Millett received her B.A. at the University of Minnesota in 1956, where she was a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. She later obtained a first-class degree, with honors, from St Hilda's College, Oxford in 1958. She was the first American woman to be awarded a postgraduate degree with first-class honors by St. Hilda's.
Millett moved to Japan in 1961, where she taught English at Waseda University and pursued a career as a sculptor. Two years later, Millett returned to the United States with fellow sculptor Fumio Yoshimura, whom she married in 1965. The two divorced in 1985. She was active in feminist politics in late 1960s and the 1970s. In 1966, she became a committee member of National Organization for Women.
Sexual Politics originated as Millett's Ph.D. dissertation and was published in 1970, the same year that she was awarded her doctorate from Columbia University. 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 contrasted their perspectives with the dissenting viewpoint of the homosexual author Jean Genet. Millett questioned the origins of patriarchy, argued that sex-based oppression was both political and cultural, and posited that undoing the traditional family was the key to true sexual revolution.
In 1971, Millett started buying and restoring fields and buildings near Poughkeepsie, New York. The project eventually became the Women's Art Colony/Tree Farm, a community of women artists and writers that was supported by the sale of Millett's silk-screen prints and Christmas trees that were hand-sheared by the artists in residence. In 2012, The Farm became a 501c3 non-profit organization and changed its name to the Millett Center for The Arts. Millett serves as director of the organization, which continues to operates as an artists' colony and provides residencies for women "from every creative discipline."
Millett's 1971 film Three Lives is a 16mm documentary made by an all-woman crew, including co-director Susan Kleckner, cameraperson Lenore Bode, and editor Robin Mide, under the name Women's Liberation Cinema. The 70-minute film focuses on three women, Mallory Millett-Jones (the director's sister), Lillian Shreve, a chemist, and Robin Mide, an artist, reminiscing about their lives.
Her book Flying (1974) tells of her marriage with Yoshimura and her love affairs with women. Sita (1977) is a meditation on Millett's doomed love affair with a female college administrator who was ten years her senior. In 1979, Millett went to Iran to work for women's rights, was soon deported, and wrote about the experience in Going to Iran. In The Loony-Bin Trip (1990), she describes her experience of being incarcerated in psychiatric facilities, her experience of being diagnosed as "bipolar", and her decision to discontinue lithium therapy. She won her own sanity trial in St. Paul. On a dare with her lawyer, together they changed the State of Minnesota's commitment law.
Millett was a contributor to On the Issues magazine and was interviewed at length for an article in the magazine by Merle Hoffman.
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).
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Millett was involved in a dispute with the New York City authorities who wanted to evict her from her home at 295 Bowery as part of a massive redevelopment plan. Millett and others held out, but ultimately lost their battle. Their building was demolished, and the residents were re-located.
In March 2013, the U.S. National Women's Hall of Fame announced that Millett will be among the institution's 2013 inductees. The induction ceremony will take place on October 24, 2013, at the National Women's Hall of Fame headquarters in Seneca Falls, NY.
Millett is openly bisexual. She came out in 1970, while on a panel at a conference on sexual liberation at Columbia University, when a woman in the audience confronted her, saying, "Why don't you say you're a lesbian, here, openly. You've said you were a lesbian in the past." In response, Millett said that she was bisexual. A Time magazine reporter taped the conference, and the December 8th, 1970, issue of Time included an article about Millet saying, among other things, that her statement would "reinforce the views of those skeptics who routinely dismiss all liberationists as lesbians."
Kate Millett - N.Y.C, 1987-88, by Robert Giard (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/brbldl_getrec.asp?fld=img&id=1081993)
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/giard.html)
Mother Millett by Kate Millett
Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: Verso (October 7, 2002)
Amazon: Mother Millett
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Kate Millett’s tremulous and hauntingly beautiful memoir begins with a telephone call from Minnesota where her mother is dying. Her return home to a severe, intelligent, and controlling matriarch is the catalyst for a meditation on her upbringing in middle America and her subsequent outcast status as a political activist, artist, and lesbian.
Mother Millett is an intensely personal journey through the author’s interior life, a subject she has visited over the years in such classic texts as Sita and The Loony Bin Trip. In these pages are reflections on a life of political engagement, beginning with the sexual politics of the feminist movement, proceeding to the struggle for gay liberation, and culminating in her campaign for housing rights on the Lower East Side of New York where she and her neighbors currently face eviction. Throughout, Millett confronts her fears of losing her mother, the anchor to a world she has long ago rejected but which continues to define her.
Echoing Philip Roth’s Patrimony, Millett writes with great poignancy about caring for the person who brought her into the world, a role reversal that brings with it both devastation and grace.
More Particular Voices at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Particular Voices
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