Listen: Women on campus

An interview about young women on college campuses and their involvement with older women’s organizations.


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SPEAKER 1: The women on the campuses, for example, who have been so active in the peace movements, are they turning to your organization?

SPEAKER 2: I think very often you see very often, you'll have an upsurge of some kind of a movement. For example, in 1961, there was a terrific upsurge in women's peace groups all over Britain and all over the world indeed to combat the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere. Large numbers of women started making little groups-- women for peace, women against this, mothers against the bomb, and all those things.

And then after a while, they started to drop out. And then they were looking round for something which was still there and which still had a definite purpose, which had a constitution then they came to us. So we rather got to the stage where we've absorbed all of those other little groups in our country. And we stand for the women.

And also we are getting the younger members who feel that they must do something definite with an organization like ours. They are coming in not necessarily joining the older groups, but forming smaller groups of their own in their own areas. We have one or two what we call our young branches. And these ones are nearly all younger people, mothers with families or young professional people. And in this way, I think, we are bringing in the next generation.

SPEAKER 1: Now, are these people brought in to do specific things? Or do you form study groups? Or do you study a problem and then lobby for solution and that sort of thing?

SPEAKER 2: Nobody ever joins an organization unless it's doing something. It's when you start doing a specific object. After our chemical and biological, we had a conference on nuclear weapons. We are having this drive for settlement of disputes. This is bringing quite a lot of people in who realize that this is logical.

We are now going to work on the environment, development, and armaments tying the three things together making people realize that it's part of one problem. And this, again, is very much up the young people's street. I think that we can also appeal to them on the moral aspect of the whole thing.

A lot of people are very upset about the trend of our civilization and are anxious to change it. They don't feel that there's an answer. And perhaps some of the experience of the mothers and grandmothers are trying to live with the world long enough to have come to a few conclusions. And though we are quite willing to learn from the young and to accept their ideas, too, I think, perhaps together, we can work out something much more effective than if it's us alone or them alone.

SPEAKER 3: A lot of the younger people tend to think of older people's reaction though to their experience as having made them less sensitive, more cynical about things. And yet your organization, at least the people I've known in your organization really are an exception to that. And they tend to somehow maintain their idealism about the world that even many young people don't find it so easy to maintain. How do you account for that?

SPEAKER 2: I think we believe in life. You see, this is the thing, we really believe in life that there's something very important about living and that it's a wonderful experience and we're lucky to be here. And somehow we have this is our objective is to make not only life for ourselves, but for the next generation. And that's why I think that people want to join with us to help us to get another generation, to get a new life, and so forth.

SPEAKER 1: As the oldest women's organization, let's say, radical women's organization in history, do you feel sometimes that the issues of women's liberation today are a little bit frivolous compared to the issues that you dealt with and are dealing with on a kind of a world and a cosmic scale?

SPEAKER 2: It's difficult really to say that because obviously we are just as concerned with women's position in the world as we ever have been. The only thing is that we see it perhaps a little more in the round. We are rather a little distressed that the Women's Lib don't realize that the peace movement is an important area of work that they should be plugging on as well as their rights.

I think that if we are only anxious for our own liberation, we are really being caught in the same sort of spiral that ordinary people are being caught in of caring for their own personal lives and not looking beyond them to the wider view. I think that even in the question of Women's Lib, they should be looking further. They should be looking at why they are oppressed and why they are-- and then they will see how all this question of peace and all the other things are tied up with oppression, how we can change it only if we know what we want to change it for.


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