Until 1975, ‘Sexual Harassment’ Was the Menace With No Name

Until 1975, ‘Sexual Harassment’ Was the Menace With No Name

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Rain poured down in Ithaca, New York, but the women who streamed into the Greater Ithaca Activities Center on May 4, 1975 weren’t daunted by a bit of weather. Hundreds of women packed into the modest room. Then they began tospeak about their experiences being groped and sexually exploited at work.

For journalist-turned activist Lin Farley, the event was life changing. “The solidarity that women felt for one another was contagious,” she later wrote. “No longer did they have to explain to their friends and family that ‘he hit on me and wouldn’t take no for an answer, so I had to quit.’ What he did had a name.”

Attendees spoke of professors, restaurant guests, factory workers, executives—men who turned their workplaces into private hells. They talked about how their bosses pinched them, groped them, and how their coworkers looked the other way when they were harassed. Humiliated, intimidated and bullied, many of these women had lost jobs when they turned down their bosses’ sexual advances. And they were fed up.

As they spoke, these women used a new term: sexual harassment. Until just a few weeks before, the term didn’t even exist. But thanks to Farley and the consciousness-raising efforts of the 1970s women’s movement, the newly coined term would not just help women give voice to their experiences: It would change U.S. law and life in the workplace.

“Working women immediately took up the phrase, which finally captured the sexual coercion they were experiencing daily,” she later wrote in The New York Times.

In 1974, Farley—a devoted feminist who lived in a radical lesbian separatist commune—was hired by Cornell University to teach a class on women and work. At the time, universities all over the country were working to catch up with the burgeoning women’s movement. Cornell was a hotbed for feminist thought and thefirst university in the U.S. to offer an accredited course in women’s studies. But something was awry at the university, Farley learned—it was also a hotbed for sexual harassment.

In 1975, Carmita Wood, an administrator in Cornell’s department of physics, approached Farley with asecret: Her boss, Boyce McDaniel, a celebrated physicist, had been harassing her for years. She told Farley about how McDaniel kissed and groped her, how her mental and physical health had suffered, and how she’d been denied unemployment after finally quitting in desperation. Wood wanted justice, but there was no legal definition for what she’d suffered, and no term with which to succinctly describe it.

Farley knew exactly what Wood was talking about—she, too, had witnessed harassment during her years in the workplace. So had her students, who had used Farley’s class as a place in which to discuss the sexual intimidation they’d endured during their own jobs. Farley, along with her feminist colleagues Susan Meyer and Karen Sauvigne, organized a meeting with Wood and others. They brainstormed how to refer to the problem. Was it coercion? Intimidation? Finally, recalls Farley, they settled on “sexual harassment.”

“I thought that we needed to have a name for what this phenomenon was,” Farleyrecalled later. “We all needed to be talking about the same thing.”

The women didn’t stop at coining a term. They joined forces, creating a group called Working Women United, bringing together women from different feminist organizations and organizing the campus speakout, which attracted 275 women. Meyer and Sauvigne commissioned asurvey that found that more than 75 percent of respondents had been harassed.

Farley, armed with a new phrase to describe what women went through at work, went public with her message about harassment. In August 1975, she spoke before the Commission on Human Rights of New York City at a hearing about women in the workplace, and became the first to use the term in public. It waspicked up by the New York Times in an article that used the phrase in a headline. The story, which told of the tribulations many women faced at work, was widely reprinted and helped spark a national conversation about workplace harassment.

This resulted in women around the nation having a quick shorthand with which to discuss what was happening to them. Soon, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission came up with guidelines for lawsuits on harassment, and women began suing their employers for the groping, comments, and intimidation that, until recently, had been thought of as just part of a woman’s job. By 1977, thanks to ahandful of landmark lawsuits, the courts confirmed that women could sue their employers for harassment, and today that right has been upheld for years.

Working Women United didn’t last, and Wood’s harasser was never prosecuted for his actions. But the chain of events begun by Farley and her colleagues has had long-lasting ramifications for both law and women’s everyday lives. So how does Farley feel about the term in today’s era of #metoo and widely publicized accusations of harassment?

