The radical feminist group Redstockings was founded in New York in 1969. The name Redstockings was a play on the word bluestocking, adapted to include red, a color long associated with revolution and uprising.
Bluestocking was an old term for a woman who had intellectual or literary interests, instead of the supposedly "acceptable" feminine interests. The word bluestocking had been applied with a negative connotation to 18th and 19th century feminist women.
Who Were the Redstockings?
Redstockings formed when the 1960s group New York Radical Women (NYRW) dissolved. NYRW split up after disagreements about political action, feminist theory, and leadership structure. NYRW members began meeting in separate smaller groups, with some women choosing to follow the leader whose philosophy matched theirs. Redstockings was started by Shulamith Firestone and Ellen Willis. Other members included prominent feminist thinkers Corrine Grad Coleman, Carol Hanisch, and Kathie (Amatniek) Sarachild.
Redstockings Manifesto and Beliefs
The members of Redstockings firmly believed that women were oppressed as a class. They also asserted that the existing male-dominated society was inherently flawed, destructive, and oppressive.
Redstockings wanted the feminist movement to reject the flaws in liberal activism and protest movements. Members said that the existing left perpetuated a society with men in positions power and women stuck in support positions or making coffee.
The "Redstockings Manifesto" called for women to unite to achieve liberation from men as the agents of oppression. The Manifesto also insisted that women not be blamed for their own oppression. Redstockings rejected economic, racial, and class privileges and demanded an end to the exploitative structure of male-dominated society.
The Work of Redstockings
Redstockings members spread feminist ideas such as consciousness-raising and the slogan "sisterhood is powerful." Early group protests included a 1969 abortion speak-out in New York. Redstockings members were appalled by a legislative hearing on abortion at which there were at least a dozen male speakers and the only woman who spoke was a nun. To protest, they held their own hearing, where women testified about personal experiences with abortion.
Redstockings Published a book called Feminist Revolution in 1975. It contained history and analysis of the feminist movement, with writings about what had been achieved and what the next steps would be.
Redstockings now exists as a grassroots think tank working on Women's Liberation issues. Veteran members of Redstockings established an archive project in 1989 to collect and make available texts and other materials from the Women's Liberation movement.