Drawing specific examples from the D2L reading “Organizing Their Lives: Women, Work, and Family, 1950-2000,” write a five (5) to seven (7) page paper explaining how second wave feminism affected American views on women in the workforce and reflecting on the effects of the women’s movement in contemporary society.
Central Historical Question: How did the second wave feminist movement affect American views on women in the workforce?
Begin by considering and explaining the historical context in which second wave feminism emerged. Then analyze the documents and explain how they illustrate the influence of feminism (or not) on the debate about women in the workforce. Include in your discussion how the documents provide evidence (or not) of change over time in attitudes toward women.
Reflection: After considering the primary source documents from 1950-2000, reflect on how the second wave feminist movement shaped your own life experiences, opportunities, or freedoms.
Lastly, briefly reflect on how the women’s movement has reshaped and impacted the lives of individuals (yourself included). For example, think about how your life experience and opportunities—are they improved by the women’s movement? Altered? Impaired? In your final paragraph, situate yourself as a beneficiary (or not) of the second wave feminist movement. Note: This portion should be no more than a full paragraph; any more than that will not graded as part of your overall page length requirement. In addition, failure to meet the page length requirement will result in a 10 point deduction from grade.
To prepare for this assignment, carefully read Brown and Shannon, Going to the Source, vol. 2 CAPSTONE: Organizing Their Lives: Women, Work, and Family, 1950– 2000. Posted on D2L. Complete the source table to help you analyze the documents before you write.If you need additional sources, use the resources listed under “To Find Out More” at the end of the chapter.IMPORTANT: You may not use any other outside sources except those specifically listed in the chapter. You need to consider all of the sources provided to you—synthesize and use citations accordingly.
In short your essay should do three things:
- Use at minimum 10 of the available primary sources to respond to the prompt.
- Consider how the documents provide evidence of this change over time.
- Brief conclusion: reflect on how the women’s movement has shaped American life including your own.
Women, Work, and Family 1950-2000
The second wave of feminism arose, first in America and later in the rest of western society, to counter the view that women belonged home as housewives and mothers. Historically, society assigned women domestic roles without any hope for getting occupational fulfilment. During World War II, many men had left to participate in the war, leaving behind women’s opportunity to work in paid labor. Many took advantage of the opportunity to work as nurses and teachers. However, after the war, men returned home and were prepared to resume their paid labor roles. Society expected women to return home and play the role of loyal housewives and mothers. Still, women had experienced freedom from male domination and wanted to remain in the paid labor. They wanted to prove to society that they could play both roles. Women engaged in feminist efforts to retain the labor force’s place even as they worked at home as wives and mothers. While the wave had a huge impact on American and western society, the leading effect was on women’s American views in the workforce.
American Views following Second Wave of Feminism
Before World War II, American society considered the role of women as being domestic. However, they got the opportunity to prove their competence when they had to work in the paid labor when men left to fight in the war. After the war, the return of men suggested that they would have to return to their domestic role and leave paid labor to men. The second wave of feminism provided them with the opportunity to challenge the conventional view and fight for equality in the workplace. They believed that they could work in paid labor and, at the same time, take care of their families. A typical case is that of Ida Phillips, who sought employment at Martin Marietta Corporation in a production position, but her application was dismissed because she had a pre-school going child (Brown and Shannon 316). Her employment would be against the company’s policy, but the court ruled it illegal to refuse to hire her. The case revealed that women viewed themselves as capable of working in the paid labor, including production tasks, and taking care of children.
While women were still important in society as mothers, they fought to be accepted at the workplace. They wanted to overcome patriarchal domination, which limited them to the role of wives and mothers. They needed to be empowered in both roles since they could work both effectively. Ida understood that she was qualified enough to work in the operational role at the Martin Marietta Corporation and still work as a mother taking care of her children (Brown and Shannon 316). Her husband was already working, but like other women in America, she agreed with the view that a single salary was no longer adequate to provide her family with the American living standard. Unlike long before the Feminist movement, she was unwilling to accept the company’s decision. Instead, she filed a legal case where she won against the company to begin the new wave and era for American women. Women agreed that a time had come for them to fight for a better place by working as mothers and also in the workplace earning income.
Society did not believe that women could excel in the two roles before the second wave of feminism. Society expected that they would return to their domestic role once they returned from World War II, ready to assume their jobs. However, women were unwilling to turn back on the achievements they had made during the war period. However, the environment was not easy for women since while they wanted to work and earn an income, they were also expected to take care of their children and husbands (Brown and Shannon 318). Regardless of the conflict, society was learning to accept women’s empowerment to play both roles, thanks to the Second wave of feminism. Society needed to agree that women needed to work and contribute to the economy and take care of their families. A single salary would not be sufficient to meet their families’ needs with increasing financial demands in society. Thus, American society needed women to work and participate in economic development.
