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Saying What We Want:
Women's Liberation and the Seven Demands

Zoe Fairbairns

Saying what you want does not necessarily mean that you will get it. But if you don't say what you want, you can be pretty sure that you will never get it.

In the 1970s, the Women's Liberation Movement (WLM) did say what it wanted. It had an agreed programme of demands, formulated at national conferences, and supported by organisations that identified as part of the WLM. The demands covered equality in the workplace and in education, sexual and reproductive freedom, legal and financial independence and an end to male violence.

This paper will argue that it is no coincidence that this was a time during which the women's liberation movement was at its most visible, cohesive and successful. Because we said what we wanted.

In exploring each of the seven demands, its history and subsequent success or lack of it, ZoŽ Fairbairns argues that the Seven Demands, though inevitably reformist and unlikely to reflect the aspirations of every woman or group, nevertheless provided an important point of reference and sense of direction for a movement which was, because of its rejection of traditional structures and hierarchies, always in danger of fragmentation.

The paper also invites participants to consider what would go on a list of feminist demands for the year 2002.

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