terms of publicity and media interest) groups, NONE of them older than 1967... and all begun after NOW. However, NOW has literally nothing in common with the many other women's liberation groups. NOW is interested in shifting the present balance of power from totally MALE to equally male and female (which does seem the most reasonable, if it is possible to do--IF). The other groups, most of them NOT leftist (no matter what you read, they are primarily apolitical in terms of the male version of politics and they are not radical except in their own choice of nomenclature), want radical changes only in the ways in which women live in the world. Some want changes that smack of socialism, but they are only nibbling at the edges (i.e. day care centers for children and like projects). A few of the groups reject males totally in the sense of rejecting anything unfit, but these are the exception rather than the rule. It is immediately clear that it takes less than 100 pages of a paperback book to see that each and every one of these groups is making identical mistakes to those made in the first 20 years of the Lesbian and homosexual rights movements. There are too many of them, they do not communicate well, they are not well formed, they are not only not well led but reject the idea of leadership entirely. Some seem to feel that "leaders" means men... for some reason women are equal but aren't allowed to be varied in the sense that some lead better than others. There is a "no-no" word, elitist, which they seem to want to avoid. It is, however, not possible to keep talent from shining, and Miss Ware is herself an excellent example ...so from these pages come some powerful names, Ti-Grace Atkinson, Shulamith Firestone, Joreen Freeman, Naomi Weisstein, Pamela Allen, Ellen Willis, Ann Koedt, and on and on.
After documenting today's action, Cellestine Ware goes on to cover black women, political possibilities, media treatment (bad, bad) and comparisons between the 19th century feminists and today's, women's liberationists. In her 176 pages, including cursory bibliography and references, she manages to mention the word "homosexual" twice... the forbidden "Lesbian" never comes up...
Horizon Press, New York, has done the literate world an honorable and loving service by republishing Margaret Anderson's first two autobiographical titles and publishing her third portrait of her distinguished life... MY THIRTY YEARS' WAR, first published in 1930, THE FIERY FOUNTAINS, first published in 1951, and now THE STRANGE NECESSITY, 1970.
Faithful readers will recall that in the July, 1968, issue of THE LADDER I discussed the book, LADIES BOUNTIFUL, which was most reticent about the personal life of Miss Anderson and her most famous friend, Jane Heap, while heaping much praise on her head over the magnificent LITTLE REVIEW. Margaret Anderson founded and published, virtually alone, the most famous and most prestigious of all the little magazines. For fifteen years THE LITTLE REVIEW was the magazine that
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carried the writers who mattered. There were others, but none before, during, or since, THE LITTLE REVIEW have been quite as important to the over-all enormous field of literature. If Miss Anderson had been, had done, nothing else, she would be assured her crown of stars.
MY THIRTY YEARS' WAR is mostly about THE LITTLE REVIEW... and about the electric and fascinating Jane Heap, who was Margaret's constant companion and co-editor during most of these early years. Many of you will have already read this book, but it is more than worth reading again... and it is astonishing how very many of the distinguished writers she discovered are our "classic" contemporary authors today. THE FIERY FOUNTAINS, by prejudice of this reviewer her finest book, covers her love affair with Georgette Leblanc, which lasted from their meeting about 1920 until Georgette's death in 1941. THE FIERY FOUNTAINS is about that life together. For those of you who will write to ask if I did not know about this book before (in its original edition back in 1951) I answer happily that, yes, it was given to me as a gift by a book dealer many years ago... but it is not a whole book in a sense, and is, while being best, still left improperly illuminated until you reach her third, and possibly(?) last, volume, THE STRANGE NECESSITY. This, one immediately senses, is the real Margaret Anderson. She no longer possesses the very powers of prose that fascinate in her earlier books; but the passing of years, and the hardships of World War II and the things that have happened since, including the long wait for this magnificent publishing enterprise to happen, color her most recent autobiography.
So they are not separate... though it is undoubtedly true that when the first was written the second was not yet considered, and the first two were long done when the third was attempted. Name collectors will be happy, for most of the best of the best are included. Her friends were, are all the magic names in literature... and painting and music. Janet Planner, NEW YORKER's famous "Genet," contributes a very moving preface the reissued FIERY FOUNTAINS, citing the reasons for its greatness, the magic of Georgette Leblanc with Margaret Anderson... a very special union.
