NOW’s statement of purpose provides a holistic argument for why women should join the workforce, and gain equal rights. It was written at the time of the founding of the National Organization for Women, in response to the lack of execution of anti-discrimination laws. Its intention is to explain the core concepts on which NOW was founded, and explain what they are taking issue with.
I’m impressed with the level of consideration, and the distinctively different approaches to appealing to their audience, using arguments such as “WE BELIEVE that it is as essential for every girl to be educated to her full potential of human ability as it is for every boy-with the knowledge that such education is the key to effective participation in today’s economy and that, for a girl as for boy, education can only be serious where there is expectation that it be used in society.” Which depends on some level of sympathy, compared to ” the overwhelming majority-75%-are in routine clerical, sales, or factory jobs, or they are household workers, cleaning women, hospital attendants. About two-thirds of Negro women workers are in the lowest paid service occupations. Working women are becoming increasingl-not less-concentrated on the bottom of the job ladder. As a consequence full-time women workers today earn on the average only 60% of what men earn, and that wage gap has been increasing over the past twenty-five years in every major industry group. In 1964, of all women with a yearly income, 89% earned under $5,000 a year; half of all full-time year round women workers earned less than $3,690; only 1.4% of full- time year round women workers had an annual income of $10,000 or more.” (I apologize for the long quote) Explaining the impact women have on the economy, this kind of argument will be compelling to a different kind of person than the previous.
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.
The Statement of Purpose, written by the National Organization of Women, was an attempt to bolster failing anti-discrimination laws in the 1960s. It discussed ending the discrimination of women in the work force, and changing cultural norms regarding gender roles and stereotypes. The document argued for gender equality, and gave evidence to discredit masculine supremacy. For example, the document explained that technology had “virtually eliminated the quality of muscular strength as a criterion for filling most jobs” and that “women can and must participate in old and new fields of society in full equality-or become permanent outsiders.”
The purpose of the document was to inspire women to stand up for the rights, and to convince men to treat women as equals. It was written with an inspirational and strong tone, and provided data to support its arguments. It targeted men and women in the working class.
The National Organization for Women Statement of Purpose was written with the intention of making women to be seen as equals in the United States. New anti-discrimination laws were not being enforced as efficiently as some would have liked, with women still being discriminated against throughout the hiring process and not receiving equal pay. Some of the statistics displayed in the document are shocking. Facts such as, “Women comprise less than 1% of federal judges; less than 4% of all lawyers; 7% of doctors. Yet women represent 51% of the U.S. population,” are alarming. Obviously, women of this time were underutilized and oppressed, which most definitely limited production in the US as a whole. The National Organization for Women clearly points out flaws in the United State‘s system when it comes to women; even referencing the U.S. constitution. This topic has been an ongoing problem throughout the world for years. Although it is now much better, people still fight for their rights when it comes to discrimination.
Gender equality has often been alluded to in our course thus far (Vindication of the Rights of Women), and continues to be a discussion topic and issue today, especially in the workplace. While women’s rights were slowly improving throughout the 1900s (finally allowed to vote in 1944), there was still much work to be done. In 1966, a stance was taken with the formation of the National Organization for Women (NOW). Based on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, discrimination of sex was supposed to be outlawed. However, many of the cases brought force were not enforced or taken seriously enough. An excerpt from NOW’s Statement of Purpose reads as such: “We expect to give active support to the common cause of equal rights for all those who suffer discrimination and deprivation, and we call upon other organizations committed to such goals to support our efforts toward equality for women.” NOW focused on bringing together other groups who have faced discrimination such as African Americans, and directly spoke out for the rights of black women. There had been no real movement up until this point for the equality of women, and the time was NOW.
– 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.
– 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?
– 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.