In January 1969, the Redstockings of the Women’s Liberation Movement, a radical feminist group, was founded to fight for rights for women. The name was a combination of bluestocking, term used for feminist intellectuals, and red, which was associated with the revolutionary left. The group believed in “The Pro-Woman Line” which was the idea that women’s submission was conscious adaption to the patriarchy instead of internalized “brainwashing”—which was what other radical feminist groups believed. The feminist groups were often separated along the lines of age. Older groups focused on achieving equality in society and the workplace. However, younger feminist groups did not think this would work and, instead, focused on the “pursuit of women’s liberation.” These young groups wanted social change in regard to gender relations.
The group issued the Redstockings Manifesto, playing off of the Communist Manifesto, to state their ideas that women were an “oppressed social class that must rise up in revolution against its oppressors.” The manifesto is broken into seven sections that discuss the ideas and goals of the movement.
Section I. “After centuries of individual and preliminary political struggle, women are uniting to achieve their final liberation from male supremacy. Redstockings is dedicated to building this unity and winning our freedom.” This group of young radical feminists were not just happy will gaining political rights—such as the vote. These women believed that the patriarchal society was stacked against women and would not let them reach their full potential. Unlike the older feminists who just wanted equal rights, the Redstockings wanted a full change n society which would allow women to be more free.
Section II. “Women are an oppressed class. Our oppression is total, affecting every facet of our lives. We are exploited sex objects, breeders, domestic servants, and cheap labor. We are considered inferior beings, whose only purpose is to enhance men’s lives. . .. Because we live so intimately with our oppressors, in isolation from each other, we have been kept from seeing our personal suffering as a political condition. . .. In reality, every such relationship is a class relationship, and the conflicts between men and women are political conflicts that can only be solved collectively.” The Redstockings believed society had put women down as second-class citizens who had been taking advantage of for far too long. Furthermore, this discrimination in the home and society was not a private issue between a wife and a husband because it happened all throughout society. Instead, this issue was political because society allowed this discrimination to perpetuate throughout society.
Section VII. “We call on all our sisters to unite with us in struggle. We call on men to give up their male privileges and support women’s liberation in the interest of our humanity and their own. In fighting for our liberation we will always take the side of women against their oppressors. We will not ask what is ‘revolutionary’ or ‘reformist,’ only what is good for women. The time for individual skirmishes has passed. This time we are going all the way.” The Manifesto ends with a call to all women to untie against this oppression from men.
The 1960s was a time period where young feminists decided that they wanted more than just the right to vote. These young feminists believed that society had oppressed them to the point that they were not able to reach their full potential. The Redstockings believed that this oppression was actually a political matter. These women called on all women, “all economic, racial, educational, or status privileges,” to unite to against men. This action was much different from the call of older generations. Previously, women did not explicitly state that their oppressors were men and just sought equal rights, but, now, young feminists did not just want equal rights, instead, they wanted freedom from men.
Shanley, Mary Lyndon, 1988. Women’s Rights, Feminism, and Politics in the United States. Washington, DC: American Political Science Association.