The Women’s Rights Movement
The women’s rights movement refers to political struggles to achieve rights claimed for women and girls of many societies worldwide.
Compare and contrast the first and second waves of feminism in the United States
- Second-wave feminism is a period of feminist activity that broadened the debate to a wide range of issues: sexuality, family, the workplace, reproductive rights, de facto inequalities, and official legal inequalities.
- The second wave of feminism in North America came as a delayed reaction against the renewed domesticity of women after World War II: the late 1940s post-war boom, which was an era characterized by unprecedented economic growth, a baby boom, and the move to family-oriented suburbs.
- In 1963, Betty Friedan wrote the bestselling book “The Feminine Mystique” in which she explicitly objected to the mainstream media image of women, stating that placing women at home limited their possibilities, and wasted talent and potential.
- The changing of social attitudes towards women is usually considered the greatest success of the women’s movement.
- Second-Wave Feminism: Second-wave feminism is a period in the history of feminism in America that broadened the debate to a wide range of issues: sexuality, family, the workplace, reproductive rights, de facto inequalities, and official legal inequalities.
- Betty Friedan: In 1963, Betty Friedan wrote the bestselling book “The Feminine Mystique” in which she explicitly objected to the mainstream media image of women, stating that placing women at home limited their possibilities, and wasted talent and potential.
- Roe v. Wade: Roe v. Wade (1973) is a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion; the Court ruled 7-2 that a right to privacy under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment extended to a woman’s decision to have an abortion, but that right must be balanced against the state’s two legitimate interests in regulating abortions: protecting prenatal life and protecting women’s health. Arguing that these state interests became stronger over the course of a pregnancy, the Court resolved this balancing test by tying state regulation of abortion to the trimesters of pregnancy.
Second-wave feminism is a period of feminist activity. In the United States, second-wave feminism, initially called the Women’s Liberation Movement, began during the early 1960s and lasted through the late 1990s. It was a worldwide movement that was strong in Europe and parts of Asia, such as Turkey and Israel, where it began in the 1980s, and it began at other times in other countries.
Whereas first-wave feminism focused mainly on suffrage and overturning legal obstacles to gender equality (i.e. voting rights, property rights), second-wave feminism broadened the debate to a wide range of issues: sexuality, family, the workplace, reproductive rights, de facto inequalities, and official legal inequalities. At a time when mainstream women were making job gains in professions, the military, the media, and sports in large part because of second-wave feminist advocacy, second-wave feminism also focused on a battle against violence with proposals for marital rape laws, establishment of rape crisis and battered women’s shelters, and changes in custody and divorce law. Its major effort was trying to get the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) added to the United States Constitution, an effort in which they were defeated by anti-feminists led by Phyllis Schlafly, who argued against the ERA, saying women would be drafted into the military.
Starting in the late 18th century, and throughout the 19th century, rights, as a concept and claim, gained increasing political, social and philosophical importance in Europe. Movements emerged which demanded freedom of religion, the abolition of slavery, rights for women, rights for those who did not own property and universal suffrage. In the late 18th century the question of women’s rights became central to political debates in both France and Britain. At the time some of the greatest thinkers of the Enlightenment, who defended democratic principles of equality and challenged notions that a privileged few should rule over the vast majority of the population, believed that these principles should be applied only to their own gender and their own race.
Betty Friedan (1960): Betty Friedan, American feminist and writer, wrote the best selling book “The Feminist Mystique. ” This book is widely credited with having begun second-wave feminism in the United States.
The second wave of feminism in North America came as a delayed reaction against the renewed domesticity of women after World War II: the late 1940s post-war boom, which was an era characterized by an unprecedented economic growth, a baby boom, a move to family-oriented suburbs, and the ideal of companionate marriages. This life was clearly illustrated by the media of the time; for example, television shows such as “Father Knows Best” and “Leave It to Beaver” idealized domesticity.
In 1960, the Food and Drug Administration approved the combined oral contraceptive pill, which was made available in 1961. This made it easier for women to have careers without having to leave due to unexpectedly becoming pregnant. The administration of President Kennedy made women’s rights a key issue of the New Frontier, and named women (such as Esther Peterson) to many high-ranking posts in his administration.
In 1963 Betty Friedan (), influenced by Simone De Beauvoir’s book “The Second Sex,” wrote the bestselling book “The Feminine Mystique” in which she explicitly objected to the mainstream media image of women, stating that placing women at home limited their possibilities, and wasted talent and potential. The perfect nuclear family image depicted and strongly marketed at the time, she wrote, did not reflect happiness and was rather degrading for women. This book is widely credited with having begun second-wave feminism.
