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Identification and Evaluation of Sources

Categories Economic Inequality, Feminism, Society

Essay, Pages 9 (2048 words)

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Essay, Pages 9 (2048 words)

Section 1: Identification and Evaluation of Sources

The question being answered in the investigation is “To what extent did John F. Kennedy’s outlook on the Equal Pay Act of 1963 impact feminist movements in the United States and Britain in the 1960s and 1970s?” John F. Kennedy became president in 1960, and continued to advocate for the Equal Pay Act and approve of it when in 1963. However, John F. Kennedy couldn’t have been the only influence on the EPA.

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All of the research is from around the 1960s all the way to 1999, with a couple of sources as current as 2017. The two sources being observed are both secondary sources.

Source A

“Feminism” taken from a book made up of articles about the 70s impact on American, entitled The 1970s in America, is a essay titled feminism written by Winifred Whelan this article discusses the realization of women having abilities previously known as male like physical strength, mathematical abilities and aggression and men could have abilities labeled as female like being romantic, soft hearted and motherly to children leading to the realisation that all humans possess the ability to be whatever they are best at with no biological standards.

The purpose of this article is to define feminism and the changes that happened in the ’60s and ’70s . it also discussed how the topic of breast cancer became popular when a tv show called All In The Family brought attention to it from the mother finding a lump in her breast along with many other cases at the time like Happy Rockefeller and first lady Bennet Ford had been diagnosed with breast cancer and instead of keeping it private the announced it to the public making the topic widely known and discussed.

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Source B

“Women in the Workforce,” taken from a book, created from a collection of essays, entitled The 1960s in America, is an essay written by Grace Maria Marvin and was published in Hackensack on the Salem Press database. Written in 1999, Marvin’s article is a secondary source in discussing feminism in the 1960s. The purpose of this article is to raise awareness of the inequality of women in the workplace in the 1960s. It also sought to discuss organizations that arose in the 1960s and 1970s that revolved around feminism and feminist movements. Moreover, it discussed how women working impacted their households. It discussed organizations, the types of jobs women tended to have or were expected to have.

This source is valuable because it used statistics to verify its statements and findings. The capability of being able to provide hindsight is due to the article being a secondary source as opposed to a primary source.That being said, this source is also limited in that it doesn’t discuss John F. Kennedy, which is a very important component of the investigative question at hand. However, a lot of valuable information is given within the article that does a lot to display that there are plenty of other, and potentially more impactful, things that affected feminist movements in the 1960s and the 1970s.

Section 2: Investigation

In 1963, the Equal Pay Act was brought to and surpassed by the bicameral legislature vote. John F. Kennedy (JFK) was voted into office in 1960 and his inauguration took place in January 1961. He then continued to sponsor the act in 1962. Around this time, however, organizations like the National Organization for Women (NOW) were turning up and a lot of other things with ties to feminism were developing and adapting every day, as well. John F. Kennedy’s outlook on the Equal Pay Act of 1963, though positive, did not impact feminist movements as much as the lack of rights given to women in terms of economy and overall sexual health or the necessity of female employment that occurred during World War I.

In the late 1950s, women were still being paid “a median average wage only about three-fifths that of men,” and because many wanted to progress as a society in terms of the way that the two sexes were seen, The Equal Pay Act was an important stepping stone towards this equality from an economic standpoint. However, no one was going to simply wait around for JFK to approve the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Regardless, it cannot be argued that the passing of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was longed for, because it claimed that it “Prohibit[ed] sex-based discrimination in wages. The law requires equal pay for women and men for jobs in the same establishment that require substantially similar skills, effort, and responsibility and that are performed under similar working conditions.” Something everyone needed and/or wanted? Of course. Something to wait around for in hopes of approval? Absolutely not. Plenty of women were getting jobs even when the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) had yet to be officiated. In fact, in 1960, women made up approximately “forty percent of the United States labor force.” Granted, plenty of companies were simply hiring women in order to gain an “Unfair advantage” off of the wage gap. However, women still had jobs. In the 1960s, the number of women with an employment status increased and spread into previously “male-dominated areas and raised challenges to discriminatory practices in education, hiring, promotion, and salaries.” Women were very dedicated to this goal of equal pay, because “The personal became the political in the sense that women saw that many of their individual problems were systemic to the overall society and could not be solved by themselves alone.” The women of the 1960s wanted to pursue careers and earn their own money. It became evident to them that the difficulty in getting jobs was systemic as opposed to personal, so they adapted. In turn, they began to work on ways to level out the playing field when it came to jobs, employment, and wage. They wanted to eliminate the wage gap, and that goal would have continued whether JFK or any other president who approved the EPA, especially due to the dedication that NOW had towards the systematic bias.

