Second Wave Feminist Movement

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The Feminist Movement as a Counterculture in the 1960s

The Civil Rights social movement easily became one of the biggest in American history. Social movements can be described as informal groups of people who focus on political or social issues and address them in a powerful way to attempt to make a change in society. The goal of a social movement is to change the immoral ways of society, but with every social change comes a new generation. A generation that lived before the change, a generation that lived during the change, and a generation that thrived from the movements results. The women’s rights movement that first began to stir in the 1840s was focused on giving women more equality in political, social, and economic statuses. (Foner) While women began to gain rights in the political world in the 1920s, they still suffered from the stereotype of gender roles in their homes. This is when the second wave of feminism came into play, women in the 1920s and 30s began to refuse the stereotypical norm of what a women should be, should act like, should fake. And once the 1960s began, women took society by storm. Grabbing the bull by the horns, like the women in The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace by Lynn Povich, a non-fiction book based on the lives of the women working at Newsweek in the 1960s, said “we didn’t want to over throw the system. We were  proud to be part of a powerful and liberal institution like Newsweek; we wanted to transform it to make it better for women.”  At the time, Newsweek would only  hire women as researchers, never as actual writers. But as the fight for the feminism movement continued to grow throughout history to be seen as a counterculture,  the women of the 60s (and the women who fought before them, the women who were too young fully understand but fought regardless) it was more than just a moment in history when women who were more than capable to do far more than research a story for another write, but to finally write stories themselves and receive full credit, cover stories no less. It was freedom because “we were women in transition, raised in one era and coming of age in another, very different time.” (Povich)

When the few available careers to women as teachers, nurses, and secretaries were no longer enough for the women of the 1960s, Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique catapulted their inner-most thoughts of stay-at-home moms across America; with quotes such as “each suburban wife struggles with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night- she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question– ‘Is this all?” and “we have gone on too long blaming or pitying the mothers who devour their children, who sow the seeds of progressive dehumanization, because they have never grown to full humanity themselves. If the mother is at fault, why isn’t it time to break the pattern by urging all these Sleeping Beauties to grow up and live their own lives?” Inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, women felt as if their labor in the movement was looked down upon and discriminated against, just as whites were discriminating against blacks. But in 1964 when the Civil Rights Act prohibited discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, national origin, and religion – its title VII protected women under the same law as well. The Feminine Mystique quickly became a best seller and forced women into realizing that homemaking stole  them of the possibilities of their own individualism. As women jumped at the chance to work in industries while their husbands were off at work, some of them thrived – loving their new lives as laborers and money-makers. Until their husbands returned and not only expected their wives to return to their proper gender role but enforced them to.

Later in 1966, the National Organization for Women (NOW) focused on making women’s participation in all aspects of American life a possibility. NOW became “a groundswell of women, whose growth began among the President’s Commission on the Status of Women and the state commission was reinforced by labor union and civil rights activist had emerged to insist on women’s equal rights.” (DuBois) NOW played a large part within putting the women’s rights movement on the political map. The women’s movement  knew it’s “influence is said to depend on understanding the rules and playing within them, being willing to make the appropriate compromises, and emphasizing what is possible, even at the cost of amending to abandoning fundamental demands.” NOW founded the Legal Defense of Education Form that defended women in court cases against sexism, mainly focused on higher education cases which continues to advocate in women cases today. (Clemens) By the early 1970s, NOW raised up to $300,000 in large metropolitan areas and college towns. Choosing these areas, women placed themselves in the mecca for media attention and in doing so NOW became more than just a lobby group, they grew to over 100,000 memberships.

One of the basic concepts of keeping women at home was to have them reproduce and then raise their children. When the women’s movement began to break out, women began to realize if they could choose when to have children, they could choose to work. Preventing pregnancy to have a career drove women to fight even more for what they believed could lead  them to a more fulfilling life, having access to children’s facilities and care also became a focus behind the career-driven women. However, society was not as thrilled with the idea of preventing women’s reproduction, “to bring women’s reproduction under control was thus to promote women’s freedom.” (Granzow) The freedom to choose whether a woman wanted to be a mother or not, was an unthinkable power to give to women in the 1960s, seen as being a selfish choice. In 1960, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the birth control pill. Planned Parenthood gave a great deal of attention to fighting for abortions. The Griswold v. Connecticut Supreme Court case was the case of Estelle Griswold, president of Planned Parenthood Connecticut, she opened a birth control clinic in direct danger of Connecticut’s birth control bans. Griswold won the case and evidently lead to the legalization of birth control throughout America. Later in 1973, Planned Parenthood raised the awareness of abortion in Roe v. Wade when the Supreme Court repealed laws authorizing a woman to receive spousal or parental consent for abortions. In 1968, Planned Parenthood published “11 Million Teenagers,” which focused on teen pregnancy in America.

