Progression or Regression?

In many ways these three women are the models for the correct way of being women: they are married to their homes and families. While this might have been the way many women wanted to live after the ravages of World War II, a few events of the 1960s would change the direction of some women and would lead to an alteration of their depiction in the later 1960s and 1970s.

As the baby boomers came of age remarkable changes were occurring in American society. Younger people became active in the civil rights movement, demonstrations against the War in Vietnam, and the American Indian Movement. Though women played a role in all of these movements, they were often left to clerical roles as they copied flyers and stood behind the male leaders of these movements. However, there were a large number of women who became dissatisfied with their position in the background.

Many women writers, including Sara Evans in her book The Personal is Political, noted women’s roles as background activist in these movements as one of the roots of the Second Women’s Movement. Several years earlier, Betty Friedan wrote a galvanizing book, The Feminine Mystique, which addressed the displeasure that many women felt with the limited roles of wives and mothers. Early in the 1960s the birth control pill was developed which potentially freed women from becoming mothers unless they wanted to. In 1972, Gloria Steinem began the magazine, MS, the first wide-spread feminist magazine which offered women alternatives from the limiting role of wife and mother. The Supreme Court spoke to the right of privacy, a women’s right to control her own body and the right to an abortion that logically followed from the women’s right to privacy. With some of these changes in American society, would television reflect the changes in women’s lives?

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