Abstract

Abstract:

Grassroots campus groups played an important, yet often neglected role in the larger fight to name and combat sexual harassment. In this paper, we seek to restore the nearly forgotten history of one such group, Women Organized Against Sexual Harassment (WOASH), at University of California, Berkeley, 1978–1980. Our method is one of collaborative conversation across feminist generations, using archival data, retrospective observations, and informal interviews with former members to examine the group's mobilizing around the university's failure to act on multiple complaints of sexual harassment against a faculty member. By demanding formal procedures, WOASH raised awareness of sexual harassment as an institutional problem at a time when Title IX's prohibition of sex discrimination in education was still new. Yet, like many in the women's liberation branch of the second-wave, WOASH was a largely white, middle-class group. We argue, nonetheless, that the group grappled with divides over racial and feminist politics and, with other women's liberation groups, contributed to intersectional thinking. The history of small, short-lived groups like WOASH warrants our attention for their cumulative impact on public awareness of sexual harassment, but also for the lessons such second-wave feminisms contribute to thinking about current challenges and strengthening bridges between generations.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2151-7371
Print ISSN
2151-7363
Pages
pp. 175-201
Launched on MUSE
2018-09-12
Open Access
No
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