The women’s movement gave women around the world the opportunity to yell “girls rule” from the rooftops. Now more than ever, women are standing up for what they believe in, standing up for their right in the work place, standing up for their right to choose and to have choices. The women’s movement is as prevalent today as it has been throughout history, because the social movement involved out daughters, our mothers, our sisters, and our brothers.

Bibliography

Clemens, Elisabeth S. “Social Service Review.” Social Service Review, vol. 80, no. 2, 2006, pp. 360–362. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/381135.

DuBois, Ellen, Lynn Dumenil. Through Women’s Eyes, An American History. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2016, Print.

Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty!: an American History. W.W. Norton & Co., 2014.

Kara Granzow. “De-Constructing ‘Choice’: The Social Imperative and Women’s Use of the Birth Control Pill.” Culture, Health & Sexuality, vol. 9, no. 1, 2007, pp. 43–54. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/4005549.

Povich, Lynn. The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace. PublicAffairs, 2016

Media

“Birth Control.” WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/ss/slideshow-birth-control-options.

“Creating a Feminist Revolution, NOW and Forever” https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=Phr6UF-zJB4

“National Organization for Women’s Logo.” National Organization for Women, now.org.

“The Good Girls Revolt Book Image.” Lynn Povich, http://www.lynnpovich.com/

_i_the_good_girls_revolt_how_the_women_of_newsweek_sued_their_bosses_and_changed_111 485.htm.

Feminist Movement

 

The Feminist Movement as a Counterculture in the 1960s

The Civil Rights social movement easily became one of the biggest in American history. Social movements can be described as informal groups of people who focus on political or social issues and address them in a powerful way to attempt to make a change in society. The goal of a social movement is to change the immoral ways of society, but with every social change comes a new generation. A generation that lived before the change, a generation that lived during the change, and a generation that thrived from the movements results. The women’s rights movement that first began to stir in the 1840s was focused on giving women more equality in political, social, and economic statuses. (Foner) While women began to gain rights in the political world in the 1920s, they still suffered from the stereotype of gender roles in their homes. This is when the second wave of feminism came into play, women in the 1920s and 30s began to refuse the stereotypical norm of what a women should be, should act like, should fake. And once the 1960s began, women took society by storm. Grabbing the bull by the horns, like the women in The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace by Lynn Povich, a non-fiction book based on the lives of the women working at Newsweek in the 1960s, said “we didn’t want to over throw the system. We were  proud to be part of a powerful and liberal institution like Newsweek; we wanted to transform it to make it better for women.”  At the time, Newsweek would only  hire women as researchers, never as actual writers. But as the fight for the feminism movement continued to grow throughout history to be seen as a counterculture,  the women of the 60s (and the women who fought before them, the women who were too young fully understand but fought regardless) it was more than just a moment in history when women who were more than capable to do far more than research a story for another write, but to finally write stories themselves and receive full credit, cover stories no less. It was freedom because “we were women in transition, raised in one era and coming of age in another, very different time.” (Povich)

When the few available careers to women as teachers, nurses, and secretaries were no longer enough for the women of the 1960s, Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique catapulted their inner-most thoughts of stay-at-home moms across America; with quotes such as “each suburban wife struggles with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night- she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question– ‘Is this all?” and “we have gone on too long blaming or pitying the mothers who devour their children, who sow the seeds of progressive dehumanization, because they have never grown to full humanity themselves. If the mother is at fault, why isn’t it time to break the pattern by urging all these Sleeping Beauties to grow up and live their own lives?” Inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, women felt as if their labor in the movement was looked down upon and discriminated against, just as whites were discriminating against blacks. But in 1964 when the Civil Rights Act prohibited discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, national origin, and religion – its title VII protected women under the same law as well. The Feminine Mystique quickly became a best seller and forced women into realizing that homemaking stole  them of the possibilities of their own individualism. As women jumped at the chance to work in industries while their husbands were off at work, some of them thrived – loving their new lives as laborers and money-makers. Until their husbands returned and not only expected their wives to return to their proper gender role but enforced them to.

