Sandra Butler grew up in a 1940’s suburb and was raised to be a conventional woman, mother and wife. After a much too young marriage and inevitable divorce, she, and her two young daughters were catapulted into the changing world of the 1960’s.
Immersed in the anti-war and civil rights movements, she found her political and psychological foundation with the women’s liberation movement of the 1970’s. She began college in her mid-thirties which led to graduate study, two books, two films and decades of meetings, organizing and building community.
She is the author of Conspiracy of Silence, The Trauma of Incest, (Volcano Press, 1978; 2nd edition 1985; 3rd edition 1996). Her second book, Cancer in Two Voices (Spinsters Books, 1991), coauthored with Barbara Rosenblum, was the winner of the 1991 Lambda Literary Award. She is also the co-producer of the award-winning documentaries Cancer in Two Voices (1991) and Ruthie and Connie: Every Room in the House (2004). Both films screened in Toronto, Montreal, Berlin, and Sundance, and are widely used for training and educational purposes.
Co-founder of Bay Area Women in Black, a transnational network of feminist activists, Butler was the keynote speaker at their international conference held in Jerusalem in 2005. Her deepening Jewish study and practice led to several trips to Israel/Palestine, where she was able to incorporate her spiritual life with her progressive politics. In 2010 “The Heart of the Matter” was published in Shifting Sands: Jewish Women Confront the Israeli Occupation.
Butler has written dozens of articles, reviews, and essays that have appeared in a range of periodicals and anthologies. Over the past three decades she has facilitated workshops for community activists, social workers, and psychologists on the intersecting political, economic, cultural, and psychological dimensions of violence against women, and has lectured on women’s issues nationally and internationally. Butler served on the editorial board of Persimmon Tree: An Online Magazine of the Arts by Women Over Sixty. Now, in her late-seventies with two adult daughters, Butler has completed her third book, It Never Ends: Mothering Middle-Aged Daughters, with Nan Gefen.
There is a through line that has informed her vision as both a writer and an activist. Each book has centered around the need for breaking silence, to write that which is still unspoken and to move issues relevant to women and girls still in the shadows into the public sphere. Conspiracy of Silence broke silence around issues of incest and sexual violation, Cancer in Two Voices spoke frankly about how a lesbian couple navigates the death of a partner and It Never Ends is designed to illuminate the first person experience of aging mothers and the challenges and adaptations that have emerged over the lifespan of the relationship.
Butler’s most important accomplishments are her relationships with her two daughters, now middle-aged women. A close second is her participation in the Wandering Menstruals, now familiarly called the Mennies, a woman’s group that has meet monthly for 27 years.
Far from the bubble of her childhood, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, an environment in which everything and everyone that can, is supported to flourish. She feels our future is in strong and capable hands with the younger generations of women, including those who guide She Writes Press, who understand that we must create what we need to live lives that are safe, healthy and filled with the resources women need to see their lives reflected and honored.
In her spare time, she is a jazz fan, eager reader, lover of cafes and long talks with friends and British mysteries.