It’s not likely that the New York Times will mark the 40th anniversary of the June 1969 Students for a Democratic Society [SDS] National Convention in Chicago by reprinting excerpts from the position paper of the Weatherman faction of SDS. So following are even more excerpts from Part 9 of this historic position paper (that originally appeared in the June 18, 1969 issue of New Left Notes) which might interest U.S. anti-war activists in 2009—during the current U.S. historical era of “endless permanent war abroad and economic depression at home”:
“SDS has not dealt in any adequate way with the women question; the resolution passed at Ann Arbor did not lead to much practice, nor has the need to fight male supremacy been given any programmatic direction within the RYM [Revolutionary Youth Movement]. As a result, we have a very limited understanding of the tie-up between imperialism and the women question, although we...guess that the breakdown of the family is crucial to the women question. How do we organize women against racism and imperialism without submerging the principled revolutionary question of women’s liberation? We have no real answer, but we recognize the real reactionary danger of women’s groups that are not self-consciously revolutionary and anti-imperialist.
“To become more relevant to the growing women’s movement, SDS women should begin to see as a primary responsibility the self-conscious organizing of women. We will not be able to organize women unless we speak directly to their own oppression. This will become more and more critical as we work with more oppressed women. Women who are working and women who have families face male supremacy continuously in their day-to-day lives; that will have to be the starting point in their politicization. Women will never be able to undertake a full revolutionary role unless they break out of their woman’s role. So a crucial task for revolutionaries is the creation of forms of organization in which women will be able to take on new and independent roles. Women’s self-defense groups will be a step toward these organizational forms, as an effort to overcome women’s isolation and build revolutionary self-reliance.
“The cultural revolt of women against their `role’ in imperialism (which is just beginning to happen in a mass way) should have the same sort of revolutionary potential that the RYM [Revolutionary Youth Movement] claimed for `youth culture.’ The role of the `wife-mother’ is reactionary in most societies, and the disintegration of that role under imperialism should make women more sympathetic to revolution.
“In all of our work we should try to formulate demands that not only reach out to more oppressed women, but ones which tie us to other ongoing struggles, in the way that a daycare center at U of C [University of Chicago] enabled us to tie the women’s liberation struggle to the Black Liberation struggle.
"There must be a strong revolutionary women's movement, for without one it will be impossible for women’s liberation to be an important part of the revolution. Revolutionaries must be made to understand the full scope of women’s oppression, and the necessity to smash male supremacy.” (end of third section of excerpts from part 9)
(New Left Notes 6/18/69)