How did you become a feminist?
Our first Women Unite video captures the stories of how some of the amazing women in our collective gained feminist consciousness and became active in the women’s movement during the 1970s and 1980s.
The Women Unite project was started in April 2020, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. We realised that recording in person wasn’t going to be possible and so we decided to use Zoom. At the very start of our project, we resolved to do a “test” interview amongst ourselves to practice. The interview revealed some interesting stories in the awakening of feminist consciousness and the beginning of activism in some of the members of the Rise Up Collective and so we determined that it deserved a place with the other interviews in the project.
with Meg Luxton, Sue Colley, Amy Gottlieb
interviewed by Franca Iacovetta
Material from the Archive
- Feminism and the Revolutionary Left
- Documents of the Early Women’s Liberation Movement
- Reminiscences of Pat Schulz and the daycare scene
- Women’s Liberation – rmg document series 1
- Union Woman Nov/Dec 1981
- Lesbian Organization of Toronto (LOOT)
- Oka Peace Camp (1990) – Susan Heald speaking with Amy Gottlieb
- International Women’s Day 1982 (Toronto)
- Women’s Press, Toronto – Group Photo
Some Excerpts from the Video
Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies Professor
“…she and I became friends and we would go for drives and she would tell me the history of communism and history of the Russian Revolution and etcetera, etcetera, which all made perfect sense to me and really fit with what I was feeling and living with.
When I came back to Toronto I did join the RMG, but it was so hostile to the people we were supposed to be mobilizing to make the revolution. And then the point at which I dropped out was when I was told that it was unrevolutionary to have a second kid [laughter] by the branch organizer who said, “It’s one thing for a revolutionary to have a kid; anybody can make one mistake. But to adopt a kid is to do it deliberately.”
Child Care Activist
“There was this organization that I immediately got involved with called the Vancouver Liberation Front. Wedecided that, because the Americans had invaded Cambodia for 30 days and only 23 miles, that we should invade the United States for 30 days and only 23 miles. And so, this was my first really big political event because what we did was we stormed over the border and took the town of Blaine.
The Vancouver Liberation Front was getting very antsy about the role the men were playing in this organization. And so, the women that were involved decided to have daily consciousness-raising sessions on the English Bay Beach. We all sat around on the beach and basically examined our roots and where we were coming from. Prior to that I hadn’t been a feminist at all.”
Artist and Queer Activist
“I was an activist from the time I was in junior high school and formed my first organization, the Students’ Crusade Against War andstole bed sheets, and made a banner for us to march in a demonstration that said Students’ Crusade Against War.
In Peterborough I became a Trotskyist and I also came out as a lesbian. And I always thought it was kind of funny that my mother, she said, “Well, it’s fine that you love women and are a lesbian, but just don’t tell your fatherabout the Trotskyist part”.
My first job was at Interval House, a shelter for women who were abused and who had suffered violence at the hands of their partners, the majority of them being male. That for me was an eye opener andmade me aware of things that I really hadn’t up until that point been involved in in a conscious way.”
This project has been made possible in part by Library and Archives Canada’s Documentary Heritage Communities Program.