25 4.4. Second Wave Feminism

Second-wave feminism is a period of feminist activity that first began in the early 1960s in the United States, and eventually spread throughout the Western world. In the United States the movement was initially called the Women’s Liberation Movement and lasted through the early 1980s.[1] It later became a worldwide movement that was strong in Europe and parts of Asia, such as Turkey[2] and Israel, where it began in the 1980s, and it began at other times in other countries.[3]

Whereas first-wave feminism focused mainly on suffrage and overturning legal obstacles to gender equality (i.e. voting rightsproperty rights), second-wave feminism broadened the debate to a wide range of issues: sexuality, family, the workplace, reproductive rights, de facto inequalities, and official legal inequalities.[4] At a time when mainstream women were making job gains in the professions, the military, the media, and sports in large part because of second-wave feminist advocacy, second-wave feminism also focused on a battle against violence with proposals for marital rape laws, establishment of rape crisis and battered women’s shelters, and changes in custody and divorce law. Its major effort was passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the United States Constitution, in which they were defeated by anti-feminists led by Phyllis Schlafly, who argued as an anti-ERA view that the ERA meant women would be drafted into the military.

Many historians view the second-wave feminist era in America as ending in the early 1980s with the intra-feminism disputes of the Feminist Sex Wars over issues such as sexuality and pornography, which ushered in the era of third-wave feminism in the early 1990s.[5][6][7][8][9]

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[edit]Overview

The second wave of feminism in North America came as a delayed reaction against the renewed domesticity of women after World War II: the late 1940s post-war boom, which was an era characterized by an unprecedented economic growth, a baby boom, a move to family-oriented suburbs, and the ideal of companionate marriages. This life was clearly illustrated by the media of the time; for example television shows such as Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver idealized domesticity.[10]

Before the second wave there were some important events which laid the groundwork for it. French writer Simone de Beauvoir had in the 1940s examined the notion of women being perceived as “other” in the patriarchal society. She went on to conclude that male-centered ideology was being accepted as a norm and enforced by the ongoing development of myths, and that the fact that women are capable of getting pregnant, lactating, and menstruating is in no way a valid cause or explanation to place them as the “second sex”.[11]This book was translated from French to English (with some of its text excised) and published in America in 1953.[12] In 1960 the Food and Drug Administration approved thecombined oral contraceptive pill, which was made available in 1961.[13] This made it easier for women to have careers without having to leave due to unexpectedly becoming pregnant. The administration of President Kennedy made women’s rights a key issue of the New Frontier, and named women (such as Esther Peterson) to many high-ranking posts in his administration.[14] Kennedy also established a Presidential Commission on the Status of Women, chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt and comprising cabinet officials (including Peterson and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy), senators, representatives, businesspeople, psychologists, sociologists, professors, activists, and public servants.[15] There were also notable actions by women in wider society, presaging their wider engagement in politics which would come with the second wave. In 1961, 50,000 women in 60 cities, mobilized by Women Strike for Peace, protested above ground testing of nuclear bombs and tainted milk.[16][17]

In 1963 Betty Friedan, influenced by The Second Sex, wrote the bestselling book The Feminine Mystique in which she explicitly objected to the mainstream media image of women, stating that placing women at home limited their possibilities, and wasted talent and potential. The perfect nuclear family image depicted and strongly marketed at the time, she wrote, did not reflect happiness and was rather degrading for women.[18] This book is widely credited with having begun second-wave feminism.[19]

Though it is widely accepted that the movement lasted from the 1960s into the early 1980s, the exact years of the movement are more difficult to pinpoint and are often disputed. The movement is usually believed to have begun in 1963, when “Mother of the Movement” Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique, and President John F. Kennedy‘sPresidential Commission on the Status of Women released its report on gender inequality. The report, which revealed great discrimination against women in American life, along with Friedan’s book, which spoke to the discontent of many women (especially housewives), led to the formation of many local, state, and federal government women’s groups as well as many independent women’s liberation organizations. Friedan was referencing a “movement” as early as 1964.[20]

The movement grew with legal victories such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Griswold v. Connecticut Supreme Court ruling of 1965; in 1966 Friedan joined other women and men to found the National Organization for Women.

Amongst the most significant legal victories of the movement after the formation of NOW were a 1967 Executive Order extending full Affirmative Action rights to women, Title IX and the Women’s Educational Equity Act (1972 and 1974, respectively, educational equality), Title X (1970, health and family planning), the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (1974), thePregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, the illegalization of marital rape (although not illegalized in all states until 1993 [21]), the legalization of no-fault divorce (although not allowed in all states until 2010[22]), a 1975 law requiring the U.S. Military Academies to admit women, and many Supreme Court cases, perhaps most notably Reed v. Reed of 1971 andRoe v. Wade of 1973. However, the changing of social attitudes towards women is usually considered the greatest success of the women’s movement.

