The twelve women, Sharon Deevey, Charlotte Bunch, Rita Mae Brown, Joan Biren, Ginny Berson, Susan Hathaway, Helaine Harris, Coletta Reid, Lee Schwing, Jennifer Woodul, Mancy Myron, and Tasha Dellinger Peterson, were involved several radical lesbian initiatives prior to the formation of the Furies in 1971. Furies’ members, Sharon Deveey and Joan Biren participated in the Black Panther Party’s Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention, a convention which called together activists to write a less oppressive United States Constitution.1 The different black liberation organizations inspired the Furies to become a separatist collective. To learn more about the connection between the Women’s Liberation Movement and Black Liberation check out the book Radical Sisters: Second Wave Feminism and Black Liberation in Washington, D.C Anne Valk.2
Due to their experiences of homophobia and classism during the Women’s Liberation Movement, the Furies collective felt formation was necessary. Yet before women decided to leave the movement they were active as “…they sought to make their own condition primary” after being dismissed by men in other social movement organizations.3 Charlotte Bunch, one of the founding members of the Furies, was also a founding member of the Women’s Liberation Movement in Washington, D.C.4 The activities held by the various chapters of NOW (National Organization for Women) were national and local protests and establishing programs that addressed violence, reproductive rights, and the needs of children.
Frustratingly, lesbian-feminists could not confront their specific oppression from within either of these movements. Lesbian feminists, disgruntled with the limitations they encountered in the Women’s Liberation Movement.
1 Anne Valk, Radical Sisters: Second-wave Feminism and Black Liberation in Washington, D.C, (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2008,) 140
2 Valk, Radical Sisters, 126.
3 Valk, Radical Sisters, 60.
4 Valk, Radical Sisters, 65.