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1970s Feminism Timeline

Key Events of United States Feminism During the 1970s

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Betty Friedan circa 1975

Betty Friedan circa 1975

David Montgomery/Getty Images
Feminist Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem in a picture published in January of 1972.

Courtesy Library of Congress

1970
The first Women's Studies department began at San Diego State University, followed shortly by a Women's Studies program at Cornell.

Kate Millett's book Sexual Politics was published.

Sisterhood is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings From the Women's Liberation Movement gathered many prominent feminists' essays into one volume.

(February) Members of the National Organization for Women stood up in the Senate gallery to demand attention for the Equal Rights Amendment.

(March ) Feminists staged a sit-in at the Ladies' Home Journal offices, demanding changes in the feminine mystique propaganda of women's magazines.

(August 26) The Women's Strike for Equality featured demonstrations in cities across the nation. The strike was held on the fiftieth anniversary of women's suffrage.

1971
Supreme Court case Reed v. Reed declared sex discrimination a violation of the 14th amendment.

The short-lived feminist art journal Women and Art began publication.

NOW staged nationwide demonstrations against AT&Ts discriminatory employment and pay practices.

A NOW resolution recognized lesbian rights as a legitimate concern of feminism.

1972
Ms. magazine began regular publication.

Eisenstadt v. Baird overturned laws that restricted unmarried persons' access to contraception.

Feminist art students staged the provocative exhibit Womanhouse in an abandoned house in Los Angeles.

Cindy Nemser and other feminist artists founded Feminist Art Journal, which lasted through 1977.

(March) The ERA passed the Senate and was sent to the states for ratification.

(November) The famous "abortion episode" of Maude drew protest letters, and some affiliate stations refused to air it. Abortion was legal in New York, where the sitcom took place.

1973
Roe v. Wade legalized first trimester abortion and struck down many state restrictions on abortions in the United States.

The Supreme Court ruled in Frontiero v. Richardson that denying military benefits for male spouses was illegal sex discrimination.

The International Feminist Planning Conference was held in Massachusetts.

Mary Daly's book Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women's Liberation was published.

1974
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 was amended to prohibit discrimination based on sex along with race, color, religion and national origin.

The Combahee River Collective began as a group of black feminists who wanted to clarify their place in the politics of feminism.

Ntozake Shange wrote and developed her "choreopoem" play for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf.

(September) NOW President Karen DeCrow and other women's group leaders met with President Gerald Ford in the White House.

1975
The United Nations declared 1975 International Women's Year and organized the first World Conference on Women, held in Mexico City.

Susan Brownmiller's Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape was published.

The Supreme Court ruled in Taylor v. Louisiana that it was unconstitutional to deny women jury service.

1976
Take Back the Night marches began, continuing annually in cities around the world.

NOW established its Task Force on Battered Women.

In Planned Parenthood v. Danforth, the Supreme Court struck down a requirement for written spousal consent before a woman could obtain an abortion.

1977
NOW began an economic boycott of states that had not yet ratified the ERA.

Chrysalis: A Magazine of Women's Culture began publication.

Heresies: A Feminist Publication on Art and Politics began publication.

(February) Women Employed held a protest to support legal secretary Iris Rivera, who was fired for not making coffee in her office.

(November) The National Women's Conference was held in Houston.

1978
(February) NOW declared a state of emergency on the ERA, committing all available resources to ratification of the amendment as the original 1979 ERA deadline fast approached.

(March) President Jimmy Carter established the National Advisory Committee for Women.

(June) The ERA deadline for ratification was extended from 1979 to 1982, but the amendment ultimately fell three states short of being added to the Constitution.

1979
The first Susan B. Anthony dollar coins were minted.

Major organizations such as the AFL-CIO refused to hold their conferences in Miami and Las Vegas, in protest of Florida's and Nevada's failure to ratify the ERA.

The Supreme Court ruled in Cannon v. University of Chicago that individuals have the right under Title IX to bring private lawsuits to fight discrimination.

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