By the early 1980s, it was largely perceived that women had met their goals and succeeded in changing social attitudes towards gender roles, repealing oppressive laws that were based on sex, integrating the “boys’ clubs” such as Military academies, the United States armed forcesNASA, single-sex colleges, men’s clubs, and the Supreme Court, and illegalizing gender discrimination. However, in 1982 adding the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution failed, three states short of ratification.

Second-wave feminism was largely successful, with the failure of the ratification of the ERA the only major legislative defeat. Efforts to ratify it have continued, and twenty-one states now have ERAs in their state constitutions. Furthermore, many women’s groups are still active and are major political forces. As of 2011, more women earn bachelor’s degrees than men,[23] half of the Ivy League presidents are women, the numbers of women in government and traditionally male-dominated fields have dramatically increased, and in 2009 the percentage of women in the American workforce temporarily surpassed that of men.[24] The salary of the average American woman has also increased over time, although as of 2008 it is only 77% of the average man’s salary, a phenomenon often referred to as the Gender Pay Gap.[25] Whether this is due to discrimination is very hotly disputed, however economists and sociologists have provided evidence to that effect.[26][27][28]

Second-wave feminist ended in America in the early 1980s with the feminist sex wars, followed by third wave feminism in the early 1990s.

[edit]View on popular culture

Second-wave feminists viewed popular culture as sexist, and created pop culture of their own to counteract this. Australian artist Helen Reddy’s song “I Am Woman” played a large role in popular culture and became a feminist anthem; Reddy came to be known as a “feminist poster girl” or a “feminist icon”.[29][30][31][32][33][34][35] “One project of second wave feminism was to create ‘positive’ images of women, to act as a counterweight to the dominant images circulating in popular culture and to raise women’s consciousness of their oppressions.” (Arrow, Michelle. 2007).

[edit]Timeline of second-wave feminism worldwide

[edit]1963

  • The report of the [American] Presidential Commission on the Status of Women found discrimination against women in every aspect of American life and outlined plans to achieve equality. Specific recommendations for women in the workplace included fair hiring practices, paid maternity leave, and affordable childcare.[36][37]
  • Twenty years after it was first proposed, the Equal Pay Act became law in the U.S., and it established equality of pay for men and women performing equal work. However, it did not originally cover executives, administrators, outside salespeople, or professionals.[38] In 1972, Congress enacted the Educational Amendments of 1972, which (among other things) amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to expand the coverage of the Equal Pay Act to these employees, by excluding the Equal Pay Act from the professional workers exemption of the Fair Labor Standards Act.[citation needed]
  • Betty Friedan‘s The Feminine Mystique was published, became a best-seller, and laid the groundwork for the second-wave feminist movement in the U.S.[37][39]
  • Alice S. Rossi presented “Equality Between the Sexes: An Immodest Proposal” at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences conference.[37][40]

[edit]1964

[edit]1965

[edit]1966

[edit]1967

[edit]1968

[edit]1969

  • The American radical organization Redstockings organized.[69]
  • Members of Redstockings disrupted a hearing on abortion laws of the New York Legislature when the panel of witnesses turned out to be 14 men and a nun. The group demanded repeal, not reform, of laws restricting abortion.[37]
  • NARAL Pro-Choice America, then called The National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL), was founded.[70]
  • California adopted a “no fault” divorce law,allowing couples to divorce by mutual consent. It was the first state to do so; by 2010 every state had adopted a similar law. Legislation was also passed regarding equal division of common property.[64]

A Women’s Liberation march in Washington, D.C., 1970

[edit]1970

[edit]1971

  • Switzerland allowed women to vote in national elections. However, some cantons did not allow women to vote in local elections until 1994. [48]
  • The first women’s liberation march in London occurred. [48]
  • In the U.S. Supreme Court Case Reed v Reed, for the first time since the Fourteenth Amendment went into effect in 1868, the Court struck down a state law on the ground that it discriminated against women in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of that amendment. The law in question-enacted in Idaho in 1864—required that when the father and mother of a deceased person both sought appointment as administrator of the estate, the man had to be preferred over the woman.[84]
  • The Westbeth Playwrights Feminist Collective was founded in New York. It was one of the first feminist theater groups formed to write and produce plays about women’s issues and to provide work experience in theatrical professions which had been dominated by men.[85][86][87]
  • The song “I Am Woman” was published. It was a popular song performed by Australian singer Helen Reddy, which became an enduring anthem for the women’s liberation movement.[29][30][31][32][33][34][35]
  • Women’s Equality Day has been August 26 in America since 1971.[88] This resolution was passed in 1971 designating August 26 of each year as Women’s Equality Day:
The full text of the resolution reads:
Joint Resolution of Congress, 1971 Designating August 26 of each year as Women’s Equality Day
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States; and
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have united to assure that these rights and privileges are available to all citizens equally regardless of sex; and
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have designated August 26, the anniversary date of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, as symbol of the continued fight for equal rights: and
WHEREAS, the women of United States are to be commended and supported in their organizations and activities,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that August 26 of each year is designated as “Women’s Equality Day,” and the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America were first given the right to vote, and that day in 1970, on which a nationwide demonstration for women’s rights took place. [89]