“At first, it felt as if the term had the potential to change everything,” she wrote in the New York Times. “But…the term, which once held so much promise, has been co-opted, sanitized, stripped of its power to shock, disturb and galvanize.”

Over the years, Farley watched in dismay as the phrase became a standard part of corporate orientation sessions, intended for businesses to defend themselves against lawsuits by female employees.

“The working women’s revolution I once envisioned hasn’t happened,” she wrote recently. Though Farley recognizes that the term has sparked change in the workplace, she feels it did little to change the power dynamics that allow harassment to flourish.

Yet, without the term “sexual harassment” and its astute summary of the violations faced by women at work, we might still live in an age of furtive pinches and sexist jokes.

Until 1975, ‘Sexual Harassment’ Was the Menace With No Name - HISTORY

Sexual harassment had its 42nd birthday last year &ndash its societally recognized one, that is.

No cake was cut. No candles were blown. No confetti was shot into the air. Only two words were uttered.

Hundreds of people from all industries rose up in perhaps the most successful revolution in modern history. The system of extortion, hushed warnings and power plays was challenged with firm fists, insurmountable courage and a resounding assertion that time was up.

Time was up for the Hollywood directors who forced sexual favors out of rising artists. Time was up for the acclaimed news anchors who extorted women off set while being showered in accolades for their work on screen. Time was up for the directors who turned blind eyes to rampant sexual harassment committed by their esteemed peers. Time was up for those in positions of power who abused their privilege to discriminate against their peers.

Of course, it&rsquos naive to assume the death knell of sexual harassment has been struck. For starters, the fight hasn&rsquot been going on for that long: The term &ldquosexual harassment&rdquo was only coined back in 1975 when Lin Farley, then-director of the women's section of the Human Affairs Program at Cornell University, testified about workplace mistreatment of women in a New York City human rights commission public hearing. No designated legal resources to challenge sexual harassment existed then, and few groups fought for those necessary regulations.

A lot has improved since then. But to rid society of sexual harassment is to challenge a list of long-standing, unspoken norms about gender and race &ndash a continual struggle that will not see its resolution overnight. And while movements such as #MeToo and Time&rsquos Up have taken the nation by storm, the same enthusiasm hasn&rsquot carried over to higher education institutions.

Sexual predators such as former University of California Regent Norman Pattiz have been allowed to sit in the upper echelons of leadership, and campus Title IX offices seem to do little to keep professors such as Gabriel Piterberg, a former UCLA history professor who sexually harassed two graduate students, away from campus until years after allegations are made against them.

Cynical as it may seem, these outcomes are understandable. Universities are built on power structures that perpetuate sexual harassment culture. The very policies meant to address this abuse of power can dissuade those who have been harassed from coming forward. And the bureaucracy isn&rsquot easy to navigate: No individual administrator calls all the shots, meaning demonstrators have to mobilize multiple moving parts if they hope to address mishandled cases, let alone kindle a radical shift of culture.

But we can no longer afford to be nonchalant about the red tape that shackles our higher education institutions. We need to envision and nurture a system where future generations of students no longer face the horrors of sexual harassment &ndash where they no longer have to indignantly whisper the words &ldquome too&rdquo to one another.

We need to ask the ambitious yet necessary question: Why haven&rsquot we eliminated sexual harassment in higher education yet?

Power plays

Sexual harassment is arguably the most contested crime of the 21st century.

It&rsquos a form of gender discrimination that has existed for as long as humanity has. It tends to be written off as &ldquointerpersonal problems&rdquo or attributed to people &ldquonot having thick skin,&rdquo despite affecting people&rsquos abilities to carry out their work and live their lives.

And like other types of discrimination, it&rsquos institutionally silenced.

