Tuesday, July 1, 2008

WOMEN'S WRITING AND MUSIC, 1968-1979 (UPDATED)

("Dykes In A Truck", photo by JEB, 1977 during the recording of Casse Culver's "Three Gyspies" album; a miniature who's who in women's music at the time; click on image for larger version)

[Updated as of 5 July 2008]

It is not possible to overestimate the impact of the written word on the Second Wave of the women's movement, especially when it comes to lesbian-feminist culture. Literally hundreds of publications, printed on newly-developed offset presses which removed censorship from the hands of male-dominated presses, were available to lesbians in every corner of the country. Access to books and journals was more widespread, crossing class barriers, than the internet today. Many of them were free, either by design (as in Lesbian Connection's still existing policy of "Free to lesbians, pay what you can") or because they were precious commodities, handed on from woman to woman and household to household.

At almost the same time, a thriving circuit of "women's music" (which was almost always code for "lesbian music") provided women-only concerts and albums which toured the country. Olivia Records, formed by members of the highly separatist and political Furies press collective, came to dominate this field because they promised every aspect of their music and album production would be done by women, without access to male privilege or male-conditioned thinking. We could hear the difference -- it sounded like nothing we had ever heard before.

We had a decade-long conversation, under the noses of the patriarchy. It was the ultimate FUBU. And from this language we uncovered the means to form our own presses, bookstores, coffeeshops, clubs, schools, rape crisis centers, shelters from violence, art galleries and movements, dance troupes, disabled networks, political action groups -- anything we could imagine that would be informed by something other than the male-conditioned viewpoint.

It no longer exists, nor does anything out there even begin to approach it. Some argue it is no longer necessary, although with the current realization among young feminists that their input and assumption of power is not tolerable to a disheartening proportion of their presumed progressive male allies, I see an echo of 1968, when we realized the male left was not going to budge from identifying us as primarily sex and joke material.

For those of you who have not bought into the biological determinist myth, who are struggling to un-cover and un-learn the conditioning that actually makes you the race, gender, and class that you are (regardless of appearance or self-declaration) -- for those of you who don't buy the media or revisionist hype about the 1970's -- here's a list of what we, in my separate world, were reading cover to cover.

Consider that each journal had 50 to 100 pages, that it was accepting the best thinking and writing coming in from (sometimes) half the population, that we were singing and speaking to not just those we loved passionately but all future generations. Consider what has been silenced: Deliberately, I believe, by those too frightened to allow women's and girl's voices to be heard without male-identified temporizing and demand for airtime.

Consider the words of Monique Wittig: “There was a time when you were not a slave, remember that. You walked alone, full of laughter, you bathed bare-bellied… You say there are no words to describe this time, you say it does not exist. But Remember. Make an effort to remember. Or, failing that, invent." -- Les Guérillères

(The material listed below is from the Timeline created by the Austin Lesbian Activism in the 1970's Herstory Project, founded by me; it's not exhaustive, there is more than what I've named, feel free to add more in comments).

1968
BOOKS PUBLISHED THIS YEAR:
Valerie Solanas writes the S.C.U.M. Manifesto, a rationale and program for S.C.U.M. (The Society for Cutting Up Men), and it is printed by Olympia Press.

1969
BOOKS PUBLISHED THIS YEAR:
Sexual Politics, by Kate Millett (Doubleday)
Les Guérillères, Monique Wittig (Avon)

1970
In June, a group in New York called radicalesbians (including some women who were involved in the Stonewall Riots) publishes "The Woman Identified Woman", a manifesto which declares “A lesbian is the rage of all women condensed to the point of explosion”. This manifesto presents an analysis of lesbian oppression that has feminism at its core, and coins the term “woman-identified-woman”. Copies of this leaflet are carried to every lesbian community in the country, and its analysis is enthusiastically embraced.

