What do women want? In particular, what did the feminists of the 1960s and 1970s want? Feminism changed many women's lives and created new worlds of possibility for education, empowerment, working women, feminist art and feminist theory. For some, the goals of the feminist movement were simple: let women have freedom, equal opportunity and control over their lives. Here are some specific feminist movement goals from the “second wave” of feminism.
- Rethinking society with feminist theory
This was accomplished by, among other disciplines, women’s studies, feminist literary criticism, gynocriticism, socialist feminism and the feminist art movement.
- Abortion rights on demand
The call for “abortion on demand” is often misunderstood. Leaders of the women’s liberation movement were clear that women should have reproductive freedom and safe access to legal abortion.
- "De-Sexing the English Language"
Feminists helped spark debate over assumptions embedded in our language that reflect the assumption of a male-dominated patriarchal society.
Many women went to college and worked professionally in the early 20th century, but the mid-20th century myth of the middle-class suburban housewife downplayed the importance of women’s education. Feminists knew that girls and women must be encouraged to seek an education, and not just as “something to fall back on,” if they were to become, and be seen as, "fully" equal.
- Equality legislation
Feminists worked for the Equal Rights Amendment, the Equal Pay Act, the addition of sex discrimination to the Civil Rights Act and other laws that would guarantee equality.
- Rethinking women's "roles" in nuclear family households
Although not all feminists called for collective mothering or went so far as to urge “seizing the means of reproduction,” as Shulamith Firestone wrote in The Dialectic of Sex, it was clear that women should not have to bear the sole responsibility for raising children.