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The Women’s Liberation Movement is the social debate that sought to remove forms of domination based on gender. For the last 100 years, it has been a worldwide debate. During Women’s Liberation, society made people believe that women were only meant to be housewives and be obedient to their husbands. Women were not considered smart enough for education, strong enough for sports, or wise enough for out-of-home jobs. As the women of this time felt that society was being sexist, they decided to draw a line.
The blooming of The Women’s Liberation movement made the world the resilient, genius, and improved place that it is. During the time of Women’s Liberation, a debate of wanting equality and wanting to be a housewife acted. Most women were tired of feeling like a lower standard, when the rest agreed that being a wife was the right “job” to have. The rare amount of wealthy women who were able to afford school, ended up being educated on “How to be a good wife” rather than job and health education.
It was up until a hand full of women decided to put their foot down, and publically express how they feel, to make the first steps in becoming equal individuals. In 1792, the first feminist named Mary Wollstonecraft published a book that inspired most women of this time. Her book, “A Vindication of the Rights of Women,” expressed the moral equality of sexes. She preached that women were capable of having an education while being a housewife at the same time, being that women were the educators for the children.
Wollstonecraft also argued that women could be friends with their husbands, rather than mere housewives.
She believed that women deserved the same fundamental rights as men, which inspired many other women to agree with her as well. People today still relate to this book and commend her for her truthful words. After all, at least 40 percent of wives today make more than their husbands (Sink 1). In 1855, a woman named Lucky Stone took a huge step for women pride. She was the first woman to keep her last name after marriage. “A wife should no more take her husband’s name than he should hers.
My name is my identity and must not be lost” (Stone 1). Stone also was a supporter of the Women’s Suffrage and was responsible for recruiting Susan B. Anthony and Julia Ward Howe to the movement. Today, Lucy Stone is still idolized and quoted by countless women. It is brave women like Stone that set world changing trends that will live on forever (20, Read A…1).
As woman continued to take a stand, a countless number of changes continued to happen. The University of Iowa was the first college to allow woman, giving them an opportunity to educate themselves in whatever career they like. Later on, the birth rate for children dropped because condoms became available. Woman now had the opportunity to control their bodies. Another brave woman by the name of Judy Brady wrote one of the most influential essays of The Women’s Liberation Movement. In “I Want a Wife,” she speaks out against the stereotypes of a contemporary housewife, and quotes men on their expectations of their ideal wife.
Each quote in her passage consisted of a man wanting the stereotypical housewife that pampered their every need. Men during this time were blinded by society, only considering women good enough for pampering. In this passage, Brady spoke as a woman through the eyes of a man, and opened the eyes of many women. Women’s fight for equal rights lived on, as they were winning their battle in more ways than one (Watrous 1). In 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified, allowing women the right to vote. This was a ginormous step for women. This fight for equality was named the “first wave of feminism.”
The “second wave” of Women’s Liberation was during World War II. Society created new labor jobs like food processing, working in factories, and working on the farm. During this time, over six million women had jobs. Around 200,000 women served in the military and over three million women worked for Red Cross. Women were becoming more and more confident, knowing that they are just as equal as men (Sink 1). The “third wave” of Women’s Liberation took place during 1949, when Simone de Beauvoir, a French author wrote her book, “The Second Sex.” Beauvoir portrays that women are not equal to men, and are just another body.
She preached about women being on a lower level than men, and having a sense of “mystery.” She argued that when it came to race, class, and region, all stereotypes were true. This created a rampage of disagreement for the women of this time. As a result, women strived to reach a further sense of equality (Sink 1). During the 1950’s, only a rare amount of women were permissible to get educated, depending on their wealth.
The few women who were brave enough to attend school, ended up being educated on nonsense like “How to be a Good Wife,” from a 1950’s high school economics text book. In present days, Economics is the study of the manufacture, supply and consumption of wealth in human society; not the study of an ideal wife. In “How to be Good Wife,” the passage gives about ten exaggerated steps on how to be a good wife. So ludicrous and exaggerated, women found it rather humorous.
It was in the 1950’s where the last of the “ideal wife” stereotype lived (Snopes.com 1). Up until the 1960’s, drastic change happened. The votes for men and women became equal. It became the first step in Women’s Liberation created the first type of birth control for women. Women started to take control over their own bodies and it prevented them from physical abuse. In earlier years, it was unheard of to prevent women from unwanted pregnancies. This now allowed women to take a stand on their reproductive rights.
It was known that women were becoming much stronger and more vocal individuals. Eventually, President John F. Kennedy approved the Commission on the Status of Women, allowing them to have employment, Social Security, education, and tax laws. Women’s rights were becoming more of an interest, as courts faced cases that dealt with the reproductive rights for women. By 1963, The Equal Pay act was proclaimed, making an equal pay mandatory for men and women with the same job. A year later, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, to protect women from being discriminated in the work environment. It was enforced in 1965 (Sink 1).
