It was 1971, in St. Paul, Minnesota. A small group of women, a loose collective in the making, were searching for useful ways to extend their newly raised consciousness -- they wanted to do something to change the status quo. Upon learning of some basic needs at the county legal aid office, they dove into their first project: a divorce rights booklet . Establishing a legal information crisis telephone line was next; and then came the idea of advocacy, a commitment to help women, one by one, who were stuck in the system. They incorporated, with tax-exempt status, as "Women's Advocates" in 1972, and were approved for two Vista positions. They divided this money among the collective members. The hotline moved to one of their apartments. They found they could refer a lot of the women to other services, but when the woman and their children needed an immediate place to go, they discovered a big gap in the system. When they heard the immediate causes for these desperate inquiries for shelter -- lives of fear, violence and beatings -- they were shocked, and realized they were intercepting a widespread, ugly, well-kept secret.
Reinventing Power; History of the Battered Women's Movement will be a video that traces how the first awareness of the need for women's shelters grew into the development of the battered women's movement. This happened amidst the emerging ideas of 1970's political and social change feminism. We learn all this through the specific stories of Minnesota women and their colleagues whose commitment started the movement in their apartments, around their kitchen tables and on their living room floors. Their story breaks down the denial of patriarchal culture, and addresses the hidden violence pervasive in our society. It's a story that begins with a few feminists committed to respect for women, and grows into a world-wide movement -- from families, legal and court systems, law enforcement, and social service agencies to United Nations' human rights violations. One of their favorite philosophies was "Let's not practice hierarchical, patriarchal power; let's reinvent power!"
We are starting the edit this Fall; we have been generously supported so far with funds from the following: Mn Historical Society, The Jerome Foundation, The MN Women's Foundation, The Otto Bremer Foundation, The Kurz Family Foundation, and many individuals. We are still fund-raising, and any gifts or suggestions are welcome.
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