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1960s Feminist Activities

What Did Feminists Do During the 1960s?


Many people know that during the 1960s, there was a resurgence of feminism across the United States. In local communities, in the media and in women’s personal situations, 1960s feminists inspired political action and changed many women’s lives. Perhaps you know that 1960s feminism was important, but you are wondering what 1960s feminists did. Here’s a look at a few of the feminist activities in the 1960s.

1. The Feminine Mystique

Betty Friedan’s 1963 book is often remembered as the beginning of the second wave of feminism in the United States. Of course, feminism did not happen overnight, but the success of The Feminine Mystique did get a lot of people to start paying attention.

2. Consciousness Raising Groups

Called the “backbone” of the feminist movement, consciousness-raising groups were widespread and had the aura of a grassroots revolution.

3. Protests

Feminists protest Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, 1969
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Feminists protested in the streets and at rallies, hearings, marches, sit-ins, legislative sessions, or even the Miss America Pageant… the opportunities were practically endless.

4. Women’s Liberation Groups

Groups sprang up across the United States. Two early groups on the East Coast were New York Radical Women and Redstockings.

5. The National Organization for Women (NOW )

Betty Friedan gathered feminists, liberals, Washington insiders and activists into a new organization to work for women’s equality. NOW became one of the most well-known feminist groups and is still in existence. The founders of NOW set up task forces to work on education, employment and other women's issues.

6. Lawsuits

Feminists went to court to fight for equality, stand up against discrimination, and work on the legal aspects of women's rights.

7. Fighting for Reproductive Freedom

Feminist leaders and medical professionals - men and women - spoke out against restrictions on abortion. During the 1960s, cases such as Griswold v. Connecticut, decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1965, helped paved the way for Roe v. Wade.

8. The First Women’s Studies Department

Feminists looked at how women were depicted or ignored in history, social science, literature and other academic fields, and by the end of the 1960s a new discipline was born.

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