Among the most significant legal victories of the movement after the formation of the National Organization of Women (NOW) were: a 1967 Executive Order extending full Affirmative Action rights to women, Title IX and the Women’s Educational Equity Act (1972 and 1974, respectively, educational equality), Title X (1970, health and family planning), the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (1974), the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, the outlaw of marital rape, the legalization of no-fault divorce, a 1975 law requiring U.S. Military Academies to admit women, and many Supreme Court cases, perhaps most notably Reed v. Reed of 1971 and Roe v. Wade of 1973. However, the changing of social attitudes towards women is usually considered the greatest success of the women’s movement.
By the early 1980s, it was largely perceived that women had met their goals and succeeded in changing social attitudes towards gender roles, repealing oppressive laws that were based on sex, integrating “boys’ clubs” such as military academies, the United States Armed Forces, NASA, single-sex colleges, men’s clubs, and the Supreme Court, and by accomplishing the goal of making gender discrimination illegal. However, the movement did fail, in 1982, in adding the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution, coming up three states short of ratification.
Gender discrimination refers to prejudice or discrimination based on gender, as well as conditions that foster stereotypes of gender roles.
Illustrate cases of gender discrimination and stereotypes
- Sexist attitudes are frequently based on beliefs in traditional stereotypes of gender roles, and is thus built into many societal institutions.
- Many of the stereotypes that result in gender discrimination are not only descriptive, but also prescriptive beliefs about how men and women “should” behave.
- Occupational sexism refers to discriminatory practices, statements, or actions based on a person’s gender which occur in a place of employment.
- Violence against women, including sexual assault, domestic violence, and sexual slavery, remains a serious problem around the world.
- Gender Role: a set of social and behavioral norms that are generally considered appropriate for either a man or a woman in a social or interpersonal relationship.
- stereotype threat: the experience of anxiety or concern in a situation where a person has the potential to confirm a negative stereotype about their social group.
- objectification: The process or manifestation of objectifying (something).
Gender discrimination, also known as sexism, refers to prejudice or discrimination based on sex and/or gender, as well as conditions or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on gender. Sexist mindsets are frequently based on beliefs in traditional stereotypes of gender roles, and is thus built into many societal institutions.
Gender stereotypes are widely held beliefs about the characteristics and behavior of women and men. Many of the stereotypes that result in gender discrimination are not only descriptive, but also prescriptive beliefs about how men and women “should” behave. For example, women who are considered to be too assertive or men who lack physical strength are often criticized and historically faced societal backlash. They can also facilitate or impede intellectual performance, such as the stereotype threat that lower women’s performance on mathematics tests, due to the stereotype that women have inferior quantitative skills compared to men’s, or when the same stereotype leads men to assess their own task ability higher than women performing at the same level.
Examples of Gender Discrimination
There are several prominent ways in which gender discrimination continues to play a role in modern society. Occupational sexism refers to discriminatory practices, statements, and/or actions based on a person’s gender which occur in a place of employment. Wage discrimination, the “glass ceiling” (in which gender is perceived to be a barrier to professional advancement), and sexual harassment in the workplace are all examples of occupational sexism. Violence against women, including sexual assault, domestic violence, and sexual slavery, remains a serious problem around the world. Many also argue that the objectification of women, such as in pornography, also constitutes a form of gender discrimination.
The Women’s Suffrage Movement
The Women’s Suffrage Movement refers to social movements around the world dedicated to achieving voting rights for women.
Discuss the historical events that culminated with women’s suffrage in America
- Within the United States, the first major call for women’s suffrage took place in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention.
- World War I provided the final push for women’s suffrage in America, as President Wilson’s stance that the war was being fought for democracy was countered by those who felt women’s disenfranchisement prevented America from being a true democracy.
- In 1919, the Senate passed the Nineteenth Amendment, giving women the right to vote, though the amendment would not be fully ratified until 1920.
- Through a constitutional amendment, reformers pursued state-by-state campaigns to build support for, or to win, residence-based state suffrage. Towns, counties, states, and territories granted suffrage, in full or in part, throughout the 19th and early 20th century.
- suffrage: To have the right to vote by citizens of a particular state.
- Progressive Era: a period of social activism and political reform in the United States that flourished from the 1890s to the 1920s.
- Prohibition: A law prohibiting the manufacture or sale of alcohol.