1971
BOOKS PUBLISHED THIS YEAR:
Edward the Dyke & Other Poems, by Judy Grahn (Women’s Press Collective--a publishing collective Judy and other lesbians formed when Judy’s poetry could not get printed by establishment presses)
Looking at Women, by Fran Winant (Violet Press)
The Kin of Ata Are Waiting For You, by Dorothy Bryant
The First Sex, by Elizabeth Gould Davis (Putnam)

WOMEN’S PUBLICATIONS BEGUN THIS YEAR:
Amazon, a Midwest journal for women, from the Amazon Collective in Milwaukee, WI
Black Maria, a feminist literary magazine, Chicago, IL
Focus, a journal for lesbians, Cambridge, MA
Lesbian Tide, a lesbian-feminist magazine, Los Angeles, CA
Majority Report, a women’s newspaper, New York, NY
Off Our Backs, an independent radical feminist women’s new journal

1972
Ti-Grace Atkinson writes, “Feminism is the theory, lesbianism is the practice.”
BOOKS PUBLISHED THIS YEAR:
Sappho Was a Right-On Woman: A Liberated View of Lesbianism, by Sidney Abbott & Barbara Love (Stein & Day)
Eating Artichokes, by Willyce Kim (Women’s Press Collective)
Lesbian/Woman, Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon (Bantam)
WOMEN’S PUBLICATIONS BEGUN THIS YEAR:
Country Women, a country women’s journal, Albion, CA




WOMEN'S MUSIC RELEASED THIS YEAR:
Maxine Feldman releases Angry Atthis (a single)
Holly Near founded Redwood Records

1973
BOOKS PUBLISHED THIS YEAR:
Lesbian Nation: The Feminist Solution, by Jill Johnston (Simon & Schuster)
Love Between Women, by Charlotte Wolff (Duckworth Press)
Songs to a Handsome Woman, by Rita Mae Brown (Diana Press)
Rubyfruit Jungle, by Rita Mae Brown (Harper & Row)
Diving into the Wreck, by Adrienne Rich (Norton)
We Are All Lesbians, by Fran Winant (Violet Press)
Amazon Expedition: A Lesbian-Feminist Anthology, ed. by Phyllis Birkby, Bertha Harris, Jill Johnston, Esther Newton, and Jayne O’Wyatt (Times Changes Press)
Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation, by Mary Daly
Mothers and Amazons, by Helen Diner (Doubleday)
The Cook and the Carpenter, by June Arnold (Daughters, Inc)
Our Bodies, Our Selves, by the Boston Women’s Health Collective (Simon & Schuster)

WOMEN’S PUBLICATIONS BEGUN THIS YEAR:
So’s Your Old Lady, lesbian literary magazine, Minneapolis, MN

WOMEN'S MUSIC RELEASED THIS YEAR:
Virgo Rising: The Once and Future Woman (engineered and produced by women) -- singers include Charlie's Aunts, Kit Miller, Nancy Raven, Malvina Reynolds, and Janet Smith (Thunderbird Records)
Holly Near releases Hang In There (Redwood Records)
Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerard release Hazel and Alice (Rounder Records)
Barbara Dane releases I Hate The Capitalist System (Paredon Records)
Suni Paz releases Brotando del Silenco (Paredon Records)
NYC Lesbian-Feminist Liberation Collective releases A Few Loving Women (self-produced) -- singers include Ali, Lee Crespi, Jeriann Hilderly, Margar4et Sloan, Mary Solberg, Martha and Luci Wilde
New Haven and Chicago Liberation Rock Band releases Mountain Movin Day (Rounder Records)



A collective of lesbians forms in Los Angeles to produce music albums exclusively by and for women. Naming themselves Olivia Records, their first album is by one of their members, Meg Christian. The album, I Know You Know, is distributed nationally by independent lesbian agents and is a wild success. Original members were Ginny Berson, Meg Christian, Judy Dlugasz, Kate Winter, and Jennifer Woodul.

(Original Olivia Records Collective, L-R: Judy Dlugasz, Meg Christian, Ginny Berson, Jennifer Woodul, and Kate Winter)

1974
BOOKS PUBLISHED THIS YEAR:
Amazon Odyssey, by Ti-Grace Atkinson (Links Books)
The Hand That Cradles the Rock, by Rita Mae Brown (Diana)
A Woman is Talking to Death, by Judy Grahn (Women’s Press Collective)
Crossing the DMZ, by Martha Shelley (Women’s Press Collective)
Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing, by May Sarton (Norton)
Woman Hating, by Andrea Dworkin (E.P. Dutton & Co)
Riverfinger Women, by Elana Nachman/Dykewomon (Daughters)
Loving Her, Ann Allen Shockley (Bobbs Merrill)