THE STRANGE NECESSITY is full of loving flaws... much space given to the eccentricities and personal tastes of the author, but when one is Margaret Anderson, one is allowed much space. It is also a necessary book, for it tells happily that Margaret was not doomed to be alone after the end of Jane Heap and the death of Georgette Leblanc. In June, 1942, eight months after the death of Georgette, aboard an ocean liner bound from France to New York, Margaret met Dorothy Caruso, widow of Enrico, and in very like story book fashion they lived together from then until Dorothy's death in 1955. Hovering about the edges of her life, always, is the enigmatic figure of her nurse-companion-housekeeper, Monique, who lived to be 92, dying in 1961. The memoirs stop in 1961 except for a "happy" preface note dated 1968 about finding a publisher. Since this is 1970, and this reviewer knows the books have been scheduled for well over a year before their final appearance, there is a gap... the years from 1961 until now. Perhaps they are recorded... perhaps not. We are lucky if they are and if they will someday appear.
Horizon Press, however, deserves the vote of thanks now... from us all. Don't miss reading about the world of Margaret Anderson. Few are privileged with her gifts ...few bright enough to work to enjoy life as well as she has. The illustrations, by the way, are magnificent.
More Genevieve Taggard, from the same source as that cited last month, the poem "Monody in Monotone" from LONG VIEW, N.Y., Harper, 1942. It's as pertinent ...or more properly variant, as any of hers.
Dell reissued its $1.25 edition of THE FEMININE MYSTIQUE by Betty Friedan, no doubt in honor of the current flood of books on women's liberation, women's rights.
New movements, however old in terms of time, inspire new magazines, and women's liberation has inspired several. We have already covered WOMEN, A JOURNAL OF LIBERATION, a very ambitious not literary quarterly; APHRA, the magnificent literary quarterly; and RADICAL THERAPIST, which only somewhat covers this area. Another new one is UP FROM UNDER out of New York City, which is basic, down to earth, practical and sensible ...and very interesting. They describe themselves as a "new magazine, by and about women." The publishing effort is done by an independent group of women in the general women's liberation movement.
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Address Is 339 Lafayette Street, New York, N.Y. 10012. The cost for five issues is $2.50. No fiction, no frills... just articles about the nitty gritty of life.
ICONOGRAPHS, May Swenson's latest collection of poetry, N.Y., Scribner's, 1970, succeeds to the extent of its intentions, for it is frankly experimental even for the not easily classified Miss Swenson. The explanatory note in the rear of the book is literally necessary to fully see what she is doing. This makes me think that if it were wholly successful in its own right, the note need not have been added. That quibbling aside, there are some delightful moments for eye and heart. The marvelous Lesbian poem, "A Trellis for R," is included... along with some very special "views" of ordinary things: a visit to a James Bond movie in "The James Bond Movie" and immediately following the patiently bored "It Rains." Miss Swenson, one of our most prominent living poets, has mostly pleased her all time fans here, but it's an interesting collection.
Haunted by Emma Goldman (see Cross Currents this issue and "My God It Happened to Me Too!" in August/September, 1970 issue), the woman who was unceremoniously tossed out of the U.S. in 1917 and is now being described as "the greatest lady anarchist of them all," Beacon Press has issued a quality paperback reprint of REBEL IN PARADISE: A BIOGRAPHY OF EMMA GOLDMAN, for $3.95. This very obscure biography was first issued in 1961 by University of Chicago Press. It is NOT a comment on the biography contents or the biographer, Richard Drinnon, to call it obscure. As most of you know, university press publications aren't likely to become best sellers, aren't likely to be much reviewed ...and certainly, it's unthinkable that many of them sell. We are still planning an article on Miss Goldman for a future issue, but it is amusing to see everything from TIME MAGAZINE to the publishing houses rally round the flag, girls (apologies to Max Shulman!). But it is an election year, women; and it is said that. 3,000,000 more women will vote in 1970 than men. With a little help from our friends, we could run the country.
