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L10 & L11 : Second Wave Feminism & Feminist Activism: 1960s & 1970s

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L10 & L11 : Second Wave Feminism & Feminist Activism: 1960s & 1970s Equality and Hierarchy: Women’s Experience. Agenda Objective : To understand… The theory, organization, and action of second-wave feminism . The legislative accomplishments of second-wave feminism Schedule :

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L10 & L11 : Second Wave Feminism & Feminist Activism:

1960s & 1970s

Equality and Hierarchy: Women’s Experience

  • Agenda
  • Objective:
  • To understand…
  • The theory, organization, and action of second-wave feminism.
  • The legislative accomplishments of second-wave feminism
  • Schedule:
  • Lecture & Discussion
  • Homework
  • Unit Work:
  • Nothing immediately…
  • Thesis:
  • Assign #4 Focus & Early Research Due (G: Fri 1/3; Y: Fri 1/3)
  • Assign #5 Research Question, Bibliography, and Note Cards (G: Mon 1/6; Y: Mon 1/6)
the feminine mystique sparks second wave feminism
The Feminine Mystique Sparks Second-Wave Feminism
  • Many women are dissatisfied with the return

to domesticity that the end of World War Two brings.

  • Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan, 1963
    • Exposes the unhappiness and lack of fulfillment many women feel as housewives
    • Awakens women to the fact that the ideal of feminine fulfillment is an oppressive ideology and that their personal struggles are not personal, but an outgrowth of systematic oppression
  • Feminine Mystique helps spark what is known as second-wave feminism
presidential commission on the status of women
Presidential Commission on the Status of Women
  • 1961
  • Established by President


  • Chaired by Eleanor


  • 1963 the Commission

released a report called,

The Presidential Report on

American Women

    • Report documented widespread

workplace discrimination

    • Recommended affordable child care,

equal employment opportunity for women, and paid maternity leave

  • Significant because it “proves” the inequality alluded to by Friedan and others
    • Women don’t just “feel” they are being treated unfairly, they objectively are!
second wave feminism
Second-Wave Feminism
  • 1960-early 1980s
  • Also called:
    • Women’s Rights


    • Women’s Liberation


  • Focus:
    • Not focused on one issue
    • Not an issue driven movement, instead it is a theory lead movement designed to identify and expose a central institution of oppression in women’s lives, and then make widespread change across a range of issues in an effort to undo that source of oppression.
    • “The personal is political”
      • What do you think this means?
emergence of feminist theory
Emergence of Feminist Theory
  • For the first time women’s rights activists began to outline a theory of the female experience.
  • Why do you think the development of theory is so important to a social rights movement?
  • Why is the development of feminist theory so important to the women’s rights movement?
emergence of a feminist theory
Emergence of a Feminist Theory
  • Theory is essential for an activist movement, because it allows you to see that the troubles/difficulties/persecution in your life are not an individual problem, but rather are an outgrowth of the design of the social system in which you live.
    • Theory explains how problems are a result of systematic oppression, not private issues or personal complaints
  • In the 1960s, scholars began to develop a feminist theory to expose the structure of oppression at work in women’s lives. The goal is to point out that women’s persecution is a structural, not personal, issue.
  • Feminist theory asserts that women are oppressed as a result of the social system of patriarchy.
    • Patriarchy is a social system in which males

are the primary authority figures, occupying

roles of political power, moral authority,

control over the family, and control over

property. Patriarchy also includes the

oppression of minorities and homosexuals as

part of a broader system designed to

subordinate women.

    • Feminist theory argues that ridding society of

patriarchy will result in liberation for women, men,

minorities, and gays.

variants of feminist theory liberal feminism
Variants of Feminist Theory:Liberal Feminism
  • First theory of feminism to emerge
  • Argues that all people are created equal by nature

and deserve equal rights.

  • Asserts that oppression exists because of the way in

which men and women are socialized, which

supports patriarchy and keeps men in power


  • Asserts that women have the same mental capacity as

men and should be given the same opportunities in

political, economic and social spheres.  

  • Need to reform social institutions to make them more

equitable between men and women.