Later in 1966, the National Organization for Women (NOW) focused on making women’s participation in all aspects of American life a possibility. NOW became “a groundswell of women, whose growth began among the President’s Commission on the Status of Women and the state commission was reinforced by labor union and civil rights activist had emerged to insist on women’s equal rights.” (DuBois) NOW played a large part within putting the women’s rights movement on the political map. The women’s movement  knew it’s “influence is said to depend on understanding the rules and playing within them, being willing to make the appropriate compromises, and emphasizing what is possible, even at the cost of amending to abandoning fundamental demands.” NOW founded the Legal Defense of Education Form that defended women in court cases against sexism, mainly focused on higher education cases which continues to advocate in women cases today. (Clemens) By the early 1970s, NOW raised up to $300,000 in large metropolitan areas and college towns. Choosing these areas, women placed themselves in the mecca for media attention and in doing so NOW became more than just a lobby group, they grew to over 100,000 memberships.

One of the basic concepts of keeping women at home was to have them reproduce and then raise their children. When the women’s movement began to break out, women began to realize if they could choose when to have children, they could choose to work. Preventing pregnancy to have a career drove women to fight even more for what they believed could lead  them to a more fulfilling life, having access to children’s facilities and care also became a focus behind the career-driven women. However, society was not as thrilled with the idea of preventing women’s reproduction, “to bring women’s reproduction under control was thus to promote women’s freedom.” (Granzow) The freedom to choose whether a woman wanted to be a mother or not, was an unthinkable power to give to women in the 1960s, seen as being a selfish choice. In 1960, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the birth control pill. Planned Parenthood gave a great deal of attention to fighting for abortions. The Griswold v. Connecticut Supreme Court case was the case of Estelle Griswold, president of Planned Parenthood Connecticut, she opened a birth control clinic in direct danger of Connecticut’s birth control bans. Griswold won the case and evidently lead to the legalization of birth control throughout America. Later in 1973, Planned Parenthood raised the awareness of abortion in Roe v. Wade when the Supreme Court repealed laws authorizing a woman to receive spousal or parental consent for abortions. In 1968, Planned Parenthood published “11 Million Teenagers,” which focused on teen pregnancy in America.

The women’s movement gave women around the world the opportunity to yell “girls rule” from the rooftops. Now more than ever, women are standing up for what they believe in, standing up for their right in the work place, standing up for their right to choose and to have choices. The women’s movement is as prevalent today as it has been throughout history, because the social movement involved out daughters, our mothers, our sisters, and our brothers.

Bibliography

Clemens, Elisabeth S. “Social Service Review.” Social Service Review, vol. 80, no. 2, 2006, pp. 360–362. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/381135.

DuBois, Ellen, Lynn Dumenil. Through Women’s Eyes, An American History. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2016, Print.

Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty!: an American History. W.W. Norton & Co., 2014.

Kara Granzow. “De-Constructing ‘Choice’: The Social Imperative and Women’s Use of the Birth Control Pill.” Culture, Health & Sexuality, vol. 9, no. 1, 2007, pp. 43–54. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/4005549.

Povich, Lynn. The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace. PublicAffairs, 2016

Media

“Birth Control.” WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/ss/slideshow-birth-control-options.

“Creating a Feminist Revolution, NOW and Forever” https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=Phr6UF-zJB4

“National Organization for Women’s Logo.” National Organization for Women, now.org.

“The Good Girls Revolt Book Image.” Lynn Povich, http://www.lynnpovich.com/

_i_the_good_girls_revolt_how_the_women_of_newsweek_sued_their_bosses_and_changed_111 485.htm.

Grotesque

I believe what is grotesque about grunge is that the culture is immensely unafraid of making others uncomfortable in what they see beauty in. The “Kurt Cobian and the female grotesque” video on vimeo deliberately enforces feminism from the most popular man in the grunge world. Kurt Cobain wore eye make-up, super-skinny jeans, and long blond hair; challenging the societal norm of what man should look like or wear. While Kurt Cobain built a very large power behind feminist grunge, he critique what was seen as a given in society, challenged the happy-go-luck attitude of the time and thrived within a miserable demeanor, for men that were or weren’t for the feminism movement. Kurt Cobain’s artwork could also be seen as extremely grotesque. His art is filled with his interest of body parts, intestines, and his fascination with illness and reproduction.

Similar to Cobain’s artwork. Sue Williams and Cindy Sherman’s art pieces are filled with naked women, miserable facial expressions, pain, and weakness. While some of Cherman’s portraits are structured and fully clothed, others may be interpreted as vulgar and layer with mixed emotions. Williams’ artwork matches Cobain’s abstract style, the nakedness of the women, the pain or misery in their expressions and body language are there as well, but Williams seems to not have such a focus on the female’s reproductive system as Cobain captivates or as Sherman teases.

