The Prudes’ Progress: Re-membering Feminist Desire, Part III – Gathering ourSelves

This is the third part in an eight-part series of articles, The Prudes’ Progress, about non-objectifying, woman-identified sexuality based on ideas of equality and whole-personhood, in the tradition of lesbian feminism. For the first article in the series, which includes a table of contents, please click here. The articles don’t have to be read in order and contain many backwards and forwards links so you can follow them in whatever way is most useful for you, although forward links won’t work until the relevant article is available.

The First Progression: Consciousness Raising

Consciousness-raising is a fancy name for a simple process: women (in this case) coming together to tell each other our experiences and figure out what forms of oppression we experience in common, and how those affect different women in different ways. It’s a way of sketching the shape of patriarchy from the inside out by joining the dots between the places where patriarchy has impacted women’s lives.

Consciousness-raising was a key activity of the early Women’s Liberation Movement, as shown in two articles by Shulamith Firestone “based on group discussions held over the past year [1968]”. I get the impression that formally organised women’s consciousness-raising groups are relatively rare nowadays, but wherever women are gathered together in some consciously political sense – even if only united in a moment, like when catching a woman’s eye after a man does something sexist – there is the opportunity for joining the dots.
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