In 1961 President Kennedy established Presidential Commission on the Status of Women. Eleanor Roosevelt was chosen as its head. Also, the Kennedy administration outlawed discrimination in the federal civil service. In 1963, President Kennedy pushed through Congress the Equal Pay Act which prohibited paying men and women different salaries for the same federal jobs. Published just six weeks before his death, the Kennedy Commission’s report, American Women, recommended the establishment of child-care services, advocated opportunities for women in employment and education, urged women to seek public office, and argued that the government’s mission should be to secure equality of rights for women. At the time, only 2 U.S. senators (out of 50) and 11 representatives (out of 435) were women. Only 3 of the 422 federal judges were female. Women were confined to low-paying dead-end jobs, married too young, and were not encouraged to pursue advanced degrees. In 1968 women protested the Miss America beauty pageant by using bras as lassoes, and posting photos of women’s bodies, marked up as if they were prime pieces of meat. It was during this time that the term “girl” was determined to be unacceptable. Women were to be women.
1968 was a tumultuous year. In 1968 women protested the Miss America beauty pageant by using bras as lassos, and posting photos of women’s bodies, marked up as if they were prime pieces of meat. It was during this time that the term “girl” was determined to be unacceptable. Women were to be women. In January – Dr. Spock, renowned baby doctor was accused of aiding and abetting draft evasion. In February, the Tet Offensive occurred. In March, Robert Kennedy announced his run for presidency. In April, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed. Three weeks later, student protests broke out at universities and colleges. At Columbia, 1,000 police officers arrested 700, injuring 150 of them. Five weeks later, Robert Kennedy was killed. Later, protesters disrupted the Chicago Democratic Convention. During 1968 there were 221 demonstrations at 101 colleges involving 39,000 students.
In 1970 women earned 58 percent of what men did and were limited in 43 states to the number of hours they could work. They could only work eight hours, prohibiting them from overtime. There were also only allowed to lift up to 35 pounds, the weight of a small child. In 1971 Gloria Steinem created Ms. Magazine. In 1972, Helen Reddy released her anthem, “I Am Woman”, and in August 1972, the first lawsuit against discrimination in the workplace was filed. Along with groups like NOW – National Organization for Women, another began with the tongue-in-cheek name, WITCH – Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell. At the National Woman’s Conference, women voted for battered women’s shelters, national health insurance, day care center, rape prevention, and Social Security for housewives. During all this, female reporter Conchita Pierce wrote, “If you had equality between men and women, you could not have a marriage.” Female columnist Margaret Mead wrote, “Women had better button their lips and keep their anger to themselves.” A Times reporter wrote “There is no discrimination against women, women are just self-limiting;” and “Women might get pay raises and child care centers if they would just ask nicely.” And finally, “Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, and practice witchcraft.”
Women had become conscious of our inequality, and how we were fragmented.
Reference: Douglas, S. (1995) Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media. New York: Three Rivers Press