  • Support legislation that remove barriers to equality for women.
    • Ex: Legislation for equal pay
  • Key Figures:
    • Betty Friedan
    • Gloria Steinem
  • Criticized for:
    • Trying to make women “act like men” within institutions, rather than deconstructing patriarchy and its institutions
    • Treating the experience of all women as the same; not seeing race and class differences in the female experience
variants of feminist theory radical feminism
Variants of Feminist Theory:Radical Feminism
  • Believe that the domination of women is the oldest and worst kind of oppression in the world--this because it spans across the world oppressing women of different races, ethnicities, classes and cultures.
  • Want to free both men and women from the rigid gender roles that society has imposed upon them. It is this sex-gender system that has created oppression and radical feminist's mission is to overthrow this system by any possible means.
  • Believe that society must be changed at its core in order to dissolve patriarchy and bring about true equality.
    • Must break down social institutions, not just reform them
  • Radical feminists emphasize their difference from men. Men and women are both equal, but they are fundamentally different people.
    • Though some radical feminists, like Mary Daly, argue for the superiority of women.
  • Key Figures
    • Mary Daly
  • Clash with the ideals of the liberal feministbecause…
    • They want to break down institutions, not amend them.
    • Do not see men and women as fundamentally the same, even if they are equal
    • They want to free both men and women from rigid gender roles, not just make women’s gender roles look more like men’s

Mary Daly taught at BC for 33 years. She retired in 1999 after violating the university’s policy by refusing to allow male students in her advanced women’s studies classes. She allowed male students in her introductory class and privately tutored those who wanted to take advance classes.

variants of feminist theory socialist feminism
Variants of Feminist Theory: Socialist Feminism
  • Believe that there is a direct link between class structure and the oppression of women.
    • Western society rewards working men because they produce tangible, tradable goods. On the other hand, women's work in the domestic sphere is not valued by western society because women do not produce a tangible, tradable good. This gives men power and control over women.  
  • Challenge the ideologies of BOTH capitalism and patriarchy.
  • Much like the views of radical feminists, believe that although women are divided by class, race, ethnicity and religion, they all experience the same oppression simply for being a woman.
  • Believe that the way to end this oppression is to put an end to class and gender. Women must work side by side men in the political sphere. In order to defeat capitalism and its associated inequality, women must work with men, as opposed to ostracizing them.
  • Key Figures:
    • Heidi Hartmann
variants of feminist theory feminist separatism
Variants of Feminist Theory: Feminist Separatism
  • Argues that in a patriarchal society, heterosexuality is a political institution through which gender oppression is maintained.
  • Heterosexual sex itself is a form of oppression
  • Two solutions…
    • Radical-Libertarian Separatism
      • Women should control every aspect of their sexuality—redefine sex
      • Advocate artificial means of reproduction so that less time is devoted to pregnancy
    • Lesbian-Separatism
      • The only way to completely escape patriarchy is for men and women to separate and practice homosexuality, allowing women to be in complete control of their sexuality.

With Feminist Theory established, leaders in the feminist movement begin raising awareness of women’s oppression.

The tool they use to do this is Consciousness-Raising


What is consciousness-raising?

"I think a lot about being attractive," Ann said. "People don't find the real self of a woman attractive." And then she went on to give some examples. And I just sat there listening to her describe all the false ways women have to act: playing dumb, always being agreeable, always being nice, not to mention what we had to do to our bodies, with the clothes and shoes we wore, the diets we had to go through, going blind not wearing glasses, all because men didn't find our real selves, our human freedom, our basic humanity "attractive." And I realized I still could learn a lot about how to understand and describe the particular oppression of women in ways that could reach other women in the way this had just reached me. The whole group was moved as I was, and we decided on the spot that what we needed -- in the words Ann used -- was to "raise our consciousness some more."

