A Woman’s Place, A Man’s World: Yale, Society, and the ‘60s


– Welcome back to the start
of the afternoon session. I’m going to do a brief introduction and then pass it off to our
moderator, Beverly Gage. As you can see from the
description in your program, this panel centers on the societal context in which co-education occurred, including society’s
expectations for women, the expectations women had for themselves, and the culture of the all male
institution we were joining. As you well know, many things that strike a younger audience is odd
about how Yale welcomed the first women undergraduates. From the facilities, to the traditions, to the certain limitations
on where, when or what a woman could do or be, were very much standard thinking in the world outside of Yale. So, one really can’t make
sense of Yale’s transition to co-education without putting it in the appropriate context. We hope this panel will
provide a thoughtful discussion of those years before Yale went co-ed, and when the women first came to campus. And will it assess what
all of that meant for women in the US in the late 1960s. Many of our mothers
hoped we would not follow in their footsteps. And instead wished for
us the opportunities they were denied. So, I’m going to turn it over to Beverly, but first give you a little intro on her. As you can see in your program, too, the full bios are listed there, so we’re only gonna list
a few of the highlights. Beverly Gage, class of ’94, is professor of 20th
century American history, and director of the Brady Johnson
Program in grand strategy. Her courses focus on American politics, political thought, social movements, and governments broadly conceived. In addition to her Yale
BA, she holds a PhD in history from Columbia. So please welcome Beverly Gage. (audience and panelists applauding) – Well thank you all. Are the microphones in better shape? First and most important question, okay. That’s wonderful to hear. Thank you all, first
of all for being here, and thank you to the
organizers Eve Rice especially, who did so much work to
put this panel together. (audience applauds) And I also want to say
a heartfelt thank you to all of you on behave of the
slightly younger generations of women Yale students, who
followed in your footsteps, who would not have been
able to have the experiences that we had without your
bravery, hard work, adventurism. And also on behalf of the
women faculty here at Yale. I was at this morning’s
session and I appreciated the conversation and
advocacy on our behalf. I should say, looking out at this audience it’s kind of a thrill to be up here during the Yale reunions in May. I was a speaker at the
class of 1969 reunion, who looked very different from this. (everyone laughs) So this is a real triumph,
it’s really remarkable to sit up here and see
all of you out there. It’s just wonderful that
this event is happening. Our task up here for this
panel is to draw back a little bit from Yale
centric discussions, and think about how all
of your experiences. And the experiences of the institution and the broader community of New Haven, fit into some larger political, social, cultural, intellectual
dynamics that were underway during the late 1960s and early 1970s. As a history professor I
teach a class in 20th century American history here, so we
cover a lot of this ground. I spend a lot of time
teaching this as history to the next generation
(audience laughs) of students who I should
note, somewhat disturbingly even for me, who are now
born in the 21st century. So this year’s freshman and sophomores were all 21st century babies. So all of the 20th century, including my own
undergraduate experiences, of course yours is now a very much part of history for them. And, when we talk about
history I actually often point back to this moment in
the late ’60s and early ’70s when students come to me with the question of whether or not we’ve
lived through anything like what we’re living through today. But in particular, whether we
have ever lived in a society that was as divided, and as
full of political passion as the world into which they are entering. And of course there are
lots of differences between this moment and 50 years ago, but I think there are
some really interesting and telling similarities, too. And so that’s part of our challenge today is to talk about what
some of those might be. Just to refresh everyone’s memory, 1969 through the early 1970s, so Richard Nixon had just
been elected president. We were at really the
peak of the Vietnam War as well as the controversies
over the Vietnam War. The Civil Rights Movement
had been underway for well over a decade
in its formal sense. And in many ways, by the
late 1960s we were entering a moment of really new
radical consciousness, for the anti-war movement,
for the Civil Rights Movement, for many other identity movements that were beginning to emerge. One of the most interesting
things that I’ve been thinking about in 1969, was sort of
the parallel story to that, which is a book that was
written by a man named Keven Philips in 1969 titled, “The Emerging Republican Majority.” It was sort of laying out what he saw, despite all of this radicalization, despite all of this energy
that seemed to be happening on the left and within liberal circles. He foresaw a radical
reordering of politics on the American right, as well. And that’s become
increasingly for historians, a big theme of the 1960s and 1970s. And of course for people
who were teenagers and in their early 20s, these
were both thrilling years. And I would imagine terrifying
years in lots of ways. 1968 saw the assassinations
of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King. You were seeing increasing
violence in many American cities, and of course in 1970, you
really saw dramatic ruptures on many campuses in the United States. I’m sure everyone in
this room has some memory of Mayday, 1970, and that might be one of the touchstone events we’d
like to talk about here. But of course, 1970 was the year of the Kent State shootings, the shootings of student protestors at Jackson State in Mississippi as well. So, if we had to boil it down, I think we might think about the period in which you all arrived at Yale, as a period of enormous
promise and change. A period of pretty serious instability, and a divisiveness, as well. And so, we want to think
about the experiences of everyone in this room, but particularly our distinguished
panelists in that theme. So, to turn to our panelists, I’m gonna briefly introduce
each of them at turn. We’ll have a conversation
up here for about 45 minutes to an hour, and then as
with the panel this morning, we will open it up for
questions and answers. I suppose we can go from that
end of the table to this one. We’ll start with Congressman
Sheila Jackson Lee, who is a 1972 graduate– – Don’t start with me.
– Don’t start with you. – I’m yielding to my sisters. – All right, she’s busy.
