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The Women’s Movement. First Wave Feminism: 1 1840: World Anti-Slavery Convention, London: women excluded from participation 1848: Elizabeth Cady Stanton,

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Presentation on theme: "The Women’s Movement. First Wave Feminism: 1 1840: World Anti-Slavery Convention, London: women excluded from participation 1848: Elizabeth Cady Stanton,"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Women’s Movement

2 First Wave Feminism: : World Anti-Slavery Convention, London: women excluded from participation 1848: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and others organize Women’s Rights Conference, Seneca Falls, NY 1850s: alliance between women’s rights and abolitionist movements in US

3 First Wave Feminism : passage of 14 th amendment: illegal to deny citizenship to any male over 21. Women’s movement splits over whether or not to work for ratification. Lucy Stone, Quaker, supports it, Stanton and Anthony refuse to work for it. 1869: National/American Woman Suffrage Associations reflect this split 1890: NWSA and AWSA unite but both employ racist and anti-immigrant arguments on behalf of woman suffrage 1918: 19 th amendment, woman suffrage, passes Congress, 1920, ratified

4 Accomplishments of First Wave Feminism Spread of feminist consciousness, especially among middle class women Legal victories (Married Women’s Property Act) Advances in entry of women to higher education and to professions The vote But: the women’s movement collapses after the vote is won Lucy Stone

5 Pretty much a vacuum in terms of feminism During World War Two many women take jobs in industries and in positions previously reserved for men Black women, and poor white women, had always worked outside the home After World War Two a government campaign urges women to return to their homes During the fifties popular literature warns women of the dangers of not being sufficiently feminine

6 The Liberal Wing of Feminism 1963: Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique 1963: Congress debates civil rights bill, Howard Smith, southern Democrat, puts forward amendment adding “by sex” to section on employment discrimination. Amendment passes. 1964: Civil Rights Act passes (with women included), partly due to efforts of women. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission created. 1966: National Organization for Women founded, Betty Friedan president.

7 The National Organization for Women NOW presses for equal rights for women: equal wages, equal access to education, to professions, to health care. Government funded day care, pregnancy leave. Equal Rights Amendment (opposed by trade union women). Membership: mostly white, middle class, professional, mostly 30s and above. Core: women involved in Democratic Party. Men included in membership and leadership.

8 The Emergence of Radical Feminism : two papers by white women in SNCC address position of women in the movement 1966: women’s liberation raised at SDS conference: received with anger and mockery 1967: National Conference for New Politics: women’s caucus told to be quiet : Women’s Liberation groups formed in Chicago, Boston, New York, elsewhere

9 Varieties of radical feminism Radical Feminism: The Feminists, Redstockings, Radical Women Analysis: oppression of women the basis of all other forms of oppression. Left the left. Socialist Feminism: Bread and Roses (Boston), Berkeley- Oakland Women’s Union, Women’s Liberation Analysis: oppression of women one aspect of a social structure also including oppression by class and by race. Remained connected to the left.

10 Radical Feminism in Practice Small groups, focus on consciousness-raising Rejection of leadership, especially intense among Radical Feminists, somewhat less so among Socialist Feminists. Assumption that we (young, white, college- educated) could speak for all women. Many women fled the left, but similar problems in the women’s movement: different doctrines but similar tendency toward the doctrinaire. Despite these problems the radical wing of feminism spread like wildfire.

11 Black Feminism Shift from Civil Rights to Black Power brought decline in involvement of women, especially in leadership Black women writing/organizing on women’s issues: 1968: Third World Women’s Alliance 1970: Toni Cade, The Black Woman Many black women continued to work in mixed organizations (National Welfare Rights, Panthers) 1973: National Black Feminist Organization Organizations in Chicago, Boston, Bay Area

12 Sources of Second Wave Feminism Entry of women (white, middle class) to universities and to workforce in 50s, 60s Tension between conditions of women’s lives (education, work outside home) and accepted conceptions of women’s role (confined to home, dependent on/subservient to men) Feminism emerged out of women’s role in other movements of the time, especially civil rights

13 Accomplishments of Feminism 1969: WEAL challenges discrimination in higher education: files complaints against hundreds of universities, medical schools 1971: National Women’s Political Caucus 1972: Congress passes Equal Rights Amendment, refers it to states 1973: Supreme Court decision: Roe v. Wade, right to abortion Overall: extension of women’s rights in employment, education, the professions Rapid spread of feminist consciousness Major impact on US culture Association of women’s rights with rights of blacks and other minorities: rejection of racism of past

14 Problems of the Women’s Movement Suspicion and hostility between liberal and radical wings (issues actually quite similar) Difficulties in sustaining organization: anti-leadership attitudes, rapid growth leading to ephemeral organizations Many women fled the “mixed” left for the women’s movement but some similar problems appeared (different doctrines, but same tendency toward the doctrinaire) Excessive confidence that the movement could speak for all women: challenged by blacks and others


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