Southwest Feminists Reunite ~ Women on Wheels: Doreen Dobzewitz, Roni Kendall interview

Dublin Core

Title

Southwest Feminists Reunite ~ Women on Wheels: Doreen Dobzewitz, Roni Kendall interview

Subject

Lesbian, Tucson, activism, history, feminists, 1970s, collectives, media

Description

Southwest Feminists Reunite ~ Women on Wheels: Doreen Dobewitz, Roni Kendall interview
This oral history interview highlights local feminist and lesbian feminist activists as part of the Southwest Feminists Reunite collection, which was started in spring 2013 during their 40th Anniversary celebration in Tucson, AZ. That powerful experience in March 1973 and the dynamic creativity and political action that followed sparked feminists and lesbian feminists to reinvent their lives and organize for change over the next four decades. This collection consists of oral histories and digital scans of photographs.

Creator

Jamie A. Lee, Project Director, Arizona Queer Archives

Source

Recorded digitally on Sony HDR-CX580 digital video camera

Publisher

Jamie A. Lee, Project Director, Arizona Queer Archives

Contributor

Southwest Feminists Reunite. Lavinia Tomer and Deborah Dobson

Rights

Rights given to the Arizona LGBTQ Storytelling Project and the Arizona Queer Archives

Relation

Southwest Feminists Reunite

Format

H.264 300Kbps streaming QuickTime movie, 427 x 240

Language

English

Type

MovingImage and Oral History

Identifier

Southwest Feminists Reunite

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Interviewer

Anastasia Freyermuth

Interviewee

Doreen Dobzewitz, Roni Kendall

Transcription

Transcription by Courtney Martinez
Interviewer:
Rolling…so…uhm..I would like to begin first by asking you to…a…state your name, and maybe just a little bit about yourself.

Doreen Dobzewitz:
I can out to Tucson in 1974 to go to graduate school and in ’76, I finished and got a job and never left and became involved in political and social and all kinds of activities in the Tucson community…and ended up living here and I’m still here, in 2013.

Interviewer: Great.

Roni Kendall:
And, I’m Roni Kendall. I came out in ’81 to Tucson uhm…to have…a…to have more activity with women to work for the rape crisis center….uhm I was living, I grew up in New York and that was too fast. I went to college in West Virginia, that was too slow and Tucson’s just right…and I’ve lived here for about 15 years…uhm…working for rape crisis for mental health. I work…a…having a great time, personally, professionally, politically here.

Interviewer:
Great, great. And…uh…could you tell me a little bit about…uh…women on Wheels…what the mission was behind it…what it was, what you did?

Roni Kendall: (softly to DD) You started it, it’s okay…

Doreen Dobzewitz:
Well…they were…they were several kinds of groups that just kind of evolved…uh…I…to be honest with you…I…I think we actually started out as Desert Dyke Productions…and kind a…I don’t know

Roni Kendall: Concerts for events…

Doreen Dobzewitz:
And then was it woman woven and women on wheels? We were all…sort of…

Roni Kendall:
It had different manifestations for sure, I just got involved with it through the camping part of it, when we would be up on Mount Lemon and have a beautiful camp ground to ourselves and just gathering like we’re doing tonight…uhm… but…I…I wasn’t as involved. I didn’t know that there were other parts of it until coming here this weekend again and reading more of the material, seeing the photographs…uhm…incredible opportunities for women to meet each other and have different events and activities.

Doreen Dobzewitz:
Yeah, we’re…we’re kind of focused on…you…know…promoting women in the arts; whether it was music or poetry or political events and…uhm…providing…uhm all kinds of support, technical support, security support, try to go out there and get whatever financial help we could get…uh…help promote, produce the various activities.

Interviewer: Great, great.

Roni Kendall:
I…I noticed a lot of them were free and so they were open to anyone, you know…to different women…that made it possible.

Doreen Dobzewitz:
Yeah, so we were always like scrounging for space and scrounging for whatever materials we needed or technical assistance we needed; but we always persevered and we always managed to pull off these incredible events.

