You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby
Second wave feminism, also called the feminist movement or, in the early 60s, the Women’s Liberation Movement, was an intense period of advocacy for women’s rights.
Were you a feminist? Was there an incident during that era that redefined you as a woman? How did your identity change? What were your feelings at this time of cultural change?
The Food and Drug Administration approves the oral contraceptive pill—made available in 1961.
French writer, Simon de Beauvoir, publishes Second Sex in 1949.
Beauvoir’s work influenced Betty Friedan, who in her 1963 bestselling book, The Feminine Mystique, objects to the media image of women and states that keeping women in the home wastes talent and potential.
Eleanor Roosevelt, chair of President John F. Kennedy’s Presidential Commission on the Status of Women; the report released in 1963 shows great discrimination against women in American life and leads to a formation of women’s groups.
In 1962, Helen Gurley Brown writes Sex and the Single Girl.
1966, Betty Friedan forms NOW, National Organization for Women.
1966, Anais Nin begins to publish her secret diaries. For many women in the 70s, her diaries gave permission to write in their own “I” voice; she broke the taboo of writing about sexuality—though from an earlier era, Nin’s work became popular in the 60s and 70s.
Anne Koedt organizes “consciousness raising” groups in 1967: “the personal is political” is a rallying slogan.
1968, Coretta Scott King becomes leader of the civil rights movement after her husband’s death and includes women’s rights in its platform. That year, Shirley Chisholm is elected to the US Congress, first black congresswoman.
1970, Germaine Greer publishes The Female Eunuch; the women’s health book, Our Bodies Ourselves, is published as a newsprint booklet for 35 cents.
1971, Helen Reddy performs “I Am Woman,” an enduring anthem for the feminist movement:
“I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore…”
1971, Chicana Feminist Movement formally begins to takes shape in the 1970s during the height of the Chicano Nationalist Movement.
Image created by Ernestina Z. Garcia, President of La Confederacion de La Raza Unida of Santa Clara County. Under Garcia’s leadership of over fifty different community organizations, many Chicano social changes were accomplished in the late 60s and 70s.
1972, Gloria Steinem and Letty Cottin Pogrebin co-found Ms. Magazine
1973, Billie Jean King plays in the tennis match, Battle of the Sexes
1973, Roe v Wade: State laws limiting women’s access to abortions during the first trimester of pregnancy are invalidated by Roe v. Wade, legalizing abortion in the United States.
1978, Chaka Khan records “I’m Every Woman.”
Beauvoir, Simon de. Second Sex. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010.
—. Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter. New York: HarperPerennial, 2005. (Translation originally published: World Publishing Co., 1959)
Brown, Helen Gurley. Sex and the Single Girl. New York: Random House, 1962.
Chicago, Judy. Through the Flower: My Struggle as a Woman Artist. New York: Doubleday, First Edition, 1975.
Chodorow, Nancy. The Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Gender. Berkeley: Univ. of Cal. Press, 1978
Friday, Nancy. My Mother, Myself: The Daughter’s Search for Identity. New York: Dell Publishing, 1977, 1997.
Gaskin, Ina May. Spiritual Midwifery. Summertown, TN: Book Publishing Co., 1st edition 1977.
Greer, Germaine. The Female Eunuch. New York: HarperPerennial, 2008, ©1971.
Hanisch, Carol. “The Personal is Political.” Article in pamphlet, Notes From the Second Year: Women’s Liberation, 1970.
hooks, bell. Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism. Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 1981, 1999.
Koedt, Anne. “Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm,” Article in pamphlet, Notes from the Second Year: Women’s Liberation, 1970.
Mitchell, Juliet. Psychoanalysis and Feminism. New York: Penguin, 2000, ©1974.
Nin, Anaïs. Diaries of Anaïs Nin, Volumes 1 – 15. New York: Harcourt, 1977.
—. House of Incest. Athens, OH: Swallow Press, 1958.
—. Delta of Venus. New York: Harcourt, 2004.
Our Bodies Ourselves, 2012. Boston Women’s Health Book Collective (now known as Our Bodies Ourselves) is a non-profit organization founded in 1969 whose board members include Teresa Heinz Kerry, Susan Love, and Gloria Steinem.
Rich, Adrienne. Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution. New York:W. W. Norton & Co Inc; 10th Anv. Edition, 1986, ©1976.
Roosevelt, Eleanor. You Learn by Living. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1960, 1983.
Timeline for Women’s Social Gains