Tag Archives: women’s movement

Women’s Liberation Movement in Newsweek Covers

These photos are all from Newsweek‘s online collection.  The text is written by Sarah Ball, who introduced the collection with this:

From real-life riveting Rosies to Gloria Steinem’s faded blue sunglasses, NEWSWEEK has splashed mighty icons of women’s history on its cover throughout the magazine’s 77 years. We opened our archives for the best of those images, and passages of the stories behind them. The words speak to different desires and different political movements, but a single theme unites them. As Radcliffe student Faye Levine, quoted in a 1966 NEWSWEEK piece, affectingly issued, “You have opened the door of Shangri-La to us; do not be surprised when we stick our foot in it. The old world of our silent, contented acquiescence is gone forever.”

These images accompanied an article entitled, “Are we There Yet?” which discusses the changes over the past forty years in gender.  Enjoy.


The women’s movement, relegated to the fringe during prior decades, suddenly went mainstream. From the editor’s note: “A new specter is haunting America—the specter of militant feminism. Convinced they have little to lose but their domestic chains, growing numbers of women are challenging the basic assumptions of what they consider a male-dominated society. They demand equal rights in every area from wages through child-rearing to sexual expression."

This cover is also important as it signifies the entry of women into the Newsweek workforce, as 46 women successfully sued Newsweek for gender discrimination in 1970.

The intersection of fashion and politics, relayed with comical gravity by a male writer: “At issue is a deceptively miniscule few inches of fabric that will determine whether women’s skirts will drop to a demure mid-calf, or stay casually provocative above the knee. The Presidents of the U.S. and France have proclaimed their approval of the midi, but most men sense a conspiracy in action. The Beautiful People like the longer look, but many women who are merely lovely are outraged at the thought of buying entirely new wardrobes.”

Gloria Steinem’s words were serious. As she wrote of the Pill at the time, “The real danger of the contraceptive revolution may be the acceleration of women’s role change without any corresponding change of man’s attitude towards her role.” But the description of her appearance didn’t convey the same grave tone. “In hip-hugging raspberry Levis, two-inch wedgies and a tight poor-boy T-shirt, her long, blond-streaked hair falling just so above each breast and her cheerleader-pretty face...Any old swatch of cloth rides like a midsummer night’s dream on what one friend calls her ‘most incredibly perfect body.’ ”

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21st Century Masculinity: The New “Macho”

My current research on Rolling Stone magazine is on their coverage of the Men’s Liberation Movement!  Which makes this Newsweek article pretty exciting.  The photos included with this article are from Newsweek’s timeline of male ideals in American history.  Want to learn more about men’s history?  (Yes, they have a history, and no, men’s history isn’t American history in default)  Read Michael Kimmel’s Manhood in America: A Cultural History.  Hope you like it!


by Jesse Ellison and Jessica Bennett, Newsweek, September 20, 2010

If the stereotype of the macho man is the whiskey-drinking, womanizing Don Draper, then the popular perception of “feminist” is an angry, militant, man-hater—decrying the patriarchy while she burns her bra. It’s a cliché that, for decades now, has pitted the Marlboro Man against Rosie the Riveter, labeling women who rally behind men as antifeminist, and men who support women as weak, or worse. But even Gloria Steinem knew—back before women were even allowed to write at NEWSWEEK—that it was going to take both sides of the gender coin to achieve true parity. Testifying before Congress on behalf of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1970, Steinem proclaimed that one crucial aspect of women’s empowerment was “a return of fathers to their children.” “Women’s liberation,” Steinem declared, “is men’s liberation too.”

