Last night Kathie Sarachild Amatnik called to say she was scanning a copy of my Liturgy for the Burial of Traditional Womanhood and emailing me a copy. Kathie read the Eulogy at Arlington Cemetery over the effigy Shulie Firestone and I had made, while I read the Liturgy on the Capitol steps at the end of the Jeanette Rankin Brigade, January 15, 1968. I am very grateful to her and the Redstockings Archive.
Here is the text. I'm resisting the urge to edit it. For years I told people it was a Litany for the Burial of Martyred Motherhood. But that's obviously not what I typed as the title to hand out.
LITURGY FOR THE BURIAL OF TRADITIONAL WOMANHOOD
Oh women of Chalcis and Argos Of Manhattan and Chicago For three thousand years of western wars In submission We have sinned. Bemoaning death HYPOCRISY (response) Affirming life COMPLICITY (response) Where have we stood to turn the tide Of civilization OF PACIFICATION(response) Of civilizing ourselves OUR MEN (response) By war.
Oh women YOUNG WOMEN (response) Civilized women, we have sinned. We have sinned to the trill of martial trumpets And patriotic hymns For the thrill of pride and power And to glory in lusty men We cheered and waved and goaded Our men to murder and maim For heroic virility in our eyes.
Oh women from forests to savannahs From tribes to urban centers For ten thousand years of human wars In submission we have sinned Bemoaning death HYPOCRISY (response) Affirming life COMPLICITY (response) Where have we stood to turn the tide Of civilization OF PACIFICATION (response) Of civilizing ourselves OUR MEN (response) By war.
Liturgy for Burial of Traditional Womanhood read to women of Jeanette Rankin Brigade Jan 15, 1968, Capitol Steps, Washington, D. C.
Oh women WIVES AND MOTHERS (response) Civilized women, we have sinned. Since the first expulsion from Eden Since the sex were split asunder And we lay with belly buldging Licking our sleek skin and learning That Adam would forage still further And to bring back more than he needed would kill As long as we kept the immortality Of our shared species to ourselves. Primary division of labor Destruction of our intellect and courage Fair exchange for denying gentleness to men Preening, posing, and proding Adam to forage still further To bring us furs, kelvinators, and empires With the bribe we might let him back Into our warmth and with him share The glories of our births. Women, widowed by sin Simpering and spineless now The blame is ours if they heed only The wit and power of generals' glory And seek warmth in the comradeship of me
Women of Cleveland and Baltimore Of Philadelphia and Newark How many more years of human wars In submission shall we sin Bemoaning death HYPOCRISY (response Affirming life COMPLICITY (response) When shall we stand to turn the tide Of civilization OF PACIFICATION (response) Of civilizing ourselves OUR MEN By war.
Oh Women WOMEN TODAY (response) Civilized women, we sin. Wiser than virgins awed by important men Hearts stronger than ambitious wives Who use men and children to gain their ends. Women unabashed of feelings Loving peace And lively bodies More than efficiency And exigencies Of war. We also We have sinned. Acquiescing to an order That indulges peaceful pleas And writes them off as female logic Saying peace is womanly We sin with brimming hearts conceding Our arguments are filled with feeling And feeling must give way to legalese. We sinned today If we indulge our hearts And leave thought and action to men. We sin tomorrow If cool computators act out their part Blamelessly, if we cannot find our minds and courage To force the rediscovery of heart.
Radical Women's Group 185 East Third Street New York, NY, 10009
updated April 10, 2015 free use; please credit and link to www.peggydobbins.net