Cover image for Tales of the Lavender Menace : a memoir of liberation
Tales of the Lavender Menace : a memoir of liberation
Jay, Karla.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Basic Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
viii, 278 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Reading Level:
1150 Lexile.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ75.4.J38 A3 1999X Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Karla Jay's memoir of an age whose tumultuous social and political movements fundamentally reshaped American culture takes readers from her early days in the 1968 Columbia University student riots to her post-college involvement in New York radical women's groups and the New York Gay Liberation Front to Southern California in the early '70s, where she continued in the battle for gay civil rights. We see here helping to organize the takeover of The Ladies Home Journal and "ogle-ins"--where women staked out Wall Street and whistled at the men. We follow her in the fast lane of the sexual freedom movement as she liberates sun worshippers from their bathing suits.

Author Notes

Karla Jay is Director of Women's and Gender studies at Pace University in New York City.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Jay writes with wry humor and astute historical analysis in this memoir of her early days as a feminist and gay liberation activist. Currently the director of women's and gender studies and professor of English at Pace University, she was raised in a middle-class Brooklyn home by an emotionally disturbed mother and a father who didn't believe she was his daughter. Jay's political life began in 1964 when she entered Barnard College; by 1969 she was a member of the Redstockings radical feminist collective and a leader in the newly formed Gay Liberation Front. With a canny eye for detail, she creates a vivid, realistic portrait of early 1970s feminist and sexual radicalism, from communal living to group sex to the watershed feminist protest in the offices of Ladies' Home Journal. She charts how women's and gay liberation were made possible by the black civil rights and antiwar movements and is careful not to idealize or whitewash complex, sometimes petty and factional, political struggles, while clearly expressing the joy and excitement she felt in the moment. Nor does she hesitate to contradict the memoirs of luminaries such as Rita Mae Brown and Betty Friedan, taking them to task for what she considers historical misrepresentation. Jay has turned out a political and personal memoir that succeeds in its aim to convey "what it was like to live then and what some of us did to forge social change." Photos not seen by PW. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Jay weaves memories of her personal life with accounts of her political activism in both the women's and gay liberation movements in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Jay was a member of the Redstockings, a consciousness-raising group; the Women's Liberation Movement; and the Gay Liberation Front. She describes her sexual adventures and her political activities in a readable, often humorous style as she looks back at herself as a young activist from her present position as a tenured professor of English at Pace University. This memoir, which Jay describes as a "biomythography," provides a firsthand account of radical activism within the women's movement and the earliest days of the gay liberation movement following Stonewall. Recommended for libraries with large women's studies or gay and lesbian studies collections.√ĄDebra Moore, Loyola Marymount Univ. Lib., Los Angeles (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Note on the Textp. ix
Prologuep. 1
1 Men Behaving Very Badlyp. 3
2 Bipolar Sexualityp. 21
3 Redstockingsp. 33
4 A/K/A Jayp. 49
5 Stonewall Girlp. 71
6 Houses of Fun, Prison of Painp. 87
7 Zapping Rat and the Ladies' Home Journalp. 107
8 Guns, Bats, and Whistlesp. 123
9 The Lavender Menacep. 137
10 Triple Troublep. 147
11 Sunny Days, Hazy Nightsp. 165
12 Stepping Out, Sitting Inp. 185
13 "Marry Me and Help Us Sue"p. 195
14 Changing Landscapesp. 209
15 California Schemingp. 239
16 Consciousness-razingp. 251
Epiloguep. 263
Acknowledgmentsp. 267
Photo Creditsp. 271
Indexp. 273