QotD: “The visionary feminists of the late Sixties and early Seventies knew that women could never find freedom by agreeing to live the lives of unfree men”

In 1970 the movement was called ‘Women’s Liberation’ or, contemptuously, ‘Women’s Lib’. When the name ‘Libbers’ was dropped for ‘Feminists’ we were all relieved. What none of us noticed was that the ideal of liberation was fading out with the word. We were settling for equality. Liberation struggles are not about assimilation but about asserting difference, endowing the difference with dignity and prestige, and insisting on it as a condition of self-definition and self-determination. The aim of women’s liberation is to do as much for female people as has been done for colonised nations. Women’s liberation did not see the female’s potential in terms of the male’s actual; the visionary feminists of the late Sixties and early Seventies knew that women could never find freedom by agreeing to live the lives of unfree men. Seekers after equality clamoured to be admitted to smoke-filled male haunts. Liberationists sought the world over for clues to what women’s lives could be like if they were free to define their own values, order their own priorities and decide their own fate.

Germaine Greer, The Whole Woman, 1999

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