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Special Collections and Archives: Gender and Sexuality Oral History Project: J

Johnson, Sonia

Interviewee: Sonia Johnson
Interviewer: Janet Paulk
Date of Inteview: April 19, 2010
Extent:: 103 pages
Note: Johnson was originally interviewed for the Activist Women Oral History Project

Interviewer: Janet Paulk
Date of Interview: May 15, 2010
Extent: 101 pages
Note: Johnson was originally interviewed for the Activist Women Oral History Project

 

Biography:
Feminist activist and writer Sonia Johnson was an outspoken supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). A fifth generation Mormon, Johnson was publicly critical of the position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She eventually was excommunicated from the church for her activities. She went on to publish several radical feminist books and become a popular feminist speaker.

Abstract, April 19, 2010:
Johnson begins her interview by discussing the fact that she was not even remotely interested in women or women’s issues for the first part of her life. After talking about her Mormon roots and her young marriage, she describes an epiphany she experienced at a church meeting that led to her becoming a radical feminist. She discusses her support of the Equal Rights amendment, including a hunger strike in Illinois, and goes on to talk about running for president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and president of the United States in 1984. She explains what she sees as the differences between men and women and between sex and intimacy as well as her journey to  becoming a lesbian. She discusses her relationship with her late mother and her belief in reincarnation (which she refers to as the ‘sisterwitch conspiracy’). She talks about her career as a public speaker- speaking at universities and on television- and how she eventually came to despise speaking engagements as a tool of patriarchy. She discusses many, many topics during her three and a half hour interview, including her books, the coming of a new female world, her experiences living in all-female communities (such as Freedom, Wildfire, and Casa Feminista), her partner Jade and the story she learned of the Hopi’s oral history, the decline of the Y chromosome (which she explains is merely a mutant of the X), George Mason and the constitution, Phyllis Schlafly, and the state of the world and feminism since the ERA.

Abstract, May 15, 2010:
In her second interview, Johnson begins retelling the story of how she came to believe in reincarnation. She continues discussing the history of femaleness and the powers women have. She details her thoughts on the Y chromosome as a mutation and its steady demise along with that of patriarchy. She briefly discusses some of her experiences with the ERA and leaving the Mormon Church as well as her friends at that time. She spends much of the interview discussing her later life- living in Sonoita, Arizona, Costa Rica, New Mexico, and Alabama, changing her name, playing piano a small Methodist Church. She explains her unique and life altering decision to no longer be a mother to her (grown) children. She talks about various speaking engagements she participated in and her encounters with Phyllis Schlafly at several of them. She talks about politics and her campaign for presidency. She speaks fondly of her mother and their time together. Johnson also discusses her books, including the Sister Witch Conspiracy (published June 2010), and her opinions on the differences between religion and spirituality.

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Oral Histories at GSU

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