“A Kind of Memo” began with women talking to other women about the problems they face. While the Memo references “some parallels … between treatment of Negroes and treatment of women in our society,” it relies on a second analogy, between sex and caste in order to emphasize the outcomes of a “system” that “uses and exploits women.” Caste was used in the freedom movement to reference a hierarchy of skin color that went far beyond legal segregation.  In particular, caste as a system functioned to normalize this inequality. As Hayden noted, even people who are aware of the “implications of the racial caste system” cannot sometimes see “the sexual caste system” attributing it instead to ‘biological differences,” or “the ways things are supposed to be.” These comments captured the applicability of caste to the situation of women, which were not “institutionalized by law,” but reflected in pervasive assumptions that translated into women’s subordinate roles, and therefore lay “beyond legalistic solutions.”
The sex caste system permeated the lived experiences of people, from work in the movement to their most intimate relationships with others. Therefore, while the Waveland paper documented many instances of discrimination in the movement, A Kind of Memo pointed out only that “The caste system perspective dictates the roles assigned to women in the movement, and certainly even more to women outside the movement” (emphasis added). Just one sentence of A Kind of Memo offers examples “ranging from relationships of women organizers to men in the community, to who cleans the freedom house, to who holds leadership positions, to who does secretarial work, and who acts as spokesman for groups.” While Hayden was sympathetic to individuals who felt the impact of discrimination, she saw these instances as occurring within a bigger system.
Instead, the second half of A Kind of Memo sketches out an approach that women in the movement might take, not to ending sexism in the movement, but to call the movement back to its radical roots.