Interviewer:
Great…uhm…so how did your involvement with this group transform or impact your life?

Doreen Dobzewitz:
Well…it…it kinda helped put the awareness out there in the Tucson community about what was going on in the world. That we were firm believers and supported all this social and political venues that were going on and making statements and standing behind it and standing up for our beliefs and …and…we all felt that there was just a lot of important information to get out there and disseminate not just for the women’s community but to everybody.

Interviewer:
And speaking of the community, how do you feel that it impacted or transformed the community uhm…by enlarge?

Doreen Dobzewitz:
Well it helped provide…uh…continuing support out there…uh for all the political, social and artistic events that we just kept, you know…we didn’t want to give up that we just…you know...kept that awareness going and…and…and I…when I think back, I can remember attending a rally when the city of Tucson decide to implement…uhm…uh…uhm…they put into place restrictions against…you know…sexual harassment in the work place, domestic violence, uhm…issues along that line that…they…they made it a part of the city…I’m at a loss for words…

Roni Kendall: (inaudible)…addendum to agenda…

Doreen Dobzewitz:
Yeah, yeah you know…part of the…law’s not really the right word but…that…they…they…they put…they put these procedures in place to prevent…you know… sexual harassment in the work place and provide more support for domestic violence and those kinds of things. And…and I think a lot of what we did in the women’s’ community brought that out and made it known that…you know what…you guys sittin’ in there, you know…the city council, you need to look at this…you know….and act on it cause this is important. And although I consider Tucson to be a really redneck, conservative city and Arizona, that kind of a state; it was kinda interesting that the city of Tucson did that back then…in the…in the early…I think it was like, it was probably between ’77 and ’80 that they did that.

Roni Kendall: Wow…they responded to it…

Doreen Dobzewitz: Yeah

Roni Kendall:
Bravo…I yea, I missed some of that, coming in in ’81. For the part of Women on Wheels that was relating to the camping…uhm…I…it’s not only the camping…you know…I think camping represents time in nature and renewal and considering how much everyone was working on everything and caring about other, I think it was a time to relax, a time to strengthen friendships, uh… a lot of discussions, people would go on hikes together as well as really just meals together and so it was a time to rest and be and have fun and play and so I think that’s part of the balance with the work with the mind is that heart connection with nature as well and…I know I was very appreciative of that…uhm…a balance and sharing it with other women…so…yeah…



Interviewer: Uhm…what obstacles…uhm did you experience during this time?

Doreen Dobzewitz:
Well there was always an issue around violence and security and…and most of the venues that we produced because of the climate, the political climate that was going on and how society felt about lesbian women and gay men…and…so that was really scary…it was a really scary time for us to come forward and…and be out there and promote all this and…and do it and not be afraid of what we had to say and…cause we all thought it was really important…and we had strong voices and…and we weren’t afraid…you know…we like…you know having to find a place and like Ronnie was saying almost everything was free but yet we needed some money to…to be able to do these things…. and the community not wanting to support it…the business community not wanting to support it or let’en us have a space or letin’ us have a free space or don’t… you know…donating whatever we could get…you know it was hard to get all that…it was really, really hard to get all that because we were you know…considered….you know…outcast and doing things against society and against God and all that other bullcrap.

Roni Kendall:
Uhm…this is hard cause I…my involvement sort of comes in through the rape crisis center…and I…and we were tagged as lesbians and so marginalized, in a lot of ways as a non-profit and so I…I…I respect what you’re saying because I could feel it within our own community, helping women after assaults working with police, detectives, all that…it really had a shift and it did at some point…but that marginalization and fighting all the time when we shoulda had support.

Interviewer:
Uhm…so…with…with what you’ve all experienced…uhm…and with your involvement in these organizations…uhm…and within the women’s movement, what advice or messages would you like to pass on to young feminists? And I know some of these are kinda repeats…

Doreen Dobzewitz: Yeah…Yeah…


Interviewer:
But…but…uhm…you know…in terms of your involvement with this particular organization or just…you know…any any other…anything in general….what…what kind of advice or messages would you give to young women just getting started?

