“Feminism is the radical idea that women are people.” This is a quote attributed to two women, Kamarae & Treichler, that expresses the ideas that took hold in the second-wave feminism movement of the 1960s. In the 1800s, women in temperance leagues across America marched and protested for the right to vote. In the 1960s, women took feminism one step further and gained the right to work at jobs of their choice, rather than be restricted to traditional female careers.
Nineteen sixty-four was when the famous second-wave feminism book, Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, came out in paperback. It was the year President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act that prohibited gender discrimination. And in 1964, the first woman (from a major political party) ran for President.
American women have many more freedoms today than fifty years ago. Thanks to activist women like Betty Friedan, women today are doctors, lawyers, scientists, and soldiers. But another movement also surfaced in the 1960s. The Free Love Movement of the 60s and 70s promised sexual pleasure without commitment. And so an entire generation of women decided to abandon the traditional sexual wisdom expressed in crass proverbs such as, “Why buy the cow, when she’s giving the milk away for free?”
Instead, this new generation of women enjoyed sexual encounters with no expectation of marriage or commitment. Men have sown their wild oats for millennia without being ostracized, so the reasoning went. An empowered woman should have that same right over her body.But is “free love” truly a pro-woman principle?
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