Feminism and left-wing politics
Abby Rockefeller attended the New England Conservatory of Music in the early 1960s, where she encountered teachers critical of social inequality in the United States. This experience led her to embrace Marxism, the politics of Fidel Castro and ultimately radical feminism. She joined the Boston-area female liberation movement led by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, which subsequently changed its name to Cell 16. Along with Betsy Warrior, Dana Densmore, Jayne West and others they published ground-breaking feminist analyses.
Rockefeller and Jayne West joined other members of Cell 16 in promoting self-defense for women and became skilled in karate. They set up a Tae Kwon Do studio in Boston and taught hundreds of women who, in turn, taught other women, becoming pioneers in self-defense for women. This effort was initiated in response to the frequent, if unremarked, street harassment and sexual assaults women were subjected to during this era. After reading the literature of Cell 16, especially the initial "Journals of Female Liberation", Abby Rockefeller decided to join them. One of the articles she contributed to the Journals of Female Liberation was Sex: The Basis of Sexism, which posited male desire to access and control female sexuality for their own ends as a driving force in sexism.
After being infiltrated by Trotskyites and F.B.I. agents, Cell 16 disassociated from its splinter group Female Liberation, which was providing a front for Trotskyist recruiting of aspiring feminists. Despite her class background, Abby was subjected to many of the stinging barbs other women are subjected to. For instance, as a young girl she was told that although women did most of the cooking in the world only men could be great chefs. In her own relationships with men she often encountered the same sexist attitudes when they expressed an underlying trivialization or contempt for women's aspirations - no matter the man's class or race. Her feminism was not some dilettante's passing fad, but arose from an analysis of her lived experience. Some, mistakenly misreading her commitment to justice as vulnerability, tried to exploit her for her name or money.[dubious ]
- Echols, Alice, Daring to Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America: 1967–1975 (Minneapolis, Minn.: Univ. of Minn. Press, 1989 (ISBN 0-8166-1787-2)), pp. 158 (& perhaps n. 106), 163 & nn. 132–133, & 211 & n. 37 (author then visiting asst. prof. history, Univ. of Ariz. at Tucson)
- Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections.
- Gorman, Hollis (January 16, 1975). "Feminist Says Physical Desire Is Cause of Female Oppression". The Harvard Crimson.
- Humanities & Social Sciences Online. Ruth Rosen, The World Split Open: How the Modern Women's Movement Changed America. New York and London: Penguin, 2000. The FBI was apparently able to recruit informers to attend meetings and report back to the FBI with ease. Bureau files contain summaries of feminist meetings with such subversive aims as, "They wanted equal opportunities that men have in work and in society" (p. 242).
- The Other Woman, a Toronto-based feminist newspaper with cross-Canada circulation "Infiltration of the Women's Movement by the LSA/YS" Issue: Nov.-Dec. 1973.
- DAVIDSON, SARA (1969). "LIFE MAGAZINE - AN 'OPPRESSED MAJORITY' DEMANDS ITS RIGHTS - 905W-000-004". www.maryellenmark.com.
- Densmore, Dana; editor (1 October 1968). Complete set of No More Fun & Games. Cell 16. ISBN 1888009306.
- Conversations with Cell 16, Schlesinger Library, Harvard University