The Furies Collective

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House at 219 11th St., SE, now on the National Register of Historic Places

The Furies Collective was a communal lesbian group in Washington, D.C. that was established in the summer of 1971. The group intended to give a voice to lesbian separatism through its newspaper, The Furies. In the first issue in January 1972, contributor Ginny Berson stated their view that:

"... Sexism is the root of all other oppressions, and Lesbian and woman oppression will not end by smashing capitalism, racism, and imperialism. Lesbianism is not a matter of sexual preference, but rather one of political choice which every woman must make if she is to become woman-identified and thereby end male supremacy."[1]

History[edit]

The Furies collective, which lived at 219 11th St SE in Washington, D.C., was, along with the Gay Liberation House and the Skyline Collective, among Washington, D.C.'s best known communal living groups in the early 1970s. The twelve women in the collective were aged eighteen to twenty-eight, all feminists, all lesbians, all white, with three children among them. They shared chores and clothes, lived together, held some of their money in common, and slept on mattresses on a common floor. They also started a school to teach women auto and home repair so they would not be dependent on men. Most of the members of the collective wrote for the newspaper. From January 1972 until mid-1973, the collective published its newspaper, The Furies, and distributed it nationally.

According to Rita Mae Brown in Rita Will,[2] the members of the collective were: "Rita Mae Brown, Charlotte Bunch, Tasha Byrd [sic], Ginny Berson, Sharon Deevey, Susan Hathaway, Lee Schwin [sic], Helaine Harris, Coletta Reid, Jennifer Woodull [sic], Nancy Myron and Joan E. Biren." (J.E.B.) The names indicated by "[sic]" are actually: Tasha Petersen or Peterson, Lee Schwing, and Jennifer Woodul.

The collective did not last long. The first two to be asked to leave were Joan Biren and Sharon Deevey, followed shortly thereafter by Rita Mae Brown.[3] The newsletter survived the disbanding of the collective in the spring of 1972 by about a year.[4]

Recognition[edit]

In 2016 the house at 219 11th St. SE which was home to the Furies Collective was named as the first lesbian-related historic landmark in Washington, D.C. when it was unanimously voted into the D.C. Inventory of Historic Sites.[5] Later that same year that house became the first lesbian site on the National Register of Historic Places.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Furies, Vol. 1, Issue 1, as quoted at http://www.rainbowhistory.org/furies.htm
  2. ^ Rita Mae Brown, Rita Will: Memoir of a Literary Rabble-Rouser, Bantam Books, New York, 1997. p. 267.
  3. ^ Rita Mae Brown, Rita Will: Memoir of a Literary Rabble-Rouser, Bantam Books, New York, 1997. p. 271
  4. ^ "http://www.rainbowhistory.org/furies.htm". Retrieved 9 June 2016.  External link in |title= (help)
  5. ^ "Capitol Hill Rowhome Becomes D.C.’s First Lesbian-Related Historic Landmark". 
  6. ^ "Furies Collective becomes first lesbian site on National Register". Metro Weekly. 

External links[edit]