ISSUE: #3 Feed

DYKE A Quarterly No 3, p.2. Contents, Masthead

Dyke No 3 p 2DYKE A Quarterly, No. 3 p. 2. Photo by  Phoebe Quill, woman sitting on sacks of mail, reading DYKE No. 2

(contents are linked to articles as they appear in this online archive)

3. Criticism, Feedback, Changes

    by Liza and Penny

5. Letters

    by some readers

13. Making A Backpack

    by Cherrie Cox

21. They're Your Teeth, How Long Will You Keep Them?

    by Christine Stanley, DDS

23. Coming Out On Celluloid

    by Janet Meyers

26. Windsong

    by Myra Quadrangle

28. Non Mean Mom

    by NoY Doublex

29. Response to Non Mean Mom

    by Penny and Liza

32. In Order Of A Name Change

30. Nesting

    by Liza Cowan

34. Photographs

    by Alice Austen

44. Emotional Life Insurance Policy

    by Janet Meyers

46. Reviews


Dyke a quarterly,DYKE No 3, for contents page

Editors: Penny House and Liza Cowan

Contributing Editor: Janet Meyers

Tyepset by: OBU Typesetters

Printed by: Tower Press, a Lesbian print shop

DYKE  #3 Fall 1976. DYKE is published quarterly by Tomato Publications LTD, 70 Barrow St. New York, NY 10014.

Subscriptions: $8.00 per year. $16.00 overseas. $15 to institutionally funded groups, single copy $2.25 by mail, $2.25 in women's stores. Free on request to women in prison and mental institutions.

DYKE pays for all articles & Graphics that it prints.

Copyright © 1976, New York. All rights reserved.

Cover: photo by Alice Austen, design by Liza Cowan

errata: we apologize for misspelling Cris Williamson's name last issue


DYKE A Quarterly, no. 3. 1976. pp 3,4. Criticism, Feedback, Changes



Dyke A Quarterly, 1976,  No 3 p 3Dyke A Quarterly No 3, p 3.

Dyke A Quarterly, 1976,No 3 p 4DYKE A Quarterly, No. 3, 1976, P. 4



You may have noticed that this issue of DYKE is 4 months late, and that we have combined the summer and fall issues. We're sorry. We're still having problems with deadlines, because we're new, and because we are not organized well enough. We want DYKE to come out as regularly as it should and we're sorry that we don't always succeed. Of course, every subscription will cover four issues.


In woman and through the grapevine, most of the feedback we've gotten about DYKE has been more about feelings than about specific articles. All of this feedback has had an effect on us, but the more specific it is, the easier it is to understand it and apply it.

It seemed that of the women who had some negative feelings about DYKE that the source of their objections was our tone. They felt that we were insensitive to other Dykes who could not or do not choose to live as we do. They felt our tone was sometimes rigid and exclusive. This is not how we meant to sound. This is not how we feel.

We know we are strong and self confident Lesbians. We value these qualities in all women and we wanted to project them in DYKE. Because of our ignorance of how to translate these thoughts and feelings into print, a false impression was created that we don't care about other Lesbian's lives. We're sorry this impression was created. We want DYKE to be about the lives of all of us and we are working towards this goal.

During the past months we have become increasingly aware of the great range of opinions and priorities among Lesbians. We're finding out that many of the problems of the Lesbian community come from all of us behaving as if we share or should share the same assumptions. This expectations creates dissension and frustration. Instead of allowing this diversity to cause fights among us, in DYKE we are going to try to explore Lesbian diversity as a source of strength.

We're still in the process of learning how to produce a magazine. As usual, there are few Lesbian role models. The following are some of the changes that we are trying out in an effort to make the magazine work better.



We have decided to have theme issues because the basic theme of Lesbian experience is to general to be workable. Having theme issues, Lesbians of different classes, races, ages and interests will hopefully participate so we can present a full spectrum of Lesbian experience relating to one topic. We hope that you will write about any of the themes that you are interested in, and that you will tell us themes that you would like to see.

Here are a few of the themes we are going to have: Poster, Sports, Animals, Health, Black/Ethnic/Rainbow Dykes. We know that Lesbians are involved in all these things, from many different aspects, and we'd like to present as much of a variety of Lesbian experience as we can.

Dyke a quarterly flier for poster issue illustration by liza cowanFlier for Poster Issue, DYKE A Quarterly. Graphic by Liza Cowan.


Our winter issue 1976-77, our first anniversary issue, will not be in magazine form. It will be a four color poster. We are looking for a Lesbian created design for the poster. See the back cover for details. We think that it is interesting and important to experiment with different forms of print communication. Repetition of a particular form can be useful, and may turn out to be the best form for DYKE. Nevertheless, we would like to see if we can change that form once in a while, while still maintaining our basic focus and function.

Dyke a quarterly flier for Black ethnic rainbow dykes illustration by roberta gregory 1976Flier for submissions to Black/Ethnic/Rainbow Dykes issue of DYKE A Quarterly. Illustration by Roberta Gregory


We want to print material by Lesbians from all different Ethnic groups. How you as an individual Lesbian, and how other Lesbians in your Ethnic group, relate to Lesbian issues and the rest of life. How your origins and the politics and aesthetic of your Ethnic group shape your consciousness. Of course this includes a class analysis as well, but we would like to print material with more ethnic emphasis, as this has not been discussed much in print.

Recently we have become aware of anti-semitic feelings among Lesbians, which made us begin to think about what it means to be Jewish Lesbians. We were going to write about this for this issue, when a reader suggested we do a whole issue by and about Black/Ethnic/Rainbow Dykes. We hope that Dykes who identify with this will write about any aspect of their lives which expresses their experience of being a Black/Ethnic/Rainbow Dyke.


