Who would you choose as one of the most influential feminists of the 20th century? Some would say that it is feminist , activist , writer and artist Kate Millett.
Kate Millett was born on Sept 14, 1934 in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Kate Millett was the first female to receive a first class post graduate degree from St Hilda's College, Oxford in 1958.
Kate starting sculpting and moved to Japan in 1961. She came back two years later and married Fumio Yoshimura in 1965 and divorced in 1985.
By the late 1960’s Kate had already become a political activist. She was a member of the National Organization for Women in 1966.
Kate Millett earned her post graduate degree in 1971 and her original dissertation “Sexual Politics” became in her seminal book. “The book, a critique of patriarchy in Western society and literature, addressed the sexism and heterosexism of the modern novelists D. H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, and Norman Mailer and contrasted their perspectives with the dissenting viewpoint of the homosexual author Jean Genet.”
She put forth the view that sexual oppression was the basis for political and cultural values. She went on to say that the traditional family was the basis for the sexual revolution. These family values left women in a wanting position with little or no personal power.
Kate Millett never left behind her love of art. She bought land in the 70s where she founded an art center. This center was a center for women artists and and writers to pursue their talents.
In 1971 she produced a film about three women using an all woman cast. She wrote “Flying which recounted her marriage and her various love affairs.
In 1979 she wrote “Going to Iran” which was about her time in Iran working on women’s issues.
Kate Millett suffered from Bipolar Disorder and wrote about her stay in a psychiatric hospital; the book was called “Going to the Looney Bin (1990). Kate Millett took her insanity case to court and was instrumental in changing the laws in Minnesota.
“Millett is active in the anti-psychiatry movement. As a representative of MindFreedom International, she spoke out against psychiatric torture at the United Nations during the negotiations of the text of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2005).”
Kate Millett was induced in the National Women’s Hall of Fame in March 2013.
Kate Millett wrote “The Basement: Meditations on a Human Sacrifice” a semi fictional work. However she argued the killing of a young girl by another woman was justifiable from a feminist point of view.
This viewpoint annoyed Camille Paglia who stated that Kate Millett’s scholarship was “seriously flawed.”