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Everywoman History as Liberation

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3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Everywoman Past Present and Future ruptured historical accounts that minimized  women’s role in past political struggles.  A narrative was produced  in the reading of women’s history by women that reclaimed women’s revolutionary agency.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Just as Mary Ann Weather in An Argument For Black Women’s Liberation As a Revolutionary Force (Feb 1969), had emphasized ‘Women have fought with men, and we have died with men, in every revolution,” the play highlighted women’s revolutionary past by invoking GERMAINE TILLION: ABIGAIL ADAMS 1776: FACTORY GIRLS ASSOCIATION 1835: SENECA FALLS WOMAN’S RIGHTS CONVENTION 1848: LUCY STONE 1855: MARY ELIZABETH LEASE 1890: DOLORES IBARRURI 1936: BERNADETTE DEVLIN 1969: MAC TIM BUOI 1953: Louise Michel sojourner truth ECS V Wodhull Elizabeth gurley Flynn mother jones Dolores Ibarruri, Juana Azurduy do Padilla unnamed Nigerian woman, unnamed Chinese woman revolutionary CHIU CHIN, Djamila Douhirod Djamila, Doupacha Defissa Lalliam Thrieu Thi Trinh, Nguyen Thi Vinh, better known as Ming Khai, Nguyen Thi Ut NGUYEN THI KHIU

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 The play drew in equal parts on women’s history and the earliest forms of cultural activism in the movement, an agit-prop style of theater/happenings, mostly associated with Robin Morgan and the ad hoc group WITCH.  In fact, the central characters of the play werw four witches, costumed “with various implements of oppression tied to them (which they later threw into the cauldron), e.g., falsies, coffee can (symbolizing American Imperialism), etc.” echoing protests at the Burial of True womahood (Jan 1968) and the Miss America Protest (Nov 1968). After a section of dialogue in which each of the four witches establishes her position on the need for an autonomous women’s movement – women’s revolution is important, women’s revolution is trivial – the narrator posed a series of questions that begin the play in earnest.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 What is the revolution? When did it begin? It began a long time ago. And as with all revolutions, there were women who were there who we don’t know about. We don’t know how they lived or how they died. The history of women has not been written. The history of women’s resistance has been hidden from us. Women have cried out against oppression and THEIR VOICES WILL NOT BE STILLED LISTEN.”[i]  

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 This listening involved hearing many women’s voices.   The words of revolutionary women themselves, distributed to audience members, became part of the performance as the viewers read them aloud. The argument of Everywoman  that all prior revolutions had failed to free women, led to the conclusion that women need their own revolution.  The play laid out a chronological historical narrative that legitimized this position.  The play proceeded from Enlightenment inspired revolutions the nineteenth-century American woman movement into the early twentieth century labor movements in which women played leading roles and finally to women in the various twentieth-century Communist movements.

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 The Witches then resumed discussion of the ways women remain oppressed under all regimes, and the methods of resistance they developed. The play ends with rallying universal sisterhood and a call to action:

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 I am all women, I am every woman. Wherever women are suffering, I am there. Wherever women are struggling, I am there. Wherever women are fighting for the their liberation, I am there.

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 I am with all women; I am all women, and our struggle grows.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 And where there are women too beaten down to fight, I will be there; and we will take strength together. Everywhere; for we will have a new world, a just world, a world without oppression and degradation!

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13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 The history they constructed simply bypassed the objections posed by socialists, that sexism was secondary to class-based oppression, to instead forge an emancipatory narrative. That the conference organizers determined that a cultural response was the best method for quelling  ideological dissent speaks to the centrality of cultural activism in the early women’s liberation movement.   The organizers could have, for example, offered a lecture in which a re-reading of Marx focused on the “woman question,” justified women working on their own behalf. Juliet Mitchell had in fact already produced her reading of women as “the longest revolution” (1966), which was not unknown to women at the conference.[ii] Instead they offered a form of cultural activism to justify their struggle.


14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 [i] The idea of women as a revolutionary force circulated widely from Juliet Mitchell’s Women the longest revolution

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 In the play, women spoke the words of women from history GERMAINE TILLION: ABIGAIL ADAMS 1776: FACTORY GIRLS ASSOCIATION 1835: SENECA FALLS WOMAN’S RIGHTS CONVENTION 1848: LUCY STONE 1855: MARY ELIZABETH LEASE 1890: DOLORES IBARRURI 1936: BERNADETTE DEVLIN 1969: MAC TIM BUOI 1953: Louise Michel sojourner truth ECS V Wodhull Elizabeth gurley Flynn mother jones Dolores Ibarruri, Juana Azurduy do Padilla unnamed Nigerian woman, unnamed Chinese woman revolutionary CHIU CHIN, Djamila Douhirod Djamila, Doupacha Defissa Lalliam Thrieu Thi Trinh, Nguyen Thi Vinh, better known as Ming Khai, Nguyen Thi Ut NGUYEN THI KHIU

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 Sang historical movement songs Song of the French Partisan, Oh, Mary Don’t You Weep, O Susanna Union Maid Viva la Quince Brigada Guantanamera Nigeria chant Chee Lai Brave Men Hard is the Fortune

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 [ii]Women the Longest Revolution, 1966, New Left Review.  Ellen DuBois recalls the importance of Mitchell’s work for the CWLU.  She even wrote to Mitchell to express her admiration.

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Source: http://politicsofwomensculture.michellemoravec.com/about-2/book-pre-fall-2016/consciousness/step-2-oppression/everywoman-theater-as-manifesto/