GOOD LUCK, MISS WYCOFF, by noted dramatist William Inge, Boston, Atlantic-Little, Brown, 1970, is a disaster. This is sad, for Mr. Inge is a wonderful writer in his field, but he should not, apparently, have attempted a novel. Miss Wycoff of the title is of no interest here, being an overdrawn and poorly understood Kansas school teacher. There is a brief bit of Lesbian Interest in that two of her friends, the arts and crafts teacher and the physical education teacher (no, no, not those two again!!) are said to be lovers... they live together, and another teacher provides possibly the novel's only funny line, "they seem as happy as honeymooners." Typecasting is tiling. A reader recently pointed out that many of the Lesbians in fiction have grey eyes... even cited Jane Rule as having been guilty of giving grey eyes to her heroine in her earlier novel, DESERT OF THE HEART. Colored contacts, anyone?
Recently, in writing for a review copy of a Lesbian novel and indicating an interest in any material the publisher might be issuing that concerned women's liberation, I received a review copy of BEYOND THE LOOKING GLASS, by Kathrin Perutz, N.Y., Morrow, 1970. I did rot expect to, but I found it more compelling than the novel I'd requested... found myself reading in fascination just what American women (and to some extent, American men) DO to "enhance" their attractiveness. Miss Perutz is a novelist... indeed, I've had the pleasure of reviewing two of her books, the fairly major Lesbian novel, THE GARDEN, 1962, and her minor male homosexual title, A HOUSE ON THE SOUND, 1964. It-is said that most areas of factual writing can be done by hacks. As a hack I agree, but it is delightful to read non-fiction written by a good, imaginative and professional writer with a solid background in creative writing. The book is divided into sections on makeup, hair, remaking the form from a to z, diet in every sense of the word, models and celebrities, unisex as a style and life form, what it is like in a beauty retreat... etc. It becomes clear that the 17th and 18th century limericks on the composition of the bride (and, to be fair, sometimes the groom) are only too accurate today. There are some few women in this country who can avoid makeup and still function in the system and earn money, but very very few. If you are only a lipstick and powder slave to the world, and then only on the job... this is still a book to read. The torture, hideous beyond belief, to which human beings willingly and eagerly submit themselves for the pathetic returns has to be read in documented form to be comprehended ...and even then you aren't really going
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to believe it. Women who starve themselves nearly to death, sit up in bed to avoid wrinkling their complexion that already owes its existence to being scrubbed with pumice and similar abrasives... operations that, with the exception of anesthetics, rival the Dachau experiments in terms of human suffering... this has to do with life, with love, with success?.
FADEOUT, by Joseph Hansen, N.Y., Harper and Row, 1970, is a glorious "mainstream" debut for Mr. Hansen, who is very well known under a pseudonym. In the mystery writing world, having Joan Kahn of Harper's choose your book is a high honor, and. FADEOUT richly deserved being chosen. Dave Brandstetter, recently deprived by death of his lifelong lover, Rod, is an insurance investigator looking into the death (?) or disappearance of Fox Olson, a johnny-come-lately folk singing radio personality success. The heart of the matter lies in the hearts of the characters, itself an unusual approach to mystery writing, where this much characterization is seldom employed and hardly ever with this degree of success. Out interest is in Dave's long time friend, Madge. Joseph Hansen handles Madge convincingly and even provides her with an ironic happy ending, though he deserves a swat on the wrist for his neat reversal of typecasting in having Dave the faithful, true and non-promiscuous lover of Rod for years and Madge the partner changing type who has had perhaps 10 girls in 20 years. Good book, good mystery, highly recommended.
You're Stepping on My Model T
By JANE ALDEN
We stayed in a small motel in Burlingame, California, that entire summer of 1947. I was eleven then and Very Tired of Moving. While my parents scoured the Bay Area in search of a two-bedroom ranch style they could almost afford, I sunbathed and read dozens of Nancy Drew mysteries. Then I got bored and became a knuckle cracker. When my knuckles began drowning out traffic on the Bayshore Highway, Dad decided that Something had to be done. He gave me a $2.95 miniature Model T Ford hobby kit and told me to have fun building it.