[edit]1972

[edit]1973

  • Women are allowed on the floor of the London Stock Exchange for the first time. [48]
  • American tennis player Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match in 1973. This match is remembered for its effect on society and its contribution to the women’s movement.[98]

Symbol used for signs and buttons by ERA opponents

[edit]1974

  • Contraception became free for women in the United Kingdom. [48]
  • Virago Press, a British feminist press, was set up by the publisher Carmen Callil. Its first title, Life As We Have Known It, was published in 1975.[48]
  • The Women’s Aid Federation was set up to unite battered women’s shelters in Britain. [48]
  • The Equal Credit Opportunity Act became law in the U.S. It prohibits discrimination in consumer credit practices on the basis of sex, race, marital status, religion, national origin, age, or receipt of public assistance.[101]
  • In Corning Glass Works v. Brennan, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employers cannot justify paying women lower wages because that is what they traditionally received under the “going market rate.” A wage differential occurring “simply because men would not work at the low rates paid women” is unacceptable.[102]
  • The U.S. First Lady Betty Ford was pro-choice.[103] A moderate Republican, Ford lobbied to ratify the ERA, earning the ire of conservatives, who dub her “No Lady”.[103][104]
  • The Mexican-American Women’s National Association was founded.[105]
  • The American Coalition of Labor Union Women was founded.[106]
  • The Women’s Educational Equity Act (WEEA) of 1974 was enacted in 1974 to promote educational equity for American girls and women, including those who suffer multiple discrimination based on gender and on race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, or age, and to provide funds to help education agencies and institutions meet the requirements of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.[107]

[edit]1975

  • The Equal Pay Act 1970 took effect in the UK. [48]
  • The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 became law in the UK, making it illegal to discriminate against women in education, recruitment, and advertising. [48]
  • The Employment Protection Act 1975 became law in the UK, introducing statutory maternity provision and making it illegal to fire a woman because she is pregnant. [48]
  • In Taylor v. Louisiana, the U.S. Supreme Court held that women could not be excluded from a venire, or jury pool, on the basis of having to register for jury duty, thus overturningHoyt v. Florida, the 1961 case that had allowed such a practice.[108]
  • The U.N. sponsored the First International Conference on Women in Mexico City.[109]
  • U.S. federal employees’ salaries could be garnished for child support and alimony.[110]
  • Tish Sommers, chairwoman of NOW’s Older Women Task Force, coined the phrase “displaced homemaker”.[111]
  • American feminist Susan Brownmiller published the landmark book Against Our Will, about rape.[112] She later became one of TIME‘s “Women of the Year” (see below).[112][113]
  • NOW sponsored “Alice Doesn’t” Day, asking women across the country to go on strike for one day.[114]
  • Joan Little, who was raped by a guard while in jail, was acquitted of murdering her offender. The case established a precedent in America for killing as self-defense against rape.[115]
  • In New York City, the first women’s bank opened.[116]
  • The United States armed forces opened its military academies to women.[108]
  • Time declared: “[F]eminism has transcended the feminist movement. In 1975 the women’s drive penetrated every layer of society, matured beyond ideology to a new status of general — and sometimes unconscious — acceptance.” The Time Person of the Year award goes to American Women, celebrating the successes of the feminist movement.[113]
  • The Equal Opportunities Commission came into effect in the UK (besides Northern Ireland, where it came into effect in 1976) to oversee the Sex Discrimination and Equal Pay Acts. [48][117]

[edit]1976

[edit]1977

[edit]1978

  • The Oregon v. Rideout decision led to many American states allowing prosecution for marital and cohabitation rape.[126]
  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act banned employment discrimination against pregnant women in the U.S., stating a woman cannot be fired or denied a job or a promotion because she is or may become pregnant, nor can she be forced to take a pregnancy leave if she is willing and able to work.[127]
  • The Equal Rights Amendment’s deadline arrived with the ERA still three states short of ratification; there was a successful bill to extend the ERA’s deadline to 1982, but it was still not ratified by then.[92]