(everyone laughs) I’m gonna introduce you in that order, then we’ll start somewhere else. A 1972 graduate of Yale
College, she is in her 11th term in the United States
House of Representatives representing–
(everyone applauds) Representing the 18th
Congressional District of Texas, which is centered around Houston. You might know her if
you’re an avid CSPAN fan, but you might also see her
very frequently speaking out in the name of truth and justice on many television programs and elsewhere. One of our most influential and really prolific legislators today. Next we have Dr. Laura Wexler, who is my colleague here at Yale, professor of Women’s, Gender,
and Sexuality Studies, and American Studies. She is an expert on American
culture in the present and in the past particularly
on women’s culture, women’s history, feminism,
as well as photography, film, media studies, ethnicity, race and migration, public humanities. Professor Wexler is one of those of people who seems to have her
fingers in many, many pies here at Yale, which is
wonderful for all of us. Also here at Yale, I’d like
to introduce Linda Greenhouse, who’s a 1978 graduate of Yale Law School. And since 2009 has been here as the Joseph Goldstein lecturer in law. She spent 40 years plus
at the New York Times, reporting on the law and
on the Supreme Court. She received a Pulitzer
Prize for her work there. She is the author of many books,
including a recent memoir, which might be worth checking out for all the personal details in there. And I’m sorry to say that
she has also been a member of the Harvard University
Board of Overseers. (audience and panelists chuckling) That’s the one blot
(crosstalk and laughter). Next we have Dr. Virginia Dominguez. Dr. Dominguez is a 1973
graduate of Yale College, and a 1979 PhD from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She is the Edward William
& Jane Marr Gutgsell professor of Anthropology at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is an expert on the United States in a global
context in thinking about how we might tell American
history and other histories through a lens that is not simply centered in the United States. But looks much more
broadly at what the rest of the world thinks of the United States. And how Americans might
think about the world. She’s the author of many
books, including most recently, “America Observed On an International Anthropology of the United States.” And finally we have Dr. Nancy Vickers, who is a 1976 PhD from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences here. She was the seventh president
of Bryn Mawr College. I think must have many
reflections on co-education and its promise and perils. While she was here at Yale, she was for two years a member of the University Committee
on Co-education at Yale. She’s also a distinguished
scholar of literature and of language, she’s
written many books as well, “A New History of French
Literature,” among them. So please join me in
welcoming these panelists. (audience applauds) So I thought we might start
out with this question of how much, when you were here at Yale, you were thinking about
this broader scope. When historians think back about the past, we tend to have this very high level view. We think about Richard
Nixon and the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement. And of course, those things intersect with people’s lived experiences. But to some degree, they
don’t intersect with them at all in some cases,
particularly 18 year olds. And of course up here, we want
to talk a little bit about where we were in terms of
feminist consciousness, in terms of women’s
consciousness at that moment. So, maybe Dr. Dominguez, do
you want to start us off? Since you have both the global scale of thinking about this and
the personal experience. – I will do my best. Since I was here this
morning and the microphones were not working, let me do what you did. Can you hear me? – [Audience] Yes. – I’m probably most unusual
here and not neccessarily for what you said about us. But, I really didn’t live in the US for the four years prior to starting. Some of the things I
remember were pressure. I desperately tried not
to flunk out of Yale. I remember a lot of my
friends and colleagues going on marches in Washington, ’cause I remember the Vietnam War well. But, I was actually not
living in the US at the time. I went to high school, I think
at least some of you know I went to high school
in (speaks foreign word) to an all girls Catholic
school. (chuckles) What I remember was I
actually watched the landing on the moon in Guadalajara,
Mexico with my mother on TV. I mean I remember that vividly. I don’t remember various other things. I do remember becoming an Agnostic. I said I went to a Catholic girls school. I remember becoming an
Agnostic when I was about 14. The principal of the
school actually loved that. She then went on to
become a union organizer, (audience laughs)
and social worker after I graduated, so you
know I was sort of following in her footsteps, what little did I know? Was I a feminist? I don’t know. I really don’t know, I cannot remember. Did I become a feminist while I was here? Yes. Was I a feminist beforehand? I don’t know, but it never occurred to me that frankly that Yale, and/or Princeton would take so long to accept women, because it made no sense. I do remember Nixon. (chuckles) (audience chuckles) I was really delighted to hear the results of the survey this morning, because I can say some
things now that I wasn’t sure I could say.
(everyone laughs) I remember Nixon. I actually was in
graduate school when Nixon was forced to resign, I remember that. It wasn’t college it was afterwards. I remember, I actually
remember the US being both male dominated and white
dominated, quite strongly. But my goal was really just
to survive and not flunk. – [Beverly] Well
congratulations for doing that. (everyone laughs) Even if it’s 50 years later. – I still remember that! – Congressman Jackson Lee. Reflections on politics then and now. So I teach in a program that is, attracts many, very
ambitious Yale students who are willing to say pretty early on, I want to grow up to
be secretary of state. And they know that now, and
that’s what they’re doing. And it’s great though a little terrifying. I was not that kind of Yale student. Were you that kind of Yale student? You said I’m going to congress, and I’m thinking about
politics in this moment. – Well thank you very much
and let me first of all say how humbled I am to be
here with my sisters. We use that terminology in
the United States Congress, for our fellow sisters in
the United States Congress. And, if I might, simply as I look, see the utter power that is in this room. So Yale, I do not want you
to be particularly protective of this list, because I’d like
to engage with my sisters, who are willing to do so. I think that this is amazing,
so I just had to get that out. And if you’re ready to do like
Marian Wright Edelman said. (audience applauds) A Yale graduate who said,
“You can change the world “if you really care.” And I’ve just met so many of you, I think we can still change the world. I was extremely naive. So I think I culturally represented the public school crowd,
but also some of us a sheltered crowd, even coming
from the big city of New York which is where I was born and raised. My first year was at Washington Square. I guess I’m not gonna give my biography, but let me just quickly say at NYU. We were in the midst of a shutdown that first year, as freshman. And all I could think
of is my very loving, but stern parents seeing
me dragged off in handcuffs in New York in the protests. I kind of protested then
snuck back in the building to tell the professor I
would get their work in. (audience chuckling) I was someone who was
formulated by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King
and never got a chance to meet him, but I got
to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as soon as I could. I was asked to speak
