The second wave began a few years after the ending of the Second World War. Men had returned to retake the positions women were in while they were away at war and once again women were back to being viewed as household objects. But these women were no longer complicit with this situation and so they decided it was time to make a change, but this time, they moved away from women’s voting rights and began working towards changing the way women were viewed socially. Something that played a huge part in kick starting that change and the second wave was Betty Friedan’s, The Feminine Mystique.
Now this book was revolutionary, it was able to change the way so many people, women included, thought about women because it was able to reach so many people, selling around 3 million copies. It rebuked the idea that the only way for a women to find fulfilment was through being a mother and managing the home and made these women realise it was okay to want more than that and it was okay to be angry at society for making them believe it was wrong to want more than that.
Betty Friedan had finally told so many women what they wanted to hear and once again feminism had a unified goal and so the second wave began to rise up. Adopting the slogan ‘The Personal is Political’ the second wavers recognised that the personal issues they faced daily contributed to much bigger systemic issues rooted deep within society and politics and how the way they lived on a day to day basis was a reflection of sexism on a much grander scale.
From the 1960’s to the 1980’s these women voiced the issues of contraception, marital rape and domestic violence, all while drawing more and more women into the feminist cause. They understood they would need to erase this weak and dependant image of women and form a new, more realistic image of women in society, one that showed that women were capable of more.
The second wave of feminism gave women more control over their lives and more laws were put in place to back that up. The equal pay act was passed in 1970, seemingly eradicating the gender pay gap. In 1972, Title IX meant gender discrimination when it came to education was now now outlawed. In 1960, the birth control pill was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.
Alongside these were the outlawing of marital rape in 1993, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974, The no fault divorce act first legalised by California in 1969, and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. These accomplishments speak for themselves and the second wavers left behind a legacy to be celebrated for years to come.
The second wave brought about huge legislative changes to society however the image of feminists began to change when the movement became so large and had such a huge impact it almost began to scare people in a sense. This new image of feminists were birthed, more commonly known to society as feminazi’s, which I will get into more with my next post… so that this one isn’t way too long. Regardless, the second wave started with the aim to change the way that society thought about women and they did. And for that I think the second wave was truly amazing.