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Date of Award
Restricted Thesis: Campus only access
Bachelor of Arts
Dr. Michelle Kahn
This thesis explores the class-conscious, white feminist group the “Redstockings,” and their relationship to the development of radical feminism in the 1960s-1980s during the Women’s Liberation Movement. This organization was formed in New York City in 1969 by Ellen Willis and Shulamith Firestone and is best known for its creation of the 1969 Abortion Rights Speakouts. Analyzing this group allows for a more complex understanding of “SecondWave” feminism, class consciousness in white feminism, and the place of race and sexuality within the Women’s Liberation Movement. The central questions this thesis asks are: How did the Redstockings develop and splinter? What happened to this group? How did they articulate their views, theories, and ideas? Why were they, as a white feminist group, class conscious? How does this class-consciousness intersect with their understandings of race and sexuality? All these questions contribute to the core argument of this thesis, that the Redstockings are a key group to solidify in the historical memory of the Women’s Liberation Movement due to their contributions and questionable interactions with race, sexuality, and the patriarchy. The “Redstockings Manifesto,” written by the Redstockings in 1969, explicitly states that their movement’s best interest is “that of the poorest, most brutally exploited women,” establishing the organization’s commitment to Marxism and class-consciousness. This source is central to this thesis, as it establishes understandings of the core ideology of the Redstockings and provides insight into what made this group unique. This source, along with other personal sources from Redstockings members, comes from the still functioning Redstockings organization and their “Archives for Action,” founded in 1989. Providing the connections between organizations, insight into the innerworkings of personal and political relationships, and inspiring this thesis’ focus on New York, the Archives for Action give an insider’s perspective into the Redstockings movement and prove the group’s agency in holding on to their own place and importance in the memory of the Women’s Liberation Movement. This feminist movement was marred by internal tensions and conflicts surrounding race, sexuality, and their level of radicalism. As a group rooted in the predominantly white Women’s Liberation Movement, the Redstockings was an organization made up of college-educated, white women. White feminisms of this period, in comparison to Black and Chicana feminist work, were generally lacking class consciousness, focusing solely on social issues. However, the Redstockings provided one of the first white feminist ideologies that centrally included class. This focus on class was complicated by the group’s struggle to reconcile how radical or Marxist they wanted to be, falling back on the underlying Cold War tensions in the United States and the rise of the New Left. The group’s internal battle with radicalism marks the arc of the Redstockings’ story in this thesis, forcing the reader to question how radical feminism caused the rise and fall of this movement.
Castelli, Maggie, "Redstockings Remembered: Class-Consciousness, Whiteness, and the Women’s Liberation Movement, 1960-1980" (2021). Honors Theses. 1590.
Available for download on Tuesday, June 02, 2026