The Women’s Suffrage Movement refers to social movements around the world dedicated to achieving voting rights for women. Within the United States, the first major call for women’s suffrage took place in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention. After the Civil War agitation for the cause resumed. In 1869, the Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution which gave black men the right to vote, split the movement. Campaigners such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton refused to endorse the amendment, as it did not give women the right to vote. Others, such as Lucy Stone and Julia Ward Howe, argued that if black men were enfranchised, it would help women achieve their goal.
The conflict caused two organizations to emerge, the National Woman Suffrage Association, which campaigned for women’s suffrage at a federal level and for married women to be given property rights. As well as the American Woman Suffrage Organization, which aimed to secure women’s suffrage through state legislation. After 1900, the groups made a new argument to the effect that women’s superior characteristics, especially purity, made their votes essential to promoting the reforms of the Progressive Era, particularly Prohibition, and exposing political corruption.
Women’s Suffrage in America
World War I provided the final push for women’s suffrage in America. When President Woodrow Wilson announced that the war was being fought for democracy, supporters of women’s suffrage protested that disenfranchising women prevented the United States from being a true democracy. In 1918, after years of opposition, Wilson changed his position to advocate for women’s suffrage as a war measure.
In June 1919, the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, giving women the right to vote, was brought before the Senate, and after a long discussion it was passed, with 56 ayes and 25 nays. It would take until August 1920 for enough state legislatures to ratify the amendment, thus making it the law throughout the United States.
In addition to their strategy to obtain full suffrage through a constitutional amendment, reformers pursued state-by-state campaigns to build support for, or to win, residence-based state suffrage. Towns, counties, states, and territories granted suffrage, in full or in part, throughout the 19th and early 20th century. As women received the right to vote, they began running for, and being elected to, public office. They gained positions as school board members, county clerks, state legislators, judges, and eventually as Members of Congress.
The Feminist Movement
The feminist movement refers to a series of campaigns for cultural, political, economic, and social equality for women.
Compare and contrast the three waves of feminism in the United States and their historical achievements
- The history of feminist movements has been divided into three “waves” by feminist scholars.
- The first wave focused on women’s suffrage; the second wave (early 1960s to the late 1980s) was concerned with cultural and political inequalities. The third wave, (starting in the 1990s) criticizes definitions of femininity that generalize the experiences of upper-middle-class white women.
- As a whole, the feminist movement affected change in Western society, including women’s suffrage, the right to initiate divorce proceedings and “no fault” divorce, the right of women to make individual decisions regarding pregnancy, and the right to own property.
- Other important advances in the women’s movement include the founding of the National Organization for Women, as well as the development of legislation prohibiting sexual harassment or discrimination based on gender.
- While women have made strides, they still fall behind men in important measures. They are still underrepresented in Congress, and overrepresented in what have traditionally been considered “women’s” professions (such as teachers or secretaries).
- In recent times, many American women have accomplished “firsts” in the 2000s. For instance, Nancy Pelosi became the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House.
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: A federal law enforcement agency that enforces laws against workplace discrimination. The EEOC investigates discrimination complaints based on an individual’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, genetic information, and retaliation for opposing a discriminatory practice.
- National Organization for Women: The largest feminist organization in the United States. It was founded in 1966 and has 500,000 contributing members. The six core issues that NOW addresses are abortion rights/reproductive issues, violence against women, constitutional equality, promoting diversity/ending racism, lesbian rights, and economic justice.
- feminist movement: The feminist movement refers to a series of campaigns for reforms on issues. such as reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay, women’s suffrage, sexual harassment, and sexual violence.
The Feminist Movement
The feminist movement (also known as the women’s movement or women’s liberation) refers to a series of campaigns for reforms on issues, such as women’s suffrage, reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay in the workplace, maternity leave, sexual harassment, and sexual violence. The movement’s priorities vary among nations and communities.
Women constitute a majority of the population and of the electorate in the United States, but they have never spoken with a unified voice for civil rights, nor have they received the same degree of protection as racial and ethnic minorities.
History of the Movement
The history of feminist movements has been divided into three “waves” by feminist scholars. The first wave refers to the feminist movement of the nineteenth through early twentieth centuries, which focused mainly on women’s suffrage.
The second wave, generally taking place from the early 1960s to the late 1980s, was concerned with cultural and political inequalities, which feminists perceived as being inextricably linked. The movement encouraged women to understand aspects of their own personal lives as deeply politicized and reflective of a sexist structure of power.
