Sex and Caste at 50

The Y way

The YWCA provided Hayden with both an early analysis of sex roles, as well as a method for organizing women that directly influenced A Kind of Memo.[ii]   During college, Hayden was first formally introduced to what was known in Y language as the “relations of men and women.”[i]   At the 1959 national conference of the YWCA and YMCA, Hayden had the opportunity to attend workshops on “changing relations of men and women.” As a 1960 Y report succinctly noted,

"The culture being what it is the sex roles of men and women are learned and are not completely democratic ones." [1]

The organizing strategy Hayden advocated for in A Kind of Memo came from “the YWCA's Way of Work," … create a group, talk about a topic personally, create a program to meet the questions and issues raised.” (doc 86A)     Hayden's became familiar with this method while working on a human relations project of the YWCA, a position held subsequently by Mary King and Bobby Yancey after she left.   From the spring of 1961 to the summer of 1962, Hayden travelled to colleges throughout the south facilitating small interracial "human relations" seminars.   As Erica L Whitington notes in “Interracial dialogue and the southern student human relations project” “human relations” functioned as a coded term for the more provocative “race relations” during an era of Jim Crow segregation.  Human relations theory posited that "interpersonal contact to alter societal dynamics" (Rebellion in Black and White 84).

“A Kind of Memo” mirrors this strategy.  Women's informal conversations, stretching back to Hayden's days in Ann Arbor with other SDS women, through the literacy house in Tugaloo, created informal discussion groups.  The women, in sharing their personal struggles, raised questions and identified issues, and now the Memo moved toward trying to develop something more programmatic out of that by "talk[ing] with each other more openly.” and  creating a “community for discussion.”  
A Kind of Memo then, was less about women’s subordinate role in the movement, and more about how women might help to create change in the movement itself. 
[i] Although Evans emphasized the importance of the Y for women in the movement that aspect of her argument is less cited.  See also Susan Lynn progressive women in conservative times on the Y.
[1] Dan William Dodson, The Role of the YWCA In a Changing Era
[ii] Acknowledged 

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