One might think, why did jobs matter so much? Especially when not all women wanted, had, or even needed jobs. For some, economic inequality was not the only reason for feminist movements in the 1960s and 1970s. Plenty of women were more focused on their own sexual freedom and the freedom of their sex in general. Some were focused on both economic and sexual equality, either because they felt that both should be automatically given to them, or because they didn’t have a choice and they needed it to be given to them. In 1947, women “stayed home and stayed married.” But in the 1960s, the rules changed. In 1960, the birth control pill enabled women to have “greater control over when they would have children”, Roe V. Wade led to abortion being considered a constitutional right in the 1973 decision, and “first trimester abortions became legal on demand” and abortion became increasingly common, and the combat of necessity for traditional women’s roles in the household even led to lesbianism being addressed in society. Women realizing that they were being treated as inferior in terms of sexual health along with the inferiority complex created by the unnecessary wage gap led them to work towards leveling out the playing field. Though there is no direct proof, it is likely that one would be able to assume that JFK’s opinions had absolutely nothing to do with Roe v. Wade or the outcome that the court system came to in the end.

In Britain, though economic and sexual health were both very important, another thing that caused British women to begin to work towards movements was World War I. When the men were off to war, not only did the women have to support their households, but the society as a whole also needed the assistance. With the lack of workers, things didn’t run as smoothly and efficiently as they needed it to. So, the women pitched in because “Women’s ma[i]n business [was] not to help the world but only to build the people (men) who buil[t] the world.” Women’s roles only being to support the men in their lives, the women were told to return to their lives as stay home mothers when the men returned from war. This is likely what increased the amount of women in Britain wanting jobs. After already displaying and proving their capabilities, they were again determined as inferior the day the men returned home and fell back into their “conservative nature.” The women likely demanded to have their new found rights and jobs returned to them. They no longer felt like the stay at home mothers that they had been up until the point where the husbands and sons all went off to the war. Potentially angry or at least fairly unhappy about how the events unwinded, the women were capable and had obtained a purpose that they were not willing to simply throw away.

To conclude, though John F. Kennedy’s view on the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was positive, and likely gave many feminists a push to continue fighting for what they believed in, it was not as impactful towards the feminist movements as other aspects of the twentieth century. Economic instability and lack of sexual health rights gave women something to fight for that they believed in. They finally discovered their worth outside of motherhood and decided that they did not want to be shut out as inferior. However, JFK’s opinion is simply that. It is an opinion on something that has already been extensively fought for. It had even less impact on Britain not only due to distance, but also due to the work women had during World War I while all of the British troops were away at war. In reality, John F. Kennedy did little to progress the feminist movements in the 1960s and 1970s.

Section 3: Reflection

When learning about new topics, historians tend to gather information through research, analyze the data or information they have collected, and compare different sources that they may come across in order to determine the validity of the information that they come across. In pursuing my internal assessment, I realized that even if historians locate a multitude of sources, that amount becomes more and more limited once validity and value are determined in relation to the research topic. Another thing that historians do in order to pursue their topic is interpreting the sources. Because it was very difficult to find direct evidence about how John F. Kennedy’s stance on feminism impacted feminist movements, a lot of the sources used were more so used to prove that other things impacted it more, as opposed to displaying that John F. Kennedy impacted it less. Having to work around these two difficulties alone made me realize how difficult it is to be a historian. Because in some instances there is limited resources, and there is bias everywhere, being a historian cannot be easy. There is not nearly enough information about the things that historians need to learn about, and that is even after past historians have already looked into the topic. On the contrary, because history is hardly a subjective matter in the sense of reality, it should be easy to determine the validity of sources. But this also means that due to the lack of subjectivity, there can only be so much to gather proof about, and then it becomes more and more difficult for historians to delve deeper into potential research topics.

However, in discussing history, the reality is that all of it can still be interpreted different ways. For instance, properly identifying the extent that John F. Kennedy impacted feminist movements in the 1960s and 1970s can prove difficult, because there are many different sources that can differentiate, historian to historian. To go even further, potential bias can limit the value of these sources, but hindsight can also deliver more value to history. The challenge for historians is to know when hindsight will help or harm a research process, by considering whether it could potentially add to or take away from the research being done and the information being gathered considered, and analysed.

Cite this essay

Identification and Evaluation of Sources. (2019, Dec 19). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/identification-and-evaluation-of-sources-essay

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