Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Views: Blast from the Past, A Feminist Hullaballoo
2007-05-09

This article shared 7718 times since Wed May 9, 2007
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


by Micki Leventhal

I am old.

I cut my activist teeth in the civil rights actions of the 1960s, struck for Kent State, fought for the right to wear pants to work ( yes, really! ) , lobbied for a word change from 'chairman' to 'chairperson' at the national convention of the American Association of University Women and campaigned for the ERA while caring for my twins, who were conceived the old-fashioned way.

I came out at the age of 36 in the fabulous heyday of radical feminism. I volunteered at Mountain Moving Coffeehouse, bared my middle-aged breasts in the Michigan woods and returned to graduate school at 40, earning a master's degree in women's studies.

I blush now to admit that I was so steeped in feminist essentialist culture that at one time, in a perverse twist on Victorian practice, I kept my books-by-female-authors and my books-by-male-authors on separate shelves. ( Well, at least I didn't burn the 'boy books!' )

I ultimately rejected lesbian separatism due to, primarily, my deep and abiding love for my boy-child and, secondarily, my unwillingness to deny myself the richness of men's cultural productions—from Wolfgang Mozart, Mark Twain and William Morris to Buddha, Balanchine and the Beatles. I am glad of that.

Fast-forward through lots of life to a post-Monica Lewinsky, post-9/11 world of new realities, virtual and otherwise. This is a world where, sadly, GLBTQ folks still do not enjoy full civil rights. It is also a world where, happily, a scrapbooking suburban housewife relates the story of herself and her aged mother going to clean out the house of her deceased uncle and discovering that 'he was gay, but that's okay, of course.' And continuing to tell, giggling and blushing but not condemning, of the wealth of bondage toys they packed up for disposal or donation. And, it's a world where my partner's Midwestern folks display our wedding photo on the mantle along with those of their three hetero sons.

Working in higher education—at an arts college no less—I must continue to learn and navigate an ever-evolving reinterpretation of social constructs, emerging 'memes' and 'tropes' and shifting paradigms. While still celebrating the Goddess eight times a year with my Dianic circle, I grow to understand and embrace 'gender queer' and struggle to accept 'fuck-me feminism.' It is a rich, vital and GLBTQ-happy reality in which my friend James can come to work in a skirt and staff is developing a database-friendly code for 'third sex' donors to the college.

Into this new world swoops a reminder of a 'simpler' time.

Searching for lodging for an upcoming trip to visit our daughter in Santa Fe, we virtually arrived at Casa Feminista, owned and operated by Sonia Johnson and her partner, Jade DeForest. Could it be? My inner investigative journalist kicks in and I'm hot on the trail, discovering that, yes indeed, this is THE Sonia Johnson of radical-lesbian-feminist-separatist fame. The Sonia Johnson about whom rumors of fiscal and sexual 'improprieties' still swirl. The Sonia Johnson who disappeared from the cultural landscape some 15 years ago and emerged last year lecturing at a meeting of a North Carolina chapter of the re-formed Congregation of the Goddess International.

What a kick. We inquired about lodging at Casa Feminista in Ojo Caliente, N.M., and, in the process, learned that right after the summer solstice, Johnson will actually be in the city of Santa Fe, the centerpiece of an historic gathering/reunion/celebration of the Good Old Days.

There is truly an amazing line-up planned for Feminist Hullaballoo: The Wild Women Reunite. Joining Johnson are philosopher Mary Daly; musicians Alix Dobkin and Margie Adams; writer and scholar Cherrie Moraga; Goddess priestess Kim Duckett; writer Paula Gunn Allen; drummer Afia Walking Tree; lesbian utopian novelist Sally Gearhart; and many others. The women-only event takes place at the New Mexico School for the Deaf, June 22-24. There will be speeches, music, drumming, spirit circles, commitment ceremonies and general rabble-rousing. Check out program information and reservations ( at $175 each ) at www.feministhullaballoo.com .

Feminist Hullaballoo was born out of frustration. In an e-mail interview, Johnson explains that when activist and cultural critic Andrea Dworkin died in 2005, DeForest contacted Ms. magazine and suggested an interview with some of the well-known feminists from the 1970s through the '90s in order to introduce 'the new generation of feminists to them through articles instead of obituaries. The editor was kind but not interested.' Jade decided to organize an event and gathered together feminist activists and academics, the collective becoming the current producing body, Estrogenerations, Inc.: 'a non-profit group of womyn dedicated to the well-being and survival of all female beings.'

Struggling and fighting and forging bonds of sisterhood for two decades, 'the [ second wave ] Women's Movement finally became comatose in the 90s, slowly devolving into the Ladies Auxiliary of the Democratic Party,' Johnson says. 'The ideal of liberation died and we were back on our knees begging the men again, doing most of the hard work and getting nothing for ourselves again. This did not satisfy the hunger of our souls, just used us up and burned us out. So we retreated into our personal lives. But we were isolated from what had given our lives purpose and from the power of female energy. Many became depressed, despondent [ and ] ill. Many died, too early.'

