Darlene Pagano papers

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society
657 Mission Street, #300
San Francisco, California 94105
(415) 777-5455

Descriptive Summary

Title: Darlene Pagano papers
Dates: 1979-1983
Collection Number: 1999-23
Extent: 1.8 linear feet (2 boxes, 2 folders)
Repository: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society
San Francisco, California 94105
Abstract: The collection includes manuscripts and correspondence documenting the publication of the book "Against Sadomasochism" and materials relating to the conflicts among collective members of A Woman's Place Bookstore which ultimately led to the lock-out of four members in 1982.
Language of Material: English


Collection is open for research. Funding for processing this collection was provided by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Publication Rights

Copyright has been assigned to the GLBT Historical Society.

Preferred Citation

Darlene Pagano papers. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society

Acquisition Information

Gift of Darlene Pagano in 1999.

Biography/Administrative History

Darlene Pagano, a local activist involved in a number of progressive political movements, was a member of the I.C.I.-A Woman's Place bookstore collective in the late 1970s and early 1980s. As a member of the collective, she became involved in discussions over whether books concerning lesbian sadomasochism should be displayed and sold in the bookstore. The policy of not displaying these books was heavily criticized by Samois, a local lesbian S/M group. Pagano's interest in the issue led to her participation in the publication of Against Sadomasochism: A Radical Feminist Analysis (1982). She served as co-editor of the volume and co-author of two included articles. In the fall of 1982, after many months of conflict within the six-woman collective, a collective member and a former member, changed the locks at the bookstore and sought to re-open as a “collective of two,” citing irreconcilable differences among collective members. Four of the remaining women, including Pagano, organized themselves as “The Locked-Out 4,” acquired office space, and began a very public fight to regain access to the bookstore. The event attracted national feminist attention, spotlighting as it did both concerns about the continued effectiveness of collectives and the difficult issues of diversity and differences among women within feminist communities. Collective members on both sides took legal action and were ordered by a judge to return to work together until there was a full court hearing. Ultimately, the women chose to have the case resolved by feminist arbitrators in binding arbitration the following year. In the final decision, the bookstore was re-established as a collective, but all former members were required either to depart immediately or to “cycle out” of the collective within two years.

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection contains three series. The first comprises manuscripts, correspondence and related papers documenting the collective efforts to publish the edited volume Against Sadomasochism (ASM). An early and critical look at feminist S/M practices, ASM was conceived as a response to the pro-S/M position of the local San Francisco lesbian group Samois. There is correspondence concerning the I.C.I.-A Woman's Place policy of not selling S/M related titles, Pagano's collections of periodicals and clippings on the issue, and a collection of reviews of ASM. The second series includes a small number of documents relating to the bookstore (alternatively known as I.C.I.-A Woman's Place and A Woman’s Place), including notes from meetings with the full collective and two bookstore files. The remainder of the collection comprises the organizational papers of the “Locked-Out 4.” The bulk of these papers concern the research done in preparation for court proceedings. Collective members gathered evidence of “harassment” at the bookstore by organizing volunteer “storesitters” who sat outside the building and took handwritten notes on activities within. Collective members also kept notebooks in which they wrote down interactions at the bookstore with other collective members. The collection also includes papers relating to a search for former members who could confirm that the bookstore had a history of being run as a collective, as well as notes from meetings with lawyers. There are two community meetings documented here, one organized by the “Locked-Out 4,” and the other by members of the community. Letters and cards from the community expressing both support and distress are included, as is a collection of newspaper clippings documenting the events. Finally, there is a small amount of material relating to the arbitration proceedings. There are 13 audiotapes in the collection. These include a community forum on Sado-Masochism organized by Women Against Violence and Pornography in the Media (WAVPM) in 1980, as well as tapes of bookstore collective meetings and two local radio shows dedicated to the crisis at the bookstore. These radio programs include interviews with collective members as well as reporting on events at the bookstore.

Indexing Terms

Women's bookstores--California--Alameda County
Lesbian feminism.

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