The London Gay Liberation Front
The formation of the Gay Liberation Front in London and the publication of the Front’s Manifesto in 1971 was a pivotal event that transformed the ways gays viewed themselves. The Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was made up of an international collection of gay men living in London who were frustrated at what they saw as society’s constant efforts to humiliate and discriminate against them. Their strategy bears a striking similarity to the one pioneered by Gandhi and Steve Biko: to demonstrate to society and to oneself that the problem was not being gay; the problem was society’s homophobia. Or, in the words of one GLF activist, “Instead of us having to justify our existence, we forced the gay-haters to justify their bigotry.” The GLF used a variety of strategies and tactics to build a new sense of identity while challenging societal attitudes and norms. Civil disobedience and boycotts were combined with humorous street performances and gay-pride parades. A sense of community was reinforced by the GLF sponsorship of a gay newspaper and counseling center.
Manifesto Group of the GLF, “Manifesto” (originally printed by Russell Press/Nottingham, 1971 and reprinted by Gay Liberation Information Service/London, 1979). In Lisa Power, No Bath but Plenty of Bubbles: An Oral History of the Gay Liberation Front, 314–20. Copyright © 1995 Cassell Academic Books.
Simone de Beauvoir
Encouraged by the successful strategy and tactics of the civil rights and antiwar movements, a new assertiveness also marked the drive for women’s rights after the conclusion of the World War II. One important voice in the movement for women’s freedoms was that of a leading French philosopher and intellectual, Simone de Beauvoir (1908–1986). Her lengthy, detailed, and compelling study The Second Sex, published in 1949, challenged women to take action on their own behalf in order to gain full equality with their male counterparts. Her analysis traced the origins of sexism and a sense of women’s inferiority to the unique circumstances of girlhood and to society’s instilling of “feminine” characteristics in young women. Only by breaking the barriers of societal expectations for “well-bred young girls,” she argued, could women achieve the goal of true and complete equality with men.
Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, trans. and ed. H. M. Parshley (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1953), 334–336.
Fatima Mernissi is a Moroccan feminist and sociologist. After studying at the Sorbonne in Paris, she received her Ph.D. from Brandeis University before returning to Morocco. Mernissi’s work has largely focused on the role of women within Islam, and she has examined the ways in which traditional Islamic cultures have treated women versus how the Qur’an (the source of much of Islamic “orthodoxy”) treats them. Her first book Beyond the Veil (1975) became a classic in the fields of anthropology and sociology. Doing Daily Battle: Interviews with Moroccan Women (1989) was prompted in part by the suggestion that feminism was a Western concern. For the book, Mernissi interviewed a hundred women, mostly from the lower classes, and collected a great deal of material on a diversity of subjects such as culinary culture, spirituality, sex, and family.
From Fatima Mernissi, Doing Daily Battle: Interviews with Moroccan Women. Trans. Mary Jo Lakeland. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1989, pp. 126–44, 213–7 (excerpts).
The only child of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, Indira Gandhi served in turn as prime minister between 1966 and 1977 and again from 1980 until her assassination in 1984. She was the third of the country’s prime ministers and the first female to hold the position. Gandhi pursued many of the same policies as her father, supported the Non-Aligned Movement, and was especially concerned to promote the interests of the women and girls her nation and of the world,. This speech, delivered to students in a women’s college, reveals her concern to combine women’s rights with India’s drive for modernization.