"The Woman-Identified Woman" was a ten-paragraph manifesto, written by the Radicalesbians in 1970. It was first distributed during the "Lavender Menace" protest at the Second Congress to Unite Women, on May 1, 1970 in New York City. It is now considered a turning point in the history of radical feminism, and one of the founding documents of lesbian feminism.
It was written and revised collectively by a group including Artemis March, Lois Hart, Rita Mae Brown, Ellen Shumsky, Cynthia Funk, and Karla Jay, among others. A group of lesbian radical feminists staged a "zap" for the opening session of the Congress, during which they cut the lights, took over the stage and the microphone, and explained how angry they were about the exclusion of lesbian speakers from the Congress. They passed out mimeographed copies of "The Woman-Identified Woman," in which they argued that lesbian women were at the forefront of the struggle for women's liberation, because their identification with other women defied traditional definitions of women's identity in terms of male sexual partners, and expressed "the primacy of women relating to women, of women creating a new consciousness of and with each other which is at the heart of women's liberation, and the basis for the cultural revolution." Thus, support for lesbians and an open commitment to lesbian liberation was argued to be "absolutely essential to the success and fulfillment of the women's liberation movement."
Full text online
- "The Woman-Identified Women" (1970). From Documents from the Women's Liberation Movement, Special Collections Library, Duke University.