Early American Cinema Project

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What 80 Millions Women Want-? is a film from 1913, directed by Will Louis. Given that the Nineteenth Amendment was not ratified until 1920, this film depicted the fight women were going through for their right to vote. While the suffragettes and their cause was an incredibly real and honest fight, this silent film used overly-dramatic characters and focused half of the films time on the young lawyer, Robert Travers (Ronald Everett) and his relationship with Boss John Kelley (George Henry). What seems to be the subplot of the film is how Travers’ fiancé, Mabel played by Ethel Jewett, is a suffragette for then women’s rights movement – any focus on the women’s movement does not begin until Mabel joins the cause. While Travers supports his fiancés beliefs, the film continues to focus on his career as a lawyer and his fight against political corruption. Due to the silent aspect of the film, I was not able to understand exactly what sort of corruption the film was attempting to portray. If there had been some way to include how women’s rights could be seen as “changing the traditional role of a women,” the film would have hit the nail on the head for both the women’s movement and the political corruption trying to stop it. (JESSICAVELAZQUEZ2)

Gender is represented in this film highly stereotypically. The women are young, thin, and beautiful; through the the black and white filter it is easy to see the facial features of Caucasian-American women. Travers and his fellow male counterparts are depicted alike; young, thinly built, and handsome, while on the opposing side Kelley’s stomach is bloated and hanging harshly over his belt and a receding hairline. All the characters of which are living the role of Caucasian-Americans limiting the role of anyone colored to zero.

what80MillionWomenWant-jef

The truly female-empowering moment in the film is when Mabel does the detective work to free Travers from jail, where he is being held on circumstantial evidence. Mabel is the one that took the time and made the effort to find the real criminal who had the matching finger prints, proving the wrongful arrest of her lawyer fiancé. Mabel is depicted as the pivotal female character throughout the film, while she did save her fiancé from being wrongfully accused on a crime, she is also portrayed as a heroine instead of the typical damsel in distress role. While Mabel could have embodied the role of a female leader for the suffragettes movement, there was really nothing setting her apart of the supporting role of her lawyer fiancé and his political problems. This film did not “examine the circumstances that led states to adopt full, primary, or presidential suffrage prior to ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment.” (McCammon)

While the film had inherit flaws when viewing printed scripts that needed resolution adjustments, the moral of the film seemed to be stagnant on the corruption of the political system instead of the title role, which was a bit faded into the background, of what 80 million women wanted. Early American culture was represented in this film in a stereotypical form; gender, sexuality, and race in its usual conservative role. While the actors were a bit overly dramatic and the film lacked real women’s rights substance, it was set in 1910s New York City. In 1912, “Theodore Roosevelt’s Progressive (Bull Moose/Republican) Party becomes the first  national political party to adopt a women’s suffrage plank” was not depicted in 1903 “Mary Dreier, Rheta Childe Dorr, Leonora O’Rielly, and others from the Women’s Trade Union League of New York, an organization of middle- and working-class women dedicated to unionizing women and giving women the right to vote,” (Arroyo). Had the film focused on Roosevelt’s plank or the Women’s Trade Union League, it would have shed a far more emphasized light on the problems and prospects of the women’s movement, instead of “the ultimate sense of American optimism in the face of defeat.” (Sternheimer)

 

Bibliography

Arroyo, Carmen E. “Women’s Suffrage in New York State.” Women’s Suffrage in New York State. Assemblywomen, n.d. Web. 17 July 2017.

Jessicavelazquez2. “Family Values.” History 110. WordPress.com, 06 May 2015. Web. 17 July 2017.

McCammon, Holly J., et al. “How Movements Win: Gendered Opportunity Structures and U.S. Women’s Suffrage movements, 1866 to 1919.” American Sociological Review, vol. 66, no. 1, 2001, pp.49-70. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2657393.

Sternheimer, Karen. “Chapter 4: Pull Yourself up by Your Bootstraps.” Celebrity Culture and the American Dream: Stardom and Social Mobility. New York, NY: Routledge, 2015. 100. Print

What 80 Million Women Want. Dir. Will Loius. Perf. Ronald Everett, Ethel Jewett.  Unique Film Co., 1912. Http://sdsu.kanopystreaming.com/video/what-80-million-women-want.