Wednesday, December 22, 2010


(Photograph © Donna Gottschalk, 1969)

Remember this?

If you were a dyke-feminist in the 70s through the early 80s, you probably had this image as a poster titled "Sisterhood Feels Good" hanging in your house. It really was ubiquitous. Mine hung over my bed for a decade, a yellow-tinted reminder of how "Feminism was the theory, lesbianism was the practice."

The photographer is Donna Gottschalk, and I write this post in part to ensure her name starts being attached to this image wherever it appears. She says she took this at a "big women's powwow in Pennsylvania 1969, very cold" but cannot recall the date or time, so we hope one of you out there can identify it for herstory. She also states the wimmin in the photo didn't want to be outed at the time, but if you are one of the two in bed here and would now like to have your name attached, this is your chance.

When I moved from the land collective in Durango to San Francisco in early spring 1978, this image was in my mind, a goal I hoped to achieve: Lying in a small urban bed pooling my warmth with another dyke. I know I was not alone in that goal. In fact, I suspect it was a prime motivator in why we went to so many meetings, rallies, and other events. There was "something about the women" running throughout every choice we made. And, yes, I achieved my goal too many times to count.

So this image unlocks not only a collective intent and theory, but also collective memory.

I invite you to share whatever it stirs for you. But as always, be kind. Honesty and kindness go well together, if you aim for a Grahn-ish plainspeak.


liza said...

I remember it well. Seems to me that poster was everywhere. I know I had it hanging in at least one of my homes in the seventies.

For me, the image said that we can be together as Lesbians, cozy and huddled for warmth and security, peaceful and dreaming. The fact that the women are in bed, but in bed sleeping said everything good to me. Today, the image would be all about sex and "hotness."

While the image implied that possibly some hanky panky had happened earlier, that wasn't the only, or, for me, the main point. It was the peacefulness of sleeping next to a loved one and probably waking to plan more revolutionary hijinks.

liza said...

searching for links: this is text only

LIza said...

Library Of Congress:

can you tell it's a really slow day at work for me today??

Maggie Jochild said...

Exactly, Liza, and thank you SO MUCH for your analysis. It was the expanded definition of lesbian as not (just) a sexual practice but a whole identity that I found compelling, then and now. The reduction of lesbian to sex only (i.e., see Susie Bright's recent essay about how "The Black Swan" has NOTHNG about lesbian sex in it, not if you consider OUR definitions) is part of the backlash against feminism. The "post-feminist" interpretation of our insistence on an identity that also includes conditioning, culture, and the erotic as well as sexuality is at its core woman-hating: How dare we pretend to a higher identity than that of a hole?

The iconic meaning and impact of this image/poster cannot be overstated.

Anonymous said...

Times Change Press is still in business (sort of) and has copies of "Sisterhood Feels Good" originals, not reproductions at:
Times Change Press
8453 Blackney Rd.
Sebastopol, CA 95472
I think they're about $45-50