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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Alliance Between Women: Psychological Processes Against Racism, Anti-Semitism, and Heterosexism

The data associated with this publication are available upon request.

A project was organized in the Netherlands to study and interrupt the psychological factors that divide women from one another. Black and white, Jewish and non-Jewish, and lesbian and heterosexual women met in parallel groups for several five month cycles. Groups focused first on self-disclosure (visibility and pride), then on within-group dynamics (solidarity), and then on between-group dynamics (alliance).

The black-white process was characterized by anger and blame on the black side and by guilt and fear of revenge or need for reassurance on the white side. The Jewish-non-Jewish process was characterized by feelings of isolation and needs for protection on the Jewish side and by feelings of banality and needs for seeking specialness by association on the non-Jewish side. The lesbian-heterosexual process was characterized by feelings of defiance and needs to exclude on the lesbian side and by feelings of confusion and needs for seeking self-definition through others on the heterosexual side. Participants moved in a direction of greater demands for change, contact with others, self-definition, self-assertion, and choice.


Note: This paper was originally published in 1984 as a working paper by the Institute for the Study of Social Change, which later became the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues. A revised version of this working paper was later published as:

Gail Pheterson. 1986. Alliances between Women: Overcoming Internalized Oppression and Internalized Domination  Signs, 12 (1), pp. 146-160. 

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