For over twenty years, volunteers with the Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force (WACDTF) have been providing a reassuring and peaceful pro-choice presence for patients and their companions at Washington, D.C.-area clinics. Below, three current volunteers – Bill, Colin, and Rachel – discuss their work. The opinions they express are their own and not those of WACDTF.
When did you first call yourself a feminist, and what influenced that decision?
Bill: About 1969, when the “second wave” of feminism was sweeping the U.S. A faculty colleague at the University of Minnesota – Duluth invited me to volunteer as support staff at a feminist conference and later to join a CR (consciousness-raising) group. I was a graduate student four years out of college and felt that I’d missed out on much of the civil rights movement of the early 1960s because I had been too focused on studies as an undergraduate; this was my chance to correct that error. Also, in 1964 I’d seen an older friend, a brilliant student who had graduated with honors from Bryn Mawr, forced to attend secretarial school to find a job because few careers were then open to women.
Rachel: I’ve probably been someone who always called herself a feminist. My freshman year I went to Evergreen State College, which was a real hippie school, and I loved the term riotgrrl without really thinking about it. But my earliest memory of being a consciously active feminist was reading coverage of the horrible Woodstock ’99. To me it’s the first definitive memory I have of realizing that the rules are different for girls. I have a framed copy of a 1999 issue of ROCKRGRL Magazine with the title “RapeStock” and the picture is a bare-breasted woman sitting on her boyfriend’s shoulders. A hand reaches from below and grabs her breast. It’s the image that made me want to fight back. [Read more...]