1960s through 1980s feminists had to expand their social justice movement’s focus from working“for women” to a more complex understanding of how identities combine to subject people tomultiple oppressions. Early white Second Wave feminists often had experience working in CivilRights activism, President Johnson’s Great Society programs to fight poverty and racism, and—infewer but vocal numbers—Gay and Lesbian Liberation. Feminists of color, poor feminists, and GayLib. leaders with feminist positions challenged white, middle-class, heterosexual, feminist women.Black feminists and Chicana feminists created autonomous movements from the late 1960s on andrecognized simultaneity of oppressions based on their racial/ethnic communities’ experiences withracial and economic discrimination.
Poor women like Johnnie Tillmon integrated their work for welfare reform with feminism.
Some Gay Lib. advocates incorporated feminism into their censureof heteropatriarchy.
The most productively intricate feminist critiques of society analyze variedways patriarchy harms all people of different genders, highlighting everyone’s stake in creating agender-equitable society.At its inception the white-dominated Second Wave movement held conflicting theories aboutgender. Feminists sought to break free from confining gender roles by asserting that there wasnothing inherently female or male and nothing biologically inferior about being born labeled female.
feared feminist energies would be diverted away from action. Flora Davis,
Moving the Mountain: The Women’sMovement in America since 1960
(New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991) 87.
Separate Roads to Feminism: Black, Chicana, and White Feminist Movements in America’s Second Wave
(New York: Cambridge UP, 2004). Winifred Breines,
The Trouble Between Us: An Uneasy History of Whiteand Black Women in the Feminist Movement
(New York: Oxford U.P., 2006).
Tillmon identified herself as a victim of what would later be called simultaneous oppression and drew specificconnections between misogyny and state treatment of welfare mothers. Johnnie Tillmon is discussed in FeliciaKornbluh, “A Human Right to Welfare?: Social Protest among Women Welfare Recipients after World War II,” inLinda K. Kerber and Jane Sherron De Hart, eds.,
Women’s America: Refocusing the Past
ed. (New York: OxfordUniversity Press, 2000), 523-531. Deborah Gray White,
Too Heavy a Load: Black Women in Defense of Themselves,1894-1994
(New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1999), 212-256. Premilla Nadasen,
Welfare Warriors: The Welfare Rights Movement in the United States
(New York: Routledge, 2005).
Carl Whitman is an early example of a gay liberationist who integrated feminist principles. He characterized male-dominated society as having “warped both men and women” and called on gay men “to purge male chauvinism, both in behavior and in thought among us.” Whitman claimed common cause with women’s liberation in a sharedchallenge to “the roles, the exploitation of minorities by capitalism, the arrogant smugness of straight white malemiddle-class Amerika.” Carl Whitman, “A Gay Manifesto” 1969-1970 reprinted along with other feminist Gay and