January 15, 2013

The origin of the slogan “Sisterhood is Powerful.”


In 1970, feminist leader and author Robin Morgan edited an anthology of articles about the growing woman’s liberation movement titled Sisterhood Is Powerful.

The book quickly became a bestseller and the title became a famous phrase and slogan. But it wasn’t created by Morgan.

According to many sources, “Sisterhood is Powerful” was coined in 1968 by another pioneering feminist leader, Kathie Sarachild, who was then known as Kathie Amatniek.

It was part of something Amatniek wrote for a leaflet distributed at an anti-Vietnam War event by the Jeanette Rankin Brigade (a coalition of women’s groups named after the first woman elected to Congress in 1917).

The event was held on January 15, 1968 in Washington D.C.

One of the best recollections of what happened that day was written by another well-known feminist and peace activist of the era, Shulamith Firestone.

In her account (published on the Marxist.org website), Firestone said:

A coalition of women’s groups united for a specific purpose: to confront Congress on its opening day, Jan. 15, 1968, with a strong show of female opposition to the Vietnam War...

Peg Dobbins wrote a long funeral dirge lamenting woman’s traditional role which encourages men to develop aggression and militarism to prove their masculinity. There were several related pamphlets, including one written by Kathie Amatniek which elaborated on the following Progression:

TRADITIONAL WOMANHOOD IS DEAD.
TRADITIONAL WOMEN WERE BEAUTIFUL...BUT REALLY POWERLESS.
“UPPITY” WOMEN WERE EVEN MORE BEAUTIFUL...BUT STILL POWERLESS.
SISTERHOOD IS POWERFUL!
HUMANHOOD THE ULTIMATE!

Finally, by way of a black-bordered invitation we “joyfully” invited many of the 5,000 women there to attend a burial that evening at Arlington “by torchlight” of Traditional Womanhood, “who passed with a sigh to her Great Reward this year of the Lord, 1968, after 3,000 years of bolstering the egos of Warmakers and aiding the cause of war...”

“Sisterhood is Powerful” went on to become a popular feminist catchphrase. 

Shulamith and Amatniek went on to found the famous/infamous “Redstockings” women’s lib group.

Amatniek, now known as Kathie Sarachild, is now the director of the Redstockings “Archives for Action.” 

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