The hobby kit contained three thinly
sliced pieces of balsa wood, dye-marked for
cutting, and an instruction sheet somewhat
more complicated than Ford's original blue-print
of the Model T. I soon doubled Dad's
investment in my therapy, buying tubes of
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glue, bottles of Mandarin Red and Glossy Black paint, sandpaper, and an X-acto knife set, with ten different blades. An open Samsonite suitcase, spread across a luggage bench, served as my work table.
Soon the Samsonite was pock-marked with glue droplets; but to ray relief the framework of the Model T began to resemble the instruction diagrams, give or take a brace or two. I remedied the defects, for I was a perfectionist then; my miniature car would be the exact copy of the garish model on the cover of the hobby kit or else.
As I was applying nearly the last coat of gold trim, Mom read that a hobby show was going to be given at the neighborhood YMCA. We decided to enter my Model T in the miniature car contest and filled out the entry label "J. Alden, 11 Yrs.", rather than betray my. feminine status to the judges. We were sure they'd be prejudiced in favor of "Y" members and Boy Scouts. Even then.
The final day of the contest, Mom and I threaded our way through the trousers and the tee-shirts, and eventually found my Model T. A bright blue first prize ribbon was Scotch-taped to a badly torn fender, Headlamps dangled over the bent bumper and cotton stuffing billowed from gashes in the leather-covered seats. The terrible and inexplicable damage to my summer's work was so complete that Mom silently removed the blue ribbon and put the toy ear in a trashcan as we walked back to the motel.
I refused to even look at the blue ribbon. Mom tucked it in her cosmetic case and later pasted it into one of her scrap-books. Fortunately for my knuckles, school began a week later. We even managed to find a house, though it looked more quonset-huttish than ranch style.
Last year my mother died. I visited her last and most Contemporary ranch house in Palo Alto and rummaged through her hoardings of a lifetime like a '49-er. Some-how, I came across that first prize blue ribbon from the YMCA, still a cheerful bright blue, though smelling of mold. Beside it in the scrapbook, my mother had written, "For merit or as an apology?" I've sometimes wondered about that, too. Many prizes are for both.
(Jane Alden, biographer and short story writer, frequently contributes to the Ladder.)
GOOD OLD GOLDEN RULE DAYS
By DIANA STERLING
I couldn't have been less cut out for a class in cooking than I was, so it may be unusual to say that I signed up for cooking in my sophomore year in high school; but I say it, because I did. The class offered nothing but respite from one's academic pursuits. It was an unnecessary interlude in the business of school life. But when I found SHE had signed up for it, I joined the class..
Previously she had been everywhere I looked except in any of my classes. And when I saw her in the corridors and coming out of the girls' gym I felt an unaccountable magnetism.
That semester we made everything in
cooking class from tomato aspic to egg
custard. And though it is said one learns by
doing, I cannot say that I learned what I
was doing. But it was at that time, even so,
that I began to learn myself. There was the
crazy joy of a knowledge I was on the
puberty brink of. I consumed soft drinks by
the barrel and loved the songs and dances it
was time to love. And I had a dog with a
square face and a brother who taught it tricks. I went sleigh riding with our bunch in the ghosty winter world I lad known all my life when that season came around. (The bunch being a pride of lions who were as acutely alive and as eager to be as was I.)
But, there was something. Even then. It got me down deep, where I lived. I wanted to sing the song other sinners sang proper sinners and honorable. I did not know. What? What was an honorable sin? Chewing gum in church might fit the category if I
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attended church and chewed gum in the sanctuary. But that was adolescent thinking and I don't think I relegated that much space to thinking it as I did to feeling it-- which covered universes and included my class in cooking.
The first day in cooking class necessitated a seat next to HER which was accomplished by letting her choose her seat first and sitting down next to HER second. We shared the oven!
She had a dark and immaculate complexion with small beads of freckles at the cheekbones. Her eyes were infinite brown, the incredible eyes of Indians. She was Scotch-Irish and something else. I don't remember.
