Special Sub-Topic: Women's Lib: Ride the Second Wave!
|If there's a Second Wave of American feminism that began in the 1960s, there must have been a First Wave. When approximately did that take place?|
1848-1920. The First Wave began with the Women's Rights Conference at Seneca Falls, NY, and it ended with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920 -- giving women the right to vote universally in the United States. The first wave is often called the Suffragist Movement because by the end of it, it had been reduced, to an extent, to the one issue of suffrage (the right to vote). The period in between has traditionally been considered "dead", but revisionist scholars look at it differently. (But that's a subject for another quiz!)
|Many court cases gave impetus to the Women's Liberation movement. One particular Supreme Court case struck down a state ban on contraceptives for married couples, as the Justices cited a Constitutional right to privacy. Which case is it?|
Griswold v. Connecticut (1965). Griswold v. Connecticut was the first decision in which Justices explicitly discussed "zones of privacy" guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Eisenstadt v. Baird concerned contraception for *unmarried* couples. Roe v. Wade dealt with abortion. United States v. Virginia dealt with the admission of women to the Virginia Military Institute, the oldest and one of the best military colleges in the USA.
|An early group in the Second Wave in the 1960s, Women Strike for Peace (WSP) used their status as middle-class mothers to demonstrate on several key issues while avoiding the label "communist" or "radical". Which of these was NOT among them?|
wifebeating among military personnel. The contaminated milk issue was actually part of their stance against nuclear weapons, as they pointed out that milk showed evidence of radioactive isotopes. Women Strike for Peace has done much work since then protesting US military presence in Latin America and elsewhere. Today the group, also known as Women for Peace, works primarily for international disarmament, but has also voiced concern against the USA PATRIOT Act.
|One of the most famous incidents of the Second Wave was a protest that garnered extraordinary media coverage. In 1968, women held a protest of the Miss America pageant and the unrealistic expectations for women's beauty. What did they do?|
They threw girdles, makeup, saucepans, and curlers into a trash can.. You picked the bra-burning didn't you? It never happened! After throwing "instruments of female torture" into the trash can, they had planned to burn them but the police prevented them. (Despite this, the misrepresentation of the "bra-burning feminist" took hold in news media eager to trivialize the issues.) Although they did manage to get inside the convention hall and unfurl a banner and shout slogans, they did not cause any delays or prevent contestants from entering, or injure anyone. They also crowned a sheep in protest.
|As the second wave of feminism gained momentum, student and faculty activism led to the development of Women's Studies. The first such course was at Cornell University in 1969. The first Women's Studies department was at which university?|
San Diego State College (now San Diego State University). It is now possible to get a Ph.D. in Women's Studies in the USA. You can also get Ph.D.s in more traditional disciplines, but specialize in area like women's history, gender and sexuality, and so forth. Very few institutions of higher learning lack some kind of specialized study (be it a department, an institute, a certification, etc.) in women's issues.
|For a brief time there was a generation gap in the women's movement between liberals and radicals. Older women in the movement came from a liberal tradition rooted in the Progressive movement of the early twentieth century and in part from women's labor struggles. How did younger women, particularly students, in the 1960s get involved in the radical branch of the women's movement? |
as a result of the discrimination they faced in the civil rights movement. A lot of young women became radicalized as a result of their work in other social movements, especially the civil rights movement. They were unhappy in being assigned menial roles in groups like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and being treated, frankly, as sex objects by the male leaders. (It was the time of the Sexual Revolution as well.) They sought more structural changes in relations between men and women on a personal level, for true social and cultural equality, in addition to formal equality under the law (the emphasis of the liberals). Read more about this in "Daring to Be Bad" by Alice Echols.
|Many changes in the law were increasing women's rights, but sometimes they fell short of what was hoped for, and spurred activists on. For instance, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 required equal pay for equal work regardless of sex. Although the Equal Opportunity Commission was supposed to enforce this law, it failed to do so effectively due to lack of funding. What else, besides this, gave impetus to the women's liberation movement?
all of these (the publication of Betty Friedan's best-selling "Feminine Mystique", networks formed by JFK's Commission on the Status of Women, the anti-ERA stance of organized labor). The influence of Betty Friedan's book cannot be understated, nor can be the importance of the President's Commission on the Status of Women, which was actually created so the administration could to help women *without* supporting the ERA. Why?
Labor unions (and the Northern Democrats aligned with them) opposed the ERA because they wanted to preserve protective legislation for women (which they hoped eventually to extend to men). Interestingly, Republicans and southern Democrats favored the ERA through the 1960s.
|The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was intended to guarantee equal rights and equal protection for women (as the Fourteenth did for people of color). It was approved by Congress and endorsed by Richard Nixon in 1972. Congress set a deadline for ratification by 38 states by March 22, 1979. How many states had approved it by then?|
35. So near, and yet so far! Congress voted to extend the deadline to 1982. During this time, some states rescinded their ratification (although the legality of such an action is under dispute). Ronald Reagan also became elected to office, and the second wave of feminism, while flourishing in academia, began to suffer setbacks in the 1980s, thanks to the growing strength of the conservative movement in politics. With insufficient states supporting it, the ERA expired in 1982.
|Another focus of the Second Wave was violence against women, particularly domestic violence and the relatively new legal concept of marital rape. In 1976, which state of the Union enacted the first law forbidding a husband from forcing sex upon his wife? |
Nebraska. Many other reforms to rape law in the USA occurred during this 1970s and 1980s including increased protection of victims' privacy and the recognition of the right of self-defense, including homicide, against a rapist. The fight to make marital rape recognized in all 50 states continued through the 1990s.
|Let's end on a positive note. President Carter proclaimed March 8, 1980 as National Women's History Week. That same year, who co-sponsored the first Joint Congressional Resolution proclaiming a "National Women's History Week 1981", which eventually became a permanent Women's History Month? (Think about the dates.)|
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) and Rep. Barbara Mikulski (D). Yes, I'm as surprised as you are, but at least it shows that opposite sides *can* find common ground. This is the same Orrin Hatch whose proposed amendment to the Constitution states, "A right to an abortion is not secured by this Constitution", and who published an anti-ERA publication in 1976. Politics makes strange bedfellows.
Another positive note: in 1975, Time Magazine declared the American Woman as its Person of the Year in recognition for the accomplishments of the women's movement.
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