Traditionally women have had a special connection to animals. But this has generally been discussed from a male point of view. Women can and have learned a lot from animals. The relationships between us can be satisfying, healthy, consciousness raising, productive and life sustaining. We would like to hear about women who work with animals either in a professional or non professional way. Veterinarians and para-veterinarians, trainers, breeders, farmers. We would like to print articles about Lesbians relationships with animals, observations on animal behavior and personality from a Lesbian point of view. Is anybody lovers with an animal?


Lesbians are involved in many different athletic disciplines. We are interested in hearing about womens' training schools, and about all women competitions, and alternative athletic gatherings that are not competitive. Coming out to your team. Playing on bar teams. Organization and structure of Lesbian team sports. Herstorical Lesbian athletes. Any sports related Lesbian stories, thoughts, photographs and graphics. And of course let's not forget gym teachers.


In this issue, we ask you to imagine a world where men have not existed for several generations. One possible way to write about this would be to take a very specific part of life, such as food, libraries, schools, money, farming, architecture, music, communications, language, work, or anything, and write about it as it exists in an all woman world. There is of course, an infinite variety of ways to express this idea, and we'd like to print as many as we can.


In this issue there is an article on taking care of your teeth. In the Health issue we are looking for articles that inform and teach us about about care for all of our bodies. Different parts of the body, and the Lesbian body as a whole.

We will continue to run articles that are not necessarily related to the theme of the issue, so don't hesitate to send us non-theme related issues.

Dyke a quarterly  ad  green tomatoad for DYKE A Quarterly


Many women felt that three dollars was too high a price to pay for a magazine. But it costs that much to produce such a long issue. We don't want to cut down on the quality so we are cutting down on the number of pages so the price can go down. Most of the money that is spent producing DYKE goes to Lesbians. We have Lesbian typesetters and Lesbian printers, and all the contributors are Lesbians who are paid for their work, although we don't pay ourselves. Since we don't know of any paper, ink, or art supply companies owned by women, this part of the cost goes to male businesses. Of course, a lot goes to the US Male System


In our last issue we did not respond in the magazine to the letters of criticism, although we did answer them personally. At the time we felt it would be unfair and defensive to take advantage of our position as publishers to get in the last word. However, several readers told us that not answering the letters made it seem as if we did not care about or respect what the letters were saying. They felt we had a responsibility to respond. We agree, and now we are answering the letters in the magazine.


Only one woman has given us feedback about the layout and design. We would like to have more feedback on this. For more flexibility and as an experiment, we are trying a three column per page layout this issue. Please tell us how you like it. And remember, we always need graphic and photographs.


We ourselves had some strong objections to parts of the Spring issue. There were several parts of CLIT Papers #2 that we thought were anti-animal, racist and generally offensive. However, the majority of CLIT we liked and wanted to print. During talks with CLIT women, they told us we had to print "all or nothing and after days of discussion between ourselves, we decided to print it all. We debated a long time about whether to run a disclaimer stating our objections. We made what we now realize was a bad decision. Most readers naturally assumed that we agree with everything CLIT wrote, as we said nothing to the contrary. Belatedly, here are some of our objections.


DYKE A QUARTERLY No 2 p 61 verbsWe objected to some of the symbols and asked CLIT to leave them out or redraw them, but they refused. Among the symbols in question was "beauty" a drawing of a sitting woman with straight light colored hair. We thought this was racist, once again showing Beauty as white skinned straight haired blondness. Another hieroglyph that we did not like was "stop" showing a horse with her nose raised up and a rope pulling on her mouth. This is an ineffective and cruel wa to stop a horse. We thought that all the drawings that included women in long dresses and long straight pale hair such as "to bring" "to make love" "to fight" were both racist and weird. We also thought it was strange and depressing that there were seven different transportation vehicles listed, while the whole animal queendom was represented by one symbol. They listed stereo, radio, TV, telephone, typewriter, taperecorder, atom bomb, and only one symbol to represent the whole plant world. We had other objections to catwoman, but these were our most strongly felt ones.


We did not want to print this poem originally. It was based on a poem written by a man. It was not clear to whom it was addressed. It talked about women f*cking and moaning for c*ck, and other activities that most Lesbians don't do. It didn't seem to be addressed to the same Lesbians that the rest of the CLIT papers was addressed to. It was not clear what was meant by "revolution." We had a long discussion with CLIT about the poem, but they were resolved to include it.


Some readers pointed out the racist aspects of African Feminism by Amazon Dreamer, a white woman. We now see that it is racist for a white woman to write about Black or ethnic women's culture and experience. And that it always is most true and real to speak from ones own experience. Amazon Dreamer, in the introduction to African Feminism, seems to try to speak for Black women, but she never makes it clear that she is white, nor does she speak specifically of her own experience or of Lesbian experience. Hero source of information was a book of white women anthropologists studies of Black African women.

Another objection we had to CLIT that we did not fully formulate until after the issue was out wa one of self-identification. Many Lesbians objected to the obscurity as to who CLIT was, how many were in it, who wrote the articles, etc. We do not object to pseudonyms, but we think it is a mistake for a woman to completely obscure her identity and not place herself within the context of her own writings.




DYKE A Quarterly, no. 3. 1976. pp 6-12 Letters

Letters To The Editor

Dyke No 3 p 5

Dyke a quarterly no 3 1976 pp 6,7 letters to editor

Dyke a quarterly no 3 pp 8,9 letters to editor

Dyke a quarterly no 3 pp 10,11 letters to editor, illustration by Tee Corinne

 Illustration by Tee Corinne

Dyke No 3 p 12


DYKE NO 2: Letter Salad

Dear Liza and Penny,

I hope you print this so other lesbians who feel the way I do will know someone agrees with them.

