11. Background to women's movement of 1960s in USA

  • Created by: Alasdair
  • Created on: 04-06-17 20:13
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  • Background to women's movement of 1960s
    • National Organisation for the Women's movement
      • 1966
      • NOW
      • Aim:
        • 'full participation in the mainstream of American society' and 'a truly equal'
        • More difficult aims
        • Provided clear focus
    • New Kind of feminism
      • Challenged basis of women's role in society
      • Influenced by writers such as Betty Friedman
      • Demands for political and social change underpinned by ideology from early French revolution after 1789
    • Study published in 1963
      • Commissioned by JFK
      • 'Report on American Women'
      • Worked by some women
      • Found unequal pay, opportunity, political participation and status disturbing
    • By 1960s, movement for change
      • JFK's 'New Frontier'
        • Not clearly defined
        • But gave impression of change needed after long period of stagnation
    • Betty Friednan's book: 'The Feminine Mystique'
      • 1963
      • Key text in administration
      • Expressed (mainly middle-class) women's discontent with post-war period
    • LBJ
      • Following Kennedy
      • Maintained emphasis on reform with rapid series of domestic measures
      • Dealt with wide range of issues from civil rights to healthcare and education
        • To create what Johnson called 'Great Society'
      • Re-emergence of what was important to US society in 1960s and especially after Kennedy's death led to reconsideration of role of women
    • New impetus for reform faced similar problems to other expressions of political concern by women
      • It was not united in its aims or strategy
      • It faced considerable conservative opposition, often from women
      • Neither of political parties took up causes directly
      • Radical supporters often alienated mainstream support
    • Issues went way beyond what suffrage organisations worked within existing systems and wanted national laws
    • Although women's groups, which were inspired or energised by this new feminism, were diverse, they did not share overall aim of equality in key areas, such as education, employment and political organisations
    • Even breakaway groups like Women's Equity League Action (which rejected NOW's support for abortion-law reform) pressed for equality in education, bringing action against 300 schools and colleges that seemed to be discriminating against women.
    • NOW brought legal actions against employers who broke 1967 executive order against sex discrimination by companies with federal contracts


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