The third wave, starting in the 1990s, rose in response to the perceived failures of the second wave feminism. It seeks to challenge or avoid what it deems the second wave’s “essentialist” definitions of femininity, which often assumed a universal female identity and over-emphasized the experiences of upper-middle-class white women.
One of the most important organizations that formed out of the women’s rights movement is the National Organization for Women (NOW). Established in 1966 and currently the largest feminist organization in the United States, NOW works to secure political, professional, and educational equality for women. In 1972, NOW and other women activist groups fought to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution, which affirmed that women and men have equal rights under the law. Although passage failed, the women’s rights movement has made significant inroads in reproductive rights, sexual harassment law, pay discrimination, and equality of women’s sports programs in schools.
In 1980, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defined sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances or sexual conduct, verbal or physical, that interferes with a person’s performance or creates a hostile working environment. Such discrimination on the basis of sex is barred in the workplace by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and in colleges and universities that receive federal funds by Title IX. In a series of decisions, the Supreme Court has ruled that employers are responsible for maintaining a harassment-free workplace. Legislation such as this has helped to protect the rights of women in the workplace and at schools. The proposed ERA did have unintended consequences. For example, stay-at-home women did not agreed necessarily with women who worked steady schedules.
The Status of Women in the United States
As a whole, the feminist movement has brought changes to U.S. society, including women’s suffrage, the right to initiate divorce proceedings and “no fault” divorce, the right of women to make individual decisions regarding pregnancy (including access to contraceptives and abortion), and the right to own property. It has also led to increased employment opportunities for women at more equitable wages, as well as broad access to university educations. The feminist movement also helped to transform family structures as a result of these increased rights, in that gender roles and the division of labor within households have gradually become more flexible.
Rosemary Hennessy and Chrys Ingraham say that materialist feminisms grew out of Western Marxist thought and have inspired a number of different (but overlapping) movements, all of which are involved in a critique of capitalism and are focussed on ideology ‘s relationship to women. Marxist feminism argues that capitalism is the root cause of women’s oppression, and that discrimination against women in domestic life and employment is an effect of capitalist ideologies. Socialist feminism distinguishes itself from Marxist feminism by arguing that women’s liberation can only be achieved by working to end both the economic and cultural sources of women’s oppression. Anarcha-feminists believe that class struggle and anarchy against the state.
Despite this, many American women achieved many political firsts in the 2000s. In 2007, Nancy Pelosi became the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives. In 2008, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton became the first woman to win a presidential primary, winning the New Hampshire Democratic primary. In 2008, Alaska governor Sarah Palin became the first woman nominated for Vice President by the Republican Party. In 2009 and 2010, respectively, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were confirmed as Supreme Court Associate Justices, making them the third and fourth female justices.
Women in the Workplace
Women’s participation in the workforce has been a relatively recent phenomenon and is still associated with many continuing challenges.
Identify the barriers for equal participation of women in the workplace
- Particular barriers to equal participation in the workplace included a lack of access to educational opportunities; restrictions women entering or studying a field; discrimination within a field; and the expectation that mothers should be the primary childcare providers.
- Beginning in the 1970s, women began attending colleges and graduate schools in large numbers and entering professions like law, medicine, and business.
- Challenges that remain for women in the workplace include the gender pay gap, the “glass ceiling”, sexual harassment, and network discrimination.
- sexual harassment: intimidation, bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors.
- sexism: or gender discrimination is prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s sex or gender. Extreme sexism may foster sexual harassment, rape and other forms of violence.
Women’s participation in the workforce has been a relatively recent phenomenon. Until modern times, legal and cultural practices, combined with the inertia of longstanding religious and educational conventions, restricted women’s entry and participation in the workforce.
Particular barriers to equal participation in the workplace included a lack of access to educational opportunities; prohibitions or restrictions on members of a particular gender entering a field or studying a field; discrimination within fields, including wage, management, and prestige hierarchies; and the expectation that mothers, rather than fathers, should be the primary childcare providers.
Within the United States, World War I and World War II provided many new opportunities for women to participate in the workplace, including jobs as secretaries, salespeople, factory workers. Beginning in the 1970s, women began attending colleges and graduate schools in large numbers and entering professions like law, medicine, and business. Many scholars attribute this trend to the advent of the birth control pill, which allowed women to postpone pregnancy and marriage and focus instead on their education and careers. This transformation of women’s expectations had a profound effect on their conception of their own identity and still continues on today.