The countless #MeToo stories are evidence of this. Women sexually harassed by Harvey Weinstein, the now estranged Hollywood producer mogul, kept quiet about their experiences for fear of jeopardizing their careers. Those sexually assaulted or harassed by Matt Lauer, the former host of NBC&rsquos &ldquoToday&rdquo show, did not immediately report the incidents to the police for fear of losing their jobs. Numerous lobbyists and interns at the California State Capitol did not file complaints against lawmakers who sexually harassed them for fear of retaliation.

In each of these cases, the story is the same: People in positions of power abused their authority to sexually coerce their subordinates or cause them psychological trauma, and then cultivated an environment where victims were forced to remain silent.

This silence is damaging. Victims of sexual harassment are lulled into the notion that their experiences are singular and are compelled to conform to the narrative that the harassment they experienced was simply harmless flirtation or a misunderstanding.

This culture is only accentuated in universities. Higher education, after all, is built on a system of interwoven hierarchies. Faculty advisors largely control the graduation status of graduate student researchers working underneath them. Managers control the employment of campus personnel. And administrators oversee entire campus departments.

The cases speak for themselves. UCLA found in a 2012 investigation that a French and Francophone studies professor allegedly sent more than 300 poems professing his love to a graduate student he was advising. A 2014 Title IX investigation found that a UC Santa Barbara music lecturer would walk unannounced into the women&rsquos dressing room while women were dressing and make sexually demeaning comments to female students should they have a bad music lesson. A 2012 investigation found a female student was coerced into a sexual relationship with a professor of orthopedic surgery at UC San Francisco School of Medicine out of fear that her career would be damaged.

Administrative power structures are similarly abused. For instance, UC Berkeley&rsquos Office for the Prevention of Harassment & Discrimination found Sujit Choudhry, the former dean of the university&rsquos law school, kissed and hugged his executive assistant without her permission over a period of more than seven months, supposedly to express his thanks to her.

The culture of people, particularly men, exploiting their institutional power is undeniable. Sure, the UC requires its employees to undergo Title IX training in hopes of deterring abusive behavior, but the inevitable concentration of authority in these power structures serves as a breeding ground for sexual harassment.

It&rsquos hopeful to think the UC&rsquos policies against sexual harassment check the power of these campus institutions. But writing policies that break the system of silence requires the UC to be introspective of what structures perpetuate sexual harassment culture, and that&rsquos something it hasn&rsquot had much success doing.

Patchwork policies

Sexual harassment had no name until 1975. And there was no consistent way to try it in court until 1986. So it&rsquos no surprise that in 2018, it still has no expiration date.

Farley&rsquos use of the term &ldquosexual harassment&rdquo in her 1975 testimony spurred many Americans into action for the first time against something that was once considered a workplace norm. As Catharine MacKinnon &ndash a University of Michigan law professor widely credited with pioneering the legal framework for sexual harassment claims &ndash said, women often did not complain to authorities about sexual harassment before the mid-1970s because it was an experience that had no name &ndash a literally unspeakable act.

The debut of the term &ldquosexual harassment&rdquo galvanized women to legally challenge their treatment in the workplace. Courts saw an increasing number of sexual harassment cases over the following two decades, with prosecutors relying on laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, which included clauses prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex.

As expected, there was substantial pushback. An Arizona court, for example, ruled in 1975 that Title VII policies could not be used to challenge sexually oriented verbal or physical advances against employees, as it would be &ldquoludicrous&rdquo to hold employers accountable for every such sexual encounter.

Eventually, however, federal courts derived the notions of &ldquoquid pro quo&rdquo sexual harassment, a form of harassment in which employees are coerced into sexual favors for job benefits, and &ldquohostile work environment&rdquo sexual harassment, a form of discrimination in which individuals are unable to perform physically or psychologically because of harassment.

Educational institutions were brought into the picture when a district court ruled in 1980 that the anti-discrimination protections afforded in Title IX of the Education Act Amendment of 1972 were analogous to those in Title VII. Slowly but surely, higher education sexual misconduct regulations were integrated into universities.

And that&rsquos the point: Title IX policies were slapped together from existing discrimination policies to meet institutional demands. There was no wholesale analysis of sexual harassment in higher education settings and how to go about eradicating it.

As a result, university sexual misconduct policies are focused more on identifying and dealing with instances of sexual harassment than on addressing the culture that generates those cases in the first place.

The UC&rsquos Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment, for example, is laser-focused on increasing avenues for reporting sexual harassment and lays out how the university should deal with filed complaints. But that mode of thinking does not take into account the institutional structures that impede reporting in the first place or the psychological and social burdens of reporting sexual harassment.

For example, the UC amended its SVSH policies in 2016 to require every employee, except those designated as confidential resources, to notify a Title IX representative if they receive information that a student has experienced sexual harassment or sexual violence. The Title IX Office is then required to reach out to the affected student and inform them of university resources and their options for filing a sexual misconduct report.

While this policy was intended to increase reporting of sexual harassment, the rule stands to discourage those who have experienced harassment from sharing their experiences if they do not immediately wish to file a complaint. Students who have been sexually harassed may be dissuaded from talking through their experiences with trusted advisory figures, such as professors or teaching assistants, for fear of University policy requiring their case be shared with multiple parties.

Other SVSH rules show the UC is unwilling to make cases of sexual harassment more transparent. The UC&rsquos confidentiality policies stipulate that it not disclose information about sexual harassment investigations and settlements to the public unless it receives a California Public Records Act request. In other words, until organizations &ndash such as news outlets &ndash file CPRA requests and publish their findings, which is a lengthy process, those who experience sexual harassment, as well as the greater campus community, have few ways of knowing the frequency of sexual harassment on UC campuses, which can dissuade victims from coming forth about their experiences.

The University also allows chancellors to wait as long as three years after an investigation concludes before disciplining a faculty member found to have committed sexual harassment &ndash a policy that could allow a harasser to remain on campus for the entirety of a victim&rsquos college experience.

Of course, educational institutions have many moving parts, and it&rsquos easier, and seemingly more practical, to view harassment as an individualistic problem as opposed to a systemic one &ndash that there are simply harassers, as opposed to a culture of harassment.

But universities are at a crucial junction. Administrators must reassess whether policies are protecting or poisoning the campus community. Considering the very policies meant to aid victims can disenfranchise them altogether, chances are it&rsquos the latter.

Taped in red

When we think of how universities are organized, we tend to focus on hierarchical structures.

There&rsquos the academic ladder, with students occupying the bottom rung and TAs on the next, followed by faculty, department chairs, deans and administrators. The staff ladder seats employees at the bottom, followed by supervisors, managers and administrators. There&rsquos the administrative ladder, with administrative assistants sitting under vice chancellors or vice presidents. And at the top of it all sits the chancellor or president of the university.

It&rsquos natural to expect administrative authority to grow the higher one&rsquos position is on the institutional ladder. A UCLA Housing manager, for example, has more say and responsibilities than a student worker, and the vice chancellor of Information Technology Services has more authority than any UCLA IT employee or manager.

By this logic, those seeking to take a stand against sexual harassment at UCLA would simply need an honest face-to-face with Chancellor Gene Block to spark a shift in sexual harassment culture at the university.

If only it were that straightforward.

While universities are built on pyramidal structures, governing power is divided between various bodies. No one person has the authority to effect real change in the system, and authority is instead shared between multiple parties &ndash what is termed &ldquoshared governance.&rdquo

In other words, while a passionate conversation with Block about sexual harassment would certainly catch the administration&rsquos attention, UCLA&rsquos sexual harassment apparatus would largely remain unchanged.

And therein lies the reason sexual harassment festers in higher educational institutions: Universities are laced with red tape.

Take, for instance, the UC&rsquos Title IX reporting process. Victims requesting the university take disciplinary action against a staff employee who sexually harassed them may end up having to coordinate not just with the Title IX Office, but also with the staff member&rsquos department and a hearing officer &ndash either from within or outside the university. If they file a complaint against a professor who harassed them, they may end up having to chase around the Title IX Office, a committee of faculty typically from the Academic Senate and the chancellor.

