Feminism, Barden and Sarah

Feminism in the Sixties



For years women struggled to be equal to men. Woman have been held back and have had their opportunities taken away from them because of the fact that they were women until 1848. Although the women’s right movement first began in 1848 in Seneca Fall, New York, it was popularized by John F. Kennedy’s creation of The President’s Commission on the Status of Women in 1961. Esther Peterson, the highest ranked woman in Kennedy’s Administration, persuaded the President to construct this document. This event kick started the movement for women’s rights.

So what?

In 1960 women in America were denied many rights such as reproductive and political rights. They fought hard to gain equal rights to men both at home and in the workplace. Women did not want to be seen as “beauty objects” and fought to change the way they were seen by men. In 1963, the Equal Pay Act was passed ensuring that women and men were paid equal salaries. Also in 1963, Betty Friedan published her book The Feminine Mystique introducing the “problem that has no name.” In 1965, Griswold v. Connecticut did away with anti-birth control laws, and gave a “right to privacy” to all U.S. citizens. In 1966, the National Organization for Women was organized by Betty Friedan and Pauli Murray. In 1964, the Civil Rights Act outlawed discrimination based on sex, race, and religion in the work place. In 1968, 100 women protested the Miss America beauty pageant because it measured woman’s worth with “physical attractiveness and charm.” Even though many obstacles were in place preventing American women from gaining equal rights, they still continued to fight for equality throughout the 1960s.



Although woman in America had problems with equality women in other countries had it worse. .In 1912, the Chinese government ordered the cessation of foot-binding. Foot-binding involved alteration of the bone structure so that the feet were only about 4 inches long. The bound feet caused difficulty of movement, which limited the activities of women. Women in China were treated poorly in both lower and upper class. In Greece the status of the woman varies from state to state, and in Ancient Athens woman had no legal personhood, until they got married. In Ancient Rome middle class women were treated the same as American women. They could not vote, be in the military or hold public office. Upper class women exercised political influence through marriage and motherhood. In Great Britain woman’s suffrage finally began to attract attention when the philosopher John Stuart Mill presented a petition in Parliament saying the inclusion of women’s suffrage in the Reform Act of 1867. In the same year Lydia Becker founded the first women’s suffrage committee, in Manchester which finally started to bring equality to women in Great Britain. 


Now what?

Today, women are allowed to vote, be in the military, go to college, receive equal pay, make decisions for themselves, and run for government office. Women are not just seen as homemakers or objects of beauty. Thanks to all of the hard work of feminists in the 1960’s women are considered men’s equal.