In the mid-1960s, young African, Hispanic, Native, and Caucasian American activists became a driving force for civil rights, free speech, and academic freedom. In manifestos, conferences, and teach-ins, young Americans also opposed the Vietnam War, capitalism, and racism; some eventually became willing to use violence. The mainly male leaders fought about socialism versus communism, totalitarianism versus democratic socialism, and whether Soviet Russia or the United States was more to blame for the Cold War and the nuclear arms race. However, the quarrelsome male socialists, Black Power, Native, and Latino activists shut most women out of significant roles in these debates. In 1965 and 1966, many male movement leaders expected women to make them coffee, do the typing and mimeographing, and provide sex.
As feminist ideas gained currency, women on the left refused to be treated in this way. They began drafting manifestos of their own, which were treated with contempt. Some men also humiliated the women. When Marilyn Webb, a member of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), tried to speak about women’s liberation, the men yelled: “Take her off the stage and fuck her.”
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