I am really angry about a lot of what is in your magazine. One thing is that it costs $3.00!!! I can't believe you really care about most lesbians reading it if you charge so much.

Another thing I can't believe is that the Red Dykes from Detroit wrote how fucking classist you are and how oppressive and you didn't even respond!!! How can you not respond to a letter like that?? Its obvious that you don't have to worry about jobs or money, and that you don't care about Lesbians who do! And you won't even admit that money separates us us from each other as lesbians and that we have to learn to deal with it. I wouldn't expect you to write articles about jobs, etc, if its not in your experience, but the least you could do is get articles from other lesbians about these things, so that those of us who have to deal with daily survival would have something to relate to in your magazine.

The other main thing that made me real angry was the shitty review you, Liza, did of Linda Shear's tape. I experience Linda's music as very powerful and beautiful, both musically and what she's saying. I can't believe how much you put her down in that review - saying something good about everything else except the music itself. Her songs are not at all difficult for me to listen to, and I think it's really destructive to all Lesbians to say the things you say. I am not saying that you should pretend to like something if you don't - but the way you say what you think is really insulting and putting her down. It is also infuriating to me that you don't at least say that linda is a separatist and her songs are about that vision, instead of saying her ideas are interesting! That means nothing!! If you cared about Linda or the rest of us Lesbians, you could have said what you had to say in much more positive and accurate ways. (Not that I can understand at all why you don't like her music in the 1st place.)

It's very clear to me from your magazine that you are upper class snobs who don't care what effect you have on other lesbians and are not really serious about putting out a good lesbian magazine.


North Hampton

Dyke a quarterly no 3 1976 experpt from letter

Dear Melanie,

Yes, $3 is a lot of money, but to produce a 86 page magazine that has been typeset and printed is expensive. The printers and typesetters are Lesbians. The contributors are all paid, except us, plus for every magazine that is sold by a bookstore, the store gets a full 40%, which in this case is $1.20. Since we're a quarterly, we wanted to make each issue quite long and of high quality so that it would last a long time. The cost of a subscription is $8.00, which is $2.00 per issue, which is quite reasonable, we thought. For every copy we sell individually through the male (mail) system, we must pat 34¢, now raised to 50¢. About one quarter of the time, the Post Office "loses" the magazine and we have to send another.

We're not breaking even let along making any profit from the magazine. However, since many women felt the price was too high we are lowering it and reducing the number of pages per issue. Please see Criticism, Feedback and Changes for more on price.

As for not answering Red Dykes' letter as well as some of the other letters, we agree that it was the wrong decision to make. We are now answering letters of criticism in print. Please see Criticism, Feedback and Changes for more explanation of this.

Where did you get the idea that we don't "admit that money separates us from each other as lesbians and that we have to learn to deal with it." We do "admit" it, we never said otherwise and we certainly never meant to imply otherwise. I'm sorry if you did. The CLIT papers 1 and 2 did contain a certain amount of discussion about class and money and we did print them.

We have, including this issue, only produces three issues so far, so of course we have not covered every topic of interest to every Lesbian. Obviously we can write only our of our experience. We can and actively do seek articles written by other Dykes. And now that we have put out a few issues, we have been getting a lot more in the mail. We started DYKE with the idea that the general themem would be Lesbian experience, and we hoped and still hope that logs of Lesbians would write about anything they were interested in from a Lesbian perspective. We are now switching to theme issues in an effort to make it easier for Lesbians of all different classes, races, ages etc. to write. Again pleas read Criticism, Feeedback and Changes for more details.

Almost all the women who have written for DYKE have to work for a living. Does having a job really preclude you from relating to the articles that have been printed? And if so, which ones? You say in your letter that we are "upper class snobs who don't care what effect you have on other Lesbians, and are not really serious about putting out a good lesbian magazine." What a lot of assumptions in one sentence. If we didn't care what effect we had on other Lesbians, we wouldn't bother putting out a magazine, a medium that can't survive without readers and participants. And you can you possibly think we are not serious about making a constructive magazine? Whatever you think of the content, it should be obvious that many women worked very  hard and very seriously to put out these magazines.

Does the fact that Liza and I don't have straight jobs disqualify us from participating in Lesbian culture. Should we not use our money to put out a Lesbian magazine? Should we not write from our own experiences? Does the fact that we don't have to earn our living off the magazine mean that we are less serious about putting out a good magazine. How many feminist and Lesbian magazines or newspapers suppor the women who are producing them? I am not asking rhetorical questions. I really don't understand what you mena. You seem to be saying that because we have some money that everything generated from that is of no value and has evil intent. Do you really believe this?

As for Liza's review of Linda Shear. Please see her answer to Helen's letter. I think we all have a lot to learn about giving and receiving criticism that is both hones and supportive. I also feel that the tone of a piece is as important as the content. We are trying to be conscious and responsible about this. Destructive tones are a problem of many Lesbians and, as you say, destructive for all Lesbians. As an example of destructive tones of criticism, reread the Red Dykes letter which you mention.

I have tried to answer what I perceive you are saying in you letter. Criticism is hard because we all operate on so many different levels. Making negative assumptions about each other isn't going to help. We all have to overcome the conditioning that teaches us to mistrust each other.



Dear DYKE magazine,

Reading your ads and things I realize that you want nothing to do with the man. I can understand that, the man tells us where and when we can work, eat, sleep and just about everything else. We can oppose the man and not buy his goods, take his jobs, live in his houses. On the outside like that you know its hard unless one has a source of money the man doesn't try to take away. You know the man (or 'lord' these words are interchangeable) gives and the man/lord takes away. Unfortunately the man owns the home I rent for me and my dog, and man owns the company that sends me my chick for the forty hours a week I spend in the office/factory/store/field etc. Anyway I can't seem to get away from the man. But - and this brings me to my point- you want money for your mag. But the only money I got is from the man so I don't know what to do for you. I have a solution: here are some dyke dollars.