at Juanita Abernathy’s funeral on Monday. Unfortunately, another of
our colleagues wife died it’s the exact same
day, but what I’m saying I was very idealistic. The small newspaper article in the, anybody remember the New York Daily News, back then was the working man’s paper, working man, working woman’s paper. That said they’re opened up for Yale. And I really thought that
I was going for a mission. I was going to pioneer. Really didn’t know what I was formulating, but I knew that I was gonna get in the Civil Rights Movement,
and I was going someplace that would help formulate me. So, the backdrop of the movement, of the Black Power Movement, all of that was raging at the time. Now, on the idealistic and naive point, and the humorous point,
and I told Gary this, he tries to argue me down
that they weren’t here. When I drove up to the campus, and many of us will remember that day, the Class of ’72, ’71 and ’72 and ’73. With all of the excitement
and, not teary-eyed, well teary-eyed family members,
and the whole clan came. It’s like three cars. (chuckles) But in any event with every
clothing in my possession, and trunks and suitcases. And I promise you, I promise
you there was a group of men. And I laughed, I mean I guess the survey that was taken,
and I’ll end on this note, we are really take charge folk. So even at 19, which I was,
I really didn’t get offended. I really thought it was humorous. But they had this big, gigantic sign, Class of ’70, last male class. And they were waving, and I was waving. I guess I didn’t get the
magnitude of their conviction. To make a long–
(audience laughs) To make a long story short, I viewed Yale with the challenges of being a woman, first of woman of color. A budding, social activist, as finessing and sharpening my skills. It was the first time I was off on my own. And I think many of my fellow students were, particularly women. The first time that we got
confronted with sexism. And maybe we developed as a feminist, or we developed as a powerful
civil rights activist, or Black Power, whatever we crafted it to be political scientist, lawyer. But it any event, it’s the
place where I face the reality, that every thing will not be in a beautifully wrapped package. And that you really are
gonna have to fight for it. And I, forgive me we say
this a lot my sisters, it is truly that part of Yale that I think has given many of us the grit to be where we are today. No matter what we might have opted to do. And I diminish nothing
that Yale women became, because I know what Yale
women, girls, young women, went through to be here. (audience applauds) – So, Dr. Vickers, in our correspondence, as we were thinking about
issues that might come up on the panel, or be worth talking about, you emphasized the idea
that actually this wasn’t a moment neccessarily when
women had out-sized expectations for what they could achieve. And wasn’t actually a moment
were girls, young women were coming into an institution like this, expecting that they could
do many of the things that later generations
thought that they could do. So I wonder if you could reflect upon your experience on that, and particularly, what the graduate school
told you about the role that you were gonna be
expected to play in the world? – Yes, that’s quite a story. Let me say, I went to undergraduate
school, can you hear me? Are we, okay. Went to undergraduate school
in 1963, Mount Holyoke College, graduated in 1967. So I’d like to say that I
went to college in the 1950s, but I graduated in the 1970s. (everyone laughs) So consequently, it was a
time of very rapid change. But I came into it as the
daughter of a working class immigrant family that had worked its way to the middle class. So consequently it came
with a lot of expectations of young women. You know what I was sharing with Beverly, there was a degree to
which I had internalized these requirements so deeply
that I was, in essence, not even really understanding
that I myself was, though outside the box
enough to go to college and to go to graduate school. That I was bringing with me
baggage and just embedded in me kinds of baggage that it
would take many, many years. And indeed I doubt that I’m
still all the way out of them. Although I have to say Dartmouth turned me into a real feminist. (everyone laughs) But, most of all my sense was, it was expected that I would get married. The young women who were going in 1963 thought there were two
purposes to going to college. One of which was to get an education, and the other of which
was to get a husband. And the purpose of the
education was to be, in large part, a more educated,
successful, talented mother. If, for example, if you made your way into that particular system, you found yourself making curious selections
around things like majors. My SAT scores would have
suggested science and mathematics. I majored in French, perfume
and fashion. (laughs) (audience laughs) I mean that’s, I’m being
silly, but not entirely. So consequently, that was the direction I started moving in, I
had the wits to think that I really could do
something with this, because I was directing
myself at becoming a teacher. Now I wanted to be a college teacher, which forced me to do advanced degrees. But, I was falling in to
the sort of laundry list of what were the expected
professions for women, as a teacher, as a nurse, as a volunteer, as someone with secretarial expertise. There is a moment that I
can’t resist recounting, and I may even say the name of the school that’s involved in it. When I was applying to college, I was applying to two
of the women’s schools on the East Coast. I came from Detroit. In the midst of applying
to those two schools on the East Coast, one of
them, Smith, (chuckles) sent two of its alumni to
my middle class family home in Royal Oak, Michigan. And so they came in, they
were checking me out, they were checking the parents out, they were checking the carpeting out. (audience laughs) So my father, in a moment
that I will never forget. And for me is the most
extraordinary moment about knowing who my father really was, looked up having been very
quiet through all of us. And said, “So tell me,
what do Smith graduates do “when they graduate from Smith?” And the answer was, they go to Katy Gibbs. (audience laughs and moans) This from a women’s college. So, yes I know it’s a shocker. And in all fairness I have to say this. It’s the school that
brought you Gloria Steinem. It’s not that it wasn’t a complex place. And so I think that what
Beverly was mentioning, is just that there was so much to overcome in terms of growing out of this. I think the critical
moment, going back to what you were saying just a bit earlier, was that turn at the moment of
the co-education of the Ivies which is a sort of very complex set in negative ways and positive ways. And then the real sort of explosion of the women’s movement
in the early 1970s. Which surrounded as it was by some of the extraordinary moments
of the co-education of schools like Yale and like Dartmouth, where I spent 14 years taking
it through co-education. It was truly shocking. Now questions about graduate school. One of the things that was very surprising about Yale Graduate
School when I was in it, is simply that some of the
most talented professors, the most encouraging professors, the people who thought
the most of my work, would also say things that
were just truly surprising. For example, there was one
who at every cocktail party would come up and say,
“Well you’re doing so well, “isn’t that grand? “But of course, the women get married, ‘and their careers basically
end when they get married, “so it’s just sad.” And this was a department were 60% of the students were women. And I think I see Sam
Chauncey in the background. Is that Sam Chauncey? Hi Sam. – It’s higher. – One of my heroes. And a panel way back then when I was on the University Committee on Co-education, I described a fellowship