Roni Kendall:
I’d say find your passion and that passion will change. But to go after it, to find others that have a similar view, that want to do something…uhm…I don’t know enough young feminists…and I’m glad to hear you say that…cause I don’t know where the next wave is coming from…uhm…but I will greatly appreciate that it will come and have faith in that. Uhm…I’d also say take care in oneself…uh…knowing how many times I burned out in different ways…uh…yet still loving it, so to take care of yourself but to go after what is passionate and hopefully open up…not be afraid to do something…cause it’s gonna make a difference.

Doreen Dobzewitz:
Yeah…uhm…yeah…you have to…you know…continue to not be afraid of yourself and other people and who you are and what you believe in and…you just gotta…be strong…and...and put it out there…and don’t let anybody beat you up, don’t let anybody put you down and don’t be afraid of who you are and…and…find that love and that passion and have fun in life and laugh and…and you know…take care of yourself…uh…emotionally and physically…you know…you have to find that balance and like Ronnie was saying…you know…that that passion and don’t lose sight of it….and hold onto it…and…and share it. Share whatever you need to share, and don’t be afraid to do that.

Interviewer:
Great, and then finally…uhm…what are you most proud of and that can range from something in general or specifically in terms of your involvement with women on wheels.

Roni Kendall: Uh…that’s a hard one…



Doreen Dobzewitz:
Just being…for me…just being part of the whole…I mean I graduated in 1969 which was very….uh….uh a lot of turmoil going on…especially…uh…about the Vietnam war and…the women’s…uh…movement and feminism and just being part of all that and continuing with that throughout my life and being part of it and being part of the theater and being behind the scenes and helping organize…you know… Take Back the Night and…you know…for all of us that had motorcycles, and us dykes on bikes…and leading those parades and putting it out there…and…and getting the picnics together…and…and just not being afraid and just doing it all and continuing with that all these years…and I’m really thankful that I’m able to be sitting here talking about all this because a lot of us are into a lot of drugs and various alcohol and a lot of us are lucky that we’re alive today talking about this…

Roni Kendall: Yeah…

Doreen Dobzewitz:
I’m…so I’m glad I persevered and made changes in my life to…uh…be healthy and be here right now. And…and have all these wonderful friends and women in my life and even though I may have lost contact with a lot of these women in the last twenty, thirty years, it’s like they’ve never left my life being here…it’s like…it was like it was yesterday that we all saw each other…it’s just uh….emotionally it’s just...uh...an overwhelming, warm…comforting feeling…

Roni Kendall:
Yeah…I’ve been away living…away from Tucson for a while and I come back and it feels like home. And I’ve told people Tucson feels to me like where I became an adult…uhm…what I’m proud of I think is being able to be present in hardship with people… to be able to be present to help negotiate and/or mediate different ideas and desires for action or for activities….uhm…for being able to…I don’t know…help translate some of that…uhm…and I don’t know…that’s that’s I think probably the biggest to be present…fully present with this.

Interviewer:
Great…well fantastic, well that’s all the questions I have unless there is anything else you would like to say?


Roni Kendall:
No, I hope…I wanna hear stories from the things that continue from this…I would like to hear what happens…to next

Doreen Dobzewitz: Yeah, thanks for the opportunity for doing this I think it’s really…

Roni Kendall: Yeah…

Doreen Dobzewitz:
…really important part of this whole history of…of…you know…women in Tucson. We’re just a small, very small piece of it, so I appreciate the opportunity to be able to talk.

Roni Kendall:
Yeah…It can’t disappear, please don’t let it disappear. Thank you.

Interviewer: Thank you! All Right.

Roni Kendall: Cool..thanks…

End of Interview

Citation

Jamie A. Lee, Project Director, Arizona Queer Archives, “Southwest Feminists Reunite ~ Women on Wheels: Doreen Dobzewitz, Roni Kendall interview,” Arizona Queer Archives, accessed October 17, 2021, http://azqueerarchives.org/items/show/151.