So please send me your magazine.

In sisterhood




Dear Jacqueline,

I know that we did not intentionally try ot imply that any Lesbian could possibly exist without relating to men in any way. Our money comes from men most of the time. The source is certainly men. Anyway, we are sending you one issue of DYKE in exchange for you beautiful Dyke dollar. And remember - we pay for all work that we print, that includes graphics, so keep it coming.

P & L

Dyke a quarterly no 3, 1976, p. 6DYKE A Quarterly, No. 3, 1976. p. 6. Dyke Dollar by Jacqueline. "This is good tender for all Dyke debts public and otherwise."



I was absolutely fascinated by the copy of DYKE you recently sent me. When  can scrape up the price I'll be sending in my subscription. I wish I were fortunate enough to live in a more advanced place so that I might benefit from the experiences and associations of others like myself. As it is, I'm rather isolated - my only contact being my whole light and life and love. Who also happens to be married. I'm expanding my mind and ever growing (I hope.) She's working on it too, after a fashion I guess. Not fast enough for me, but maybe we'll get there one day. I read everything I can lay my hands on anymore regarding feminism and Lesbianism and etc- an pass it on to her partially digested- Hopefully that won't be necessary soon, but since she doesn't care to read a great deal, I guess it's up to me to garner new ideas.

Being alone and isolated, and weak, I remain under the control of the present system, getting by as much as possible and where necessary and keeping to ourselves the rest of the time. The economic hold over me (at least) is powerful. I'm not strong enough to fight it yet. Magazines such as yours inspire and encourage me, and I need all the help I can get. Please don't give up!! You are reaching people who need you!! I'm not a person who writes to magazines as a rule, but I guess I'm groping for someone who might understand what life is like for me. Sorry for crying on your shoulders.

I realize the magazine and your other business must use up your time quite effectively. I hope you can clear up two things for me, though. If you aren't able to, I understand

First, I'm not sure what you mean by your usage of the term "DYKE." In trying to scope out the philosophy behind your magazine I can't imagine you mean the 'macho butch' type image. Does it apply to all lesbians, or Lesbian separatists, or who?

And second, I'm beginning to comprehend the necessity of separatism. As each day goes by and I run up against the frustrations and heartbreaks I feel more and more ready to separate myself. But aren't men a requirement at least in the propagation of the race? We can't do that by ourselves yet, can we? Maybe it's a sophomoric question, but unless I ask, where do I get an answer?

This is too long already. In eager anticipation of a repy, at at least issue #2. I'll sight off.

Keep your presses rolling! I wish you love.

an emerging infant sister,



Dyke a quarterly letter dont give up
Dear Susan,

Your situation sounds unfortunate. I hope that you will be able to find more satisfactory conditions for yourself. As to your questions: We use the word "DYKE" to mean strong Lesbian. This does not mean 'macho' or 'butch' although straight people might think that we are macho or butch. "Dyke" is a word that has been used to insult and intimidate Lesbians for a long time. Its origins are obscure, but contemporary Lesbians are reclaiming the word to use with pride about oourselves. We chose it as a title for our magazine because it is simple, direct, powerful and easy to remember. Our full title is DYKE, A Quarterly because a spiritualist told Penny that we should use the letter "Q" to help us financially.

About propagation: Some women say that Parthenogenesis, or virgin birth, is possible and, in fact, does happen sometimes. You can read more about that in The Lesbian Reader published by Amazon Press. Even without parthenogenesis though, it is not necessary to build a lifestyle around a few minutes of impregnation. As dairy farmers know, it is not necessary to have a bull for every cow. It is not even necessary to have the bull at all, anymore. Just call the artificial inseminator. Also, many Lesbians choose not to have children at all, while others come out after they have children.

I hope this answers your questions satisfactorily. I am glad that you like DYKE so much. It is very gratifying to hear that.



Dear Penny,

Whew! I just read your "Letters From My Mother." They are word for word what my female parent's (cant stomach the word 'mother' suddenly) reaction would be if I came out to her. I've tried to fantacize her reaction many times - your article saved me much fantasy time - not to mention months and years of shit if I actually did come out to her. I"m surprized to find another parent who plays exactly the same games mine does - Reading your article made mine's games crystal clear - more clearly than I've been able to on my own....

(exerpt only)


Polly & Georgine

New York


DYKE A Quarterly, no. 3. 1976. pp 13-20. Making A Backpack by Cherrie Cox

Dyke No 3 p 13

Making a backpack. Pattern. Cherrie Cox. DYKE, A Quarterly No 3, 1976


I designed this instructional kit to give DYKE readers one formula for creating their own backpacks. this is one of my attempts to involve women more in the thought and actual production process of the things that we wear and use. I want to redefine clothing in a sensible and  sensuous way and help other women think thru their own definitions. I have been doing this for over a year in my business "Silver Linings." I make soft sculptures, back packs, clothing, banners, and various other things we all use. I'm interested in working with other women and sharing ideas.

This is an instruction kit for a day pack with a zipper front pocket and adjuctable shoulder straps.

Cherrie Cox

Continue reading "DYKE A Quarterly, no. 3. 1976. pp 13-20. Making A Backpack by Cherrie Cox" »

DYKE A Quarterly, no. 3. 1976. 22-25. Coming Out On Celluloid by Janet Meyers


Dyke No 3 p 23
Dyke a quarterly no 3, pp 23-25, coming out on celluloid, janet meyersDYKE A Quarterly, No 3, pp 22-25, Coming Out On Celluloid by Janet Meyers. Photobooth still from the film Getting Ready by Janet Meyers.

