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Women for a Peaceful Christmas: Wisconsin Homemakers Seek to Remake American Culture
  • Nancy Unger, Santa Clara University
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Wisconsin Historical Society

In the autumn of 1971, sixteen Madison homemakers, including Nan Cheney and Sharon Stein, began "Women for a Peaceful Christmas" (WPC), a unique attempt to do nothing less than remake American culture. Under the slogan "No More Shopping Days 'Til Peace," WPC organized ostensibly powerless homemakers into a "quiet revolt against 'an economy which thrives on war and the destruction of our earth's resources.'' WPC urged the public (especially women, the sex that did the vast bulk of holiday shopping) to take economic, political, and environmental matters into their own hands. "If you don't want your Christmas celebrations to be controlled by the monoliths that corrupt governments and pollute environments . . . Don't buy the pre-packaged, disposable Christmas! Make your own." Rather to the surprise of the group's founders, WPC was immediately inundated with queries and requests for its informational materials. In five months' time, the movement had spread to almost every state, with members ranging in age from teenagers to grandmothers. WPC received national press coverage. The group disbanded in 1975 when the Vietnam War wound to a close, but its effort to highlight how women's spending contributed to the waste of natural resources was taken up by others. The movement raised the national consciousness of the role that everyday Americans could play, for better or for worse, in the deepening environmental crisis.


Copyright © 2009 Wisconsin Historical Society. Reprinted with permission.

Citation Information
Unger, N. (2009). Women for a Peaceful Christmas: Wisconsin Homemakers Seek to Remake American Culture. Wisconsin Magazine of History 93(2), 2-15.