The House that Jill Built: A Lesbian Nation in Formation
Published: December 1995© 1995
382 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
Ebook - PDF
The decade of the 1970s is commonly remembered for its kitschy contributions to popular culture -- bean-bag chairs, platform shoes, bell-bottoms, disaster movies, disco, hot tubs, and hot pants. In The House That Jill Built, Becki Ross offers a rare view of this decade -- one that shows community-based activism challenging the prevailing tenets of individualism and conspicuous consumerism. Ross explores the dedicated struggle of a largely white, middle-class group of lesbian feminists to subvert the history of lesbian invisibility and persecution by claiming a collective, empowering, public presence in Toronto during the mid- to late 1970s.
Gathering information from archival sources and numerous interviews with lesbians who were active in the feminist, left, and gay-liberation movements in the 1970s, Ross provides a window onto complex developments in community, identity, and visionary politics. She uses the Lesbian Organization of Toronto (LOOT, 1976-80) as a centrepiece, tracing the route that LOOT members took in enacting their desire to politicize the personal, in order to be lesbian in all aspects of their lives. Ross investigates the properties intrinsic to 'lesbian nationalism': fashion, sexuality, relationships, living arrangements, group membership, service provision, cultural production, and political strategy-making.
The House That Jill Built convincingly analyses the significant achievements of lesbian feminism in the 1970s as well as the limitations of identity-based organizing. The book is especially useful for those interested in the fields of women's studies, cultural studies, queer theory, and social movements.