For the past three years I have been making a movie which I am just now finishing. When I first conceived the idea and started writing the script in 1973 I was straight, although I had stopped related to men long before. Now the film is finished and I am have have been for two years a Dyke.

The long process of working on the difficult project has taken place a the same time as vast changes in consciousness and perspective that go along with becoming a Dyke and getting involved in the Lesbian community. These two processes, working on the film and coming out, have been very much interrelated. At time in an exciting and illuminating way, and times with great conflict and anxiety.

Quotation janet meyers

Working on one project over such a long period while my whole personal and political vision was radically altered created a dynamic which as helped me to see some things about Lesbian culture as a spectator and as a creator.

I started out in my first year of graduate film school with the idea that I wanted to make a film about menstruation. I wanted it to be a kind of rite of passage for an experience which men's society treats as both divinely ordained and unmentionable. As I continued thinking about it I came to feel that the best way to do this would be to place the experience in the context of the life of an adolescent girl.

In the past, when I was straight, m films had often surprised me by revealing feelings that I was not aware of having. I would find myself watching the little movies I had made and being shocked at how angry or isolated the women in them were. when I finished writing the script for this film I understood that I had written about the atmosphere of female adolescence of which menstruation is certainly a part, but that mostly the script had come to describe the growth of a relationship between two fourteen year old girls. the self-censorship, the longing and the healing potential of feelings between young girls and the massive and subtle acculturation which minimizes the value of these feelings and separates us from  each other while we're young became the substance of the movie I began to make. Looking at the script I saw the emotional and political implications of the experiences I was describing and the ways in which my own life was still controlled by the same conditioning process I was trying to portray. Without further drama I gradually began identifying as and speaking about myself as a Lesbian.

The integrations of this identification into my work was far from complete. during the months long process of raising the money from grants, scholarships, interested Lesbians, my parents, my own savings, and during the six weeks of shooting, I went through all kinds of difficulties directly related to Lesbian oppression and quite in addition to the regular pressures and agonies everyone goes through during shooting.

The whole ugly process of writing proposals asking for money from various foundations was complicated by the necessity to change the language and tone in descriptions of of what was, after all, a film about friendship. My earlier experiences with foundations had shown me that they feel that intimacy and connections between women, however chaste, as a sustaining ideal is a threatening and inappropriate theme for support. In subtle ways the version I was presenting to the authorities began to creep into my own understanding of what I was doing. The emphasis began changing from the process of two girls moving towards each other back to that of a single girl going through some characteristically adolescent experiences. fortunately I realized what has happening, so that during the actual shooting I went back to my original plan and I tried to avoid situations that would put me in the position of having to explain or justify what I was doing to prob ably hostile people.  for instance, I asked the young girls who acted in the film not ot bring th script home to their parents, who I felt might be upset about some of the specific scenes and general tone. They all felt that was a good idea even seemed relieved, and we continued to proceed in that fashion whenever necessary.

Continue reading "DYKE A Quarterly, no. 3. 1976. 22-25. Coming Out On Celluloid by Janet Meyers" »

DYKE A Quarterly No. 3, 1976. Nesting

Nesting. By Liza Cowan

DYKE A Quarterly No 3 pp 30, 31, nesting by liza cowan
DYKE A Quarterly No. 3, pp 30, 31. Nesting by Liza Cowan


I have spent some time travelling around, visiting Dyke homes. I have stayed with women whose homes were beautiful, amusing, thoughtful, comfortable and pleasing to the senses. Some Lesbians have built their entire homes and all the furniture in them. Some have built some of the tings in their homes, or other Lesbians have built them. Many Lesbians have sewed quilts, curtains, pillows, wall hangings. Some women have made furniture out of packing crates, or rescued and fixed up abandoned furniture. Lesbians make pottery, weave rugs, paint stencils on the walls...and do one hundred and one other crafty and beautiful things. Lesbians have bought borrowed and made beautiful things and made their homes beautiful and comfortable places to be.

To me, a clean, comfortable nice home is as important as good food, clean air and the other things we accept as vital to our health. Our environment effects us, whether we are conscious of it or not. We respond emotionally to light, color, sound, smell and other stimuli.

Obviously we cannot yet control every aspect of our living and working environments, but we can begin to use environment as a tool for making us healthy and strong, better able to work and live our Lesbian lives. We need everything we can get, and we deserve nothing but the best.



Any building that is designed to perpetuate patriarchy and to destroy life is bound to make women feel uncomfortable. Supermarkets, office buildings, prisons, army barracks, government buildings, schools, hospitals, most institutions and mass produced housing are uncomfortable, sterile, ugly and life draining. Design and construction jobs are given to the lowest bidder or to political cronies, they follow no traditions and are devoid of female input. These environments are dangerous to women and to life on Earth.

When men make Nature conform to their own perverse and destructive ideas, they can't help but make a disgusting mess of Earth, just like the mess they make in their own homes.



A room whose vibes were intolerable for men and ecstatic for women.

A room whose vibes made straight women come out.



Did you build, make our renovate anything in your place? Have you solved any living problems in a way you would like to share with DYKE readers? Have you had interesting house dreams, or ideas? Please share them with us. Send black and white photographs, drawings, writings, and anything else to share ideas about our homes and the way we live in them.



IN 1968 Pat Mainardi wrote an essay, The Politics of Housework. It was published as a pamphlet, reprinted in Notes From The Second Year, reprinted in Sisterhood Is Powerful, reprinted in Liberation Now, reprinted in Voices From Women's Liberation, reprinted in The Women's Almanac. The Politics Of Housework speaks to the married, educated, white middle class, left movement, heterosexual woman, telling her to get her husband off his ass to share the shitwork. Feminists learned how men oppress women by making women clean up men's messes and take care of men.

