The Ladies' Sewing Circle & Terrorist Society

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Community
Name: The Ladies' Sewing Circle & Terrorist Society
Date(s): 1974-present
Type:
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The Ladies' Sewing Circle & Terrorist Society began as a community.

It was started at the Oregon Women's Political Caucus in 1974. "The "Ladies' Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society" is for the real society ladies down with the cause. Mission: To allow crafty, smart women the ability to speak their minds and network with other crafty, smart women!" [1]

There were different local chapters.

Now, it is not so much a community as a meme.

Fannish Connections

While not a specifically fannish group, it had fan connections.

In 1988, Mercedes Lackey attended an "impromptu lunch meeting of the 'Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society' at Cafe Maspero in the French Quarter" during WorldCon. [2]

In 1993, there was a fic published in a The Kuryakin File, a Man from U.N.C.L.E. zine. It was called "The Ladies' Sewing Circle & Terrorist Society affair."

At MediaWest*Con 2005, 2006, 2012 -- the group had an annual shopping trip to a quilt shop.

Some Background Behind the Name, and Use of "Terrorist" Juxtaposition and Domesticity

Marianne Neilsen noted in her correspondence that a great number of fringe groups had formed in ESFCAS, with their own activities; she named the Lysistrata Corps, which held a "benefit orgy" (should I ask?); the Permanent Floating Riot Club, which held all-night parties ("The PFRC included virtually all the active members - active in the social side of things": Michael Hall); a noisy Chivalry & Sorcery group (quickly tossed out); the DADAPists, and a "conspicuous" Trekker group. Marianne Neilsen and Diane Walton-LeBlanc attest to a short-lived Darkovan Council, started two months before NonCon 1, which later became the Council of the Black Tower, published Idriel Rising (Joyce Rubin ed.), and faded out after the con. Some of the Darkovans showed up at VCon 6 in May 1978.

October 1977 is the first mention of the all-woman Lysistrata Corps Ladies' Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society. This was one of several small interest groups that sprang up when ESFCAS grew big enough; members met new people at the door, introduced them to likeminded fans, and helped convivialize the meetings. ... the Lysistrata Corps was actually "born" when the crew went to Westercon XXX in Vancouver in 1977. The women wanted to do something that would be unique to Edmonton fandom, so they had L.C. T-shirts made up, and I believe ... the men were the `men's auxiliary.'
The Corps was good, mainly because ESFCAS females were all of the same age (23 - 25), and we enjoyed each other's company. So we arranged evenings for 'the girls,' and when Yvonne Anderson and Tony Higgins got married, we established the tradition of the stag party for LC only. The guest of honor is treated to a lavish supper at a good (usually Chinese) restaurant, followed by an all-night party at which she is presented with something slinky ... (As we get older, the parties get shorter! Few all-nighters these days). If nobody is due to get hitched, we find another excuse for a party. I suppose we are rather smug about the whole thing, because of the disparaging remarks about women not being able to get along in any organization. It's traditional that the women in Old Guard ESFCAS have been a positive driving force in all club events, and we don't seem to have any problems with cooperation. ...

The Lysistrata Corps are also responsible for the infamous male harem application form. Harlan Ellison is honorary Chief Concubine. ... (Diane Walton-LeBlanc)

As I understand it, several fan communities, e.g. Midwest fandom, have sooner or later featured rather Amazonian social groups like the Lysistrata Corps. More power to them. [3]
A little jokey term from long ago... when we were expected to be sweet and charming and subservient at all times, but were starting to object to the rampant inequality and limitations imposed on us just for being female, we often discussed these issues in groups that we already belonged to, such as book clubs, sewing circles or just groups of friends. Since it seemed such a radical departure from expected behaviour, the phrase was ironic and entertaining. It may have been used in a novel or article and then taken up more widely. I've seen it done in a very sweet and genteel needlepoint. [4]

Similar Groups

References

  1. from the Facebook page, accessed October 5, 2016
  2. Queen's Own, October 1988
  3. Fan Histories, Canada
  4. What is the ladies sewing circle and terrorist society? , 2009