The room, abundant with stoves, was a kind of bastard classroom: a great bright room boasting a million mullioned windows. Each student had a small worktable where we kneaded and pounded and made the stuff for which we were graded. I never ate my own concoctions and no one else ever ate them either. I do not now remember how I was graded in that class or how I ever got rid of the results, waste being one of the sins.
Our teacher, Miss Moss, tall and greying, was at indeterminate middle age, which, to adolescence, because of a lack of congeniality and love for that generation, often looks the same on everyone that age, even as blacks often look alike to whites and whites to blacks. Her face was blotched red. The creases that developed at the neck were white like an albino tattoo, and the red blotches made her face look sore by contrast to the white tattoo of her neck lines. She had the habit of pressing her five finger tips to that neck when she wanted to get a point across. And when she let go, there were five imprinted dots that lingered so long I was never able to get her point, having watched too intently those dots gradually move into invisibility. Miss Moss looked like Aunt Ethel, who raised me, and talked like Uncle Morton, who helped.
Standing tall at the head of the class with a recipe book splayed open at her stove, Miss Moss instructed the lot of us to use one half teaspoon salt or a half cup sugar or whatever else the recipe "called for," to work in union, and not deviate by a sprig of parsley. It baffled and frustrated me to come out with a glop unlike anything else in that class or anywhere else: an originality inevitably achieved without the slightest effort on my part or of anyone else. And believe it or not the finest dishes that came out of that group were HERS!
Once I got to class late, which put everything off and the whole room had to come to a standstill while I mixed the stuff for corn bread. I thought if it hadn't been for her I'd never have made it. SHE, being my oven partner, greased my pan and set the timer and did little odds and ends for me that had me aquiver while I beat the concoction that, I knew in advance, wouldn't come off even as HERS did.
One Saturday in late October when the light was a condensation of red and gold like mulched leaves pureed, liquefied and turned invisible for breathing, I felt red and gold in the infinite corners, and I biked eight miles into the country from where SHE was bussed in to school everyday. I
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stopped at a small grocery store on the old county road to ask directions. A draft of cold air-conditioned air toted a blended smell of wooden mild crates and colored ink from Sunday comics piled onto each other in the racks and the metallic smell of stacked cans of tomato sauce and fruit cocktail. A gigantic cardboard female greeted me at the door with a cardboard coke in her cardboard hand.
The storekeeper had a purple face with puffy eyes flanking a bulbous pocked nose that moved when he talked--and he talked at length--delighted to give me directions, as a man is delighted who knows the answers. His delight could not, even so, exceed my own. At his direction I arrived at a stately large house that stood under a coat of blinding white paint. The green window frames held windows so dazzlingly brilliant they appeared about to explode. Three cars were in the drive and I turned around and pumped the eight miles back.
My next attempt to see HER out of school I had to go less than half that: to the county library. It was in the spring of the year when the water turns from stiff ice to soft wet again and the trees tingle with buds. She told me she would be there and she was. And though we did mostly what we went there for (a pretense at reading), we occasionally caught each other's eye. Hers were as beautiful a pair of eyes as I would've guessed all infinity to be in a glance. There was a richness in them, as one in love. Had they been edible, I think I'd have glutted myself to such a degree I'd have died of it in less than an hour. But I was not so fortunate. I could do nothing about the pain and I could not die, and it lingered on into the semester.
Just before summer vacation, Miss Moss said we were each to come with ingredients for a breakfast for two and a boy from woodshop. At Miss Moss's announcement, that unmanly class burst into applause. Damn! I was heartsick, first and foremost, because SHE would have to invite a boy and, second, because I would have to. (In the rich soil of adolescence, despair and ecstasy grow easy.)
I got the boy. He happened to be drinking at the water fountain ahead of me. He had greasy hair that looked to have been combed with a fork, and skinned elbows. He didn't seem overanxious at the invitation. Perhaps because I had not anxiously given it. But when food was mentioned, he accepted ravenously.
Next morning the class convened early, one reason being, I think: boys like to eat, and another being: girls like boys. It all fit in perfectly. Almost. I liked to eat, but I could not cook.
As a concession to our last day of school, Miss Moss let the choice of what to cook be ours individually, and being partners at the stove we had planned together. SHE and I. She, being the expert fried egg cooker in her family, decided on frying eggs, and I, being hung up on her, decided to fry eggs too, which promised positive disaster. But I couldn't be concerned about that. I was miserable.
