In 1965, two women of Students for a Democratic Society, Casey Hayden and Mary King, wrote an essay bringing attention to the problem of sexism within SDS. In their essay, the authors cautiously raised the issue of sexism in the student movement (indeed, the subtitle of the essay, “A Kind of Memo,” suggested just how cautious they were), arguing that women engaged in movements for social justice needed to start communicating to both each other, and their fellow male activists about their experiences. Deeply involved in the Civil Rights Movement, Hayden and King went out of their way to be clear that they were in no sense equating the discrimination and oppression they experienced as women with the oppression experienced by African Americans in the United States. Nonetheless, it had become increasingly clear to them that sexism did not stop at the door of the radical meeting house – it was a very real problem in the New Left community, and it had to be dealt with.
Two years later, frustrated by the tepid and insulting response of many men in SDS to their call for gender equality, the women of SDS again penned an essay which attempted to explain why attacking sexism was so important to the overall struggle for social justice. As they wrote:
“We seek the liberation of all human beings. The struggle for liberation of women must be part of the larger fight for human freedom. We recognize the difficulty our brothers will have in dealing with male chauvinism and we will assume our full responsibility in helping to resolve the contradiction. Freedom now! We love you!”
The journal New Left Notes published the essay, but it ran accompanied by this image: