In this essay I will define social constructionism and how the theories of social construction altered feminism’s message during its second wave.
The second wave of the feminist movement started during the 1950’s and is thought to have ended with the failure of the equal rights amendment. The amendment was only three votes shy of being ratified. Prior to this era the first wave of feminism seem to focus mainly on suffrage, a women right to vote and own property. During the second wave era, feminist incorporated the theories of social construction in their message. Social construction is the theory based on the idea that things that are present in our society were created by said society. As it relates to the message of second wave feminism, the biological factors of gender, physical traits, genitalia, hormones and the like, do not determine behaviors, gender roles, social status, and male superiority. Our society forms these conventions.
Women during the years before the second wave were being coaxed back into the home. To quote Betty Friedan, “They were taught to pity the, neurotic, unfeminine, unhappy women who wanted to be poets or presidents. They learned that truly feminine women do not want careers, higher education, of political rights.” Women were being told that being happy meant meeting the social ideal of femininity. To quote The Simone De Beauvoir, “Every female human is not necessarily a woman. To be so considered such she must share in that mysterious and threatened reality known as femininity.“ Women who had once dreamed of attending school and had dreams of their own were now striving for this model of what women should want, of things that made them better women. Betty Friedan used the example of a young woman that was offered a science fellowship at Johns Hopkins. This young woman turned down the opportunity so that she could continue her quest to find a husband and start a family. Science wasn’t “feminine.”
In reality, what is femininity? To quote De Beauvoir, “What...