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June Bundy Csida, 83; feminist wrote groundbreaking book on rape

November 07, 2006|Jocelyn Y. Stewart | Times Staff Writer

In the early 1970s, when discussing rape was still taboo and few victims reported the crime, feminist June Bundy Csida and her husband wrote "Rape: How to Avoid It and What to Do If You Can't."

The goal of their landmark work, described as the first book-length feminist treatment of the issue, was to expose rape as "the No. 1 crime against women."

"You can be safe and paranoid or trusting and raped," Csida told a gathering of 300 at an aerospace company in El Segundo, according to a 1975 Times article. "And if you choose the former, sad as it seems

Today such a discussion may seem unremarkable, but it was a significant moment in the history of the feminist movement; a noteworthy shift from the public silence surrounding rape.

Csida, an author, feminist leader and former Hollywood publicist, died in her Los Angeles home Sept. 29 of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, said her cousin Lisa Malec. She was 83.

Csida was born in Los Angeles on March 11, 1923. After graduating from Santa Monica High School in 1940, Csida received a degree from Los Angeles City College, then began a career in entertainment. She worked as a publicist for the top novelty band of the day, Spike Jones and His City Slickers, and later ran her own publicity agency with Auriel Macfie.

In 1948, Csida was hired as a reporter for Billboard magazine, where she wrote reviews of nightclubs, records, radio and television. At Billboard she also met and married Joseph Csida, the magazine's editor in chief, who would later become vice president of Capitol Records and RCA Records and president of First Place Music Publications Inc. The couple joined NOW, the National Organization for Women, in 1970. Csida began using her considerable Hollywood contacts to further the goals of the organization. She worked closely with Toni Carabillo, who helped found the California chapters of the organization, and served on its national board of directors.

"She would get people like Toni Carabillo on 'The Merv Griffin Show,' " said longtime friend Judith Meuli. "She knew how ... that was her job" as a publicist for the group.

At local protests organized by NOW, Csida handled publicity and media relations.

"I can see this picture of June in her lovely red dress and heels being the PR person," Meuli said. "We did show up at our protests with gloves and heels. The feminist movement was a very middle-class, upper-class movement" that focused on ensuring equal employment opportunities and education rights for women, she said.

Locally, the organization protested the Los Angeles Times' practice of categorizing jobs for men or for women in the classified ads.

"You never wanted one of those jobs in the help wanted section for women," Meuli said.

The group also protested a telephone company's practice of allowing women to be operators but not linemen, a more lucrative position.

Over the years Csida wrote and co-wrote several books, including "The Feminist Chronicles, 1953-1993," a history of the second wave of the feminist movement. With her late husband she wrote "American Entertainment: A Unique History of Popular Show Business," which tells the story of Billboard magazine. She also wrote scripts for "Movie Museum," a syndicated TV series, and contributed to the World Book Encyclopedia Year Book.

The couple remained deeply involved in the feminist movement and was particularly concerned about rape and violence against women. "It was purely a political justice kind of thing," Meuli said.

Their book on rape contained practical advice and some shocking statistics: Only 1 in 10 rapes were reported, according to the authors. The book also was a means of beginning a discussion on societal attitudes about rape, including the belief that women who wear certain clothing "really ask for it."

"That's a very typical attitude," Csida told the gathering in 1975. "But you know, I think there is something very wrong with our thinking if we are penalizing rape victims just because they wear short skirts. They may have been asking for a man's attention, but they were not asking to be brutalized."

In addition to Malec, Csida is survived by a stepson, Joseph Csida Jr., and three grandchildren.

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jocelyn.stewart@latimes.com

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