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Women's Rights Movements in the 60s, 70s and 80s

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Rachel Baehr

on 22 October 2016

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Transcript of Women's Rights Movements in the 60s, 70s and 80s

Women's Rights Movements in the 60s, 70s and 80s
Negatives- 1970
Slowly but surely, the idea that women are housewives who cannot function in a professional environment was fading away. Unfortunately, women were still often seen as a pretty face or a good set of legs. The concept of being a "Mind Sticker" was huge throughout the 70s.

Cosmetic ads were made with the intention of "Staying young and pretty looking for him." Although having your partner like the way you look is liberating for women even today, it shouldn't be the only reason you take care of yourself.

In 1970, famous menstrual painkiller brand Midol released an ad telling women to "Be the you he likes." This statement enforces the idea of being an always happy "yes girl" once more by making the reason to want to have relief from menstrual pain is so that you stay pleasant to be around and your man stays happy.

This commercial for
tab soda also pushes
staying in shape only to
keep your guy happy.
Positives- 1970s
The Battered Women's Shelter Movement of Canada was founded in the late 60s and was widespread by the early 70s. This gave victims of rape and domestic violence a place to go and be with women with similar experiences. Government funding allowed the shelter to provide food, toiletries and beds to women who had to leave their homes due to the abuser being their husband/family member. This was a huge step in helping out women in need because running away from their abuser before these shelter existed would likely end in homelessness.

Quebec was the final Canadian province to lift its law against women being on jury in court. This created a more equal playing ground and enforced the message that women were capable of doing jobs that were previously seen as male only.

Abortion was legalized to be done in hospitals by medical professionals. This was likely due to the fact that, as it was illegal in the 1960s, many women resorted to home remedies for abortions that were almost always fatal. The new pro-choice laws helped out rape victims and launched planned parenthood.
Negatives- 1980
In the 80s, 2 women were appointed into the Supreme Court of Canada: Bertha Wilson in 1982 and Claire L'Heureux-Dube in 1987. This is another example of a push forward in workplace equality.

In 1982, rape victims were given more of a court case and trial time than ever before. Jail times for proven guilty rapists were extended from 5 or less years to 15 to life. A "legal concept" of rape still existed before this time, and that changed to a concept of violence and harrassment after this time.

In 1983, changes were made to the Unemployment Insurance Act, changing pregnancy to parental benefits in order to eliminate the problem of stress induced miscarriages and being fired for becoming pregnant. This also eliminated a workplace's rights to fire a woman for being pregnant.

Also in 1983, the Canadian Constitution Act gave Natives more rights in regards to keeping their Aboriginal status. Before, if an Indigenous woman married a man of another other race, she would lose her status card. This new edition to the CCA did away with this law.
Within 30 years, women's rights continued to become equal to men, whether it be in terms of jobs, finances, and parenthood. Leaps and bounds were made in the direction for protecting victims of violence and workplace discrimination. Women also gained a better sense of their own selves with the edition of the Pill and legal abortions. Naturally, we are not perfect even in this time. Discrimination still exists in North America and the rest of the world. However, the foundation made by first and second wave feminists have given us, the people of 2016 a good base to grow upon.
Positives and negatives changed greatly between the years of 1960, 70 and 80. Here's how:

By 1964, the amount of married women in the workforce increased dramatically, however, these women made about 63% of the money that a man working the same job would receive.

This was, of course, if the woman could get a job at all. About 38% of women in the Western world had jobs. Typically, women would work in factories or as nurses, teachers or secretaries. Although secondary and even tertiary education was becoming more and more common among women in the late 50s-early 60s, women weren't urged to "follow their passions" in terms of jobs, as the chances of a woman taking a job that a man was already doing was very slim. Women could even get fired if they got pregnant, with little to know chance of being rehired at that location/company.

An unspecified head professor of an American medical school once said, "Hell yes, we have a quota...We do keep women out, when we can. We don't want them here — and they don't want them elsewhere, either, whether or not they'll admit it." This, among other anti-working-women ideologies, were seen everywhere, mainly in ads or commercials.

Sexist Xerox Photocopier Commercial-
The main objective of feminine rights activists in the 60s was to earn equality in the workplace. The previous slide illustrated women's roles in the professional environment as being a "yes girl."

Famous feminist Betty Friedan founded the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966. Members of NOW went on to lobby Congress for pro-equality laws and assist women seeking legal aid as they battled workplace discrimination all over North America. Friedan's organization did not wish to break down the already existing system to put women above men, she simply wished for women to be included on a social, economical and political level.

NOW also wanted to remove the taboo feelings about speaking up about rape and domestic violence. At this time, a rape victim was seen as filthy and domestic violence was justified as it was seen that neither of these acts would occur if the woman didn't deserve it. NOW encouraged victims to speak up about their experiences, but unfortunately the stigma and fear did not disappear until later in the century.

Lastly, safe sex was made more and more accessible for women with the introduction of the birth control pill. First advertised as a pain reliever for "severe menstrual ailments," the birth control pill was later approved as a safe, easy and effective form of contraceptive.


By this time, it was completly normal for a wife and/or mother to have a job, and not just those mentioned in the 60s slide. However, many times they were still seen as only that: a wife or mother.

The stigma against divorce rose and rose. If a married man and woman could not get along any longer, the root of the problem was often placed on the woman. Common accusations involved being irratating, letting themselves go appearance-wise and especially not keeping her man happy. Cash benefits often went towards the ex husband upon divorce.

The number of women in high ranks of companies was very low. The percentage of North American women who were founders or CEOs was a unbelievable 1%.
Was this because women were too lazy or not smart enough for these positions?
Usually not. The majority of the reason was likely because it was just seen as something women don't pursue.

On the 6th of December, 1989, 14 young women were murdured at L'ecole Polytechnique Du Quebec. The attack was committed by a man by the name of Marc Lepine, who later stated his reasoning being gender based.
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