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The Feminist movement. 1950s-1980s. Summary. 1950s – The Perfect Woman Beginning of the Feminist Movement Women in the Workforce Family Changes Sexual Revolution Legislative Action . Key Terms. Feminine Mystique Sexual Revolution Roe v. Wade ERA. 1950s – The Perfect Woman.

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  • 1950s – The Perfect Woman
  • Beginning of the Feminist Movement
  • Women in the Workforce
  • Family Changes
  • Sexual Revolution
  • Legislative Action
key terms
Key Terms
  • Feminine Mystique
  • Sexual Revolution
  • Roe v. Wade
  • ERA
1950s the perfect woman
1950s – The Perfect Woman
  • Societal Pressure for women to return to home and be good wives and mothers, idealized women at home if the family could afford it3
    • If they worked and didn’t need it they were considered selfish3
  • Women got married right out of high school or in college3
    • 1/3 of girls married by 192
  • Women had large families, about three to four children3
    • From 1940-1960: the number of families with 3 children doubled and the number of families with 4 children quadrupled3
1950s the perfect woman1
1950s – The Perfect Woman
  • Remaining single was undesirable and being single and pregnant was unacceptable3
  • It became no longer acceptable for a wife to shut her husband out of the bedroom, so effective female-controlled contraceptives were needed3, however birth control information classified as “obscene1”
  • 1951 average age of marriage drops to 20 years old for women2
beginning of the feminist movement
Beginning of the Feminist Movement
  • Women extremely active in Civil Rights Movement
    • Began to resent their subordinate status2
  • By 1960 36% of all women 16 and older worked for pay2
  • Median income of the working woman was 1/3 that of a man2
  • Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique
    • Describes her experience as a middle-class housewife
    • Image of woman as mother, wife, living through husband and children and giving up her own dreams2
beginning of the feminist movement1
Beginning of the Feminist Movement
  • Women waged protests against traditional womanhood such as the Miss American pageant2
  • National Organization for Women formed 1966
    • Filed over 1000 suits against sex discrimination2
  • In 1967 women were 50% of voters but held only 4% of state legislative seats and 2% of judgeships2
  • 1969 women were 40% of entire labor force in US2
    • Most of these jobs were secretaries, cleaning women, teachers, waitresses etc.
women in the workforce
Women in the Workforce
  • 1969 women were 40% of entire labor force in US
    • Most of these jobs were secretaries, cleaning women, teachers, waitresses etc.2
      • They earned 56% of the average male worker’s wage4
  • 1978: Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) prohibits women being fired, denied a job, or denied a promotion because they are pregnant5
family changes
Family Changes
  • Women fought for free child care, right for abortion and equal pay
  • 1965 married couples could obtain contraceptives legally2
  • 1960-1980
    • Married couples with children: 44.2% - 30.9%6
    • Men living alone: 4.3% - 8.6%6
    • Women living alone: 8.7% - 14%6
    • Never married: 17.3% - 22.5%6
sexual revolution
Sexual Revolution
  • Sexual Revolution – based upon the idea that women enjoyed sex just as much as men and should be able to enjoy it, clashed with traditional American values3
  • Right to abortion
    • Before 1970 1 million abortions done every year, only 10,000 of which were legal2
    • 1/3 of women having illegal abortions had to be hospitalized for complications2
    • Illegalizing abortions worked against poor because rich could afford to either have baby or have a safe abortion
    • Court actions to make abortions legal began in over 20 states between 1968-19702
    • 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decided states could prohibit abortions only in the last three months of pregnancy2
  • Our Bodies, Ourselves open book about formally taboo health issues2
  • Women began to speak out against rape2
  • Birth control
legislative action
Legislative Action
  • 1964 Civil Rights bill, conservatives hoped to defeat the entire bill by adding an amendment to outlaw discrimination on the basis of gender as well as race. First the amendment then the bill passed3
  • ERA – Equal Rights Amendment
    • Women leaders such as Gloria Steinem campaigned for Amendment that would eliminate gender discrimination
    • Amendment failed
  • Eisenberg, Bonnie, and Mary Ruthsdotter. "Living the Legacy:The Women's Rights Movement1848 - 1998." Living the Legacy. 2002. Web. 20 Mar. 2012. <>.
  • Zinn, Howard. A People's History of the United States: 1492-present. New York: HarperCollins, 2003. Print.
  • "Women in the 1950s." PBS. Web. 20 Mar. 2012. <>.
  • Geddes, Darryl. "Women in the Workplace." Cornell Chronicle Online. 19 Feb. 1998. Web. 20 Mar. 2012. <>.
  • Smith, Kristin E., and Amara Bachu. "Women's Labor Force Attachment Patterns and Maternity Leave: A Review of the Literature." Census Bureau Homepage. 31 Oct. 2011. Web. 20 Mar. 2012. <>.
  • Tompkins, Vincent. American Decades. Family Life ed. Vol. 8. Gale Cengage, 2000. Print.