Challenges that remain for women in the workplace include the gender pay gap, the difference between women’s and men’s earnings due to lifestyle choices and explicit discrimination; the “glass ceiling”, which prevents women from reaching the upper echelons within their companies; sexism and sexual harassment; and network discrimination, wherein recruiters for high-status jobs are generally men who hire other men.
Women in American Politics
In recent decades, women have served in more political posts and organizations, but they remain underrepresented in comparison to men.
Analyze the role that women play in American politics, especially the involvement of African-American women in grassroots activism and institutional politics
- As of January 2011, 35 women have served as governors of U.S. states, with six women currently serving.
- There are currently 17 female members of the Senate, 12 Democrats and 5 Republicans.
- The first woman to serve as a justice in the U.S. Supreme Court was Sandra Day O’Connor, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
- African-American women have been involved in American political issues and advocating for the community since the American Civil War era through organizations, clubs, community-based social services, and advocacy.
- African-American women have been underrepresented in politics within the United States, but numbers still increase. The Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University states currently 13 African-American women serve in the 112th Congress, with 239 state legislators serving nationwide.
- U.S. Cabinet: The most senior appointed officers of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States, who are generally the heads of the federal executive departments.
- misogyny: Hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women.
As women campaigned for and eventually received the right to vote, they began running for, and being elected to, public office. They gained positions as school board members, county clerks, state legislators, judges and, eventually, shortly before ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, as members of Congress. In recent decades, women have been increasingly involved in American politics, serving as mayors, governors, state legislators, members of Congress, members of the U.S. Cabinet, and Supreme Court justices.
As of January 2011, 35 women have served as governors of U.S. states, with six women currently serving. The first elected female governor was Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming, who was sworn in on November 4, 1925. The first female governor elected without being the wife or widow of a past state governor was Ella T. Grasso of Connecticut, sworn in on January 8, 1975.
Women in the Government Posts
The first woman elected to Congress was Jeannette Rankin, a Republican from Montana who took office in 1917. Women have been elected to the House of Representatives from 44 of the 50 states. Thirty-nine women have served altogether in the Senate, with Hattie Caraway of Arkansas became the first woman to win election to that legislative body in 1932. There are currently 17 female members of the Senate, 12 Democrats and 5 Republicans.
Twenty-five women have served as U.S. Cabinet officials. The first woman to hold a Cabinet position was Frances Perkins, who was appointed Secretary of Labor by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933. Other prominent female Cabinet members include: Janet Reno, who served as the first female attorney general under President Bill Clinton; Madeline Albright, who served as the first female secretary of state under President Clinton; Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State under President George W. Bush; and Hillary Rodham Clinton, former First Lady, Senator from New York, Secretary of State under Barack Obama, and the first woman to be nominated for president by a major American political party.
African American women in politics
African-American women have been involved in American political issues and advocating for the community since the American Civil War era through organizations, clubs, community-based social services, and advocacy. Issues that deal with identity, racism, and sexism have been important to African-American women in the political dialogue.
Though women obtained the right to vote in the United States in 1920, many women of color still ran into obstacles. Some faced tests that required them to interpret the Constitution in order to vote. Others were threatened with physical violence, false charges, and other extreme danger to prevent voting. Due to these tactics and others that marginalized people of color, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was put into place. It outlawed any discriminatory acts to prevent people from voting.
Women and Black Power
Despite the fact that elements of the Black Power Movement had some views centered on misogyny, African-American women quickly found a voice in the movement. Women held leadership positions, ran community-based programs, and fought misogyny. Other women also contributed to the grass-roots movement through community service. “In the age of rights, antipoverty, and power campaigns, black women in community-based and often women-centered organizations, like their female counterparts in nationally known organizations, harnessed and engendered Black Power through their speech and iconography as participants of tenant councils, welfare rights groups, and a black female religious order.”
African-American women have been underrepresented in politics within the United States, but numbers continue to increase. According to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, currently 13 African-American women serve in the 112th Congress, with 239 state legislators serving nationwide. The paths to public office for women in the African-American community have differed from men and other groups, such as women’s organizations, rallies, and fundraisers.
A number of organizations supporting African-American women have historically played an important role in politics. The National Association of Colored Women, founded in 1896 by Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin and Mary Church Terrell, is one of the oldest political groups created for and by African-American women. Among its objectives were equal rights, eliminating lynching, and defeating Jim Crow laws. Another organization, the National Council of Negro Women, was founded in 1935 by civil rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune and was more involved in African-American politics with the aim to improve the quality of life for African-American women and families.
Source: Political Science