Women's Rights in the 1960's America
Starting in the 1960's, the beginning of the women's rights movement resurged forward after being passive during the 1940's and 1950's. The last major hurdle that was overcome was the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920 giving women in the United States the right to vote. The Civil rights protests spurred the women of the 1960's to renew the push for equal rights for women as well as minorities in educational and employment fields. Equality in politics, both in the United States and internationally, were also on the agenda for women's rights.
In 1961, 50, 000 housewives successfully protested across the United States as the group Women Strike for Peace to help secure the signing of a Nuclear Test Treaty and other nuclear disarmament.
One of the main influential resources was the Commission on the Status of Women, founded by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1961. She was appointed by then President John F. Kennedy. Although while in the Senate, it had been noted Kennedy had voted against laws to give women more equality. But after a private meeting with the former first lady, she convinced him of the need for equality for women.
The discoveries made by the Commission were many. Legal barriers were found to exist as laws that barred women from certain occupations, performing jury duty and equal pay for equal work needed to be addressed.
There were different types of women's rights groups being formed in the 1960's. The first, the Women's Liberation groups, were made up of mostly female students and other radicals already active in the civil rights movement. These groups were much smaller and more focused on personal experiences of discrimination. One example was what was known as "the chilly classroom climate". This was a classroom environment that discriminated again female student class participation. These groups put their main focus on working toward equality between men and women in employment, education and the spousal roles of marriage. Another larger better organized group, known as Women's Rights groups, lobbied for the strengthened equal rights laws to be enforced.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law. It mainly was written to protect the rights of all minorities including women's rights. The rights this law protected included: freedom of choice to vote, apply for employment, use of hotels, restaurants and all other public places. The initial law was proposed by President Kennedy in 1963. After his assassination, President Lyndon B. Johnson helped push to get the law passed through the Senate. The passage of this new law caused one of the longest filibusters (75 days) in the history of the U. S. Senate.
In 1966, the National Organization for Women was formed to replace the discontinued Commission to continue the fight against sexual discrimination. The Commission had been disbanded because of lack of government funding. The Women's Equality Action League was also founded in 1968 to investigate inequalities in faculty pay and promotion between men and women in the educational workforce.
1968 was the year the women's liberation group, the New York Radical Women, protested the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, NJ. The most remembered event of the protest was the "Freedom Trashcan". Protesters threw in hair curlers, false eyelashes and copies of Ladies Home Journal among other items. Some protesters even threw in bras. A rumor was started that these items were burned, thus the phrase "bra burners" was coined. But in actuality, nothing was burned because the protesters had not been able to obtain a fire permit.
The 1960's decade was a progressive time for the Women's Rights Movement in the United States as well as worldwide. This was mainly due to the large number of women pushing for social reform of equal treatment for women in all facets of life.