consciousness raising
  • Why does the women’s movement need consciousness-raising?
    • What does it suggest about the type of oppression women face?
  • How does consciousness raising help women to understand their oppression, rather than just seeking change around one issue?
the national organization for women
The National Organization for Women
  • Women active in the Civil Rights realize that if women are going to want to make change they need to organize!
  • Need to create a “NAACP for Women”
  • They form the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966.
    • Betty Friedan was the group’s first President
  • In 1968 the group issued a Bill of Rights
  • Discuss the NOW Bill of Rights 1968
    • What rights do they demand?
    • How do they propose securing these rights?
    • Overall, how would you characterize the vision of Second-Wave Feminism Based on this Bill of Rights?
act through activism
Act Through Activism
  • Women begin to protest, speak out, and march in large numbers
  • Protests are “in your face”
  • They protest over a wide-range of issues:
    • Political inequality
    • Economic inequality
    • Cultural degradation of women
  • Example: 1968 Protest of the Miss America Pageant
    • How does this protest exemplify the feminist theory of second-wave feminism?
act legislative change
Act: Legislative Change
  • NOW and other organizations begin to demand:
    • Laws Banning Sex Discrimination in Employment
    • Laws Giving Women More Rights in the Family
    • Laws Ending Unequal Education
    • Promotion of Women’s Control over their Reproductive Lives
    • Equal Rights Constitutional Amendment
equal pay act of 1963
Equal Pay Act of 1963
  • States that no employer may pay lower wages to employees of one gender than it pays to employees of the other gender employees within the same establishment for equal work at jobs that require equal skill, effort and responsibility, and that are performed under similar working conditions.
  • Huge step forward for gender equity in employment
  • But…Does not address inter-occupational inequality for jobs that require the same skill.
    • Maid vs. Janitor
    • “Comparable Worth” Argument
  • Signed into law by President Kennedy
civil rights act 1964
Civil Rights Act 1964
  • Law that outlawed major forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities, as well as women.
  • Act was originally intended to end racial inequality, and said nothing about women.
    • U.S. Rep Howard W. Smith (VA) added the word “sex” to the Act in an effort to derail the measure so African Americans would not gain Civil Rights.
    • However, the entire Act passed into law without floor debate.
  • For the first time the United States had a law against sex discrimination in federally-funded public accommodations
pregnancy discrimination act 1978
Pregnancy Discrimination Act (1978)
  • Prohibits sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy.
  • Specifically…
    • Hiring
      • An employer cannot refuse to

hire a pregnant woman because

of her pregnancy,

    • Pregnancy and Maternity Leave
      • An employer may not single out

pregnancy-related conditions for

special procedures to determine

an employee's ability to work.

      • If an employee is temporarily unable

to perform her job because of her pregnancy, the employer must treat her the same as any other temporarily disabled employee.

      • Pregnant employees must be permitted to work as long as they are able to perform their jobs.
      • Employers must hold open a job for a pregnancy-related absence the same length of time jobs are held open for employees on sick or disability leave.
illegalization of marital rape
Illegalization of Marital Rape
  • Many United States rape statutes precluded the prosecution of spouses, including estranged, or even legally separated couples.
  • In 1975 South Dakota became the first U.S. state to remove this exception.
  • In 1993, North Carolina became the last state to remove the exemption.
  • However, as of 1999, 33 of 50 U.S. states regarded spousal rape as a lesser crime.
no fault divorce
No-Fault Divorce
  • No-fault divorce is a divorce in which the dissolution of the marriage does not require proof of wrongdoing by either party.
  • In 1970, California became the first state to pass no-fault divorce.
  • In 2010, New York became the last state.
title x 1970
Title X (1970)
  • Allots federal funds to a network of community-based clinics that provide contraceptive services, related counseling, and other preventative health services to low-income women and families.
    • Services include: contraception, breast and pelvic exams, breast and cervical cancer screenings, STD screening and treatment, HIV testing and counseling, and pregnancy counseling.
  • Signed into law by President Nixon
title ix 1972
Title IX (1972)
  • Portion of the Education Amendments of 1972
  • States that:
    • No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance...
  • In short, Prohibits sex discrimination in schools whether academic or athletic.
  • Major effects on the equal creation and funding of women’s athletics
  • Signed into law by President Nixon