Women’s efforts attracted the support of policymakers towards their efforts to earn a living through paid labor. During the Cold War, the government recognized that failure to support women in their movement amounted to denying society another source of income and support economic development. The National Manpower Council reported that although the marriage was necessary, women were denied the opportunity to work in paid occupations, even as teachers, nurses, and clericals. Another considerable support came from President John F. Kennedy, who formed the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women and assigned the role of studying the threats and opportunities available to women (Brown and Shannon 319). The policymakers’ efforts to understand women’s place in society revealed a significant change in the American view of women in society. In general, the country and the West accepted the change and needed to support women in working in paid labor and were ready to support them.
The Second Wave and Contemporary Women’s Movement
The second wave of feminism played a key role in changing women’s movement in the West and, later, internationally. The modern women’s movements have fought for equality in the workplace and the need to avoid discrimination based on gender. The original view of the movement informed future efforts to avoid oppression of women or limit their contribution to society to their domestic role. However, equality did not suggest that women were the same as men since each has a special role in society (Scot-Maxwell 328). While many women accepted that it was necessary to work, they argued that their work was to earn a living to support their families. They still found fulfilment in being able to raise their children. According to Dr. Benjamin Spock, while women have accepted their role in the workplace, they still believe in their children and families’ importance. The doctor believed that their children would have a better life if they work. However, they still were guilty about leaving for work and leaving their young children at home or under the care of another person (330). Feminism provided them the opportunity to work as mothers while having a paid career. For instance, in the Poem “Parents are People”, Carol Hall argues that just because they are working, women are still parents and that both roles are important (336). The movement helped women to fight for recognition and empowerment in both roles.
Women believed that domestic and workplace roles were essential for them. As a result, they changed their view of domestic work since the second wave of feminism, such as accepting automated equipment to support their work at home and giving them time to attend to their workplace duties (327). Women in modern society are further accepted to support children through childcare, afterschool care, and intermittent care (332). Besides, the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women provided the view of policymakers and their support for women’s changes since the second wave of feminism. All changes focused on empowering women to balance their work at home and the workplace. Women recognized the need for continued struggle since society’s views kept changing. Phyllis Schlafly’s “What’s’ Wrong with Equal Rights?” includes information regarding the gains women have made regarding the fight for their better place in society and the workplace. The chapter supports the struggle to gain equality and address discrimination in society, such as the denial of a position in organizations simply by being women. Women used legal processes, such as Ida’s case, to help them fight for their rights and avoid discrimination. Thankfully, laws have been in place to support women in their fight for equality in employment. Policy and legislation changes in the society are among the legacies of women’s movements in the West and globally (Friedman 339). However, the information from the articles negated modern views, such a””supermother” in considering women who struggled to work as parents and employees in the workplace (Ebony 340). Although women played both roles in society, they should be viewed with respect and empowered to meet their employment and domestic obligations. Women work hard to balance the roles to earn a living for their families and play their role as mothers to contribute to society’s development. They also need the opportunity to relax as they continue to work because they are still humans. The modern women’s movements have borrowed important information from the second wave of feminism to inform women’s role in society.
The second wave of feminism is influenced by views and experiences regarding the role of women in society. I have always believed that even though women are important as mothers and wives, they find fulfillment in working in the workplace and advancing their careers. I have seen many women who have excelled as mothers and even as excellent employees. Thus, I believe that society should limit women’s ability to contribute to the development of the economy. They should have the opportunity to pursue essential careers and earn a living for the sake of their families. The current demands in life cannot allow families to survive on one salary.
Thus, they can learn critical lessons from the second wave of feminism to create great careers, sometimes even better than men’s in their workplaces. Information from the book has reshaped and impacted individuals’ lives since they have witnessed and accepted that the place of women in society has changed. Women with children can seek alternative child care to have the chance to work and provide for them or support their husbands in meeting financial obligations. Information from the primary literature confirmed my view of women and their demand for equality. I have always believed that women have the right to equality and should fight for it whenever necessary. After reading the primary sources, I understand the struggles that brought a change to women’s lives.
American Women: Report of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women, 1963
Friedan, Betty, The Second Stage, 1981
Hall, Caro “Parents Are People” 1972
“Modern American Housewife” 1956
National Opinion Research Center Poll: Women, Work, and Family, 1972–1998
National Organization for Women “Why Feminists Want Child Care” 1969
Schlafly Phyllis. What’s Wrong with’Equal Right’ for Women” 1972
Scott-Maxwell, Florida “”Women Know They Are Not Men” 1958
Spock, Benjamin “Should Mothers Work” 1963
Tate, Claudia, “Should We Expect Black Women to Be Supermothers” 1984