In both cases, those who have faced sexual harassment may end up having to navigate three separate campus bodies to seek out justice. Seeking justice against sexual harassers clearly requires not just barking up the right tree, but the right set of trees.

That&rsquos not even taking into account the back-and-forth between these various campus departments.

Individuals filing complaints against faculty who are not members of the Academic Senate undergo an involved process: They must first file a report with the Title IX Office and wait for it to determine whether an investigation is warranted. Should the office take up the investigation, it has 60 days &ndash though sometimes longer, depending on the nature of the case &ndash to provide its findings to the chancellor or an administrative designee. The alleged harasser and the individual who filed the complaint then have a chance to submit written responses or meet with the chancellor or designee.

Following that, the chancellor or their designee approaches the Peer Review Committee, a group of faculty, and is advised on how to discipline the faculty member, if at all. Upon hearing the committee&rsquos advice, the chancellor or their designee comes to a decision about what action to take against the alleged sexual harasser.

Complaints against faculty who are members of the Academic Senate go through an additional round of recommendations with the Academic Senate&rsquos Privilege and Tenure Committee before the administrative decision is taken. Disciplinary action against tenured faculty isn&rsquot always even arbitrated by the chancellor, but instead recommended to the UC president and sometimes voted on by the UC regents.

It&rsquos easy to see how those who experience sexual harassment can be deterred by the snail-paced university sexual harassment apparatus, and more so given the policies for reporting sexual harassment cases can themselves discourage victims from coming forward.

Educational institutions no doubt are wary of curtailing academic freedoms or First Amendment rights via their anti-discrimination procedures, and the use of numerous decision-making bodies seem to ensure an open academic environment.

But the insistence on multiple governing bodies comes at the great cost of making victims feel disillusioned by the university&rsquos efforts to address sexual harassment. Some challenge this institutional inertia by suing the university. Most others, however, walk away with the remarkably morose notion that sexual harassment is an unremovable mainstay of higher education.

In the end, we&rsquore left wondering whether universities have adapted themselves to account for sexual harassment culture or whether they&rsquove forced victims to adapt to institutional sluggishness.

Before Farley&rsquos testimony, sexual harassment was a malaise swept under the rug. After her testimony, it was still a malaise swept under the rug. And to this day, it continues to be a malaise swept under the rug.

The nation has certainly made progress. Sexual harassment is no longer taboo in conversation. It is institutionally recognized, and safeguards are put into place to punish those found guilty of it.

But for perspective, UCLA&rsquos Title IX Office dealt with 601 complaints of prohibited conduct, including sexual harassment, sexual violence and gender discrimination, from July 2016 to June 2017 alone.

That&rsquos just for one university.

It&rsquos easy to be discouraged by this. Sexual harassment is an epidemic that originates from the very structure and practices of higher education institutions. Calling on universities to change the manner in which they are organized is, put bluntly, an extreme demand that many will not &ndash and sometimes cannot &ndash fulfill.

But a future without sexual harassment isn&rsquot a pipe dream. Demonstrators will continue to push institutions and industries to shed their complicity in allowing sexual harassment in their ranks.

#MeToo and Time&rsquos Up were able to call out dozens of people in power who had made sexual harassment a workplace norm. Students were able to push the UC to require regents to undergo sexual harassment prevention training following Pattiz&rsquos exploitative behavior. And UCLA professors who have committed sexual harassment would think twice about continuing to work at the university, considering the sea of protesters who demonstrated against Piterberg in 2017.

Bureaucratic inertia is an indisputable obstacle to ridding college campuses of sexual harassment. However, educational institutions need to adapt. It should not take until sexual harassment&rsquos 50th birthday for universities to have a zero-tolerance policy for sexual misconduct. And it most certainly doesn&rsquot need to take until UCLA&rsquos centennial year either.

Merely tacking amendments on to the patchwork that is sexual harassment policy won&rsquot make the problem disappear from the UC or any other university. Ending sexual harassment in higher education requires all departments and all personnel to take a persistent stance against corrosive workplace and academic cultures.

