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Jo Freeman feminist essay, "The Bitch Manifesto"

 Collection — Box: 1, Folder: 3
Identifier: MS-0834

Content Description

A seven page typewritten essay titled, “The Bitch Manifesto.” Originally published in the feminist publication, Notes from the Second Year: Women's Liberation in 1970, “The Bitch Manifesto” is considered to be one of the leading texts of the Second Wave Feminist movement, and one of the earliest examples of language reclamation made by a social movement. Jo Freeman, under her movement name, "Joreen," urges feminists to appropriate the once-derogatory term "bitch," arguing that its use as a term for a woman who "rudely violate(s) conceptions of proper sex role behavior" is a positive thing, stating that "A woman should be proud to declare she is a Bitch, because Bitch is Beautiful."


  • Creation: 1968-1970


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Contact Special Collections for more information. This collection is open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Biographical / Historical

Jo Freeman is an activist, feminist, political scientist, writer, and lawyer born in 1945 in Atlanta, Georgia and raised in Los Angeles, California. She was an early organizer of the Women’s Liberation Movement (WLM). Freeman attended the University of California at Berkeley where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science in 1965. While at Berkeley, Freeman became involved with various student political groups, as well as larger social movements prevalent during the 1960s, including the Bay Area Civil Rights Movement and the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. Following graduation, Freeman went to Atlanta to work for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), headed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., doing political education, voter registration, and community organizing.

In 1967, Freeman attended a course on women at the University of Chicago, where she was introduced to other activists interested in issues of gender equality. This group would go on to have regular meetings and eventually created the first women’s liberation newsletter, “Voice of the Liberation Movement.” Freeman has continued to advocate for women’s rights throughout her career, teaching courses and writing articles for both popular magazines and scholarly publications. She helped found the Women’s Caucus for Political Science at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association in 1969, as well as the Chicago chapter of the National Organization for Women. She wrote four classic feminist papers under her movement name, “Joreen,” such as “The Bitch Manifesto.” The most widely known is “The Tyranny of Structurelessness,” written in 1970.

Freeman completed her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Chicago in 1973, and her J.D. from New York University in 1982. She taught at the State University of New York, and spent two years in Washington, D.C., as a Brookings Fellow and an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow.

Source: Scanlon, J. (n.d.). "Jo Freeman (1945 - )." Accessed December 13, 2018.


0.167 Cubic Feet (1 legal sized folder)

Language of Materials



This collection consists of an essay titled, “The Bitch Manifesto,” considered to be one of the leading texts of the Second Wave Feminist movement, and one of the earliest examples of language reclamation made by a social movement. The essay was written by Jo Freeman, under her movement name "Joreen," and originally published in 1970.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Lorne Bair in April 2018, with support from the 19th and 20th Century Literature Fund.

Related Materials

A copy of the publication, Notes from the Second Year: Women's Liberation, in which "The Bitch Manifesto" was first published, is located at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University. A digitized copy is available on their website.

Processing Information

This collection was processed in December 2018 by Kristen Diehl.

Guide to the Jo Freeman feminist essay, "The Bitch Manifesto"
Kristen Diehl
2018 December
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA