sexual revolution -

Margaret Sanger -

1920s Rockefeller Foundation research on fertility & biology of sex;

discovery estrogen & progesterone;

1943 synthetic substitute for progesterone;

Katharine McCormick - over $2 million;

Gregory Pincus & John Rock;

1960 FDA approval;

Within five years, most popular form of birth control in US;

1980s at least 50 million women worldwide;

Clare Boothe Luce, "Modern woman is at last free, as a man is free, to dispose of her own body, to earn her living, to pursue the improvement of her mind, to try a successful career."

1964 Connecticut - misdemeanor to "use any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception." 

Time: "Late every night in Connecticut, lights go out &tens of thousands of citizens proceed zestfully to break the law."

1961 Planned Parenthood New Haven shut;

1965 Supreme Court Griswold v. Connecticut - constitutional right for married couples to use contraceptives;

1972 Supreme Court extended right to unmarried Americans.


Betty Friedan (1921- )

report on Smith class of 1942 at 15th reunion, 1957;

questionnaire - "What are the chief satisfactions and frustrations of your life today?"

1963 The Feminine Mystique;

"Is this all?" – “the problem that has no name”.

home as “comfortable concentration camp”;

Valium, Milltown - “Mother’s little helpers”;

ten years, sold three million hardcover;

“I have been trying for years to tell my husband of my need to do something to find myself – to have a purpose.  All I’ve ever achieved was to end up feeling guilty….”


1961, President John F. Kennedy - Commission on the Status of Women;

Esther Peterson, head Women’s Bureau;

head off Equal Rights Amendment;

Eleanor Roosevelt chair;

1963 report, “Equality of rights under the law for all persons, male or female, is so basic to democracy that it must be reflected in the fundamental law of the land.”

enormous data;

avoided issues of birth control, abortion, rape, poverty;

women’s “primary responsibility [was] in the home,” to ensure a strong family & strong society.

“regrettable“ when mothers with young children worked;

called for legislation to give women equal pay for equal work & equal employment opportunity;

Kennedy ordered federal agencies to end sex discrimination in hiring & promoting;

ultimately all fifty states appoint own commissions investigating status of women;


Congress - Equal Pay Act of 1963;

excluded women in agriculture, domestic service, business & professions;

first federal law against sex discrimination;

classified job ads two columns – “Help Wanted – Male” and “Help Wanted – Female.”

Civil Rights Act of 1964;

Virginia Rep. Howard Smith - amendment to prohibit employment discrimination on basis not only of race, but sex;

New York Times - “bunny law”

Wall St. Journal: imagine “a shapeless, knobby-kneed male ‘bunny’ serving drinks to a group of astonished businessmen, or a ‘matronly vice-president’ lusting after her male secretary.”

five Congresswomen - New York Republican Katherine St. George, “I can think of nothing more logical than this amendment… Women do not need any special privileges.  We outlast you - we outlive you - we nag you to death… [but] we are entitled to this little crumb of equality.  The addition of the little, terrifying word ‘s-e-x’ will not hurt this legislation in any way.”

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission 

“What are we going to do now, when a gal walks into our office, demands a job as an airline pilot, and has the credentials to qualify?”


Civil rights movement:

1955 Montgomery, AL - Rosa Parks;

Martin Luther King Jr; lunch-counter

sit-ins; mass civil disobedience;

1964 Democratic National Convention –

Fannie Lou Hamer;

1962 voter registration drive;

“sick and tired of being sick and tired” 

1964 Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party;

Stokely Carmichael - “on their backs”;

1966 third annual conference of the Commission on the Status of Women;


National Organization for Women -

First meeting 300 women & men;

“to take the actions needed to bring women into the mainstream of American society, now, full equality for women, in fully equal partnership with men,… as part of the worldwide revolution of human rights.”

equal employment laws, equal education opportunities, maternity leave, day care, abortion rights. & ERA;

Within five years, membership 15,000;


grass-roots leadership - 

1970 San Francisco 35 women’s liberation groups; San Francisco Women’s Newsletter;

1968 protest Miss America pageant;

1968 Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell;

Chicago Women’s Liberation Union;


1971, 4% of all state legislators female - 1985, 14%;


1984 Geraldine Ferraro;

Ferraro, “By choosing a woman to run for our nation’s second highest office, you send a powerful signal to all Americans.  There are no doors we cannot unlock.”

1981 Sandra Day O’Connor;

1993 Ruth Bader Ginsberg;

Antonia Novello surgeon general;

Janet Reno;  Madeline Albright;


1972 House passed Equal Rights Amendment 354 to 23, Senate 84 to 8;

within year, 28 states ratified;

Phyllis Schlafly “Stop ERA”;

1977, 35 states ratified;

1982, three states short;

Schlafly: women’s lib “a series of sharp-tongued, high-pitched, whining complaints by unmarried women.”


1972 Education Amendment Title IX;

Since 1971, women in college varsity sports up 250%.

1970s first rape crisis centers;

1975 Michigan law;

1983 Sally Ride;  “Ride, Sally Ride!”

“the right stuff”

Eileen Collins


1977 Chicago legal secretary Iris Rivera;


1991 Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas - Senate Judiciary committee;

1992 unprecedented number of women candidates;

1990 two female senators; 1994, 8;

in House, 28 to 47 – “Anita Hill” class.