Sure, the malaise won&rsquot disappear next year or even in 10 years. But there will certainly be a day when universities create an environment that isn&rsquot just open, but also fostering of psychological and sexual wellbeing.

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The modern legal understanding of sexual harassment was first developed in the 1970s, although related concepts have existed in many cultures.

The term "sexual harassment" Edit

Although legal activist Catharine MacKinnon is sometimes credited with creating the laws surrounding sexual harassment in the United States with her 1979 book entitled Sexual Harassment of Working Women, [5] she did not coin the term. The phrase appeared in print in a 1972 issue of The Globe and Mail newspaper published in Toronto. [6] An early use of the term was in a 1973 report about discrimination called "Saturn's Rings" by Mary Rowe, Ph.D. [7] At the time, Rowe was the Chancellor for Women and Work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). [8] Due to her efforts at MIT, the university was one of the first large organizations in the U.S. to develop specific policies and procedures aimed at stopping sexual harassment.

Rowe says that harassment of women in the workplace was being discussed in women's groups in Massachusetts in the early 1970s. At Cornell University, instructor Lin Farley discovered that women in a discussion group repeatedly described being fired or quitting a job because they were harassed and intimidated by men. [9] She coined the term "sexual harassment" to describe the problem, and described it at length in 1975 testimony before the New York City Human Rights Commission. [10] [11] In the book In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution (1999), journalist Susan Brownmiller says the women at Cornell became public activists after being asked for help by Carmita Dickerson Wood, a 44-year-old single mother who was being harassed by a faculty member at Cornell's Department of Nuclear Physics. [12] [13] [14] Farley wrote a book, Sexual Shakedown: The Sexual Harassment of Women on the Job, published by McGraw-Hill in 1978 and in a paperback version by Warner Books in 1980. [9]

These activists, Lin Farley, Susan Meyer, and Karen Sauvigne went on to form Working Women United which, along with the Alliance Against Sexual Coercion (founded in 1976 by Freada Klein, Lynn Wehrli, and Elizabeth Cohn-Stuntz), were among the pioneer organizations to bring sexual harassment to public attention in the late 1970s. One of the first legal formulations of the concept of sexual harassment as consistent with sex discrimination and therefore prohibited behavior under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 appeared in the 1979 seminal book by Catharine MacKinnon [5] entitled "Sexual Harassment of Working Women". [15]

Key sexual harassment cases Edit

Sexual harassment first became codified in U.S. law as the result of a series of sexual harassment cases in the 1970s and 1980s. Many of the early women pursuing these cases were African American, often former civil rights activists who applied principles of civil rights to sex discrimination. [16]

Williams v. Saxbe (1976) and Paulette L. Barnes, Appellant, v. Douglas M. Costle, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (1977) determined it was sex discrimination to fire someone for refusing a supervisor's advances. [16] [17] Around the same time, Bundy v. Jackson was the first federal appeals court case to hold that workplace sexual harassment was employment discrimination. [18] Five years later the Supreme Court agreed with this holding in Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson. Another pioneering legal case was Alexander v. Yale, which established that the sexual harassment of female students could be considered sex discrimination under Title IX, and was thus illegal.

The term was largely unknown (outside academic and legal circles) until the early 1990s when Anita Hill witnessed and testified against Supreme Court of the United States nominee Clarence Thomas. [19] Since Hill testified in 1991, the number of sexual harassment cases reported in the United States and Canada increased 58 percent and have climbed steadily. [19]

Sexual harassment may occur in a variety of circumstances and in places as varied as factories, schools, colleges, the theater, and the music business. [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] Often, the perpetrator has or is about to have power or authority over the victim (owing to differences in social, political, educational or employment relationships as well as in age). Harassment relationships are specified in many ways:

  • The perpetrator can be anyone, such as a client, a co-worker, a parent or legal guardian, relative, a teacher or professor, a student, a friend, or a stranger.
  • Harassment can occur in varying locations, in schools, [27] colleges, workplaces, in public, and in other places.
  • Harassment can occur whether or not there are witnesses to it.
  • The perpetrator may be completely unaware that his or her behavior is offensive or constitutes sexual harassment. The perpetrator may be completely unaware that his or her actions could be unlawful. [3]
  • Incidents of harassment can take place in situations in which the targeted person may not be aware of or understand what is happening.
  • An incident may be a one-time occurrence.
  • Adverse effects on harassed persons include stress, social withdrawal, sleep disorders, eating difficulties, and other impairments of health.
  • The victim and perpetrator can be any gender.
  • The perpetrator does not have to be of the opposite sex.
  • The incident may arise from misunderstanding by the perpetrator and/or the victim. These misunderstandings can be reasonable or unreasonable.

