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Amy Sillman and Deep Six’s A Pink Strip, 1977. From Heresies: A Feminist Publication on Art & Politics 1 (January 1977).

ASK A CONTEMPORARY FEMINIST when the backlash to the second wave began, and they’ll likely talk about the early 1980s, Reagan’s election, and the final defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1982. But the forces of reaction started ramping up a bit earlier, in 1977. In that year, the Supreme Court allowed new restrictions on abortion for the first time since the 1973 victory in Roe v. Wade. In that year, Anita Bryant stoked antigay mania, spurring the repeal of a nondiscrimination law in Dade County, Florida, and emboldening a ballot initiative in California that would have barred gays and lesbians from teaching school. And although only hindsight would reveal this as a harbinger of failure, on January 18, 1977, Indiana became the thirty-fifth and final state to ratify the ERA, leaving the amendment permanently three states short.

Feminism’s triumphs of the ’70s were proving at

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