I came with four eggs, four slices of bread, six strips of bacon and a peanut butter jar filled with coffee. I did not drink coffee then but it was during that period in life when the taboo of things, such as coffee, had so recently been lifted, they waxed big in importance.
That morning I felt I had made a serious mistake in signing up for that class in the first place when I saw HER with the boy she had invited. He had a case of acne which did not annoy me so much as the good looks that came through despite the problem. Perversely, as a means of revenge or something, I offered him my peanut butter jar while we waited for Miss Moss to take the roll, immediately upon which we set about making breakfast.
Skinned Elbows spied the light of his life at another stove and gravitated to it like a sappy moth to flame while HER boy came over to my side (it was that peanut butter jar) where I peeled the bacon from the bacon, which was nerve-racking because I had already got the eggs on, and they were bouncing and snapping and it didn't occur to me to turn the heat down under them because I was busy with bacon. HER boy, whose name I forget but for the sake of clarity I'll call him Rupert (a name I hate although he was nice enough when I got to thinking about it, which wasn't till I found out what I found out). Rupert said he could split the strips better thin anyone, and when the bacon exchanged hands I noticed the skin was peeling at the periphery of his right thumbnail. As a child, I had been told by Aunt Ethel and Uncle Morton that this was a sign of having told a lie. I never believed it but when I saw it on Rupert my thinking took a different turn and, for a moment at least, I was convinced that kid was an inveterate liar. But. the moment didn't last because there were other things
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to think about, like buttering the cold toast which had popped up minutes before. When finally I got the slices buttered, there were little islands of congealed butter left on each piece of toast which was not so offensive, I thought, as the black showing through around the islands.
Rupert had succeeded in dividing the bacon strips, I knew, because he was telling me by that time that I ought to get at the eggs and he would see to the toast for me, like scraping the backsides of each. I kept wondering why Rupert was fussing over me so much when SHE had been the one who had invited him to the breakfast. Had I been in his place, I'd have popped my buttons with joy. But he chose to ignore the honor by nosing around my part of the stove as I prepared for Skinned Elbows who was, as I said, off somewhere nosing at one of the other stoves at the back of the room. Rupert said as a way to put me at ease, I think, he wouldn't mind how the breakfast came out. Food was food and "It all goes to the same place on earth anyway." I did not much care for this philosophy and I tried particularly not to burn the bacon. Turning the eggs over, each yolk collapsed, sliding down along the pan like molten lava. I got a fork and worked yellow and white (both now more than half cooked) together. It looked like something my dog had eaten and brought up. And as I looked at it the bacon burned.
When I saw the breakfast SHE had made, I couldn't believe it. Hers came out just as mine! She had ruined her breakfast! Oh she must have been upset, his mooning over me instead of her. How could that boy make her do that? How could an. boy? I was heartsick. Could I have been so wrong about that special magnetism between us?
That summer when her father received a government appointment, SHE moved with her parents to Washington, D.C. And three years later my aunt, who kept track of everyone in town, including those who had been gone for years referred to HER as that "awful creature."
"Awful?" I said.
"Lives with another woman who's like that too."
I was eighteen and I knew when my Aunt Ethel circumvented euphemisms what topic she was on.
"Oh, good lord, no," I said, and I must have sounded sick when I said it because Aunt Ethel took my hand gently and said:
"Never you mind. This town is rid of the likes of HER."
Too late. I knew those damned eggs of HERS were ruined not over being upset that Rupert might've felt anything for me but over what I might've felt for Rupert. I had not been wrong about the magnetism.
"Oh, lord, no," I repeated, and Aunt Ethel patted my hand.
Dear Gene Damon:
Dear Gene Damon:
I realize that any suggestion that a song is particularly relevant to Lesbian love is heavily biased by the wishful thinking of the Lesbian listener. But having admitted that, I nevertheless suggest that you consider Laura Nyro as a possibly relevant artist. I am thinking in particular of two songs on her album ELI AND THE THIRTEENTH CONFESSION, both written by and sung by Miss Nyro. The songs are "Timer" and "Emmie". The back of the album jacket for ELI AND THE THIRTEENTH CONFESSION is a rather beautiful silhouette photograph of Miss Nyro kissing an unidentified young woman on the forehead.
