Overview: A Feminist Mecca Teeming with Plans, Ideas, and Energy
The Gainesville women's movement started in 1968 when two local residents and civil rights activists wrote and circulated "The Florida Paper." The dissemination of the position paper, which the authors originally titled "Towards a Female Liberation Movement," led women from other national women's liberation groups to recognize that Gainesville was not just another small, southern college town, it was a feminist mecca teeming with plans, ideas, and energy.1
In the years following, Gainesville would also be the site of early Redstockings members and the location at which Carol Hanisch authored "The Personal is Political." Numerous women's groups and collectives would form as well.
The movement became most visible to the public in the mid-1970s when women began founding feminist institutions. The Rape Information and Counseling Service was one of the first organizations to form. Soon after came the Gainesville Women's Health Center. Perhaps the culminating moment of the movement, however, was the founding of The Women's Center, a community space for women.
Throughout the mid-1970s, the local women's movement flourished as various women's groups collaborated in order to present events such as the Southeastern Women's Health Conference. Other protests and boycotts included the Title IV march and the Women for Decency campaign. Apart from involvement in local politics, women in Gainesville also developed a young and vibrant lesbian-feminist community.
But by the 1980s, the rise of the Religious Right, the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment, and the County Commission's ruling to revoke federal funding from The Women's Center all diffused the excitement of the movement and the once vivacious Gainesville women's movement faded into a movement in abeyance.2
Since the curtailment of the movement, women have formed new organizations and groups that nurture their feminist identities and give them the opportunity to express their pro-woman beliefs through political action. Yet nothing compares to the time when they once lived as history-makers in one of the most massive movements of the twentieth century. This exhibit features their history.