Now, many Lesbians have come to understand that it is men, not housework, that oppresses women, and we have gone on to create new ways of living, this time with women only. But while those straight women who chose to live with men seem frozen in time, the idea still lingers among some Lesbian/feminists that housework is shit, and that care and pride for our homes is silly, irrelevent, classist, elitist, bourgeois, embarrassing or contemptible. Why is this?

Dyke a quarterly the idea still lingers

"We were a great disappointment to the literati. Somehow we could never lead the kind of life that appeared normal for them. They could never count on finding us day after day in the restaurants or other haunts of the intellectually gregarious. We seemed to bear little relation to the younger generation bent on escaping the home. No sooner had we escaped than we began to create a hearthstone. We were dedicated to the ceremonies of living. We insisted upon living beautifully. And since we hadn't a penny we had to produce this condition ourselves. It took the best part of our youth and energy. We kept our house in the most perfect order. We cleaned, scrubbed, dusted, cooked, washed dishes. We made our own fires, cleaned our hearths - we could never afford a charwoman. We did our own shopping - chose our means and vegetables - and as Jane had an intelligent old fashioned prejudice against canned foods, hulled our own peas. We washed and ironed our own clothes. We cut our own hair - very well, too..."

"There were four rooms, the two large living rooms being of exquisite proportions. I loved the old New York houses. We soon learned that ours had and undertaking business on the ground floor and an exterminator company in the basement. But did it matter?

"After the usual piano arrangements had been made we concentrated all our efforts on Jane's room. It was to be a room where all Little Review conversations would take place. It was. In this room, the Little Review entered into its creative period"

from My Thirty Years War by Margaret Anderson


There is a barn like building, in it are many interconnecting small loft-like places, mostly containing beds. There are arranged in a honeycomb type formation. There is privacy in each bed/loft, but none is isolated entirely from the others. The bed/lofts are connected by ladders and ropes, you have to climb or crawl from place to place. These bed/lofts are all inhabited by women, and it is the most comfortable place in the world.

The structure is built of wood and natural fibers, there is plenty of sunlight and there is a very high/sensual loving vibration which seems to be intensified by the actual shape and materials of the structure. 

This is only a rough descriptions of a place which I remember only vaguely. I dreamed it about five years ago. Shortly after I had this dream I came out. I all it my Nest dream, because nest is the closest image I can find for the feeling I had for this structure.

I dream about rooms a lot. I used to dream almost every week of finding new rooms in a familiar apartment. I believe this type of dream was created by my need for more physical living space, and also the rooms represent new ideas. I still have this kind of dream, but less frequently. In these dreams my feeling is one of intense joy and contentment.

Not all my house dreams are pleasant. There is a frequent dream of mine where I find myself in a house that has a passageway that is too small for me to squeeze through, though others seem to be able to pass easily. Am I feeling too fat. Is this dream symbolic of trying to climb back into my mother's womb? I don't think that's it, although it's an interesting idea: mother as dwelling.

The Nuba of Sudan have passageways in between rooms that are circles of only about fourteen inches in diameter. Is this type of architecture the archetype of my dream. Am I remembering the architecture of a long ago matriarchal lifetime? Do you ever have dreams like this? Do you know what it means?

  Heidi illustration


In The Girl Sleuth, a book about girls' series books, Bobbie Ann Mason traces the cozie nesties to Honey Bunch, Nancy Drew, et al. "The true celebration within these little books is the kitty corner, a motif that recurs in all the girls' series books. It is a perfect world in miniature, a little elf nook, a playhouse, a gingerbread cottage, an English garden in a terrarium, a hideaway in an attic."

Taking the clue form Bobbie Ann, I have been looking at my favorite childhood books to find one source of my own cozy nesties.

"I am going to make a bed.\," called out the child again as she ran busily to and fro in the loft, "but you must come up here and bring me a sheet, for the bed must have a sheet to sleep on."

"....a very neat little bed had been made in the hayloft, they hay was piled up higher at one end to form the pillow, and the bed was placed in such a way that one could look from it straight through the round open window." from Heidi, by Johanna Spyri

"The attic was a lovely place to play. The large round colored pumpkins made beautiful chairs and tables. The red peppers and onions dangled overhead. The hams and venison hung in their paper wrappings, and all the bunches of dried herbs, the spicy herbs for cooking, and the bitter herbs for medicine, gave the place a dusty-spicy smell.

"Often the wind howled outside with a cold and lonesome sound. But in the attic Laura and Mary played house with the squashes and the pumpkins, and everything was snug and cosy." from Little House In The Big Wood, by Laura Ingalls Wilder.


In our women only households we are creating changes in the way we live. Just about every Lesbian household that I have visited that has more than two occupants has a work wheel prominently displayed. How do you decide who does what in your house?

Two years ago I shared a house with three other Lesbians. We had a terrible time figuring out how to arrange meals. Alix and I were sort of scatterbrained about eating. When it got near dinnertime we'd rummage around for something to cook. The other couple was very well organized and serious bout meals, they liked to plan in advance but resented having to plan for us, which usually meant shopping for us, too, since we did not have any clear idea of what to buy when we were  at the store. Since th supermarket was twenty miles away, it got to be a big deal.

We decided against eating separately, so we arranged to make a weekly menu before shopping. Each of us would decide on one or two meals that we wanted to prepare. We figured out all the ingredients, plus the regular staples, animal food etc. We went shopping together and split the bills 2/2. Our meals ended up delicious and relatively hassle free.

Typewriter marks end of original story


This was one of my favorite articles, or spreads really, that I wrote for DYKE. Nobody noticed it. Nobody commented on it. Like my articles about clothing, which were also either ignored or reviled, writing about home was considered too bourgeouis, not serious enough, too frivilous for a radical magazine. Alas.