[edit]1979

[edit]The 1980s

  • In the U.S., the early 1980s were marked by the end of the second wave and the beginning of the feminist sex wars. Many historians view the second-wave feminist era in America as ending in the early 1980s with the intra-feminism disputes of the Feminist Sex Wars over issues such as sexuality and pornography, which ushered in the era ofthird-wave feminism in the early 1990s .[5][6][7][8][9]
  • The second wave began in the 1980s in Turkey [129] and in Israel.[130]
  • The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was enacted by the Canada Act of 1982, and it declares (among other things), “15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability. (2) Subsection (1) does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability….28. Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.” [131]
  • In 1983 in France the women’s minister, Yvette Roudy, passed a law obliging all companies with more than 50 employees to carry out a comparative salary survey between men and women.[132]
  • The Japanese Equal Employment Opportunity Law of 1985, effective in April 1986, prohibits gender discrimination with respect to recruitment, hiring, promotion, training, and job assignment.[133]

[edit]Education

[edit]Title IX

Main article: Title IX

[edit]Coeducation

One debate which developed in the United States during this time period revolved around the question of coeducation. Most men’s colleges in the United States adopted coeducation, often by merging with women’s colleges. In addition, some women’s colleges adopted coeducation, while others maintained a single-sex student body.

[edit]Seven Sisters Colleges

Two of the Seven Sister colleges made transitions during and after the 1960s. The first, Radcliffe College, merged with Harvard University. Beginning in 1963, students at Radcliffe received Harvard diplomas signed by the presidents of Radcliffe and Harvard and joint commencement exercises began in 1970. The same year, several Harvard and Radcliffe dormitories began swapping students experimentally and in 1972 full co-residence was instituted. The departments of athletics of both schools merged shortly thereafter. In 1977, Harvard and Radcliffe signed an agreement which put undergraduate women entirely in Harvard College. In 1999 Radcliffe College was dissolved and Harvard University assumed full responsibility over the affairs of female undergraduates. Radcliffe is now the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in Women’s Studies at Harvard University.

The second, Vassar College, declined an offer to merge with Yale University and instead became coeducational in 1969.

The remaining Seven Sisters decided against coeducation. Mount Holyoke College engaged in a lengthy debate under the presidency of David Truman over the issue of coeducation. On November 6, 1971, “after reviewing an exhaustive study on coeducation, the board of trustees decided unanimously that Mount Holyoke should remain a women’s college, and a group of faculty was charged with recommending curricular changes that would support the decision.”[134] Smith College also made a similar decision in 1971.[135]

In 1969, Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College (then all male) developed a system of sharing residential colleges. When Haverford became coeducational in 1980, Bryn Mawr discussed the possibly of coeducation as well, but decided against it.[136] In 1983, Columbia University began admitting women after a decade of failed negotiations with Barnard College for a merger along the lines of Harvard and Radcliffe (Barnard has been affiliated with Columbia since 1900, but it continues to be independently governed). Wellesley College also decided against coeducation during this time.

[edit]Mississippi University for Women

In 1982, in a 5–4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan that the Mississippi University for Women would be in violation of theFourteenth Amendment‘s Equal Protection Clause if it denied admission to its nursing program on the basis of gender. Mississippi University for Women, the first public or government institution for women in the United States, changed its admissions policies and became coeducational after the ruling.[137]

In what was her first opinion written for the Supreme CourtJustice Sandra Day O’Connor stated, “In limited circumstances, a gender-based classification favoring one sex can be justified if it intentionally and directly assists members of the sex that is disproportionately burdened.” She went on to point out that there are a disproportionate number of women who are nurses, and that denying admission to men “lends credibility to the old view that women, not men, should become nurses, and makes the assumption that nursing is a field for women a self-fulfilling prophecy.”[138]

In the dissenting opinions, Justices Harry A. BlackmunWarren E. BurgerLewis F. Powell, Jr., and William H. Rehnquist suggested that the result of this ruling would be the elimination of publicly supported single-sex educational opportunities. This suggestion has proven to be accurate as there are no public women’s colleges in the United States today and, as a result of United States v. Virginia, the last all-male public university in the United States, Virginia Military Institute, was required to admit women. The ruling did not require the university to change its name to reflect its coeducational status and it continues a tradition of academic and leadership development for women by providing liberal arts and professional education to women and men.[139]

[edit]Mills College

On May 3, 1990, the Trustees of Mills College announced that they had voted to admit male students.[140] This decision led to a two-week student and staff strike, accompanied by numerous displays of non-violent protests by the students.[141][142] At one point, nearly 300 students blockaded the administrative offices and boycotted classes.[143] On May 18, the Trustees met again to reconsider the decision,[144] leading finally to a reversal of the vote.[145]

[edit]Other colleges

Pembroke College merged with Brown UniversitySarah Lawrence College declined an offer to merge with Princeton University, becoming coeducational in 1969.[citation needed]Connecticut College also adopted coeducation during the late 1960s. Wells College, previously with a student body of women only, became co-educational in 2005. Douglass College, part of Rutgers University was the last publicly funded women’s only college until 2007 when it became coed.

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