Central to NYRF's philosophy was the idea that men consciously maintained power over women in order to strengthen their egos, but also held that in many ways women internalized their subordination by diminishing their egos and that consciousness raising was key to liberating women from this ingrained subordination. This analysis represented a sort of fusion of between the analysis of gender relations advanced by Redstockings and that of The Feminists. This analysis was codified in Firestone's The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution.
NYRF members thusly organized — at one point through ads in the Village Voice — small 10-12 women consciousness-raising ("c-r") groups throughout NYC that all came together for a monthly mass business and consciousness-raising meeting. Through the Old Chelsea Station post office box started then, NYRFers distributed copies of an abbreviated version of Koedt's December 4, 1969 (as reported in the NYRF Calendar) Philosophy of Radical Feminism that explained NYRF's focus on the "politics of the ego" and Consciousness-Raising Group Guidelines and Topics in a document Introduction to New York Radical Feminists continuing to do so until 1989.
Although Shulamith Firestone left NYRF in 1970, the group continued to grow through the mid-1970s, held major speakouts and conferences and published The New York Radical Feminists Newsletter started by members of West Village Brigades #3 and #7 (according to the masthead of that issue) in late 1970. The newsletter continued to be published monthly until July 1976 with its last issues August-October 1976, November/December 1976, January/February 1977 and May/June 1977. The last newsletters indicate the continuance of the Consciousness-Raising Group Organizing Collective, Steering Committee, and Speaker's Bureau until June 1977 and the continuance of the Monthly Sunday Consciousness-Raising Meeting until June 1976. Except for small percentages of Speakers' Bureau fees and $1-a-page payment for typing newsletter articles and transcriptions of conference speakout and workshop tapes, all NYRF work was performed pro bono mostly by women who were in their 30s and 40s.
The newsletters give the extent of participation in NYRF through the mid-1970s, including:
As reported in the NYRF newsletters and event flyers, NYRF speakouts, conferences, and other events held in Manhattan churches and schools were concerned with consciousness-raising and interpersonal support among women to change women's subordinated roles in patriarchal institutions or to remedy the sexual abuse of women and children.
NYRF conferences and other events organized to examine, challenge and redefine women's subordinate roles in institutions designed to serve the male ego included the February 3 & 4, 1973 Marriage Conference; the March 1973 production of Louise Thompson's play Impression of Loving; the October 19, 1973, Working Class Women's Speakout in coalition with Professional Household Workers; the February 10, 1974, NYRF Video Show featuring Minda Bikman's Marriage Conference documentary Marriage: Women Speak Out; the May 19, 1974 Motherhood Conference; the June 15, 1975, Illegitimacy Speakout; the November 7 & 8, 1975 production of the Boston Caravan Theatre's Focus on Me, A Women's Journey by Bobbi Ausubel, and the March 6 & 7, 1976, Women and Work Conference. Collectives of Marriage and Motherhood conference organizers started work on books from speak-out and workshop tape transcripts. Publication of all or part of the Marriage Conference's proceedings in print or in on-line archives as of February 12, 2008 remained stymied by leadership problems engendered at times by the collective decision-making structure of NYRF and the book group. (That is, no group of elected leaders existed to resolve disputes when consensus could not be reached within NYRF or one of its work project collectives.)
Consciousness-raising about the sexual abuse of women and children as men's exertion of their dominance and control rather than love and sexual desire started with the January 24, 1971, Rape Speakout soon followed by the April 17, 1971, Rape Conference. These first public events that openly discussed rape and sexual abuse from a woman's perspective spawned three books by NYRF members, West Village Brigade #1's Susan Brownmiller's 1975 international best seller Against Our Will, Men, Women and Rape, Noreen Connell and Casandra Wilson's 1974 Plume Press Rape: The First Sourcebook for Women and Florence Rush's 1980 Prentice Hall The Best Kept Secret: Sexual Abuse of Children.
NYRF sexual abuse speakouts and conferences thereafter included the December 11 & 12, 1971, Women's Conference on Prostitution in coalition with The Feminists, New Women Lawyers, and Women's Rights Committee of the N.D.C.; the August 25 1974 Sexual Abuse Speak-out and Conference with the National Black Feminist Organization (NBFO); the January 25, 1976 Speakout on Child Molestation and the May 16, 1976 Speakout about Sexual Harassment on the Job. The Women Against Pornography September 15 and 16, 1979, Conference program lists NYRFers as speakout organizers and workshop leaders.
Newsletters and other sources also document that NYRFers moved beyond their c-r groups and, unfortunately for NYRF, its own organizing activities, to participate in or spearhead the highly effective confrontational sit-ins, marches and rallies of that period, join or establish other feminist political "action" (vis-a-vis consciousness-raising and theory development discussion) groups and institutions, and engage in media endeavors.
NYFers initiated or were among the initiators of:
NYRFers joined or established the Health and Abortion Project; the Older Women's League (OWL); the 1975 Feminist Community Coalition; the Brooklyn-based National Congress of Neighborhood Women; the New York Chapter of the National Organization for Women; Women Office Workers; the New York Women's Anti-Rape Coalition; the August 1975-March 1984 Ithaca- then New York-based Working Women's Institute concerned with workplace sexual harassment, and the Street Harassment Workshop.
NYRFers established or maintained the 1970–1971 Women's Liberation Center's West 22nd Street Loft; the May 1972-January 1977 West Village restaurant, Mother Courage; the 1974–1976 Waverly Place Women's Workspace Loft; the December 1974-July 1978(?) 7th Avenue near Sheridan Square Women's Coffeehouse which housed later NYRF meetings and speakouts as well as concerts, readings, and political discussions; the February 1975-1986(?) 201 West 92nd Street bookstore, Womanbooks; and the March 1976-mid(?)-1980's New York Feminist Federal Credit Union.
NYRFers were founding members of Herstory Films, VideoWomen whose members participated in Women's Video Festivals, the 1980–1997 Rosetta (Reitz) Records that retrieved the histories and music of African-American women blues singers , and New York's feminist newspaper Majority Report (not to be confused with the radio program of that name); radio talkshow guests through the Speakers' Bureau; producers of WBAI Pacifica radio consciousness-raising group and other feminist programming; and authors of innumerable magazine articles and books.
From New York Radical Feminists to Rivolta Femminile: Italian Feminists Rethink the Practice of Consciousness Raising, 1970-1974
Jan 01, 2005; In the larger context of other well-known national feminisms, the Italian 'subject' is more or less 'unknown.' Italy has always...