in the French department where 60% of the students were women. And, that fellowship
was an exchange program with the (speaks foreign
language) in Paris. So they sent an (speaks
foreign word) to Yale, and Yale sent a (speaks
foreign word) to Paris. Every year that was a man. It was restricted to the male students. Parenthetically, (speaks foreign language) is not restricted to men students. So having announced
this at some broad panel where we were supposed to be making I think a good impression,
I told this story, and Sam fixed it instantly. (everyone applauds) So, I’ll just wrap up there. But I do think we have to,
I am constantly reading in myself, sort of drag on my own forward moving aspirational energy. And I think as the generations go by I hope we’re shedding all of that. – Linda, you had some,
(audience applauds) I guess similar reflections
in your writing about your undergraduate years at Harvard. So, I wonder if you might build off that, but then also speak a little bit about how those kinds of things began to change, and the role that the law. These were of course years
of some rather significant Supreme Court decisions in the history of women’s reproductive freedom, as well as in other areas. So I wonder if you might reflect on those. – So my experience is
a little bit different. Although I have a Yale degree,
it was as degree from here on a mid-career fellowship, I
was 10 years out of college. So I went to the other
place, I went to Radcliffe, because I was too old to apply to Yale. I’m a Townie, I went
to Hampton High School just up the road, and
the guys went to Yale. And the women made their
way to other places. Women at Harvard in those days were 20% of the undergraduate body, it was capped. We were admitted by Radcliffe, we were housed by Radcliffe,
we were fed by Radcliffe. Harvard really didn’t
want much to do with us. They had to teach us,
the classes were co-ed, but the social life was very segmented, because the tuition and room and board, well the tuition went to Harvard. But the room and board went to Radcliffe. And we were really second
class citizens in many ways, many opportunities were
closed to us in terms of even access to various things on campus, post-graduate fellowships and so on. As I told Beverly in our
earlier communication, what’s remarkable looking back on that was how little any of us had in the way of any kind of developed
feminist consciousness. Because the message was,
we were lucky to be there. And we knew that great
and cataclysmic events were going on in the
country and the world. We were very, very conscious of Vietnam, because the guys were
subject to the draft, this was pre-lottery, just
everybody was gonna be drafted, unless they could find some other way. And we were certainly very conscious of the Civil Rights Movement. Neither of those things
had anything to do, as far as we could tell, with women. Our story wasn’t visible at all. And to the extent that we thought we were being treated unfairly. And I did think so, and I
wrote for the Harvard Crimson. And I wrote many editorials
about let us into Lamont, the undergraduate library. Let us do this, let us to that. We were being treated unfairly
as Radcliffe students. We should have the same
access that you guys do. Not that we were being
treated unfairly as women. It sounds weird to say that. I mean maybe you all understand this. I have a 35 year old daughter, this doesn’t resonate with her. I think that’s one thing to say. I didn’t really kind of have a conscious, that’s how I went out
into the world of work, and it was kind of interesting. I didn’t want to go to graduate school. The assumption that Radcliffe was that you would go to
some kind of graduate school. Not law school, maybe medical
school more than law school. But arts and sciences or something. And my deans were quite
amazed when I said, “Actually I’m gonna go get a job.” And I got a job at the New York Times. Very soon after that, the
older women at the Times, and there weren’t many of them,
but the ones who were there were very fabulous, had banded together to
file one of the early Title VII sex discrimination lawsuits. And maybe, if you saw
the Amazon Prime show about the women of
Newsweek, Good Girls Revolt, the women at Newsweek had
sort of cut the ice there and the Times was following. And we were represented
by a wonderful woman named Harriet Raabe, who was, (audience applauds)
you know Harriet? Who was a young law professor at Columbia, and she had a sex
discrimination clinic, workshop. And she was the first
female lawyer I’d ever met. And I thought, wow this is really, there’s another way to be in the world. And just being part of the
class that was bringing this lawsuit was a very
consciousness raising kind of thing. It did kind of clue me into
paying attention to law, and to what was developing
out in the world. And I was one of a handful of
young women in the newsroom, and I got some very
interesting assignments. And I got assigned, maybe
the second year I was there, to cover a press conference announcing a lawsuit against New York State, for the right to abortion. That was one of many such
lawsuits that was going on. One of them would have actually come to become called Roe against Wade. And this lawsuit never
actually got to court, because the New York
legislature changed the law, and the lawsuit became moot. But it got me into the
discourse about abortion. And they asked me to write a piece for the Times Sunday
Magazine, I knew no law, no law whatsoever, but I
found these great women who were in civil rights
law around the city, who took the trouble to educate me. And I wrote a piece
for the Times Magazine, and the headline was, it’s been widely anthologized
is how I know it, Constitutional Question, Is
There a Right to Abortion? Of course I argued the answer
was yes, and this was 1971. Roe against Wade was two years away. But it kind of brought me into
a consciousness of activism that I have to say in
my undergraduate years was totally missing. – So undergraduate years
and women’s studies. How are today’s students
taught in the context of women’s studies and women’s history about this really critical
period from the late ’60s into the early ’70s? What would you say is now kind
of the standard narrative? And how do they think
about it and respond to it? – Yeah, I want to start actually– – She brought a prop. (laughs) – I have, I have something
I want to read to you, from January 19, 1968. I’m not a member of any of your class, but that’s because I didn’t try. (audience chuckling) This is from Miss Laura
Caplan, Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York and it’s to her. Dear Miss Caplan. We have received your recent inquiry and wish to let you know,
that at the present time, the only women admitted to
the undergraduate programs in Yale College, are the
wives of Yale faculty members, and the wives of Yale graduate students. Should you be interested later
in applying for admission to one of the graduate or
professional schools in Yale, you should write to the dean of the school in which you are interested
for further information. Sincerely yours, John Muskins,
Jr., director of admissions. This was weeks before admissions was open to women at Yale. (audience moans) And my special advisor
at Sarah Lawrence College was Jackie Madfeld, who later
became president of Barnard. Knew Elga Wasserman, and
knew this was coming. And actually I’d had a lot off discussions with Jackie about it. So, I knew that Yale was
about to make this decision. And yet, the answer I got when I inquired about how to apply was
not, well just hold on for a few weeks, it was, “Well,
you could marry a Yale man.” (everyone laughs) Or, you could apply later
when you’re thinking about graduate school. And that seemed, it’s not a joke. And I do now have a Yale
degree, because when I became, if you become a tenured professor at Yale, you got a Yale degree. You can’t even be a
tenured professor at Yale without a Yale degree. (laughs) Right, yeah, that’s amazing.
– Only the best and the brightest, yes. – But I put it on my door when I became chair of women’s studies. And co-chair of the Yale faculty forum. And I intend to donate it (laughs) to the history archive here. But it frames how we were seen. That it seemed okay to answer
an inquiry for admission that way is kind of really important. Because, it shows that for whatever one of these places here, elsewhere that we went, we gained admission,
but not really access, not really access. And, it took years and years to learn what was the difference. So, I want to answer the question of how I became a feminist in and around Yale, and then talk about the current students. I taught a wonderful seminar last year on co-educating Yale. We had amazing discussions
with the undergraduates now. And I want to say some of
the things that they think and some of the ways that
women’s gender and sexuality. ‘Cause it’s no longer
women’s studies handles this. But I became a feminist
in and around Yale also. But it was in the Fall of 1969 when I came to a march to plan the rally in May, the
Panthers rally in May. And this happened in
late November of 1969. There were a number of Panther
women, who were pregnant and who were in jail. And the famous, and Linda I’m forgetting the name of the Connecticut
case on abortion. What’s the name of the thing? – Abele against Markle. – Had just been decided. And there were a lot of
feminists who were working on questions of pregnancy
discrimination, abortion, access to contraception information. It feels like hundreds of
years ago, but it wasn’t. And this group of people, the Panthers, the people around what would
be the trial in the spring, and the people involved in access to health, came
together in the fall. The Panther women created what they called a women’s brigade. And it was the first time
in many years of marching for anti-war and civil
rights that I ever marched, that they took the women
out of the general march and put us in front. And we marched as a women’s
brigade around New Haven, through the hill, through the green, and up to the steps of the courthouse. And we were chanting, obscenity Yale, obscenity Harvard obscenity Yale, get the Panthers out of jail. (everyone laughs)
All around there. It was the exhilaration of that, and the really kind of deep training by the women activists
and the Panther women, in that moment that gave me the name for what I already was. And it was the name
feminism that allowed me to recognize myself as a feminist. It’s not that I changed, it’s that it got a category in the world. I subsequently lived my life in and around Yale and New Haven. And I used to drive around
the green for years, for like 18 years, trying to figure out about a particular moment that happened. The women were on the
steps of the courthouse at the end of this march. We were gleeful, we were exhilarated, we had found companions. There was gonna be something to be done about this situation. And people were taking our
pictures in front of us. And somebody pointed up
to the left on a rooftop and said, “Look, are
those guns are cameras?” Whether or not there were
sharpshooters on the roof, whether or not they were guns or cameras aimed at us, we never knew. And I spent years driving around the green ’til I finally figured out why I couldn’t reconfigure the geography of that moment. And it was because the
Connecticut Financial Center. The building is gone and the Connecticut (everyone laughs)
Financial Center is there. So you can’t recreate the geometry. But that moment was my
deepest political education. And it happened in town, not in Yale. And it was directed by the women Panthers and the activists from
all over New England who came to try to figure
out what to do about the women Panthers who
were pregnant and in jail. What I would argue, and what I try to do within women’s studies here at Yale, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, which is very important to recognize that that has changed, is give some permission for
that wider world to happen within the university,
as well as outside of it. Adrian Rich wrote an
essay around that time, Towards a Women Centered University. And it articulated what kind
of university would have to come into being, in
order for there truly to be co-education. So the women students
now, and the men students, and the people that are
gender fluid and don’t go by those designations,
do not actually think that co-education has happened. They think it’s a work in progress. And, they think that, they still are not seeing the way that they would like to be seen, as the education part of the co, okay. Think about the word co-education. Co means together, and for
much of that first year there was a lot of
debate about how the men and women students should,
or shouldn’t, or could, or could be, or not together. But it’s the question of
education that was really key. The question of what
difference did it make? Not to Yale, not to the
dorms, not to the bathrooms, but to the country that
we were all here together. And I would argue that momentarily, for a short period of time,
co-education descended on Yale on the green, for a little while. And then it left, that
it appears occasionally when we are seen as citizens
needing an education. Rather than as men or
women, or whatever else you want to be, trying to struggle about
how we live together. So, that’s what under my hand, Women, Gender and Sexuality
Studies tries to be about. People are yearning for this education, people are yearning to be
seen as citizens together. And that’s what I think it means. (audience applauds) – Well I want to pose one more
question to the whole panel before we open it up to the audience. And that really is the
comparative question that I raised in my introductory remarks. What can we learn about the present by looking back to this
moment of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and really
moving forth in the 1970s? The 1970s seems like a very
paradoxical decade in retrospect in which you both got really the rise of feminist consciousness, the rise of a very
powerful women’s movement, changes in ideas about
sexuality, about sexual identity, liberation movements flowering. And then it was also a
decade in which you saw a very powerful conservative
movement taking hold, really culminating in the
election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. These things were
happening simultaneously. They were often clashing with each other, they were constituting each other. And it seems that we
may be back in a moment, perhaps a little bit like that. Where you have powerful
energies on all sides. It’s not clear, as it wasn’t in the ’70s which of those energies might win out. And I think for awhile we might have told the story of the ’60s into the ’70s, as a kind of progress story,
as a simple progress story from a kind of liberal perspective. Is that still how you
think about those years? But really this question
of comparing then and now. And particularly what
we might take away from this earlier moment that might tell us something about today. And really anyone who
wants to jump in on this. – Can I jump in on this? This may not be what you want to hear. And there might be disagreement among us. I think a lot of us were very, I don’t know if the right
word is naive, innocent. Some of us were 18 when we came in, you were 19, I’m 17. We really thought we
really changed the world. And I think a lot of it has to do with all of these other things
also happening in the ’60s. As I tell my students now,
and I’m still teaching, we probably exaggerated
how much power we had then. They vastly underestimate
how much power they have now. This is both the men and the women. I remember a year ago in
a class I was teaching, there were about 50 students in the class. I said, I was getting
more an more agitated. And I said, “Okay,” I was sort
of talking about politics, power, et cetera and I said, “Well how many of you
feel you have any power?” No hands went up. I repeated it, “I said no,
no, no, how about slightly?” Two guys, two men, mostly
women in the class, two men raised their
hands up ’til about here. Two out of this entire
class, and I said, “Okay, “let’s start with you two.” And one of them said, “I think I have some power over myself.” I” don’t have any power
to effect anybody else, “or anything else.” And the other one said, “Just like him.” And that was it. So, I don’t know, I have
taught at many universities, both in the US and abroad. Yale may be different,
but I don’t think so, not in this way. The other thing I have
noticed over the last, I don’t know, 10, 20
years, is more and more of the women students
resist the label feminist. So, they may say I’m a post feminist, they may rephrase the question. Do I believe that women
should have all the rights and access, et cetera? Yes. And I said, “That doesn’t
make you a feminist?” “Nope.” I don’t know what to do with this. I actually think we’re going backwards. And you may not want to hear that, but I think we’re going backwards. I’ve been in the academy my entire life. I think we are going backwards. (audience applauds) – No, I have to say that
every time I watch the news, I say to myself, good grief,
here’s what I worked for my whole life and we’re going to lose it. You know I don’t have
much more to say to that. But it is truly upsetting, I’m
more upset and depressed. In the ’60s and ’70s we had the sense that we could do something to fix it. And here I’m looking at Congresswoman Lee, and what she’s trying to do. And you hang in there, despite any amount of pushback,
which is so admirable. But, I just, I loved to hear what you have to say about this, but I just wish I could have the same, maybe I was
just younger, who knows. But the kind of energy
we had during those years around many, many important causes, and feminism certainly being one of them, seems to me to be somehow lost. And I sense that we’re moving backwards. – Well you’ve given me
a very good opening. Let me build on your words
and Laura’s words in terms of, and the moderator’s words
in terms of this comparative bubble that we’re in. I am, to build on what
I said coming in naive, but coming in believing
that I was going to be a tree shaker and a change maker, in terms of having gotten
into Yale in the first place, from the very meager
background that I came from. You were in ’69, we had
not gotten there yet, but we were in ’70 Laura,
you were the Spring of ’60, you were saying ’69 or ’70? – I was here for the march,
but I graduated in ’70. – Right, but you were here from– – Yes.
– Right. So, I’m gonna speak from
’70, which was the time when the Weathermen came,
and it was in the backdrop of the Bobby Seale trial, as I recollect. Caymen Brewster made the decision to keep the university open. For those of you in
classes, ’71, ’72 and ’73 was in the backdrop of
students being killed at Kent State, literally
shot dead on the campus. It could have been a catastrophic, similar to ’69, catastrophic
implosion, if you will. Many of my fellow women students who were in their own movement, myself who was in the Black Power Movement when I say that with the
African American House, with the Black Student’s Association. And other groups of color,
Native Americans, et cetera, this became the center point of persons converging sort of the children of the great society who have benefited, but yet hated Vietnam, were
all coming to this campus. I still maintain the sense that we were in the midst of change, even though
Richard Nixon was president we still had that hope, that we could diversify, we
could get an African American studies program, which we did. Yale should be very
proud of being a mother of African American
Studies, and gave birth to Dr. Skip Lewis Gates,
or Lewis Gibb Gates. You can tell him I said
Waverly went off to Harvard, but in any event, as an
outstanding international, and national program on history. But came out of this,
that was a male student. What I’m saying is that
I felt, in our experience in that time, it was a changing time. It was an explosive time
and your time they were marksmen that we could
see right on the campus. There was some dispute
with one of my sisters here that said they were outside. I saw the National Guard on the inside. Meaning when I said inside
the perimeter of our campus standing side by side, because they were
expecting the Weathermen. I use that description to
say, it was a colorful moment. But it was a moment when we
thought that we were there really driving the political
change of the nation. That we were standing
up to what we thought was an unfair trial of a Black Panther. And I’m glad you talked
about pregnant women, I do a lot of work on that,
pregnant women incarcerated. So, for me, I was infused with change. It was growing. I was a deacon in the Yale
Church for the very reason just to hear Sloan Coffin talk about the biblical connections,
so he really was societal. He helped me go and work with the Southern Christian
Leadership Conference. And so during the summer breaks, loaded with what happened
in the Spring of 1970, loaded with that, ready for change. And realizing that there were African American blacks in the South, in spite of the Voting Rights Act, who were frightened and
panicked about voting. We went down to register
people on plantations, which existed where sharecroppers were. I was infused with that spirit. I think that we have a challenge. Because I compare ’69. Which may be candy canes, bubbles in water, compared
to where we are today. This is an important moment in pause in the driving spirit that I have, which I’d like to attribute to family. But I’d like to think
it is to these moments that I had on this campus. Too bad that we had
this long period of time we’ve all gone off,
when I look at the array of powers I said. I must get this in before the questions. There is a toxicity that
exists now as I said before, that I don’t know could
even compare to ’69. In ’69 whether it was
feminism or otherwise, it was in front of us and we said we can do something about it. I think we have been as
wonderful parents and adults, and probably have not been as constructive in infusing in that rush
for those who are younger. Let me give the faith
of Black Lives Matter, let me give the faith
of March for Our Lives, let me give me the faith of
those who are now organizing as young as seven, and eight
and nine on climate change. There is something there. We shouldn’t be so partial in ourselves. But I do think what we still
have the opportunity to do is to remedy the fact that we’re in 2019 and the Equal Rights Amendment
