I stopped to visit one of my oldest friends when I was coming back from Alexandria. She and I meet in 1972 when we became members of the same consciousness-raising group.
While I was with her, she pulled out a journal she had kept as part of her consciousness-raising process. We had a grand time rereading it, particularly every time she referenced me. As we reviewed our time in the group, we had great insight into how we grew through the experience.
One of the funny things about her notes was how many times she referenced Ms. Magazine. It was our bible; along with Our Bodies Our Selves, The Feminine Mystique and Sisterhood is Powerful- the only things written by women for women at the time to guide us along an uncharted path.
Groups were formed by location and we both lived in West Philadelphia. She was a graduate student at Penn; I was a home economics teacher in North Philly. There were about eight women total. We rotated homes for meetings and brainstormed topics of which she kept a list in the back of her book: honesty, crying, defensiveness, female characteristics, and sex. Turns out I had a similar journal at home with the same list.
It was an exciting to explore new ideas and avenues that had never been open before. Each worked hard to pull her weight, to be supportive of individual struggles and limitations all in the name of breaking through barriers.
The adage at the time was that The Personal is Political. As we took a critical look at our personal situations, we began to understand how limits were placed upon us by our society. It damned well was political! Our realizations propelled us into an explosion of self-awareness, independence, and creativity to open doors, shatter ceilings and flower the new self-images that shaped us through to this day.