What prompted second wave feminism of the 1960s is still an issue in the feminism of 2017. In 1963 the Equal Pay Act was passed, to ensure that women who worked in the same positions and jobs as their male coworkers were paid the same. Women of the 1960s found themselves as educated, qualified, and prepared as their male counterparts to hold the same jobs, but were underpaid and often delegated to lower level positions in order for a man to take the higher paying job. This second wave of feminism–the first being in 1920 when women won the right to vote–was marked by a cultural upheaval as women defied the stereotypes enforced by the media, government, family, friends, and most importantly, by themselves.
Some would say this movement only resulted in radical, bra-burning, anti-marriage, anti-family women who hated men and were a general destructive force in America. This stereotype is hurtful of modern feminism, and not at all represented the fullness of the second wave feminists. Due to the widespread nature of the movement across the entire country, there was no clear definition of what a feminist was in those times, only that they wanted the equality of men and women and had different ways of accomplishing, expressing, and fulfilling those goals. Because of their diversity and lack of unity, it’s hard to document everything done by this movement. However, because of outspoken and hardworking feminists, equality was brought about it numerous ways, not limited to but accounting for the increasing closure of the gender pay gap, childcare for the offspring of working mothers, empowering women to work outside the home, the breakage of gender roles in that women were to stay in the house and men at work, and the movement peaked with the passage of Roe v. Wade, 1973, that made abortion legal in the USA.
Some downsides of the movement resulted in disruptions of families and workplaces as women took up roles so different than those of their ancestors. Fathers had to adjust to taking more responsibility at home, taking care of the children, sharing the financial burden delegated to them because of their gender, and a general ceding of power to their wives in order to promote an equal agenda at home. Women who were not a part of the movement felt femininity was destroyed by feminism, that traditions and gender roles that had kept their society alive for so long were being destroyed and in their wake, they were also destroying the country. Employers who profited from paying women less than they should had to own up to their wrongs, or risk being held accountable.
What’s interesting is that all of the issues fought for by feminists in the 1960s are all issues feminists today encounter. Abortion is still hotly argued in our bipartisan political parties, the pay gap is debated–does it exist? How do we effectively close it? Aren’t women just under-qualified and choosing jobs that pay less than men?–and women who have families and choose to work outside the home are still without complete support from their communities. Though there was a radical shift in culture, the effects of second wave feminism and their scattered goals are still trying to find fruition in our American society today. With the progress that’s been made in the last century, I definitely hope that we reach full equality within the next hundred years and we no longer have to debate this issues as they will be moot.
Image: Warren K. Leffler