In those days, Lesbians spent a fair amount of time, and spilled a fair amount of ink on our Lesbian foremothers. Margaret Anderson was one of my favorites. How would she not be? She and her partner Jane Heap produced one of the most influential literary magazines of its day, The Little Review, and she celebrated the art of home. I devoured her three part autobiography.

P22993Margaret Anderson, My Thirty Years War. Note that the photographs are by Berenice Abbot and Man Ray. I swoon.


46279The Girl Sleuth by Bobbie Ann Mason. 


Always a big fan of girls detective fiction, I loved Bobbie Ann Mason's book The Girl Sleuth, published in 1975 by The Feminist Press. It was Mason's first book. I love the book so much I wrote her a fan letter. This was her response:

Bobbie ann mason letter to liza cowan about the girl sleuth, january 6 1977Letter from Bobbie Ann Mason to Liza Cowan 1977

Dear Lisa,

I'm embarrassed that I've neglected to answer you letter for so long, but I appreciated so much your warm response to THE GIRL SLEUTH.

Your comments were encouraging, yet I can't help but feel discouraged when I hear such enthusiasm, because I feel so many women have this response and yet the book is not distributed widely enough. The Feminist Press is small and it has no advertising funds. From the good responses I've had, I feel certain that if the book were given better publicity it would reach thousands of women. almost every woman I run into grew up on the series books.

Its also interesting to find how many women are still into the series book -- like you, still collecting them. I thought I had discovered something, reached back inot a part of the past and held it up for us to see, but I find I'm no the tail end of a bandwagon,  I thing it's so good that we're not embarrassed about our origins and the influences that shaped up. The only way we can really rise about them is to face them and accept the good parts. --Like your affirmation of the "cozy nesties" impulse.

I've just finished a novel based on my childhood--it's about a little farm kid who reads too many Nancy Drews and fantasied trailing the swindlers in the cornfield. Hope I have some luck getting it published.

Thanks so much again for your support.

Sincerely, Bobbi

Of course, Bobbie Ann Mason did get published again, and again and again. She's hugely successful, and vibrantly talented. She's Bobbie Ann Mason!


And about those tiny round portals in Nuba homes in Sudan: here's the only photo I could find. 

LON42807Sudan,Kordofan. Entering the bedroom of a Mesakin Quasar House. Photo George Rodger 1949, Magnum Photo.



DYKE A Quarterly, no. 3. 1976. pp 34-43. Alice Austen


Dyke No 3 p 34
DYKE, A Quarterly. No 3. p 34.  1976. Alice Austen

Alice Austen - Photographs

By Penny and Liza

Alice Austen was a Lesbian born on Staten Island, NY in 1866. She started taking photographs at the age of twelve and continued until the nineteen thirties. She was an enthusiastic athlete, excelling in swimming, cycling, boating, golf and tennis in a n age when women were just being allowed to do any sports at all. She was an excellent mechanic who with her lover, Gertrude Tate, and other friends, took long car journeys in a time when there were almost no paved roads. 

Dyke No 3 p 35. Alice Austen and her dog PunchAlice Austen and her dog Punch. Alice leaving for the Chicago Exposition of 1893. Alice is holding the concealed bulb of the remote shutter release. DYKE A Quarterly No. 3 p 37

She thoroughly documented her own life and that of her friends, where were well-to-do young women, both Lesbian and straight, and who wer straining against the last remnants of Victorian morality. She photographed extensively the immigrants and street life of the lower east side of New York City. The style of her photographs was unusually realistic for her time.

Alice austen photo of violet ward and her lover. Dyke a quarterly no 3 pAlice Austen Photo. Violet Ward and her lover. DYKE A Quarterly, no. 3 p 36

In 1929 she lost all her money. She and Gertrude supported themselves by selling their furniture, renting rooms in their home, running a tea room, and by the income from Gertrude's dance classes, which she taught until she was in her late seventies. They were finally forced to leave their home on Staten Island in the nineteen forties. They moved into a small apartment, but soon were forced to separate. Alic, 83 years old, suffered from severe arthritis and Gertrude had a difficult time caring for her. Gertrude's younger straight sister, who had long tried to separate the two, took advantage of Alice's ill health and the morality of the time which dictated a two bedroom apartment which they could not afford. Gertrude went to live with her sister and Alice to a nursing home. Gertrude visited regularly, bu they were both very lonely. Alice was kicked out of several different nursing homes for her too independent nature, and at 84 was admitted to the hospital ward of the Staten Island poorhouse.

Her plate glass negatives had been sold to the Staten Island Historical Society, and in 1951 were "discovered" by a photographic historian. He sold some of the photographs to magazines and turned the money over to Gertrude, who moved Alice to a pleasanter home Alice began to be recognized for her life long work as a photographer. A year later, in June of 1952, she died, sitting in her wheelchair in the sun. Gertrude lived on for ten years, and when she died her sister was unable to bury her next to Alice, as they had wished.

Alice Austen photo of Violet Ward and Daisy Eliot
Violet Ward and Daisy Eliot. Photo by Alice Austen. Violet was a childhood friend of Alice's. Daisy Eliot was a professional gymnast. Violet, an enthusiastic cyclist, invented a mechanism for bicycles that was universally adopted. Alice took the photographs for Violet's book, Bicycling for Ladies, published in 1896. Daisy was the model.

