Evolution of a Social Movement

Essay by loquac1ousUniversity, Bachelor'sA, January 2009

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"The problem that has no name - which is simply the fact that American women are kept from growing to their full human capacities - is taking a far greater toll on the physical and mental health of our country than any known disease." - Betty Frieden, The Feminine Mystique (1963).

The Women's Rights MovementIn the litany of American struggles, none seems to stir up as much controversy and judgment - among men and women, among the erudite and the uneducated, among the agnostic and the devout - as the Women's Rights Movement. Though many believe the movement commenced during the turbulent 1960s, the movement began over a century earlier (Imbornoni, 2007). Perhaps even more interesting to note, is that the Women's Rights Movement progressed nearly parallel to the Anti-Slavery Movement for several decades - indeed, some scholars contend that the first Women's Rights Convention was a direct result of the exclusion of women from the World Anti-Slavery Convention in England in 1840 (Firestone, 1997).

Met with opposition from the very start, the movement progressed at a snail's pace, each hard-earned victory demarcating where the next battle would begin. This paper will examine what was at the heart of the Women's Movement, key figures within the movement, and how the movement evolved from WWII to the present.

The struggle of women to be viewed as equals to their male counterparts is as old as humankind. Through the centuries, a woman was treated as little more than property; expected to bear children for her husband and spend her days tending to her offspring and keeping her house in order (Donnelly, 1986, p. 26). In the event of a divorce, a woman had no rights to property or her children (Eisenberg & Ruthsdotter, 1998); after all, denied the ability to obtain an...