Nothing Distance about It.
The author speaks on the feminist movement in the 1960’s and the good things that happened as a result of the movement. She demonstrates the achievements of the feminist movement despite the contradictions and shortcomings of the radicals in the 1960’s. The world though is a better place today due to the gains in the feminist movement in the political and labour force environment.
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The feminist movement was ignited by the events that were taking place at that time. The Black movement had a great influence on the feminists. The Black movement said that the African Americans were an American colony in the country. In the same way the feminists put forward that the female body had been colonised by the men. The women were pursuing a total social transformation in the society.
The radicals at the time went against the institutions at the time. The Black movement and the Left movement created alternate schools, political parties, universities and media. Similarly the women liberationists also created alternate abortion referral services, health clinics and rape crisis centres. The main idea was that politics is personal. It was a time of personal politics. The radicals were tired of a mediocre, complacent existence. They wanted to break old structures and assumptions. The author shows the way the women dissatisfaction with NOW movement since it was only pursuing legal and judicial reforms instead of total transformation.
There were challenges however to this notion of identity politics. It could lead to self-absorption and the woman would not help others. Thus there were calls for collective action as opposed to singular action. The women engaged in conscious-raising, a practice where the women engaged in deep talks about their tough experiences. Through it all the author is able to show the struggles that marked the achievements of the feminists.
Sources of the Second Wave: The Rebirth of Feminism
The author traces the causes or activators of the feminist revolution in the period 1950-1960’s. She highlights the causes as the spirit of protest that was prevalent at that time, the Black movement and the ability of the women to organise themselves. He shows us the rapid progress made by women feminists from the period 1950-1970’s.
At the time the women had been confined to a domesticated role which they wanted to break out. The author highlights vice president Nixon and the Soviet Premier arguing in the kitchen how they wished their discussions were on matters of the washing machine and not rockets. The author shows that the discrimination in the workplace and societal expectation on the woman’s role in the 1960 led to the women getting a platform to fight for their rights strategically.
In the labour forces, the pay structures were unequal, men getting higher pay than women for the same kind of work. Law companies refuse to employ women even though they were at the top of their class in campus. The writer shows second catalyst of the feminist movement as the Blacks civil movement. He backs his argument by showing the effect that Rosa Park’s decision of refusing to sit at the back of the bus encouraged the women to fight for their rights.
The atmosphere at that time was one of protest encouraging women to speak up. The third factor that fuelled the movement was the organisation of the women into movements. The formation of women feminists groups in different states in the country served to strengthen the women and motivate them to achieve more in terms of reforms in the laws of the country covering equal pay and protective laws in the workplace.
The woman’s feminist movement grew in stages, first dealing with the constricting domestic role. It then dealt with the discrimination of women at the work place and they were great achievements with the passing of the equal pay act. The women were allowed to vote. Sexual liberation occurred later with calls for legalization of abortion and the lesbians coming out of the closet. There were childcare facilities developed for mothers so that they could go work. There were initiatives to take care of the battered women in the society. The feminist movement transformed the female role in the society phenomenally. This was despite the resistance and hostility they faced from men working in the workplace, media and political circles.
Alice Echols, “Nothing Distance About It ” in ed., David Farber, The Sixties: From Memory to History, 113-133.
Sara Evans, “Sources of the Second Wave: The Rebirth of Feminism” in ed, Bloom Alexander, Long Time Gone, 189-208.