World
War II had just ended, surviving husbands are coming home from war to their
families. All had been expected to go back to normal in the male population’s
mind. At first, it had started to return to the normality fixed in society’s
mind until Betty Friedan’s, The Feminine
Mystique came out and aided to spark a movement that would affect
generations for the rest of time. Women’s rights in the 1950’s and 1960’s had
been more than just gaining equal opportunities and being given the right to
have a say whether they wanted to have a choice about their body when it came
to birth control; it all stimulated in the fact that women needed to have an
identity of their own, rather than just be a common housewife, made to just
have children and keep a home.

The
Women’s Rights Movement, between the 1950’s and 1960’s came to be known as the
second wave, the first being when women fought for the right to vote. During
the twenty-year period, activists such as Betty Friedan, Martha Griffiths, and
Gloria Steinem worked to gain inspiration and fought for the rights women
deserved such as equal pay, to get rid of gender discrimination, as well as to
fight for the right for women to have access to birth control. The first thing
one needs to understand to grasp why these rights had become important to the
majority of women in America is to look back to 1950 and 1960, to see what was
considered the social normality and what their every day lives consisted of. It
is from this that women found their main issues to fight for and what they
desperately wanted to see changed. With women knowing what needed to be changed
and seeking it, taking some look toward important woman activists, their work
and contributions as well as the movie Hidden Figures, which proves to be a
great example of this historic event, could one truly come to see the hardships
that had been faced throughout this time.

 A husband’s car pulls into the drive way, the
last item from the oven being placed on a trivet at the table. Children’s hands
have already been washed, the wife can be seen removing an apron as they wait
for the male of the house to enter the home. It had been a long day of
transporting the kids to and from school, cleaning the house, helping with
homework and preparing their final meal of the night. Her job isn’t over yet.
She is expected to welcome her husband home tenderly and serve him supper
before getting the kids ready and into bed. It is something she has grown used
to doing, and is being expected to continue to do so. The day she and her husband
exchanged vows had become the day that marked her identity of housewife for
what seemed to be the rest of her life. Wife and mother, was that all she could
be though? Often nights she could wonder, but with society, she stuck to the
normality that had become her life.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!


order now

The
1950’s and 1960’s were a period where strict gender roles complied and many
adhered to the normality of social expectations. This meaning that a life for a
woman after marriage had been mapped out for the most part. They were expected
to be wives, and to bear children and be good mothers, as well as being
expected not to work outside of the home. Considering the need for women to
hold jobs during World War II when the men were off fighting for the country,
to turn back into this charade was something most women found hard to do. With
holding jobs throughout the war, they gained an identity of self-worth as well
as coming to the realization that they could in fact do the same work and jobs
as a man, even keeping up to pace. Being in a male’s world though, they did
return to their roles. Some considered the return to be boring, some felt like
they were unsatisfied with life. Others gladly returned to their role, being
that when kids were in school, they seemed to be able to find some down time
and start to enjoy just being a wife and mother. These women falling back into
old patterns were the women who took the first wave of rights for granted.
Instead of going to college for themselves, they went in search of a husband.
They dropped out to if they started to believe they were getting too educated
and that a male would not want a wife as educated as them. They basically
dropped out just to become a housewife and mother.

There
was no hiding the normality that society believed women should live. The
classic sitcom I Love Lucy is a fantastic example of the beliefs and standards
women were held to and how quickly men were to shoot down any type of behavior
or wants that a woman would have that would not fall under what had been
expected of them. From 1951 to 1957, this comedy influenced show secretly held
one of the larger issues at hand for the women’s rights movement. Lucy and
Ricky being a younger married couple, who although find themselves in silly
situations, where Lucy had always attempted to go to work with her husband to
be on his show. The excuse always being that Lucy should stay home to do
“wifely duties.”  Although, she did tend
to go against his wishes. She found ways to make her own money or even went as
low as to sneak into his shows. The show also featured another married couple
who tended to not be the picture perfect, happy couple and they were Fred and
Ethel. Both brought on to work on Ricky’s show from time to time. While looking
at this show today, with knowing what women were facing throughout the 1950’s
with their rights; it comes across as a message to say that in marriages where
both partners work there is little good and not much happiness.

With women being expected to fall
back into place, women activists began to take a stand toward a handful of
issues at bay. Most women wished to continue working and wished for an identity
more than just wife and mother. Even while some were happy to fall right back
into the old patterns of being a house wife. With this, followed a handful of
issues. The first being women and working in general. The right to hold a job
and not just the few limited jobs such as secretary, nurse or teacher that
women who had been employed were seen to do. The next being the Equal Pay Act.
With this, there was much controversy brought upon the situation, being
rejected in the beginning. But also, a rising awareness of the inequality of
lesbian women became to be a largely known problem as well as SCUM was brought
to the attention of gay women during that time.

In the early 1950’s, as men came home from war, most women
found themselves coated in guilt due to working. Feeling as though they
neglected their children and wifely duties. Although, there were women who
could not wait to stop working and get back to their children and house chores
such as the voice in “Why I Quit Working.” (INSERT QUOTES HERE AND EXPLAIN).
Nonetheless, she was just one voice for the common normality of American women
in the 1950’s and 1960’s. There were still more women who did not just wish to
be ‘mother and wife’. Plus, after being a working woman and gaining a wage that
allowed them to splurge and hold a sense of accomplishment, returning to just
being a mother and wife left them to feel completely bored with housework and
their own kids.

This resulting in women becoming depressed over the fact and
taking up drinking. With this problem at hand, The Equal Employment Opportunity
Omission (EEOC) became a reality for women in 1965. The EEOC became a federal
agency to ensure that civil right laws would be followed within work places and
discrimination; protecting individuals based on their gender, ethnicity and age
during the 1960’s. Dr. Arnold Toynbee once spoke that, “The twentieth century
will be chiefly remembered by future generations as an age in which human
society dared to think of the welfare of the whole human race as a practical
objective,” (Langley and Fox, 266). Even today, Toynbee’s words ring true. For
instance, in modern day America, it’s about rights for the LGBT community and
even still women continue to fight for future generations. Toynbee’s words show
in minor explanation that the 1950’s and 1960’s had been a rough fight for
equality not only for women, but race as well, setting up America for the
freedoms people still manage to take for granted today.

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) had been founded
soon after World War II and the United Nations in 1947, starting with only
fifteen representatives. The CSW had a focus of awareness and legislative 

Categories: Articles

x

Hi!
I'm Garrett!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out