WOMEN’S PUBLICATIONS BEGUN THIS YEAR:
Albatross, a lesbian-feminist satire magazine, East Orange, NJ
Lesbian Connection, a forum for lesbians to share news, information and points of view, East Lansing, MI
Quest, a national feminist quarterly, Washington, DC
Womanspirit, women’s spirituality, Wolf Creek, OR

(Back cover of Lavender Jane Loves Women with top to bottom, Alix Dobkin, Kay Gardner, and Patches Attom) WOMEN’S MUSIC ALBUMS PRODUCED THIS YEAR:
Lavender Jane Loves Women, by Alix Dobkin with Kay Gardner and Patches Attom (Project One)
Willie Tyson releases Full Count (Lima Bean Records)

1975
BOOKS PUBLISHED THIS YEAR:
The Female Man, by Joanna Russ (Bantam)
The Lesbian Reader: An Amazon Quarterly Anthology, ed. by Gina Covina & Laurel Galana (Amazon Press, Oakland)
Sex Variant Women in Literature, by JeAnnette Kluth H. Foster (Diana Press)
Lesbianism and the Women’s Movement, (essays by The Furies), ed. by Charlotte Bunch and Nancy Myron (Diana Press)
Loving Women, by The Nomadic Sisters (self, Sonora, CA)
The Lesbian Body, by Monique Wittig (William Morrow)
After Touch, by Jan Clausen (Out & Out Books)
The Cunt Coloring Book, by Tee Corinne (Pearchild)

WOMEN’S PUBLICATIONS BEGUN THIS YEAR:
Conditions, a women’s magazine with emphasis on writing by lesbians, Brooklyn, NY
Dyke: A Quarterly, exclusively for lesbians with a lesbian-feminist vision, New York, NY, edited by Liza Cowan and Penny House
Signs, a journal of women and culture, Barnard College, NY
Goodbye To All That, newletter of the Austin Lesbian Organization, Austin, TX

WOMEN’S MUSIC ALBUMS PRODUCED THIS YEAR:
The Changer and the Changed, by Cris Williamson (Olivia)
Kay Gardner releases Mooncircles (Urana Records, distributed by Olivia)
Holly Near releases A Live Album (Redwood Records)
Malvina Reynolds releases Held Over (Cassandra Records)

1976
BOOKS PUBLISHED THIS YEAR:
Gay Americans: Lesbian & Gay Men in the U.S.A., by Jonathan Katz, Harper & Row
Dyke Jacket, by Fran Winant (Violet Press)
Talk Among the Womenfolk, by Susan Saxe (Common Woman Press)
The Feminist Books of Lights and Shadows, Z. Budapest

WOMEN’S PUBLICATIONS BEGUN THIS YEAR:
Calyx, a women’s literary journal, Corvallis, OR
Lilith, a Jewish women’s magazine, New York, NY
Sinister Wisdom, a lesbian-feminist quarterly, Charlotte, NC
Big Mama Rag, women’s newspaper, Denver, CO

(Margie Adam performing in 1970s, photo by JEB)
WOMEN’S MUSIC ALBUMS PRODUCED THIS YEAR:
Margie Adam releases Margie Adam, Songwriter (Pleiades)
BeBe K’Roche, by BeBe K’Roche (Olivia)
The Ways a Woman Can Be, by Teresa Trull (Olivia)
Berkeley Women’s Music Collective (Windbag Records, distributed by Olivia)
Three Gypsies, by Casse Culver (Urana Records, distributed by Olivia)
Holly Near releases You Can Know All I Am (Redwood Records)
Sweet Honey in the Rock releases Sweet Honey in the Rock (Flying Fish Records)
Judy Grahn and Pat Parker read their poetry on Where Would I Be Without You (Olivia Records)
Joanna Cazden releases Hatching (Sister Sun Records, distributed by Olivia Records)
Ginny Clemmens releases Long Time Friends (Open Door Records)
Living With Lesbians, by Alix Dobkin (Project One)


1977
BOOKS PUBLISHED THIS YEAR:
Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution, by Adrienne Rich (Bantam)
Women & Honor: Some Notes on Lying, (pamphlet), Adrienne Rich (Motherroot)
The Joy of Lesbian Sex, by Emily L. Sisley & Bertha Harris (Simon & Schuster)
Women Who Love Women, by Tracy Young (Pocketbooks)
the immaculate conception of the blessed virgin dyke, by Ellen Marie Bissert (13th Moon)
Beginning with O, by Olga Broumas (Lowell University Press)
Tribe, by Martha Courtot (Pearlchild Press)
Woman on the Edge of Time, by Marge Piercy

