Ol’ Jerry Falwell is at it again; the latest, from his 21 November Old Time Gospel Hour broadcast, is the following incisive tidbit:
And we’re going to invite PETA [toWild Game Night] as our special guest, P-E-T-A — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. We want you to come, we’re going to give you a top seat there, so you can sit there and suffer. This is one of my special groups, another one’s the ACLU, another is the NOW — the National Order of Witches [sic]. We’ve got — I’ve got a lot of special groups.
Ouch! As Jessica put it over at feministing,
Yeah, I bet all the ladies over at NOW were huddled around their cauldrons just fuming over that one. Please.
On the other hand, we shouldn’t be too hasty to pile on. Perhaps poor Jerry wasn’t trying to be insulting. Maybe he just got confused, and mixed up NOW with another famous feminist organizing effort:
WITCH was born on Halloween, 1968, in New York, but within a few weeks Covens had sprung up in such diverse spots as Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, North Carolina, Portland (Oregon), Austin (Texas), and Tokyo (Japan). They’re still spreading. A certain common style–insousciance, theatricality, humor, and activism, unite the Covens–which are otherwise totally autonomous, and unhierarchical to the point of anarchy. …
Washington, D.C. WITCH–after an action hexing the United Fruit Company’s oppressive policy on the Third World and on secretaries in its offices at home (Bananas and rifles, sugar and death / War for profit, tarantulas’ breath / United Fruit makes lots of loot / The CIA is in its boot)–claimed that WITCH wasa total concept of revolutionary female identityand was the striking arm of the Women’s Liberation Movement, aiming mainly at financial and corporate America, at those institutions that have the power to control and define human life.
Chicago WITCH Covens showered the Sociology Department at the University of Chicago with hair cuttings and nail clippings after the firing of a radical feminist woman professor, and the Chicago Witches also demonstrated against a transit fare hike. They, as well as Witches in New York, San Francisco, North Dakota, and New England, disrupted local Bridal Fairs. The fluidity and wit of the Witches is evident in the ever-changing acronyms: the basic, original title was Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell, but on Mother’s Day one Coven became Women Infuriated at Taking Care of Hooligans; another group, working at a major Eastern insurance corporation, became Women Indentured to Traveler’s Corporate Hell; still another set of infiltrators, working at Bell Telephone, manifested themselves disruptively as Women Incensed at Telephone Company Harrassment. When hexing inflationary prices at supermarkets, a Midwest Coven appeared as Women’s Independent Taxpayers, Consumers, and Homemakers; Women Interested in Toppling Consumption Holidays was another transfigutory appellation–and the latest heard at this writing is Women Inspired to Commit Herstory.
For Rebellion Is As The Sin Of Witchcraft. —I Samuel, 15:23
–Robin Morgan, Sisterhood is Powerful (1970)
Chicago WITCH hexes the Transit Authority (photo by Louise Brotsky)
Double, bubble, war and rubble
When you mess with women, you’ll be in trouble
We’re convicted of murder if abortion is planned
Convicted of shame if we don’t have a man
Convicted of conspiracy if we fight for our rights
And burned at the stake when we stand up to fight
Double, bubble, war and rubble
When you mess with women, you’ll be in trouble.
We curse your empire to make it fall–
When you take on one of us, you take on us all!
–Women’s Independent Taxpayers, Consumers, and Homemakers (W.I.T.C.H.)
Who says that feminists don’t have a sense of humor?
This, sadly, is what passes for wit in those circles. They’ve been calling feminists “witches” for literally twenty years, possibly more. I think more. I think second wave feminist icon (and one of my heroes) Robin Morgan started a group called WITCH in response to it, where they ran around and did Abbie Hoffman-esque stunts like casting a spell on the New York Stock Exchange to shut it down at the beginning of the day. When the Wall Streeters tried to open the doors, they found that they could not. The WITCHes took full credit for their spell working, of course, and they were indeed responsible, as they had superglued the locks shut the night before.