Betsy Warrior, "Disarm Rapists/Smash Sexism"

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Betsy Warrior  “Disarm Rapists / Smash Sexism.”

[Boston]: [n. pb.], [1971].

Original offset poster, 433 x 560mm, a few light creases and a small tear to right edge of poster with no loss, otherwise in very good condition.

 ABOUT THIS POSTER

Since 1968 Betsy Warrior has advocated on behalf of women in abusive relationships, as a founding member of the Boston-area feminist group Cell 16. At that time, Betsy Warrior chose her own name, both to commemorate her survival from a longterm abusive marriage, and to commemorate the Native American activist Clyde Merton Warrior—she herself was a descendent of the Mi’kmaq tribe of Canada. Along with Cell 16 she took a militant approach, expressed in posters like this: until they disbanded in 1973, Cell 16 was one of the first groups to advocate for separatism, and they published No More Fun and Games: A Journal of Female Liberation with articles setting the foundations for separatism, advising celibacy for straight people, and most prominently, self-defence training. Warrior wrote and distributed publications, including Housework: Slavery or a Labor of Love (1969), Females and Welfare (1969), and later without the group, the Battered Women’s Directory (1978). In 1972 she was one of the co-founders of Women Against Rape (WAR) in Boston—this poster in particular was popular among activists at the time working to raise awareness and end violence against women. Her poster “Strike! While the Iron Is Hot!” became popular internationally among advocates of the Wages for Housework movement that grew out of Italy in 1972, thanks to the work of feminists like Sylvia Federici. By the 1980s, Warrior began to advocate for the introduction of anti-pornography laws—a less successful campaign and one that is still problematic. Nevertheless, her lifetime of activism on behalf of victims of violence and abuse is what she has received awards for over the years, including the Jane Doe Unsung Hero Award in 1993. Posters like this still deserve to be given room in workplaces and university campuses to this day.

FURTHER READING

“Betsy Warrior (b. 1940, Boston) Feminist, Human Rights Activist, Tenant’s and Welfare Rights Organization,” Cambridge Women’s Heritage Project, https://www2.cambridgema.gov/Historic/CWHP/bios_w.html#WarriorB. 

Maria Bevacqua, Rape on the Public Agenda: Feminism and the Politics of Sexual Assault (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2000).
Betsy Warrior, “Strike! While the iron is hot! Wages for housework.” Library of Congress, https://lccn.loc.gov/2015649375.

Betsy Warrior Papers, 1966-1996; Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, http://id.lib.harvard.edu/ead/sch01511/catalog 

Brooke Palmieri