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Aalfs, Janet Elizabeth (1956-–-) Before she was 16, Aalfs had read her older sister’s copy of Sisterhood Is Powerful; with her mother had participated in activities that led to the establishment of a women’s center in New Bedford, MA; and had some of her poems published in Southeastern Massachusetts University’s women’s center newsletter . As a first-year student at Hampshire College (1974), Aalfs joined the women’s center and enrolled in women’s studies at the University of Massachusetts (which shared classes with Hampshire and other area colleges). After coming out, Aalfs helped found a women’s writing group, then two lesbian writing groups, Calypso Borealis and the Tuesday Night Lesbian Writers Group, as well as Orogeny Press, which published one fiction/poetry anthology and three books of lesbian poetry. In 1978, she began practicing martial arts and was a founding member of Valley Women’s Martial Arts and the Institute for Healing and Violence Prevention Strategies, as well as the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation. She has served as a director of VWMA/HAVPS since 1982 and was a board member and instructor of NWMAF since 1980. Aalfs holds a B.A. and M.F.A. Archives: The Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, MA. (ABS) Aalfs, Joann (1923-–-) A graduate of Bennington College (1945), Aalfs studied at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City and served with her husband in various Presbyterian ministries, including Salem, NY, and Kasur, Pakistan, 1951–1952. In New Bedford, MA, in 1963, Aalfs and other mothers got together and organized political rallies and social events and eventually found a meeting space in the YWCA. They started the Women’s Awareness Group and a small newsletter, “Rough Draft,” which put their own stories in a larger context. Aalfs worked with a small group of women starting the New Bedford Women’s Center (1972), worked with Women and Violence (1976 –1977), and Southeastern Massachusetts University Women’s Center (1972–1978). In 1980, Aalfs escaped what she describes as an abusive marriage and took refuge at the Battered Women’s Shelter in Springfield , MA. In 2004, she and other lesbians in New Bedford and Northampton were finding ways to make community more of a reality in their everyday lives. Aalfs, born in St. Paul, MN, has four children. Archives: New Bedford Women’s Center and The Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, MA. (ABS) Aarli, Helen (1926-–-) joined Chicago Women’s Liberation Union in 1970. The next year, she established a consciousness raising group of “older women” (selfdefined ) within CWLU who decided that rape would be their issue. Later joined by some law students and a local attorney, Renee Hanover, the group realized that to change the picture for rape victims, they had to confront three institutions: the hospitals, the police and the courts. They were successful on all counts: a hospital that had not previously accepted rape victims eventually did; the police changed a rape manual they were using that was highly biased against the victim; and the courts began providing special training for attorneys handling rape cases and included female lawyers. In 1974, Aarli’s group established Chicago Legal Action for Women and became lay advocates for women who could not face the court scene alone. They also started a rape crisis line in Chicago. In addition, Aarli inspired Lee Phillips, who hosted a noon television show in Chicago, to make the film “The Rape of Paulette,” the true story of a young African American woman who was gang-raped after daring to go out dancing alone. Prior to joining the women’s movement , Aarli was active in fair housing. Working within her community and with assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Todd, she participated in a successful anti-discrimination suit brought against a real estate board in Chicago in the 1960s. Aarli, who is a retired teacher and intergenerational program director, has two children and holds two master degrees. (ABS) Abbott, Sidney Afton (1937-–-) says her childhood as an “Army brat” opened her eyes to the reality that different groups of people have different opportunities. She joined NOW in 1969 and was one of the first to speak out on behalf of lesbian rights on panels at the New York NOW chapter and at Columbia University. One of the Lavender Menace, a group that “came out” at the Second Congress to Unite Women and protested the treatment of lesbians in the early women’s movement, she co-authored...


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