Second wave of feminism is a pedagogy of movements that aimed at getting women the right they deserve as an equal gender in each and every sphere. The second wave has marked itself in the pages of history as the strongest movement for women’s right.
The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, “It’s a girl.” ~ Shirley Chisholm
The theory of feminism was introduced to oppose the ‘patriarchy structure’. Feminism is protagonism of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social and economic equality. The issue of gender inequality goes back to the ancient times where women were only meant to cook, bring up children and serve their husband’s commands. The history of the struggle for the women’s right has been divided into three parts; First Wave (in 19th and the early 20th century), Second Wave (1960s to late 1970s) and Third Wave (late 1980s to 2010).
Let’s look at the First Wave feminism in brief. The key concerns in the first wave of feminism were employment, education and marriage laws. The first wave of feminism was basically about women who were victimized of gender inequality raising their plight. This wave enabled the women to attain higher and secondary education and were now allowed to participate in national examinations; also some developments were made in divorce-rights. The First Wave did not address to the work related issues faced by women.
Second Wave in Detail
Marsha Lear was the lady who started the Second Wave in U.S.A and Europe in the late 1960s. This rage was an outcome of the anti-war movements and civil rights in which the women were treated and tagged as the ‘Second Sex’. This was an anti-sexism fight.
Introduction to Birth Control Pills – 1960
The fight against sexism began with the approval of birth control pills by the ‘Food and Drug Administration’. It was only in the year 1961 that the birth control pills were made available to the women. Launch of this contraceptive measure gave women the liberty of birth control. Prior to this method, condoms were used. However, the protection obtained with it is not 100% and it resulted into unwanted pregnancies. All the pressure and the burden of the pregnancy and the baby had to be borne by the woman alone. Women finally got the power and a measure to decide when they wanted to conceive.
Presidential Commission on the Status of Women – 1961
President J.F. Kennedy created a commission to address the discrimination of the secondary status of the women. It was only after the implementation of this commission that use of birth control pills were legalized for married couples.
Equal Pay Act – 1963
This act was enforced to enable women to earn as much as a man and to claim other rights they deserved in their workplace. This led to policies that availed equal pay for women and men for the same work, paid maternity leaves, fairer hiring practices and better child care services.
In the same period, Betty Friedan’s book, The Feminine Mystique was published and it laid the base for further the movement in feminism.
Civil Rights Act & Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – 1964
The Civil Rights Act stopped the employer form making discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, etc. Also the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was established which enabled a woman to file a compliant against any discrimination faced by her.
National Organization for Women (NOW) – 1966
A group of 28 women created the National Organization for Women to operate as a civil-right organization for women. This group turned out to be the largest group of women in the U.S.
Affirmative Action Policy – 1967
The affirmative action policy enabled the women and the minorities to get equal job and education facilities. Also Equal Right Amendment was launched and the National Welfare Rights Organization was formed.
Miss America Protests – 1968
To protest against the Miss America contest, brochures titled ‘No More Miss America’ were distributed. Protesters threw bra’s, heels, curlers, etc., in the ‘Freedom Trashcan’. Similarly, in the Britain, protests were reflected with the slogan “We’re not beautiful, we’re not ugly, we’re angry“. They showered the show with stink bombs, tomatoes, flour bombs. This in turn gained the feminist movement a large newspaper and TV coverage.
Also the National Abortion Rights Action League was established, which legalized abortion.
No Fault, No Divorce! (Law) – 1969
This law was implemented in California and allowed the married couple to get divorced with mutual consent. Only after 2010, this law was made compulsory for all the states.
A Year of Feminist Writings – 1970
In the year 1970 several books and papers were published on feminism, guiding and educating the women about their rights. Also the Chicana feminists established an organization that aimed at the empowerment of the Hispanic women, called the ‘Comisión Femenil Mexicana Nacional’.
26 August, Women Equality Day – 1971
The resolution of observing 26 August as a ‘women’s equality day’ was introduced and it demanded all those rights for women that were entitled to the men.
Reintroduction of the Equal Rights Amendment – 1972
This amendment stated that any inequality on the basis of sex will be considered unlawful. To support this amendment, President Gerald Ford issued a ‘Presidential Proclamation 4383’. Also National Women’s Political Caucus was formed and demanded a place for the women in politics. Hubert Humphrey established a permanent program ‘Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children’, to address the health concerns of the women.
Sex-Segregation – 1973
Sex Segregation help ads were considered illegal and ‘Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics’ was organized to improve the conditions of the prostitutes.
Equal Credit Opportunity Act – 1974
This act was made to prohibit discrimination in credit practices on the basis of religion, sex, color, creed, etc. Also, Coalition of Labor Union Women was founded.
Woman’s Turn to be a Jury Member – 1975
Exclusion of the women from the juries was termed illegal. U.N organized their first ‘International Women Conference’ and also the law of alimony was introduced. In the same year, the first bank for women was opened and the doors to the armed forces were made open to the women.
Marital Rape Law – 1976
Finally it was made possible that a woman could file a complaint against her husband for raping her. Women had also started to boycott the states that had still not adapted the Equal Right Amendment.
No Domestic Violence – 1977
The National Association of Cuban-American Women & National Coalition Against Domestic Violence was established. Also, the supreme court gave freedom to women to use their names instead of their husband’s and simultaneously the first batch of Women pilots graduated.
More Women than Men – 1978
The number of women to take admission in colleges exceeded the number of admission taken by men. A Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed to prohibit the act of employment discrimination against pregnant women.
First Female Prime Minister – 1979
Margret Thacher was the coveted as the first women to hold the chair of the Prime Minister in the UK and made a name for herself in history as a great leader.
Sex Wars – 1980
Sex wars began right after Ronald Reagan was elected as the president. He opposed the Equal Right Amendment and wanted to use other ways to give women their rights.
After this period, women got their entry in the supreme court, as a U.N member. However, there were still some oppositions and a few inequalities to sort out. This marked the beginning of an era for another wave of feminism – The Third Wave.
We belong to the new millennium and a new generation where men and women look at each other as equals. Women have consistently proved their capabilities and their caliber in different fields. There is not one sphere where women have not been at par with men, unless as Wilma Scott Heide puts it “The only jobs for which no man is qualified are human incubators and wet nurse. Likewise, the only job for which no woman is or can be qualified is sperm donor“.
Women are still fighting for their rights across the world. The second wave is an inspiration to all the women who are still struggling with gender inequality issues. It’s time for them to rise and shine too.