K.A., Los Angeles
Dear Ms. Damon:
I have wondered when you or one of THE LADDER'S writers would point out why the advertising media are so demeaning to women. Straight women can be forgiven their ignorance here, but surely not Lesbians. The "creative" side of the advertising business is under the stewardship of male homosexuals, than which no group has more contempt for women. "Cigarettes are like women..." expresses the gay male's opinion in a nutshell. The sophisticated homosexual enjoys occasionally escorting a female of the species and what better sets him off than one who is "thin and rich?" What better impresses the straight male who stubbornly refuses to grant full supremacy to the poor, downtrodden gay male who, after all, sports a penis too?
In his enormous self-pity the homosexual has a great need to look down upon some group of human beings. He cannot very well look down upon Blacks, for example, for many of them are as gay as he is. That leaves only women, people he has absolutely no use for, not even for sexual
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relief. How satisfying it is therefore to be able to express his true feelings in a popular art form while making excessive amounts of money. Many homosexuals are truly gifted in the arts; none has any conception of what a woman is like. He sees her in caricature only and often enjoys imitating her at her most ridiculously "feminine." Playing at feminine frivolities can be fun when one is equipped with balls and is flirting with another man.
Why do heterosexual males go along with this sickening portrayal of women in advertising? It tickles their male supremacist egos and feeds those inner fantasies they dare not allow their women to suspect. How nice to let the gay male do this for them! Despite the loud cries to the contrary, there i. a secret bond between homosexual and heterosexual males. To be sure, the homosexual ranks lowest in the male hierarchy, behind all other minority males. To him therefore falls this meanest of tasks in the male establishment, the blatant depiction of the male's unconscious and repressed contempt for the female. And he does it gladly for he is all too anxious to ingratiate himself with the ruling sex--hi. sex.
Perhaps I am wrong to think that Lesbians should know this. Lesbians are Minded by the fact that gay males are the only group who do not condemn them for their Lesbianism. In their humble gratitude for this acceptance they fail to see the contempt in which their homosexual "brothers" hold them by virtue of their being women.
M. de P.
The New Lesbian.
Now We Can Be Just Like Everybody Else.
"Even if it were somehow possible to escape all these public and visible affronts to the sense of delight and surprise, there is still the common-or-garden bore to contend with... The jargon-droppers waving about words like "viable," "feed-back" and "parameter," or those who groove excessively on a Now vocabulary of "rap," "uptight," "right on" and "f---," Rare indeed is the American who does not number among his near and dear someone who a) has just discovered the mystical virtue of analysis or Esalen or macrobiotic dieting b) cannot refrain from enlisting friends on behalf of some intimate obsession, whether it be snowmobile racing, Australian wines, wife swapping or Zen."
--from the 7/13/70 (p. 31) "Time Essay"
By Douglas Auchincloss
Growing up in the midwest always left me a bit starved for a little color, a little daring, a little originality, a little astonishment, most of which I contrived (being a clever little dyke) to supply for myself. Insipid indeed is the most vivid impression I have of back home. That dull people can be dangerous as well as unamusing I discovered later.
Back home they listen to Billy Graham a lot and I used to watch the people sitting there taking it all in and he told them a bunch of slogans like "Get with Jesus," and "This is a Great Country, (rod's Country," and "Keep your Nose to the Grindstone," and "Brush Twice a Day," and "If you have Jesus in your Heart you will find Salvation," which all the people watching and listening to Billy (except me) took to mean the two cars, the little sub-division ranch house, the dairy freeze business, the ex-cheerleader housewife, the 4 cute kids, and the early American furniture that they already had got. You know, not the kind of people to quibble about moral commitments in Southeast Asia.
