Nation: Who's Come a Long Way, Baby?

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For movement women, the sex revolution of the '60s was no help at all. Robin Morgan, a founder of WITCH, says that "the sexual revolution was hell on women. It never helped us—it just made us more available." The West Coast Redstocking Manifesto reports that "our bodies are male-occupied territory." And Laura X (she has abandoned her surname) says: "The pill is the final pollution, the exact analogue of DDT, of gadget-trapping you into functions, not organic wholes. Men have become no more human since its advent: according to many young women who have made that unenviable leap from private property to public property, they treat women worse than ever."

For all the visibility of BITCHES and WITCHES, the heart of the movement is made up of hundreds of "rap groups," usually formed on an ad hoc basis. "Consciousness raising" is their aim: the establishment of a common understanding of the problems that women face in a male-dominated society. The usual group meets one night a week, numbers eight to twelve women, and concentrates on topics such as attitudes toward work, marriage, families, feminist history and woman's role in society. Again and again, phrases like this are heard: "I was desperate when I came to Women's Lib ... I always thought there had to be something wrong with me because I wasn't exclusively interested in a life of suburban luxury . . . The first night I came to a rap group I had this suddenly close feeling because I found out other people had the same feelings about gut issues that I did." Adds another: "It's not just you alone fighting your mother and father and all those engagement announcements she sends every week" (the message is all too clear —why isn't she getting married?).

While rap groups build common awareness of problems, national and state legal codes offer women a reasonably effective way of combatting sex discrimination. Section 703 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from hiring, firing, or in other ways discriminating against any individual for reasons of race, color, religion or sex. Complainants who approach the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington either begin the legal process there or, if their own state has similar laws, are told to go back to their home state for assistance. In New York State's case, the State Division of Human Rights takes on the complaint. As of the first of the year, 408 cases have been filed with the New York State Division: in 147 cases, a basis for complaint was found; in 192, the complaints were dismissed.

A major reason for the effectiveness of the civil rights legislation is simply the threat it poses. To protest male-female segregation in New York Times classified ads, for example, NOW staged an ad-lib protest in 1967. The Times desegregated its ads.

Legally sanctioned paths toward change, as far as Kate Millett is concerned, are simply not enough. She calls for a "cultural revolution, which must necessarily involve political and economic reorganization [but] must go far beyond as well." Her target is the patriarchy, "the one ancient and universal scheme for the domination of one birth group by another, the scheme that prevails in the area of sex."

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