Family Man: 1910-1945, The nation's first fatherhood movement grew out of the factory-floor malaise, as thousands of men tried to "manufacture manhood" in their sons--to help them prepare for a heartless market, and avoid being feminized by nothing but mommy-time. Part of the solution: a new masculine space in the home, "the den," christened around 1905. Walmsley Brothers / Hulton Archive-Getty Images

Forty years later, women are further along than we were in Steinem’s day—we’re tipping the scale at 51 percent of workers; we make up the majority of college graduates, M.A.s (and now even Ph.D.s), and we are the primary or co-breadwinners in most American households. But we still have trouble penetrating the highest echelons of the corporate world, and no matter how many hours we spend trying to close that gap, we remain burdened by domestic life. In 2010, there are still precious few stay-at-home dads; housework and child care are primarily still “women’s work.” And while we may have superpowered washing machines and delivery from Fresh Direct, we still do double the chores of the men we choose to live with.

All of this is why, even in 2010, we must take the advice of a feminist of yore: women still need men to prosper. We’re not talking about Mr. Cleaver bringing home the bacon—we need men so that we can excel at work, to level the playing field at home. We need them as dads, partners, and cheerleaders—from the classroom to the boardroom. So let’s retire the tired old “battle of the sexes” war cry—equality should never have been a zero-sum equation.

Muscle Man: 1910-1945, With the frontier closed and women beginning their long push into the workplace, men obsessed over Tarzan, cowboy literature, and bodybuilding, even if they were sitting in offices all day. Eugen Sandow, a precursor to Charles Atlas, was the first fitness guru for men. Hulton Archive-Getty Images

There are practical reasons why we should rally behind each other’s causes. If men are concerned about American prosperity, there’s a solution: women! Countless studies prove there’s a correlation between the number of women on corporate boards and achieving a better bottom line; McKinsey estimates that the United States could increase GDP by 9 percent if we achieved true equity at work. (At a time when economists worry we’re losing our economic edge, who wouldn’t be swayed by these arguments?)

The same goes for parental leave. It’s no coincidence that Iceland has the most generous paternity-leave program in the modern world—three months!—and also, the smallest wage gap. These things go hand in hand. And no, it wasn’t a raging man-hating feminist who pushed the legislation through—it was a male prime minister, who recognized that Icelanders of both genders would benefit, and not just in the short term. The reasoning? As more men take time off to care for their children, the burden of parenthood no longer falls on women alone. Ultimately, employers will stop looking at young, fertile women and thinking, why bother investing? We’ll all be equally worthy of investment.

In today’s economy, the industries that have long been female-dominated—teaching, nursing, and so on—are the ones that, in the coming years, will grow the most. Encouraging men to “man up,” as our colleagues put it—and enter these fields should be something we all push for. Because just as corporate boards benefit from diversity of thought, so does every workplace. Recent research from the London Business School suggests that productivity levels go up when men and women work in tandem—in part because gender parity counters the idea of groupthink, and reduces the sprouting of likeminded groups that defend ideas that may be ill conceived.

Suburban Playboy: 1960-1980, The Self-Made Man returns in the image of Playboy magazine, "the bible of the beleaguered man." Joe Suburbs replaced his suit with a smoking jacket, restocked the den with Danish modern furniture, and dreamed of swinging. At the same time, gay men, black men, new immigrants, and the gender-blurring hippies expanded the mainstream notion of masculinity. Bettmann-Corbis

Welcoming men to traditionally underpaid professions could also serve to boost average salaries in those fields, making them more competitive and better able to attract top-tier talent. It could also be a crucial step in closing the wage gap, which, of course, won’t help just women. As more women become the main breadwinners—we’re in a “mancession,” remember?—equal pay means more for everyone.

So let’s embrace the new macho, throw our weight behind men who want to make a change, and get back to the forgotten principles of the original women’s movement, which put men’s progress hand in hand with women’s. “The only way that we can resolve these issues is for both men and women to join together,” says historian Barbara Berg. “You can’t liberate only one half.”

Forty years ago, Gloria Steinem said that women’s liberation would also be men’s. Today, maybe it’s the opposite: that men’s liberation will be good for women.

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Joan Rivers on Female Comedians and the Women’s Movement

So stop right there – I know what you’re thinking: No one likes Joan Rivers.  She’s old.  She’s not funny.  She’s ugly.

