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THE RISE OF FEMINISM

Another group that fought for additional freedoms in the 1960s were women. As discussed in the previous chapter, many women felt extreme frustration with their lives in the 1950s. Some college-aged women were active in the civil rights movement in the early 1960s, but oftentimes felt frustrated when they were always the ones asked to make the coffee or do the typing.

In the mid-1960s even women in suburbia began to notice that the frustrations they had were shared by many of the women living around them. Women’s support groups became common on both college campuses and in suburban communities. A pivotal book that helped bolster this growing feminist movement was The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan.

In 1966 NOW (National Organization for Women) was founded by Friedan. NOW was a decidedly middle-class organization and was dedicated to getting equal pay for women at work and to ending images in the media that objectified women. In 1972 Gloria Steinem founded the feminist magazine Ms. The key Supreme Court decision of the era concerning women was the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which, with some restrictions, legalized abortion. Many feminists pushed for the passage of an Equal Rights Amendment, but this amendment was never ratified by enough states to become part of the Constitution.

Other groups protested for equal rights during this period. The American Indian Movement (AIM) wanted Native Americans to be knowledgeable about their heritage, and also influenced various tribes to mount legal battles to get back land that had been illegally taken from them. A standoff between AIM members and government authorities took place at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in 1973; as a result, legislation passed in the 1970s gave Native Americans more autonomy in tribal matters.

Latino groups also began to protest for rights in this era. A large number of Latinos were employed as migrant farm workers in California; Cesar Chavez organized the United Farm Workers against farmers (especially grape growers) in California. Environmental groups also became active in this era. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson came out in 1962 and warned about the dangers of DDT. Many also protested throughout the decade against the dangers of nuclear power.

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