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May 4, 1971

Hailing an “Age of Androgyny,” author Caroline Bird ‘35 lectured on “Why Woman’s Liberation?” Three distinct features of the new age, she said, were the comparative youth of current feminists—“young women, not disillusioned middle-aged women—” the “deliberately leaderless and spontaneous…grass-roots” nature of modern feminism and the young feminists’ ability to “separate sexuality from sex roles and realize that you don’t need to be male to enjoy yourself in bed.”

“Ms. Bird,” wrote Susan Casteras ’71 in The Miscellany News, “illustrated the development of the female movement and growth to consciousness from the history of Vassar College, which is ‘an ideal [microcosm] to study social change.’ Vassar, she wryly noted, was never ‘in the forefront of the movement; the administration bitterly opposed female suffrage.’ And in the ’50s Vassar reacted against historical androgyny by insitutuing child psychology, or trying ‘to make motherhood into an academic study.’”

Bird presented her audience, the reporter said, with “her own precis of gradual growth of consciousness and radicalization,” citing “three goals that she would seek as a young woman to see materialized in the present and future: to challenge the ‘institutional handicaps’ and work…for female compensatory promotions, to ‘put yourself on the line by doing something for all women—as in working for equal rights and abortion laws,’ and not simply to protest, but to ‘do something to make room for the next generatioin of women.’”

The Miscellany News

Bird’s Born Female (1968) was an influential early document in the women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s. She spoke frequently on the campus during the 1970s.

The Years