has not yet been passed. So what were we doing just introducing it, and introducing it. We can remedy the fact that
although the preciousness and the little book
called the Constitution should be in everybody’s
purse, Like Barbara Jordan, Courtney and Shirley Chisholm, we’re not. And so our faith gets weakened when we see
the massive reconstruct of what has been the model of democracy with all of its warts. And so what I would say the comparison is that as we look for it in ’69, we basically were looking
for it and saying, “I know we can make a difference.” Whatever our spirit was, it
might not have been perfect. The treatment might not have been perfect. But I still had hope coming out ’69, ’70 that we were going to be change makers in whatever we’re doing to compare it now. And I want to say to, if
we don’t reignite the fire, the world is watching whether
or not we are collapsing what they have come to know
as a marker for democracy for human rights, for the unempowered. One man, you know that
Yale gets sensitive, but one man is trying to deconstruct. And he’s deconstructing
the treatment of women, the respect of women,
the dignity of women, one man, one man. Another man is adding to
that by refusing to pass the bill that I wrote, the
Violence Against Women Act that has been renewed year, after year, after year when it’s expired. I have tried to maintain. You ask the question, how can we do it, women in the United States Congress, others in the United States
Congress who are there, who look like we’re in the midst of fire. It is every day we’re meeting
and reminding ourselves of the major burden that we have that we don’t consider a pain, a burden, to put it back together. To not let them get the best of us, them. Not let them get the best of us, let America get the best
of us, forgive me for this, but we live it every day and
I still have to push forward to carry that ’69 fever that colleague, they weren’t
colleagues, fellow students, that standing out in the midst of 1970, when this university was
shut down and opened up to every man or SDS,
Weatherman, Black Power, every other group that
came and we survived it. And I’m glad Virginia is
here, because Latino women are emerging, Native
American women are now in the United States Congress
for the first time in numbers. But we were surging because we believed that we could be change makers. If we don’t leave here
in whatever category of life that we’re in,
and get that little fire, so that we can spread
it across the nation, I don’t want to see us again
on the other side of 2020, when we should have done our jobs. Forgive me for that editorial comment. But that’s what I’ve seen,
that’s what I’ve seen (audience applauds)
That’s what I’ve seen. I’m saying let’s go
together, let’s go together. (audience applauds) – Do you want to add anything
before we open it up? – I want to hear what Laura
thinks of (voice fades). Do they also say they’re post feminist? – Do they say what? – They’re post feminists. – Well, they’ve been post
feminists for a long time. After 2008, it has shifted again, when very fundamental
questions could again be asked. I will say that Susan Faludi
wrote a book about “Backlash.” Soon after this period of
time in which she traced. It’s not only that we
didn’t fully do our job, or we couldn’t keep
the burden of it going. People got hurt in those
times, and actually also needed a break, all kinds of things
happen at a time like that. There was active resistance. There are students at Yale who
we know were being advised, well you don’t want to, don’t
major in Women’s Studies, you don’t want to have
anything to do with that. And that went on for a
really long period of time. And in 2008, there’s a palpable shift, where students really wanted to know why, why the crisis happened, why their parents or the parent’s of their
roommates lost their house, what there was to do about it, began to ask those
fundamental questions again. I don’t think the students
are post feminist here now. They were, it was very
hard to talk to them. What happens is what you described. They go out to work and
they come back and they say, “Oh my god, why didn’t you tell me?” (audience laughs) – The fight is still on.
– And we say, yeah, and we say, “Well you know we’re here, “we’re here, we were here.” I think there’s something
very important about that. I honor that actually. Young people come to Yale with dreams, some of them dream that things
will be easier for them, because of Yale. Some of them dream this is a magic palace with all of these stone buildings, and it will change their lives. That dream has to be honored. That dream gets broken, and
feminism has to be there, both to honor the wish to transcend the contradictions
and pains of our society. And to be there to say,
“Well no now you see “that didn’t work. “That’s okay, let’s see what other people “have thought about it.” So I don’t think it’s
a post feminist time, at least at Yale. I think people are disgruntled, I think they feel that things are not working out right. They’re right about that. I think post feminism,
at least in the classes that I get near, isn’t there. – Do you want to add anything briefly? I want to make sure we get to the crowd. – Just kind of briefly,
maybe one way of phrasing the unfilled goal. So looking back at the
Harvard and Radcliffe, or the entry of relatively small number of women into Yale. So, the default mode of course was male. And male was the norm, and women were the
deviation from the norm. And maybe the smart
girls in high school now, and girls run things in high school now, they don’t grow up thinking
that they are nothing, or that to be a women is not the norm. But they’ll find that out pretty quickly that the default mode is male, we’re seeing that play out in
our politics now and so on. So maybe a goal that we
can draw from our own lived experience going
forward is to try to create a world where the default mode is to be an adult person in the world. And it’s not the assumption that, it’s the male leadership, it’s
the male running the show. And I think that was certainly
what most of us felt, and what many of us
learn in the real world once we left the Ivy League. – So I want to take the chance now to open up the conversation. I have two requests. One is that you introduce yourself and maybe your year from Yale. Two is that particularly
given the nature of the topic, we avoid making long political speeches. And we’ll try to take a
few questions and comments in a group, and then open
it up to response up here. Are there any? One starting out right here in the middle. Think there’s a microphone. – There’s a microphone coming your way.
– There’s a mic coming. – I loved your last comment about maybe– – [Beverly] Could you introduce yourself? – Judy Silverstein, Branford ’72. I loved your last comment
about maybe it won’t be about women or men in the world, but adults. Could you comment on
what the change now is, and what it means to be an adult? Because I don’t think,
even though we’re in a more male normed, adult world, the male isn’t the same male
that was back in our day, or our parent’s day, or grandparent’s day. And particularly those of
you who think about gender and sexuality, what does it
mean to be a non-gendered adult today versus at another time? – Are there any other queries.
