Hanisch grew up on a farm in Iowa, graduated from Drake University
with a degree in journalism and worked briefly at UPI, leaving that job in 1965
as a volunteer in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement where she learned the
power of collective struggle by oppressed people. She was working as the
Southern Conference Educational Fund (SCEF) NYC office manager in 1967 when she
was among the founding members of New York Radical Women (NYRW).
initiated the idea to protest the Miss American pageant in 1968 and was one of
the four women who disrupted the proceedings by hanging a women's liberation
banner over the balcony. The protest was quite successful brought national
attention to the new Women’s Liberation Movement. Afterwards, she penned
"What Can Be Learned: A Critique of the Miss America Protest" which
criticized some of the language and tactics of the protesters as
"anti-woman" and discussed the dangers of the popular "do your
own thing" when applied to collective action. The critique was published
and circulated internationally.
late1968 Hanisch convinced SCEF to add a project to support her
at subsistence pay to organize southern women into the Women's
Liberation Movement. This led to a
January 1969 move to Gainesville Florida, where she also worked with
Gainesville Women's Liberation for three years. In an early 1969 memo to the
SCEF staff, many of whom were highly critical of the emerging WLM, she
explained "the pro-woman line" (among other things) and why
consciousness raising was not therapy but a radical organizing tool for women's
liberation. That memo was published in NOTES FROM THE SECOND YEAR as "The
Personal is Political" and has been reprinted in anthologies and discussed
around the world.
was managing editor of the Redstockings book, FEMINIST REVOLUTION, which the
group published in 1975. It analyzed the rise and decline of the the WLM,
including Gloria Steinem's past association with the CIA. After a long
struggle, this part was censored from the Random House "abridged"
edition that was finally published in 1978. Carol founded and edited the journal MEETING GROUND from
1977 through 1991. In the 1990s, she self-published a compilation of her
topical writings for a local women's newspaper in a book entitled FRANKLY
FEMINIST and a historical dramatic reading, "Promise & Betrayal:
Voices from the Struggle for Women's Emancipation 1776-1920." The latter
includes debate over the 14th and 15th amendements which badly damaged the
unity between the anti-slavery and woman suffrage movements (issues echoed in
the 2008 election). She has written and spoken about the WLM, often discussing
leadership and the decline of the radical wing.
has also organized dairy and beef farmworkers in New York; worked against
racism, U.S. imperialism, and South African apartheid; and participated in
local environmental struggles, one of which saved a mountain from development
by the Marriott Corporation and resulted in its public ownership as an new
state park. She currently works as an editor and graphic artist.