Role of Women: Changes and Purpose

The role of women in the United States has always been an issue, even today. Today there are still great feminist issues and women still have lower average wages for the same jobs as men. Women thought they had their problems solved when the government created the Civil Rights Act of 1964, they were unfortunately mistaken. Many cases, after the act was put in place, involving the mistreatment of women were not taken seriously and still found in favor of men. On October 29, 1966, at the organizing conference in Washington, D.C., the National Organization for Women (NOW) created the Statement of Purpose believing that the time for a new movement was in store. The purpose of this organization is “to take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now, exercising all the privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men.” NOW no longer wants women to be referred to as “child bearers” and wants them to enter the workforce. In the workforce, in 1966, women comprised less than 1% of federal judges, less than 4% of all lawyers and 7% of all doctors, yet they represented 51% of the population. They believe by acting NOW and speaking out in behalf of their own equality, freedom and human dignity that they can create a new image of women. NOW was the most prominent feminist group during the 20th century and stood up for what they believed was right, even though the government and society thought different. NOW, through its rebellions, created a lot of positive change for women and changed the role of women in the long run. Although NOW enacted a lot of change for women, the issue still isn’t over and women need to be put on the same pedestal as men, since in the end we are all human beings, put on Earth with the same purpose.

National Organization for Women- Statement of Purpose

Three Points:

–       Says that the social restraint of keeping women in the home has been surpassed by the increased life span. Since women can live longer, the majority of their life is not spent raising children and thus they have the capacity to strive for more personal accomplishments other than domestically. In addition, technology has reduced the work in the home as there are less” chores” for women to do. This allows for women to expand from previous societal restraints because there is more time and opportunity for them to excel outside of domesticity.

–       NOW wants more federal backing for the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 so that women are not discriminated against in the work place. They state that this has occurred numerous times, and despite legislation, has yet to be addressed to the full extent that it needs to be.

–       They show many statistics in higher education and higher power jobs that show the disparity between men and women- women making up 51% of the population but rarely having jobs that pay well and that give them societal power (for example, at this time only 4% of all lawyers were women). This causes them to call for more educational opportunity for women and more jobs that would allow them to claim as equal members of society to men.

Two Questions:

– How did the feminist movement in America affect similar movements globally, and how did those other movements play into American feminist identities?

– Was the reaction of men towards feminist issues more accepting and supportive than in the past, or was there still resistance?

One Observation:

– I think it is important to see how the feminist movements work alongside the Civil Rights Movement for racial inequality. Both being subjugated to unfair social standings and inequality from the white male led governing body, on many fronts they were able to support each other and stand in solidarity for equal treatment. Specifically in the Statement of Purpose from the National Organization for Women, they discuss the double victimization of black women in society, and how they are being undervalued by two different aspects of inequality in America.