Now I am not back home anymore forever. I am rather sitting in New York where people listen to the Black Panthers and the Chicago Seven and the. Beatles a lot. And they are taking it all in and the Black Panthers and the Chicago Seven and the Beatles and Maharishi Yogi and the Young Lords and the Grateful Dead arid the Hell's Angels tell them a bunch of slogans with heavy head messages like "Having a Meaningful Relationship with the Cosmos," and "Relating to the. needs of the Black Community," and "Digging It" and "Being Beautiful" and "Together" and "Doing Your Thing," and they "Throw Out" a little encounter rap you see and a little New Left-ese and always refer to themselves as "workers" although real workers don't much want to be "liberated" and in fact wear hard hats and beat the shit out of anybody with long hair carrying on about Marx and things. It makes you feel kind of sorry for the peaceful violent overthrow kid trying to "Reach you. on a Gut-Level." But that Guevara style hippie machismo just Isn't making it with the real Brooklyn bulls. By the way and now there, my friends, is
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one gigantic case of acute latency. Every lower east side flower boy has got a picture of Che Guevara on his wall with which he can have a non-threatening relationship, and groove oh his rap and not be uptight. And in New York everybody enjoins everybody to "get their beautiful thing together" which means having a chick who bakes her own bread and having Paul MacGregor hair like everybody has already got if they're beautiful anyway.
What happened first you know the blacks figured out all these sort of penis symbol phrases like uptight and hung-up and. these WASP kids have been "into" Freud and want to get "onto" this groovy new thing and they start coming down to the East Village absolutely screaming "Right On" every time they look at you. And then the next thing you know the Indians at Alcatraz and the Israelis are getting with it and interjecting a few "Right On's" into their non-negotiable demands. Then there's Jane Fonda ego-tripping "from within" and Lenny Bernstein getting all power for the people. And Women's Lib starts having Right On's (I thought they might have been embarrassed to plagiarize so heavily from the male chauvinist organizations but they rap right on, right on.) And finally as you can see I was about ready to strangle and spit and behave in a most unbeautiful way and then oh my god the Gay Liberation Front every other word Right On. Look, Just look what they have done to Sappho, subtle, imaginative, Sappho! Too Much, Oh Wow! Too Much!
"Thinking Back Lesbian
If i were to call upon the phoenix
to recover my late ashes
would i have come from the 'mysterious'
island of Greece?
Far flung as time through space
follows relativity must only be a wink
in that lady's eye--
The love of the arts was worth more
to her than the sharpness of Diana's
But i suppose we are all sisters of
some nature of those reincarnation . . .
But to them we are probably just incantation.
However, Sappho you must have been
a 'Right On' woman."
(from GLF publication "Come Out!" vol. 1, no. 4; p. 11 June/July 1970)
First we had Vanessa Redgrave (who happily finds breast feeding more fulfilling than acting) as Isadora Duncan as the "Original Hippie." And Now, Baby, we've got a "relevant" Sappho.
Oh Hell, is nothing sacred before the hackney frying embrace of the now generation?
Nowadays in New York we have lots and lots of Lesbians who belong to the now generation and look just like any other hippie and who in fact rather seldom sleep with girls. I went to a DOB meeting the other night and there was this new style Lesbian from GLF who we can call Lois Hart who talked quite a lot and here is what she said and I quote exactly because I actually wrote it down, "We've got to find out where everybody's head is at, we've got to get our thing together and like wow really be beautiful and relate to each other and be real in a meaningful way."
I was struck with how deeply, or rather, how superficially her wisdom resembles Billy Graham's own back home lyric vapidity. At least the emptiness was al. there.
At one time I preferred the company of other gay women to that tedious cunt-mentality I had associated with straight women. I once thought we each had gone our separate ways and when we met had reached rather varied conclusions, we each had an uncustomary idea, an inspiration or two. I had slowly come to think of myself not as an "oppressed minority" but a member of an Amazon elite. Now I find Lesbians wearily parroting that fundamentalist groupie catechism--just like anybody else.
And before you say I am nasty because I belong to the over 30 establishment, let me advise you that I am quite under 25. Oh the mindless eclectic of my generation.
(Dedicated to "R.B. of New York" for her letter to the editor in the June/ July 70 issue of THE LADDER.
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(King of the Bunnies)
Words and Melody
By Winifred C. Gandy