With the advent of the internet, social interactions, including sexual harassment, increasingly occur online, for example in video games or in chat rooms.

According to the 2014 PEW research statistics on online harassment, 25% of women and 13% of men between the ages of 18 and 24 have experienced sexual harassment while online. [28]

The United States' Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines workplace sexual harassment as "unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature . when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment” (EEOC). [29]

Throughout the United States workplace, 79% of sexual harassment victims are women, and 21% are men. Out of those numbers, 51% of those people were harassed by a supervisor. [ citation needed ] Though sexual harassment happens in not all, but most professions, business, trade, banking, and finance are the biggest industries where sexual harassment occurs. [ citation needed ] Twelve per cent of the victims received threats of termination if they did not comply with their predators' request. [ citation needed ]

Armed forces Edit

In 2018, an estimated 20,500 people in the US armed forces (about 13,000 women and 7,500 men) were assaulted, up from 14,900 in 2016. [30]

Studies of sexual harassment have found that it is markedly more common in the military than in civilian settings. [31] [ page needed ] [32] A Canadian study found that key risk factors associated with military settings are the typically young age of personnel, the 'isolated and integrated' nature of accommodation, the minority status of women, and the disproportionate number of men in senior positions. [33] The traditionally masculine values and behaviours that are rewarded and reinforced in military settings, as well as their emphasis on conformity and obedience, are also thought to play a role. [34] [35] [36] [37] [38] Canadian research has also found that the risk increases during deployment on military operations. [39]

While some male military personnel are sexually harassed, women are substantially more likely to be affected. [31] [39] [40] [41] Women who are younger and joined the military at a younger age face a greater risk, according to American, British and French research. [42] [43] [44]

Child recruits (under the age of 18) and children in cadet forces also face an elevated risk. In the UK, for example, hundreds of complaints of the sexual abuse of cadets have been recorded since 2012. [45] [46] [47] In Canada, one in ten complaints of sexual assault in military settings are from child cadets or their parents. [45] [46] [47] [48] [49]

Individuals detained by the military are also vulnerable to sexual harassment. During the Iraq War, for example, personnel of the US army and US Central Intelligence Agency committed a number of human rights violations against detainees in the Abu Ghraib prison, [50] including rape, sodomy, and other forms of sexual abuse. [51] [52] [53]

Although the risk of sexual misconduct in the armed forces is widely acknowledged, personnel are frequently reluctant to report incidents, typically out of fear of reprisals, according to research in Australia, Canada, France, the UK, and the US. [31] [38] [40] [43] [44] [54] [55]

Women affected by sexual harassment are more likely than other women to suffer stress-related mental illness afterwards. [33] Research in the US found that when sexual abuse of female military personnel is psychiatrically traumatic, the odds of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after deployment on operations increase by a factor of nine. [32]

One of the difficulties in understanding sexual harassment is that it involves a range of behaviors. In most cases (although not in all cases) it is difficult for the victim to describe what they experienced. This can be related to difficulty classifying the situation or could be related to stress and humiliation experienced by the recipient. Moreover, behavior and motives vary between individual cases. [56]

Author Martha Langelan describes four different classes of harassers. [57]