Although the Equal Pay Act and Civil Rights Act were announced, it did not stop women from being discriminated behind the law. In June 1966, a feminist named Betty Friedan and twenty-eight other women founded the National Organization for Woman (NOW). The purpose for this organization was to “take action” and have equal partnership with men. This organization became tremendously popular and had about 1,037 members by 1967. To spread their information, they created petitions, protests, and meetings.
NOW law suited any companies that violated a woman’s right to equality. Resulting in their hard work and dedication, the Equal Rights Amendment was revised. It was no longer a matter of the right to vote for women, but to now be recognized as a citizen and individual. The Equal Rights Amendment was permitted by both houses of Congress and was sent to be approved by all states. This was one of the biggest steps of The Women’s Liberation Movement. NOW continued to strive for rights and reached about 100,000 members by the end of 1979. Today, NOW has about 500,000 members and 550 chapters in all 50 states.
It is one of the largest organizations of feminist activists in the world (Sink 1). Although women came a long way and made history, it did not mean they had the support of everyone throughout this time. Women had to put up a fight to get equal rights. Men during the time of Women’s liberation became abusive, bitter, and cold-hearted. They felt as if their masculinity was being taken away which causes countless problems for women. At the end of each and every day, men still fought to be the dominant person in the house hold. People also felt that women had a different “fait” than men. People argued that women are different than men through nature meaning that women are elaborated by femininity while men are by masculinity. Women had to change their lifestyle and that was not ratified by everyone.
Changing what seemed as tradition took a lot of families out of their comfort zones. Many women also felt that being rebellious might have ruined their family’s and decided to live in the way of “tradition.” Another controversy of women’s liberation was the name “liberation” itself. It was said that women should not have “liberation” as individuals, but as a whole or “sisterhood” because they felt women would take it too far. As the sisterhood they were, they supported all women, even gays.
It was the gays, however, that dealt with fire more than anyone. The gay women of this time became strong with their sisterhood, allowing them to gain confidence in their sexual orientation. This caused a lot of chaos because men and many women were against gays back then. It was considered ludicrous and abnormal.Men did not give up their male dominance without a fight. In the 1960s, women stopped being dependant of men, to fight for their freedom as women.
Women had to meet separately because they could not organize their independence with men in the room. Men did not become less sexist and simply agree to give women the right to vote or legalize birth control. It was because of their individual ability to educate men. Women’s liberation did not only have problems in the past, but it has caused a few conflicts that people still deal with today. One for example, is abortions. After women were legally allowed to have abortions, the number of abortions started to rise.
The pro-choice movement s have stated, “It’s not a baby, it’s a clump of cells.” Millions of women who have aborted their babies have realized that that was an immense lie. There have been about 50 million USA abortions, and many millions of women now live with the guilt of killing their baby. Another present-day issue that is blamed on women’s liberation is porn. Porn makes women less valuable to men, which changes the balance of power between men and women. Sex is a powerful motivator and not too many years ago, if a man wanted to see a woman naked, he would pretty much have to marry one. Now any man is able to see countless women naked on TV, the internet, or stages. This changes the balance of power because this makes women less appreciated to men.
This has led many women to believe that if they don’t give themselves sexually to a man before marriage, that he won’t ever marry her, which is backwards. Liberals who talk about women’s rights keenly support what is hurting women. People believe that today’s liberated woman have surpassed the main goal of why women’s liberation started in the first place; equality. For women who want to marry, the “new” stereotypes of women have made it much harder. Progressive change is made by the actions of troubled people who fight for freedom. The event of women’s liberation is no different.
Through an independent movement, women have won victories that they could have not won individually. The inequalities that continue between men and women are political problems that need a solution. The problems between sexes are not due to miscommunication or lack of understanding. Instead, it is a power imbalance between men and women.
While progress has been made since the 60s, an all-woman movement for the liberation of women is still necessary and will be until we have achieved the elimination of oppression based on sex.Women overcame this battle together, thanks to the many few women who spoke out when they were being degraded.
The bravery of these women changed the world for the better. After decades of battle, society now understands that women are not only capable of being house wives, but are capable of being wives, doctors, artists, and educators. Although the discrimination of women still exists, it is close to extinction. One day very soon, we will see the first woman President, because women have proven we are just as capable.
20, Read A Declaration of Independence for Women Ratified by 100 Signers on July. National Parks Service. National Parks Service, 17 Mar. 2013. Web. 20 Mar. 2013. Sink, Nancy. “Women’s Liberation Movement.” Women’s Liberation Movement. N.p., Dec. 2008. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. “Snopes.com: How to Be a Good Wife.” Snopes.com: How to Be a Good Wife. N.p., 3 June 2008. Web. 19 Mar. 2013. Watrous, Lucinda. “Judy Brady’s Why I Want a Wife.” Yahoo!
Contributor Network. N.p., 27 Feb. 2008. Web. 20 Mar. 2013.
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