– Good question, yeah um– – No, no wait a second. Let’s just get a couple of comments and then we’ll open it up. – I just want to thank
you for your question. Oh, I’m Patricia Joyce Smith Carter, and I’ve worked under all those names, so that’s why I name them all, Morse 1971. I want to amplify on her question. I’m kind of wondering, how or if that passion
that we all had in the 1969 when we came here, still exists? And I’m also very troubled,
I mean I feel strongly that we should have a feminist movement, but I also feel that men, and I’m not a man so I
can’t make them do this. But I would love to see men exploring what it means to be a man. I’m seeing bullying,
I’m seeing intimidating, I’m seeing predatory behavior, and to me that’s not a man. I wish men would start to ask if that can be something they look at. – We had one more hand right there. – Yeah, I’m Julia Preston, Class of 1973. My question is about women and power. Our activism was
anti-establishment in 1969, Civil Rights Movement,
the Black Power Movement. We were on the outside, hurling ourselves against
established power. And I feel like, to a certain extent that, framed our activism and
our participation for throughout our lives. And so my question, I have a
question for the congresswoman which was, at what moment and why did you understand that your role was to gain political power? And anyone else who wants
to answer that question, Nancy Vickers, for example. How are the women at
Bryn Mawr thinking about their relationship with political power? How important was it to
have political power? Where do we stand out that today? – All right maybe let’s
start with that question, and then we’ll hear some more reflections about men, masculinity. But either Nancy Vickers or Congresswoman. – You know, there still remain to this day many great virtues to
the women’s colleges. And one of them is that they do tend to be very politically engaged. They can be still yet more politically, mind you I left Bryn Mawr in 2008. So a decade has passed. As certainly the ethos has changed under the weight of social media. But I certainly do see, as I
listen to the current president of Bryn Mawr, someone who is working hard with an enormous amount
of forward pressure, in terms of making the college a politically more responsible
and more active place. So consequently I think, you know, at least within that cohort
they’re graduating strong, they have great ambitions, and many of those ambitions are political. – I thank you for the question. I thank you for the question. I think it was, there are many spheres of influence and power. And certainly for a long
time, Yale drove people toward the corporate boardroom
and corporate America. And wound up on Wall Street
and move money around. That was one of Yale’s pathway along with Ivy Leagues in general. Academics came in and
social policy came in. I think in getting out
of Yale and going on to law school and beyond, and back home, one began to see that change came by someone
having money to change to make a change. But it also came by
engagement and changing the political construct. And so, just to make a difference I think was my viewing the political process as one to be engaged in. Politics comes in many forms. It didn’t hit me really early on. Because as a lawyer, I wanted
to just assume the bench, and be quiet and proceed on
as something that I loved. It was a series of ironic circumstances after I relocated. The death of Mickey LeLand,
a congressperson who had a major focus on helping
the unempowered in Africa, and died in Africa trying to provide food to starving Ethiopians and Eritreans. But in any event that set
my pathway of opportunity to becoming elected. Just by having to come behind that tragedy in our community. I just knew that whatever I did, I wanted to make sure
someone’s life was better. And I still see that
in young people today. I think what they miss
is having gone through what we went through, and
what we know and what we see. And I think it’s our
obligation to teach them. I was framed by my
exposure to Barbara Jordan. I was framed by my exposure
to Shirley Chisholm and perspective, by Congresswoman
Schroeder out of Colorado. I sat next to her as
only one other member, there were three of us on
the judiciary committee, three women when I came. And they told me that I wasn’t gonna be on any other committee but judiciary, because my predecessor,
one of my predecessors, Barbara Jordan was on
the judiciary committee. We went through what we
call partial birth abortion, that’s how long I’ve been. That was the attack on
something so outrageous. But we as the women, we were called names, ridiculous names, because we were the ones just going against these men
about how ridiculous it was for you to try to outlaw
a medical procedure. I’m just using this to say,
that helped gel me even more. So I think you do have to
have experiences to say, I’ve got to grab power in some way, and I’ve got to be good about that power, so that I can do good things. And I think anyone in here
should think about that, even more now, because I really believe our going in and out of
feminism, our having it. Then moments were people
say, “We’re equal.” I think now more than ever
we need to be teachers, as well as actors, and
purveyors of the truth, we need to be activists, we need to be politically empowered. But for me it was, how do I change, how do I be a change maker? Even as a young mother,
how do I be a change maker? We need more people thinking,
how can I be a change maker and use political power, but
have your life experience be part of that political power? I think we will better for it as a nation. – Can I add something? This is not in disagreement. (sighs) Julie, I think you said, wasn’t our passion anti-establishment? Anti-establishment. – [Julie] (voice faded off
microphone) To protest. – Right, I understand
that, but can you think of a period of time, including
now, when that is not, when there isn’t a reason
to be anti-establishment? We don’t use the terminology,
but I mean really? I’m sorry, in this group, really? Who’s empowering this country? (Julie speaks off microphone) Yes, I know! So why then and not now? I haven’t figured it out. Backlash maybe, but I haven’t figured it– – I agree. (laughs)
– I agree! – Do you want to reflect on some of the earlier questions as well? – Well I’ll just say, I
mean there’s many ways. We all have different ways
we can exercise power. Not only in, over politics, but you know we live in politics. I’ll just say, my
daughter is a film maker. And she has a big project going. And they were supposed to
film in the state of Georgia, which has a billion dollar film industry, because they give deep tax
breaks to film producers. And Georgia passed this
horrible anti-abortion law a few months ago, and my
daughter said, “Actually, “I’m not taking this 20 million
dollar project to Georgia. “I refuse to go there.” And the whole thing had to pick up and to go Calgary, Alberta. So, that was an exercise of power. (audience applauds)