d Conclusion e
Recognizing the Subject of
Feminist Activism
I was still trying to find [women’s liberation], and not knowing where to
look. A friend of mine said she was going to a party at the University of
Chicago, and there were going to be feminists there. . . . So I went over to
the party. I had on my false eyelashes—well, that was like having Dolly
Parton walk in, practically—and was just utterly and completely rejected.
They were just horrified. You know, I had my [southern] accent and my big
hair and my
eyelashes.—Kathleen Thompson
One time I went [to A Woman’s Coffee House] and I got kicked out. I was in
male drag. They wouldn’t let me in because I was a man. And I said, ‘‘I am
not!’’ But, I was proud of that, because I knew I had done a good
job.—Red
Helbig
I
n 1969, Kathleen Thompson read Notes from the Second Year and
immediately began to search for ‘‘women who were part of this move-
ment.’’ She thought she’d find them at a party at the University of
Chicago, but to her surprise, she encountered unanticipated gender and
cultural barriers: she was too southern, too feminine, too much ‘‘like Dolly
Parton’’ to be welcomed at a northern feminist party where all of those
things coded uneducated and unenlightened. Newly divorced, employed,
and well-educated, Thompson had mobility. Months later she took the El
from her South Side apartment to an unfamiliar neighborhood to find the
office of the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union. Decked in anti-imperi-
alist posters, the office posed more barriers than invitations to someone
who ‘‘still looked like a country singer,’’ someone who simply wanted to
‘‘connect’’ with women who were ‘‘part of this movement.’’∞
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