In this blog post, the HufPo takes up the subject of women only publishing.  I had to chuckle a bit, because for the historian of women’s culture this is a rather old topic.

One of the key sources for my project, The Politics of Women’s Culture, is the many many “women only” publications put out by WLM groups.

From the very earliest mimeographed newsletters

to the slicker publications, like Chrysalis, a journal of women’s culture

women’s movement activists and feminist academics discussed, argued, and often fought over the goals, strategies and meaning of the women’s liberation movement.

One of the hottest topics in these publications was separatism. The idea was that women needed to work, on their own, separate from men, for their own liberation.  In many ways, this concept emerged from the sexism women faced when working with men in the civil rights and anti-war movements.

However it theoretically could develop into something that some women’s movement activists came to see as deleterious to the movement, a kind of safe enclosure “away” from doing political work with men that allowed women to never have to confront men and allowed men to never be challenged on their sexist B.S.

In the latter 1970s, the idea of separatism got tangled up with women’s culture via lesbian separatism, which involved some lesbians deciding to separate, as much as possible from the male and sometimes also the straight world.  As many lesbian feminists were involved in highly visible feminist cultural activities, such as the Michgan Womyn’s Music Festival, the idea of lesbian separatism is sometimes conflated with women’s culture.

But more about that later