WOMEN’S PUBLICATIONS BEGUN THIS YEAR:
Chrysalis, a magazine of women’s culture, Los Angeles, CA
Tribad, exclusively lesbian-separatist, New York, NY
Austin Dyke, a lesbian separatist newsletter, Austin, TX

WOMEN’S MUSIC ALBUMS PRODUCED THIS YEAR:
From Women’s Faces, by Therese Edell (Sea Friends)
A Lesbian Portrait, by Linda Shear and the Family of Womon Band (Old Lady Blue Jeans)
Meg Christian releases Face the Music (Olivia)
Linda Tillery releases Linda Tillery (Olivia Records)
Malvina Reynolds releases Malvina Reynolds (Cassandra Records)
Willie Tyson releases Debutante (Urana Records)
Woody Simmons releases Oregon Mountains (Deep River Records, distributed by Olivia Records)
Olivia Records releases compilation album Lesbian Concentrate, with Gwen Avery, Linda Tillery, Meg Christian, Teresa Trull, Sue Fink, Judy Grahn, Berkeley Women's Music Collective, BeBe K'Roche, Pat Parker, Mary Watkins


1978
BOOKS PUBLISHED THIS YEAR:
Word is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives, ed. by Nancy Adair & Casey Adair (New Glide Publications) -- Note: Also in 1978, this book was made into an award-winning documentary of the same name, the first queer-produced documentary about lesbians and gays in the U.S.
Ask No Man Pardon: The Philosophical Significance of Being a Lesbian, by Elsa Gidlow (Druid Heights Books, Mill Valley, CA)
Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power, by Audre Lorde (Out & Out Books)
The Notebooks that Emma Gave Me: The Autobiography of a Lesbian, by Kady Van Deurs (self)
Our Right to Love: A Lesbian Resource Book, ed. by Ginny Vida (Prentice-Hall)
The Black Unicorn, by Audre Lorde (Norton)
Movement in Black: Collected Poetry of Pat Parker, 1961-1978 (Diana Press)
Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her, by Susan Griffin (Harper & Row)
Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism, by Mary Daly
Wanderground: Stories of the Hill Women, by Sally Gearheart (Persephone Press)

WOMEN’S PUBLICATIONS BEGUN THIS YEAR:
Lone Star Lesbian, a publication providing a statewide lesbian network for contacts and support, is begun by Austin lesbians. Publishes into 1979.
Our Time Has Come, a lesbian newsletter, begins publication in Austin and lasts until 1980.

WOMEN’S MUSIC ALBUMS PRODUCED THIS YEAR:
Trish Nugent releases Foxglove Woman (Olivia Records)

(Holly Near and Meg Christian, 1970s, photo by JEB)
Imagine My Surprise, by Holly Near & Meg Christian (Redwood)
Kay Gardner releases Emerging (Urana Records)

Quiet Thunder, by the Izquierda Ensemble (River Bear Music)
Cris Williamson, with Jackie Robbins and June Millington, release Live Dream (Dream Machine Records, distributed by Olivia Records)
Baba Yaga releases On The Edge (Bloodleaf Records, distributed by Olivia Records)
Sweet Honey in the Rock releases B'lieve I'll Run On (Redwood Records)

(Sweet Honey in the Rock)

1979
WOMEN'S BOOKS PUBLISHED THIS YEAR:
Eye to Eye: Portraits of Lesbians, (photographs), by JEB/Joan E. Biren (Naiad Press)
Conditions, Volume Four, the black lesbian issue
Coming Out: We Are Here in the Asian Community, by Barbara Noda, Kitty Tsui, and Z. Wong (Lesbian-Feminist Study Clearinghouse)
Lesbian Peoples: Material for a Dictionary, by Monique Wittig and Sande Zeig

WOMEN’S PUBLICATIONS BEGUN THIS YEAR:
Feminary, a Southern lesbian journal, Chapel Hill, NC

