That is, all the problems between men and women and all the problems of women functioning in society as equal human beings are among the most basic that people face. We've talked in the movement about trying to build a society which would see basic human problems which are now seen as private troubles , as public problems and would try to shape institutions to meet human needs rather than shaping people to meet the needs of those with power. To raise questions like those above illustrates very directly that society hasn't dealt with some of its deepest problems and opens discussion of why that is so. Men's reactions to the questions raised here: That is, she should not feel that she cannot aspire to directing the laboratory simply because she is a woman, but rather because she is also a wife and mother; as such, her work as a lab technician or the equivalent in another field should bring both satisfaction and the knowledge that, through it, she is fulfilling an additional role, making an additional contribution. Lack of community for discussion: It is a caste system which, at its worst, uses and exploits women.
However equally we consider men and women, the work plans for husbands and wives cannot be given equal weight. The caste system is not institutionalized by law women have the right to vote, to sue for divorce, etc. This is complicated by several facts, among them: Objectively, the chances seem nil that we could start a movement based on anything as distant to general American thought as a sex caste system. A very few men seem to feel, when they hear conversations involving these problems, that they have a right to be present and participate in them, since they are so deeply involved. Men's reactions to the questions raised here: And there are problems with relationships between white women and black women. There seem to be many parallels that can be drawn between treatment of Negroes and treatment of women in our society as a whole. A woman should not aim for "a second-level career" because she is a woman; from girlhood on she should recognize that, if she is also going to be a wife and mother, she will not be able to give as much to her work as she would if single. The problems we're listing here, and what others have said about them, are therefore largely drawn from conversations among women only and that difficulty in establishing dialogue with men is a recurring theme among people we've talked to. Within the movement, questions arise in situations ranging from relationships of women organizers to men in the community, to who cleans the freedom house, to who holds leadership positions, to who does secretarial work, and who acts as spokesman for groups. Nearly everyone has real questions about those institutions which shape perspectives on men and women: It is a caste system which, at its worst, uses and exploits women. Having learned from the movement to think radically about the personal worth and abilities of people whose role in society had gone unchallenged before, a lot of women in the movement have begun trying to apply those lessons to their own relations with men. The usual response is laughter. To raise questions like those above illustrates very directly that society hasn't dealt with some of its deepest problems and opens discussion of why that is so. Therefore, most of us will probably want to work full time on problems such as war, poverty, race. In these conversations we've found what seem to be recurrent ideas or themes. People are beginning to think about and even to experiment with new forms in these areas. The caste system perspective dictates the roles assigned to women in the movement, and certainly even more to women outside the movement. That inability to see the whole issue as serious, as the straitjacketing of both sexes, and as societally determined often shapes our own response so that we learn to think in their terms about ourselves and to feel silly rather than trust our inner feelings. The reason we want to try to open up dialogue is mostly subjective. Many people who are very hip to the implications of the racial caste system, even people in the movement, don't seem to be able to see the sexual caste system and if the question is raised they respond with: It is widely regarded as one of the first documents of the emerging women's liberation movement. But in particular, women we've talked to who work in the movement seem to be caught up in a common-law caste system that operates, sometimes subtly, forcing them to work around or outside hierarchical structures of power which may exclude them.
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