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Women's International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell

Women's International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell, shortened W.I.T.C.H., was the name of many related but independent feminist groups formed in the United States during 1968 and 1969 and who were important in the development of socialist feminism. The name W.I.T.C.H. was also sometimes expanded as "Women Inspired to Tell their Collective History," "Women Interested in Toppling Consumer Holidays," and many other variations (Brownmiller 1999, 49).

W.I.T.C.H. was formed when the New York Radical Women (NYRW) split in 1969. The group divided, mainly as a result of disagreements about the role of consciousness raising (CR) groups, into the Redstockings (the new home for CR group advocates) and W.I.T.C.H. (a group that advocated political rather than personal action). W.I.T.C.H. members tended to be "politcos," social feminists, who strongly identified with the New Left, and radical feminists, who supported an autonomous women's movement. (Echols 1989)

There was no centralized organization; each W.I.T.C.H. group was formed independently by women inspired by the ideas and example of previous actions. Their activism mainly took the form of "zaps," a form of guerrilla theater mixing street theatre and protest, where they used attention-catching and humorous public actions to highlight political and economic complaints against companies and government agencies, frequently involving the use of witch costumes and the chanting of hexes. On Halloween 1968, women from W.I.T.C.H. staged a "hex" of Wall Street at a branch of Chase Manhattan Bank, wearing rags and fright makeup; Robin Morgan recalls that the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined sharply the next day (Brownmiller 1999, 49). In December of 1968 W.I.T.C.H targeted both the House Un-American Activities Committee and the Chicago Eight, saying that they conspired to treat only men as "leaders" of the antiwar movement. Spin-off "covens" were founded in Chicago, Illinois and Washington, D.C. (Brownmiller, 49), and W.I.T.C.H. zaps continued until roughly the beginning of 1970.

Members of W.I.T.C.H. included Robin Morgan, a child television star in the 1950s and a member of the Youth International Party in the late 1960s, Florika, Peggy Dobbins, and Naomi Jaffe, who went on to join the Weather Underground Organization (Brownmiller 1999, 49). Soon after the breakup of W.I.T.C.H., Robin Morgan repudiated her New Left-aligned politics, and embraced a kind of radical feminism that was strongly opposed to "the male left". (Echols 1989)

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