From Ginia Bellafante's Big City column in the New York Times yesterday:
If you spent any time in Manhattan during the 1980s, particularly on the Upper West Side, you are likely to recall a recurrent vignette of dissent — the presence of a thin, wiry woman with hair that made emphatic her seriousness, who colonized the sidewalks in what appeared to be a full-time avocation as a crusader against pornography and other forms of sexual degradation. To make her point, she would often have with her a blowup of a notorious Hustler cover that featured an image of a woman who had been plunged headfirst into a meat grinder. Her approach was hardly solicitous; she demanded of those who passed by, “Sign the petition!”
Even then, among my circle of largely earnest college friends in Morningside Heights during the high point of women’s studies, the phrase “sign the petition” became its own circulating laugh line. By the ’80s, and certainly culminating in the ’90s, many young feminists had abandoned the idea that what we really needed to worry about was the violent enmity that men harbored to one degree or another toward women. Misogyny as a conceptual framework through which to view the world was distinctly out of vogue.