35 YEARS of off our backs
off our backs has served as a vehical for feminist communication, education, and news for 35 years. In this special section celebrating this milestone, collective members and volunteers remember the day, and stop to assess, for a moment, where we are.
And where are we after 35 years of feminist movement? Do we still have a movement? Or movements? Is feminist change still being created? Which direction are we going?
Over the past 35 years, off our backs has covered major schisms in feminism that have divided and confused feminists. For example, divisions in feminism over sex, pornography, and gender began in the 1980s with the Barnard conference on sexuality and with the debates over the MacKinnon-Dworkin anti-pornography ordinance. The questions at issue: Where lies liberation for women? In freely expressing whatever sexuality “feels right”? In envisioning a sexuality embedded in relationship and free of men’s oppressive objectification, use and abuse of women’s bodies and images?
With neocons today focusing so much energy on sexual matters-against school sex education, condoms, abortion rights, birth control and gay marriage-clearly it is important to assert women’s right to our own bodies sexually as well as reproductively.
Feminists have also been divided about women’s gender roles, some focusing mainly on equality in the workplace, others seeking wages for housework, still others seeking family leave for both men and women and asking men to share more of the caretaking and homemaking responsibilities.
What kind of feminist world do we want to create? We at off our backs hope to continue to be a forum for women’s voices for the next 35 years as together we continue to discuss, debate, formulate and strategize our visions for the feminist future.
Copyright Off Our Backs, Inc. May/Jun 2005
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