Women’s rights came to the forefront of the nation’s collective as it attached itself to the Civil Rights movement, becoming the second wave of feminism. This led to many changes, in women’s upper hands, but there were also many untied ends that still needed to be seen to. Eventually, a third wave of feminism began, and saw to some of the things that were left from the second wave, though many things are still being argued and fought for. Although times have changed between then and now, are women freer than they were when the second wave hit?
Women’s rights began early on in the United States, in the 1800s, with women trying for marriage rights and the right to “control over her own body.” Women’s rights begun by women did not become an immense, all-involving movement until the Progressive era suffragettes in the early 1900s. This women rallied for the right to vote, as well as protections for workers and the poor. These suffragettes won the right to vote through the Nineteenth Amendment in 1919.
The next movement for women’s rights began in 1962, with the introduction of Betty Friedan’s book, The Feminine Mystique. Friedan’s book chronicled how women were unable to realize their freedom “for personal self-realization”.3 According to Friedan, women that pursued careers instead of becoming a housewife were seen as less appealing than those who decided to stay at home. Though this theory was considered feminist, and therefore for all women, many were excluded. Friedan’s worked talked of middle class, suburban, Caucasian women. This alienated women from other social, sexual, and racial groups. This alienation set the tone for most of the second wave feminism movement.
This wave of feminism began at the same time that Civil Rights was sweeping through the country. This helped connect feminism to a bigger movement, therefore giving it more voice for the American public to respond to. Many women, Casey Hayden and Mary King, for example, found that because the Civil Rights movement addresses “man hood”, but not a sense of identity among women, that they should create their own “consciousness-raising groups” that covered both racial and gender rights. These groups separating from the main ones hoped to liberate all humans that were suppressed in the United States.
One of the groups that focused on women’s liberation was the National Organization for Women, or N.O.W. This group described itself as wanting “true equality for all women in America,” and world-wide human rights. The National Organization for Women argued that modernized technology made it where women no longer needed to stay at home and work as much, giving them open time to find entertainment or careers elsewhere. They also argues that since technology had modernized, there was a wider range in jobs that women could participate in because there was less need for men’s strength. N.O.W. argued that although women should have been able to have more than just “women’s jobs”, they still...