WOMEN’S MUSIC ALBUMS PRODUCED THIS YEAR:
More Than Friends, by Robin Flower (Spaniel)
Tattoos, by Sirani Avedis (Terrapin Records)
Berkeley Women's Music Collective releases Tryin' to Survive (Olivia Records)
Mary Watkins releases Something Moving (Olivia Records)
Robin Tyler releases Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Groom, a comedy album (Olivia Records)
Kristen Lems releases Oh Mama
Maxine Feldman releases Closet Sale (Galaxia Records)



NOTE: Almost all of the images and much of the supporting information for this post came from the extraordinarly rich website of J.D. Doyle, Queer Music Heritage. He hosts a radio show "Queer Voices" on KPFT, 90.1 in Houston, Texas every fourth Monday of the month at 9 p.m. CST. He has scanned in apparently everything he can get his hands on, and his documentation is a treasure trove. THANK YOU, J.D.!! This culture is in danger of being "disappeared" -- for instance, Wikipedia is a joke when it comes to covering women's music and lesbian culture in general.

P.S.S. Liza Cowan brought to my attention a page at Holly Near's website, which is a list of all the women who were involved in Women's Music of the 1970's. As Holly puts it, "We were the musical reflection of the women's movement and the lesbian movement. Like any political song movement the music challenged, comforted, educated, and invited the heart to fall in love with a new perspective on life and humanity. There is no way to accurately measure the impact this music had on society but by naming and remembering we begin. I read my list at the concert and asked people in the audience to call out names I had forgotten. Later, Alix Dobkin and Susan Wiseheart put the final and orderly touches on the list" (Also, Barbara "Boo" Price contributed to the list of individuals and of groups.) I refer you there for all the names of those who did not manage to have an album of their own. Thanks, Liza, Holly, Alix, Susan and Boo!

The list at Holly Near's site was missing the following individual women singers and group:
Annie Dinerman (singer/songwriter whose work was used by Therese Edell and Meg Christian)
Barbara J. Galloway (Baba Yaga)
Bonnie Kovaleff (Baga Yaga, on Mary Watkins' Something Moving)
Coleen Stuart (on Mary Watkins' Something Moving)
Jake/Janet Lampert (from BeBe K'Roche, Baba Yaga)
Jan Cornall (Baba Yaga)
Jerene O'Brien (from BeBe K'Roche and Teresa Trull's The Ways A Woman Can Be)
Joan Balter (played with Robin Flower)
Joan Lefkowitz (Swingshift)
Joy Julks (on Mary Watkins' Something Moving)
Kieta O'Hara (Baba Yaga)
Maia McNamara (Baba Yaga)
Michal (Michelle then) Brody (from Linda Shear's Lesbian Portrait album and also local Chicago women's music circles)
Naomi Shapiro (Swingshift)
Nancy Cady (Baga Yaga)
Nancy Henderson (Berkeley Women's Music Collective)
Niobe Erebor (Baba Yaga)
Patti Vincent (Baba Yaga)
Peggy Mitchell (from BeBe K'Roche)
Susan Colson (Baba Yaga, Swingshift)
Virginia/Ginny Rubino (from BeBe K'Roche)

Swingshift (a women's ensemble doing mostly jazz and some world music in the SF Bay Area, containing Bonnie Lockhart, Joan Lefkowitz, Susan Colson, Naomi Shapiro, and Frieda Fein that I can remember)

3 comments:

Liza Cowan said...

Good times. Thrilling, exciting times. Thanks for the list, and the memories.

Where are all the grad students looking for dissertation material? It's right here.

la strega said...

Great list! I still have many of the small press publications.

Yes, it brought back many memories- the first time we heard Alyx Dobkin and how everyone it seemed was talking about Lavender Jane, seeing Chris Williamson play in a small bar in San Francisco, Pat Parker reading at my Gay Lit class, the opening night for Word Is Out, the long conversations and arguments about the Woman Identified Woman essay- and many more.

Quite thrilling, revolutionary and mind expanding. Still.

JD Doyle said...

Maggie, very, very nice overview, and thanks again for the plug to my site, Queer Music Heritage. My recent shows of special interest to your visitors would be May 2008, the History of Olivia Records, with the only Discography of the label on the net, of course done with my love of scanning everything I have...:)

And, I'm working on November 2008, right now..."Lesbians on Cassette," where the recording was ONLY available on tape, not on vinyl or later on CD...so sure to be filled with the obscurities I love to showcase.

JD Doyle