Johnson explains that, for a decade, she and DeForest also retreated into their private lives, surrounded by female friends, flowers and laughter. But about three years ago, they 'felt a quickening' and agreed that it was time to go back to New Mexico. They bought an old place and rehabbed it into a women's retreat center. 'That was fine as far as it went but we needed a real reunion … to begin to weave the broken web back together, recommit ourselves to women again. To bring women together again.' Like any major public event, the Feminist Hullaballoo has been a huge organizational undertaking, growing and coming to reality through the efforts of many women. 'The original idea,' Johnson is anxious to emphasize, 'was definitely Jade's.'

Whether or not these cranky crones will have anything new to say remains to be seen. Can the experiences, defeats and victories of the past instruct those who will fight the battles yet to come? Will the songs and sentiments of the foremothers be perceived as quaint camp or will they serve to inspire? Certainly, this event offers a nostalgic trip through history and memory for the older generation and a once-in-a-lifetime living history lesson for the younger.See you there?

See www.feministhullaballoo.com .


This article shared 7718 times since Wed May 9, 2007
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

OP-ED The Black church was one of R. Kelly's enablers 2021-10-13
- The long-awaited justice for R. Kelly's survivors finally came last month when a New York federal jury found him guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking. For nearly 30 years, underage Black girls and their families have ...


Gay News

VIEWS Finding the Crossroads 2021-10-08
By Martha Miller - The first time I saw a psychic, I was 19 and my friend Sandy and I drove to Jacksonville to see an old woman who read cards. We were young and it was fun going to her old house where a ...


Gay News

TRAVEL Conde Nast readers select The Gwen as Chicago's best hotel 2021-10-05
- Conde Nast Traveler's readers have spoken—and their views of Chicago's hotels are distinctly different from those of another top travel publication. While Viceroy Chicago topped Travel + Leisure's readers' list of local spots to stay, ...


Gay News

SAVOR South Branch Tavern & Grille 2021-08-19
- Before taking a bite of anything at South Branch Tavern & Grille (100 S. Wacker Dr.; https://www.southbranchchicago.com/), patrons are likely to be impressed. The reason lies in the picturesque views surrounding the spot. Ensconced near some ...


Gay News

VIEWS U.S. Senators: It's time to act against anti-LGBTQ discrimination 2021-07-28
- Georgia has had the eyes of the nation on it for some time now. It's just over five years since people across Georgia braced themselves as lawmakers sent sweeping anti-LGBTQ legislation to the desk of then-Governor ...


Gay News

OP-ED Foreign drug pricing puts America's most vulnerable patients last 2021-07-03
By Guy Anthony - It's no coincidence that American companies led the charge to develop COVID-19 vaccines. Numerous policies—from strong patent protections to a welcoming immigration system—help ensure that the world's smartest scientists can ...


Gay News

Op-Ed: Elevating 'T' in LGBTQ: State government, transgender equity in 21st century 2021-06-28
By Illinois state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz - In recent decades, our laws, pop culture and morality have shifted dramatically for same-sex couples. Our LGBTQ+ neighbors are interwoven into the fabric of our communities now more than ever. We celebrate this recognition and indeed ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINT Pride at work 2021-06-23
- Pride Month is a chance for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) people to be proud and visible in a world that tells us not to be. Pride Month is a chance to celebrate and ...


Gay News

LETTER: Pride, a time for hope 2021-06-12
- Pride is so much more than a parade, a march or even a demonstration for the LGBTQAI community. In other words, this is an opportunity for us to celebrate our diversity among our various communities, and ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINT Tulsa Race Massacre reparations would begin the healing 2021-05-31
- When HBO's 2019 Watchmen series opened with the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, and HBO's 2020 Lovecraft Country series closed with scenes from the riots, most Americans had never heard of the event—even Tulsans. On May 19, ...


Gay News

Illinois Holocaust Museum makes statement on anti-Semitic attacks 2021-05-28
--From a press release - Dear Museum Community, At Illinois Holocaust Museum, we are appalled at the recent rise in worldwide anti-Semitic incidences. We cannot stand by while Jews and synagogues are violently attacked, including in Skokie, New York, Los Angeles, ...


Gay News

LETTER A matter of race 2021-05-20
- I applaud Mayor Lori Lightfoot's courageous statement on only giving one-on-one interviews to journalists of color. She obviously wants to see a public dialogue on this matter. White privilege is a topic we must look at ...


Gay News

The Amazon Trail Notes from a Homebody 2021-05-19
- 's finally here. The end of total lockdown. Am I ready? Absolutely not. I like my burrow. I don't wanna play with others. We've fashioned a comfortable little routine. Week days, work. Evenings, spend time alone ...


Gay News

Illinois Latino Agenda issues statement on shooting of Adam Toledo 2021-04-15
--From a press release - On March 29, 2021, 13-year-old Adam Toledo was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer. Since the shooting, there have been different narratives formed of who Adam Toledo was. Various media have made allegations saying ...


Gay News

Pastor Donnie McClurkin's struggle with sexuality mirrors the Black church's 2021-04-13
- The most significant factor that keeps the Black church on the down low are closeted, homophobic ministers. Pastor Donnie McClurkin—a three-time Gospel Grammy winner and the former poster boy for ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.