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Sisterhood is Powerful

by Robin Morgan
Jeff Lowe, Sariah Gonzalez, Shannon McCammon
Second Wave Feminism
● Increased feminist activity starting around the 1960’s
● Rose from the Civil Rights Movement and Anti-War Movement in America
● Decentralized movement- no regional, state, or national organizations that
capture the full scope and spirit
● Women begin to assert their own destiny
● Shortcomings: The discussion equality, without freedom
● Aims at intersectionality but questions about how widespread and accepted
this was
● Dismantling Workplace inequality
● Rethinking society with feminist theory
● Abortion rights
● “De-sexing the English Language”
● Education
● Equality legislation + increased political power
● Representation in popular culture
● Expanding the voice of women in other liberation movements
“Women of color have shaped the feminist movement from its inception
in this country, yet the public face of feminism is often seen as white”
(Elizabeth Toledo, Now Vice President, 1998)

● National Organization for Women- Liberal feminism- well documented

● Black feminism developed in 1960’s but received less media attention
Contributions by Women of Color
● 1968, "Poor Black Women" by Pat Robinson
● Black Women’s Groups: Third World Women’s Alliance, Mothers Alone
Working, Mount Vernon
● The Black Women’s Liberation group of Mount Vernon was active in the 1960’s
and 70’s
● Statement on Birth Control was included in Sisterhood is Powerful
○ “Espoused self-determination of Black Power and women’s liberation”
● Consciousness-Raising document
○ “Is the only method that can ensure that our program is based on the concrete realities of our
● One of only three entries by black-identified women in the 57
Robin Morgan
● Born in 1941
● Coined the phrase “the personal is political”
● Poet, novelist, editor, political theorist, and feminist activist
● Spoken in every major North American university
● Lectures internationally
● Global organizer for women against patriarchal oppression
Early Life
● Was a child actor
● At four, she had her own radio show, “The Little Robin Morgan Show”
● Starred on a popular television show “I Remember Mama”
● Even had her own doll
● In the 70s, Morgan stated that she didn’t want her child stardom to deflect from
the importance of her feminist goals and that her childhood was especially
hard to talk about because of the pressures and the trauma she felt when she
later discovered she was lied to about almost everything after she located her
military father who was long thought to be dead
● Attended Columbia University
● -In 1962, she married and started a family with an openly gay poet, Kenneth
○ -almost everyone disapproved
○ -but their marriage made sense to her because she felt she was following
a literary tradition and because they were supportive of each other’s art
and political careers
● Began to publish poetry while she worked as a literary agent and freelance
● Became active in New York Radical Women- an organization that had
developed many of the ideas for the contemporary women’s movement
Life (continued)
● Identified as “radical”
○ Etymology means going to the root
○ “I believe that sexism is the root oppression, the one which, until and
unless we uproot it, will continue to put forth the branches of racism, class
hatred, ageism, competition, ecological disaster, and economic
● Became active in WITCH (Women’s international Terrorist Conspiracy from
○ Guerilla-theatre” tactics such as demonstrating before the Miss America Pageant and the New
York Bridal Fair and “hexing” Wall Street
● In 1970, put out Sisterhood is Powerful
The Making of Sisterhood is Powerful
● Published in 1970
● Splintering from liberal feminism
● Barriers to publishing
● The personal is political
● The Oppressed Majority: The Way it is
● Women in the Professions: Five Short Personal Testimonies
● The Invisible Woman: Psychological and Sexual Repression
● Go Tell It In The Valley Changing Consciousness
● Women in the Black Liberation Movement: Three Views
● High School Women: Three Views
● Colonized Women: The Chicana
● Up From Sexism: Emerging Ideologies
● The Hand that Cradles the Rock: Protest and Revolt
● Historical Documents
Important Takeaways From SIP
● Radicalism
● Diverse and Intersectional
● Bitch Sessions
○ Consciousness raising
○ The Lot System
○ The Disc System
Kathie Sarachild’s formulation of
consciousness raising
I. The “bitch session” cell group
A. Ongoing consciousness expansion
1. Personal recognition and testimony
2. Personal testimony--methods of group practice
a) Going around the room with key questions on key topics
b) Speaking out experience at random
c) Cross examination
● Unification of the Black Liberation Movement and the Feminist Movement
○ Missing from the First Wave
○ Morgan included a section just for this
■ Frances M. Beal
■ Elanor Holmes Norton
■ Mount Vernon
● Repression
○ Sexually
■ “The Politics of Orgasm”
○ In the workplace
■ “Women in Medicine”
■ “Women in the Military”
● Recognizing the normalized sexism culturally embedded in everyday life
○ “Know Your Enemy: A Sampling of Sexist Quotes”
● “To deny you are oppressed is to collaborate with your oppression. To
collaborate in your oppression is a way of denying that you’re
oppressed--particularly when the price of refusing to collaborate is execution”
(Morgan xviii).
● “I haven’t the faintest notion what possible revolutionary role white
heterosexual men could fulfill since they are the very embodiment of
reactionary-vested-interest-power. But then, I have great difficulty examining
what men in general could possibly do about all of this. In addition to the
shitwork that women have been doing for generations, possibly not exist? No, I
don’t really mean that. Yes, I really do. Nevermind, that’s another whole book”
(Morgan xl).
● "Women's liberation is the first radical movement to base its politics--in fact,
create its politics--out of concrete personal experiences" (Morgan).
● Williams, Serene. "You can’t wring your hands and roll up your shirtsleeves at the same time." The
Mothers Movement Online, Dec. 2005,
www.mothersmovement.org/books/reviews/05/s_williams_1105/morgan-1.htm. Accessed 27 Mar.
● "Sisterhood is Powerful." Robin Morgan, www.robinmorgan.net/blog/book/sisterhood-is-powerful/.
Accessed 27 Mar. 2018.
● Morgan, Robin, editor. Sisterhood is Powerful. New York, Random House, 1970.
● Jay, Karla. "What Ever Happened to Baby Robin?." Lambda Book Report 9, no. 11 (June 2001): 8.
Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed March 23, 2018).
● Willis, Pat. "The Humanist Interview: Robin Morgan, 2007 Humanist Heroine." Humanist 67, no. 6
(November 2007): 25-29. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed March 23, 2018).