Fifties Struggles & Sixties Activism – Feminism & the Evolution of the American Culture

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The initial Woman’s campaign was principally regarded with encouraging women to obtain the right to vote. Thereby, the fresh feminist movement in the sixties and seventies was a lot different differed significantly from its forerunners. US citizens witnessed the success of the Civil Rights Movement with refreshed hope. The goals of liberalism were invoked by the Civil Rights movement, which endeavored to challenge what was granted for standard. This lead to increased progress, such as the new feminist movement, which pursued gender equity. The main goal of this feminist movement was to ensure that women received the same treatment as their male counterparts in the workplace, while also challenging commonly held misperception of female domesticity (Shi and Tindall 1128).
The white, suburban, middle-class woman was the envy of her fellow female counterparts. She was considered the epitome of “feminine fulfillment” (Friedan 18). This is because she was a domesticated woman, whose sole concern was her husband, her children and housework. In fact, these women did not consider gender equality to be desirable, and they pitied their counterparts, who sought to pursue professional lives. Moreover, they preferred the men to make the major decisions in their homes (Shi and Tindall 1128; Friedan 18).
Since women were now expected to remain domesticated, they became desperate and felt hopeless as they could not pursue the own professional lives or individual identities. Women were no longer happy with their roles as housewives, and they could not air their dissatisfaction due to the feminine mystique. The “feminine mystique” refers to the philosophy that has all women believing that they are committed to prove their femininity by acting as caretakers and accepting male domination (Friedan 15-8).
The American society has since evolved since the 1950s. Previous misconceptions and norms have been overturned and replaced with laws and policies that guarantee individual freedom and other liberties. Former President Johnson’s “greater society” programs paved the way for the modern-day liberal America. The act that resulted from Johnson’s “liberal proposals” resulted in the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid Programs, which helped people of all ages, get access to quality medical care (Shi and Tindall 1104-5).These acts created an environment that encouraged the approval of other bills that had been put before the Congress. In total, more than 400 “great society” bills were passed through Congress. One of these bills was the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1966. This act targeted the mountain areas, granting them up to $1 billion in grants. Ghetto areas found within cities also benefited as they received up to $3 billion to help with construction and other development projects. This was made possible by the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965. Individuals living below the poverty line were also targeted by these developments. A law was enacted to enable them to pay their rent. African Americans also made significant developments in the political arena. With the creation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the first African American cabinet member was appointed to oversee it (Shi and Tindall 1105). The most significant developments that have since taken place include the immigration act and the issuance of voting rights.
Civil Rights Movement
The Civil Rights Movement has experienced significant changes since the 1950s. During the 1960s, American was mired in chaos and disorderliness. Traditions were challenged as individuals chose to oppose leadership. The desire to rebel against the government created a form of cultural movement. This was manifested in the assassination of some of the strongest and renowned leaders, such as Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. At the same time, the new left was established, to help differentiate its support of democracy from its predecessors who were orthodox Marxists (Shi and Tindall 1114-5). There was also a significant amount of opposition facing the Vietnam War, which resulted in protests and violent altercations.
African Americans also continued to fight for equal treatment, evident in the Civil Rights Movement. Contrary to previous approached employed by Martin Luther King, Malcolm X championed for Black Power. This new movement was created in response to the reduced attention the North and urban areas were receiving from the Civil Rights Movement. During the early 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement experienced immense growth. However, it continued to address the needs of African Americans located in the South, while neglecting those in the North and urban areas (Shi and Tindall 1095-7). At the same time, it placed emphasis on non-violence tactics, such as sit-ins and freedom rides (Shi and Tindall 1087-92). In fact, student activists were often arrested while fighting for the cause of the Civil Rights Movement.
While Martin Luther King Jr. employed ethics to appeal to the White Americans, Malcolm X, and other leaders of the Black Power Movement, chose to appeal to the anger and resentment of the African American youth (Shi and Tindall 1097). The black power movement was opposed to the leadership of the civil rights movement as well as its continued insistence on using non-violent approaches. Its leaders, such as Carmichael did not consider integration to the solution to racism (Stokeley Carmichael 3). Eventually, the Civil Rights Act was passed, and the Economic opportunity Act soon followed. They both addressed the issues of equality and economic conditions of the marginalized African American community.
Works Cited
Friedan, Betty. The Feminine Mystique. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1963.
Shi, David E. & Tindall, George B. America: A Narrative History. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.,
Stokeley Carmichael from “Black power” in the New York Review of Books (1966).

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