All of those things are pretty harsh after seeing this segment from CBS Sunday Morning.  In fact, her age (77) is probably the coolest thing about her.  In this interview with Richard Schlesinger, Rivers talks about being one of the first female comedians when she began in the 1960s, and how it was NOT hard being a woman:

Schlesinger: Was it hard to be a female comedian back then?

Rivers: No. No, no, and I’m so tired of hearing that.  I’m so tired of people saying, “Well, oh, I’m a woman and so they don’t let” – Let me tell you, if Hitler had six good jokes, they’d be saying, “You know, he’s changed.  He went to Nazi rehab…and he’s fine now.”  If you’re funny you can be anything.

A photo of Rivers when she first began comedy in the 1960s. Click to watch the 9 minute segment. Discussion on gender begins at :45.

Rivers also went to Barnard College, a very prominent women’s college, during the genesis of the Women’s Liberation Movement.  In fact, Rivers passed out questionnaires on gender to her female audience members for her professor Margaret Mead:

River: I would leave on the tables little questionnaires with little pencils and the women could fill out who makes the money in your house, who distri – women’s lib was just coming in.  And I would send them back to Mrs. Mead.

Schlesinger: You did research for Margaret Mead in your comedy club?

Rivers: Yes!

Schlesinger: Well what did you discover?

Rivers: That women were still dominated by men, but just starting to break through.

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The Battle of the Sexes

Go watch this video!  It won’t let me link it!

In researching this entry, I found this articleBattle of the Sexes – did you know that Wimbledon JUST RECENTLY began awarding women equal prize money to men?

[Wikipedia Entry for more information and sources.]

The Battle of the Sexes was a nationally televised tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King, held in Houston, Texas, on September 20, 1973. Riggs was a master showman, sports hustler, and a 1940s tennis star who, for three years, had been the World No. 1. He challenged King to a match after beating another top female tennis player, Margaret Court. The match was incredibly important in gaining public support for gender equality in sports.  The journalist in the video of the match is pretty objective – unlike most male journalists and specially sportscasters at the time.  However, the video reveals the deeply rooted misogyny in American and sports during the 70s.  The journalist also makes a crucial point that the match was more than a battle of the sexes, but was a profitable event for the retired Riggs, the successful King, and for the Women’s Movement procuring positive publicity.

Shortly before the match, King entered the Astrodome in Cleopatra style, carried aloft in a chair held by four bare-chested muscle men dressed in the garb of ancient slaves. Riggs followed in a rickshaw drawn by a bevy of scantily-clad models. Riggs presented King with a giant lollypop and she gave him a piglet named Larimore Hustle.

Even from the net, the result was the same: King defeated him, 6–4, 6–3, 6–3.

A few critics were less than impressed by King’s victory. King was 26 years younger, and some experts claimed that it was more an age versus youth game. According to tennis player Jack Kramer, “I don’t think Billie Jean played all that well. She hit a lot of short balls which Bobby could have taken advantage of had he been in shape. I would never take anything away from Billie Jean — because she was smart enough to prepare herself properly — but it might have been different if Riggs hadn’t kept running around. It was more than one woman who took care of Bobby Riggs in Houston.”

Before the match, however, King had forced the American television network ABC to drop Kramer as a commentator.  King said, “He doesn’t believe in women’s tennis. Why should he be part of this match? He doesn’t believe in half of the match. I’m not playing. Either he goes – or I go.” After the match, Pancho Segura declared that Riggs was only the third best senior player, behind himself and Gardnar Mulloy, and challenged King to another match. King refused.

On another note, King has been a powerful icon for the LGBT rights movement, as she was one of the first women to admit her bisexuality in sports, following Martina Navratilova, who King said was “the greatest singles, doubles and mixed doubles player who’s ever lived.”

Article on HBO Tennis Documentary

This 60 Minutes on Bobby Riggs gives you more background on Riggs and The Battle of the Sexes.  He’s a winner.

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