The Daily Gamecock

Olcott remembers, explores the year of the woman

Jocelyn Olcott’s participation in the International Women’s Year Conference in 1975 explored the many questions women sought to answer.
“They told me it was the year of the woman,” Olcott said, “So I asked them, what woman?”
International Women’s Year was celebrated by women all over the world who traveled from their home countries to Mexico where the conference and activism activities were held. Women were ready to speak on the issues that objectified their race, beauty and power that seemed to be misunderstood by the world for so long.
“How high do you put the bar to declare something as a historical event?” Olcott said. “The International Women’s Year was created as such as the media marked the conference as an event, or a happening.”
The 1970s, as Olcott said, marked an explosion as it became the pivotal moment for women’s feminism and activist movements. It was also a time when African Americans were battling their own issues of race, so Olcott compared the monumental civil rights movement as being the equivalent of the International Women’s Year.
“The International Women’s Year exemplified the friction or grip of what one encounters,” Olcott said.
Women at the conference spoke openly about the issues faced at home, like the lack of clean drinking water and food, as well as the opportunities to change that. Conflicts of oppression and representation arose in addition to global policies.
“The only image we’re given is that we cannot unite ourselves,” Olcott said of Betty Friedan’s quote. “These calls for unity brought about the questions of who could represent who.”
The idea of women’s emancipation brought consideration to 1975 about the range of experiences, differences of understandings and diverse perceptions.
“It’s hard for those majority of women and men to understand what oppressed women in the United States are about,” said a woman in a video clip of the conference.
Women were on a search for solidarity, but the struggle of reaching that goal often found themselves back to doing things like making coffee. They couldn’t seem to shake the status quo idea of women not being able to amount up to equal status of men.