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The Woman's Liberation Movement - Term Paper Example

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The Woman's Liberation Movement

The American culture expected women to ‘keep the home.’ The television programs of the 1950’s clearly demonstrate this reality. Prior to the 1960’s and 1970’s women were commonly vilified and thought of as egocentric if their personal ambitions did not comprise cooking meals, cleaning, caring for children, and being the obedient wife of their husbands. The idea of feminism was one of scorn and mockery during this time. It was also understood to be opposed to the basic tenets of Christianity. The efforts of numerous women such as Gloria Steinum, Ruth Rosen and Betty Friedan during the 1960’ revitalized the women’s movement and laid the foundation for changes in both public perception of feminism as well as the law for all time. Although the women’s liberation movement is often understood as being of a uniform ideology it actually is very diverse consisting basically of two differing perspectives on feminist thought fundamentally divided by age and, radical and liberal. The significant achievement for the women’s liberation movement that began in the 1960’s was to give voice to very private matters such as domestic violence, date rape, workplace discrimination and sexual harassment by forcing these subjects into the public debate thus instigating changes concerning both social attitudes and legislation. The changes began when President John F. Kennedy formed the Commission on the Status of Women in 1961. Betty Friedan, an outspoken feminist was part of this commission. In 1966 Friedan created the National Organization for Women (NOW), the first new feminist organization in nearly 50 years. NOW was the initial and remains the most recognized but it was only beginning of the organized expression of the women’s movement. “The (women’s) movement actually has two origins, from two different strata’s of society, with two different styles, orientations, values, and forms of organization” (Freeman, 1971) These unaligned women’s groups were thought of as separate in structure and motive throughout the 1960’s but by 1970, these numerous groups loosely aligned by two uncommon composition and origin merged in the collective conscience of the American public under the familiar terminology of the women’s liberation movement. The first faction which included NOW, the Professional Women’s Caucus, the Federally Employed Women and the Women’s Equity Action League, the self-described ‘right-wing’ of the movement, whose demographic consisted largely of older women than other groups formed during the 1960’s. The older group consisted mainly of women who worked outside the home plus older homemakers who were sympathetic to the cause. The younger factions were generally college-aged young women who came from the civil rights movement. The women’s equality groups of the ‘younger generation’ heard the words and witnessed the efforts of the ‘older generation’ such as Betty Friedan, who wrote the very popular book, The Feminine Mystique, who said “A woman has got to be able to say, and not feel guilty, ‘Who am I, and what do I want out of life’? She mustn’t feel selfish and neurotic if she wants goals of her own, outside of husband and children” (“ ...Show more

Summary

The Woman's Liberation Movement The women’s suffrage movement, which arguably began with strong feminine voices such as Abigail Adams at the time of the country’s founding, succeeded in securing voting privileges for women via the 19th Amendment in 1920…
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