Alice Austen, Bessie Strong's Bedroom, in DYKE A Quarterly no 3, 1976.Bessie Strong's Bedroom. Bessie was a friend of Alice's. One of the special aspects of Alice's work is that she was interested in documenting the the intimate details of young women's lives, where few other photographers were willing or able to do so. Note Alice's photographs tacked up on the walls. DYKE A Quarterly No 3, 1976


Of the estimated seven to eight thousand glass plate negatives that Alice took, approximately one half are known to survive. Alice was a stickler for detail, often making her friends pose for hours and hours until she could get the exact expression, setting and light she wanted. She carefully marked the envelope for each glass plate with the time, date, place, exposure and lens type.

Alice Austen, newsgirl on NYC's lower east side from DYKE  A Quarterly no 3 p 40Alice Austen, Newsgirl on NYC's Lower East Side. DYKE A Quarterly No 3, 1976

Alice carried nearly fifty pounds of photographic equipment on her journeys. She always liked t have at least two cameras with her, as each camera could take only one size print. No enlargements were possible in those days.

"Alice luckily was a tall and strong woman, perfectly capable of carrying her own heavy camera, tripod, and box of plates...She spent hours on end in her closet -like darkroom, developing plates and 'toning' and 'fixing' her prints...Because there was no running water in the house when she was young, she carried [the plates] all downstairs and out into the garden to be rinsed in a basin under the hand operated pump, winter and summer. sometimes she changed the rinse water twenty five times, she recalled. Gertrude Tate attributed Alice's photographic success to a combination of artistic sense, the tirelessness of an athlete, and sheer stubbornness of will."

Alice Austen, portrait of Gertrude Tate, circa 1900, from DYKE A Quarterly, No. 3 p 41Gertrude Tate, Alice's lover, circa 1900. DYKE A Quarterly No. 3, 1976

"The originality of Alice Austen's work becomes strikingly clear when it is compared to that of other photographers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Women photographers in particular succumbed to the fashion of making photographs to illustrate romantic tales of childhood, and of colonial village life or popular works such as The Rubiayat of Omar Kayyam... Daily American life, if pictured at all, was sentimentalized beyond recognition. The children picked posies of wild flowers in sublime landscapes while their mothers struck classical poses in diaphanous flowing garments of some eclectic style...most photographers of her period did [their] best to prove that photography was a form of art by trying to disguise the fact that [their] pictures were made by mechanical means -the precise fact that Alice enjoyed about photography. Alice's work was out of tune with the fashionable dictates of her time.

Alice Austen, Gertrude Tate circa 1920. From DYKE A Quarterly No 3 p. 42Gertrude, circa 1920. DYKE A Quarterly No 3, 1976

"Alice Austen...photographed people and places as they actually appeared, focusing her lens so sharply that every small detail of leaf or woodwork, facial expression or lettering on a sign, was recorded. She approached her subjects straightforwardly, without any attempt at the refinement, grace and decorative sense encouraged in the photographic journals of her most productive years...Pictorialists may have portrayed nymph-like young women floating apparently weightless in unruffled ponds and dancing on tiptoe effortlessly through flower filled fields: Alice Austen recorded her friends in the flannel skirts and woolen stockings of clumsy bathing suits calculated to impede the movements of the strongest swimmers, and she showed them doing  their daily gymnastic exercises to develop the strength their daily lives required. Alice Austen's women ride bicycles and horses, work in the streets and market places and are a vigorous and real as Alice herself."

Alice Austen and Gertrude Tate. from DYKE A Quarterly no. 3. p 43
Alice and Gertrude. DYKE A Quarterly No. 3. 1976

Thanks to Ann Novotny for help, information and photographs. All quotations are from Ann's book, Alice's World - The Life and Photographs of An American Original: Alice Austen 1866-1952, which will be published this fall by Chatham press. Quotations printed with permission of the author.

Alice austen, that darned club, from DYKE A Quarterly no 3, 1976Cover photo. Alice and her friends, Trudy, Julia and Sue formed a cooking and sewing club. "The four girls spent so much time in each others company that disgruntled young men referred to 'the darned club,' a name the members delightedly adopted." Alice is on the left, once again holding the remote control shutter release.

Ann is chairwoman of The Friends Of Alice Austen, who are trying to restore Alice's house and turn it into a museum of her life and work. They plan to have rotating exhibits of women photographers. Anyone who is interested or would like to help should write to Friends of Alice Austen, 315 W. 78 Street, New York, Ny 10024 #1,

Photographs courtesy of the Staten Island Historical Society.

End of story


See more about creating the cover for issue No.3. using Alice's photo That Darned Club, here

DYKE A Quarterly no 3, 1976 photo by Alice AustenDYKE A Quarterly, No. 3. Photo That Darned Club by Alice Austen


The Alice Austen House did come to pass. It is a National Historic Landmark on Staten Island. Ann Novotny died of breast cancer shortly after we wrote our story, but her work and passion lives on. Read about the Alice Austen House HERE.

kodak, woman photographer. 1898

For more on women and photography at the turn of the last century try this wonderful blog, Kodak Girl. Kodak invested heavily in marketing their cameras to women, quite successfully. 


Bicycling for Ladies, ME WardBicycling for Ladies. ME Ward. Maria Ward aka Violet. See more HERE

how to coast illustration ME Ward Bicycling for Ladies from photo by alice austen
How To Coast. Illustration from Alice Austen photo in Bicycling for Ladies by ME Ward.


Frances Benjamin Johnston 1Frances Benjamin Johnston, American photojournalist, took this self portrait with a bicycle. Johnston wrote What A Woman Can Do with a Camera for the Ladies Home Journal in 1897, a year after Bicyling For Ladies was published. Notice the painted on moustache. The ladies did like to lark about.





The Alice Austen House Website is gorgeous and filled with great photos and information. Do CHECK IT OUT

And they have a Facebook page too.

Welcome to the Alice Austen House | Alice Austen HouseScreenshot of Alice Austen House website. April 2012.