  • A predatory harasser: a person who gets sexual thrills from humiliating others. This harasser may become involved in sexual extortion, and may frequently harass just to see how targets respond. Those who don't resist may even become targets for rape.
  • A dominance harasser: the most common type, who engages in harassing behavior as an ego boost.
  • Strategic or territorial harassers who seek to maintain privilege in jobs or physical locations, for example a man's harassment of a female employee in a predominantly male occupation.
  • A street harasser: Another type of sexual harassment performed in public places by strangers. Street harassment includes verbal and nonverbal behavior, remarks that are frequently sexual in nature and comment on physical appearance or a person's presence in public. [58]

Sexual harassment and assault may be prevented by secondary school, [59] college, [60] [61] and workplace education programs. [62] At least one program for fraternity men produced "sustained behavioral change". [60] [63]

Many sororities and fraternities in the United States take preventive measures against hazing and hazing activities during the participants' pledging processes (which may often include sexual harassment). Many Greek organizations and universities nationwide have anti-hazing policies that explicitly recognize various acts and examples of hazing, and offer preventive measures for such situations. [64] [ full citation needed ]

Anti-sexual harassment training programs have little evidence of effectiveness and "Some studies suggest that training may in fact backfire, reinforcing gendered stereotypes that place women at a disadvantage". [65]

The use of audio and video recording can help in preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. [66] Audio recording apps are available for use on smartphones, and can for instance be used during job interviews.

The impact of sexual harassment can vary. In research carried out by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, 17,335 female victims of sexual assault were asked to name the feelings that resulted from the most serious incident of sexual assault that they had encountered since the age of 15. 'Anger, annoyance, and embarrassment were the most common emotional responses, with 45% of women feeling anger, 41% annoyance, and 36% embarrassment. Furthermore, close to one in three women (29%) who has experienced sexual harassment have said that they felt fearful as a result of the most serious incident, while one in five (20%) victims say that the most serious incident made themselves feel ashamed of what had taken place. [67] In other situations, harassment may lead to temporary or prolonged stress or depression depending on the recipient's psychological abilities to cope and the type of harassment and the social support or lack thereof for the recipient. Harnois and Bastos (2018) show an association between women's perceptions of workplace sexual harassment and self-reported physical health. [68] Psychologists and social workers report that severe or chronic sexual harassment can have the same psychological effects as rape or sexual assault. [69] For example, in 1995, Judith Coflin committed suicide after chronic sexual harassment by her bosses and coworkers. (Her family was later awarded six million dollars in punitive and compensatory damages.) [ citation needed ] Victims who do not submit to harassment may also experience various forms of retaliation, including isolation and bullying.

As an overall social and economic effect every year, sexual harassment deprives women from active social and economic participation and costs hundreds of millions of dollars in lost educational and professional opportunities for mostly girls and women. [70] However, the quantity of men implied in these conflicts is significant.

Coping Edit

Sexual harassment, by definition, is unwanted and not to be tolerated. There are ways, however, for offended and injured people to overcome the resultant psychological effects, remain in or return to society, regain healthy feelings within personal relationships when they were affected by the outside relationship trauma, regain social approval, and recover the ability to concentrate and be productive in educational and work environments. These include stress management and therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, [71] friends and family support, and advocacy. [72] [73]

Immediate psychological and legal counseling are recommended since self-treatment may not release stress or remove trauma, and simply reporting to authorities may not have the desired effect, may be ignored, or may further injure the victim at its response.

A 1991 study done by K.R. Yount found three dominant strategies developed by a sample of women coal miners to manage sexual harassment on the job: the "lady", the "flirt", and the "tomboy". The "ladies" were typically the older women workers who tended to disengage from the men, kept their distance, avoided using profanity, avoided engaging in any behavior that might be interpreted as suggestive. They also tended to emphasize by their appearance and manners that they were ladies. The consequences for the "ladies" were that they were the targets of the least amount of come-ons, teasing and sexual harassment, but they also accepted the least prestigious and lowest-paid jobs. [74]

The "flirts" were most often the younger single women. As a defense mechanism, they pretended to be flattered when they were the targets of sexual comments. Consequently, they became perceived as the "embodiment of the female stereotype. as particularly lacking in potential and were given the fewest opportunities to develop job skills and to establish social and self-identities as miners." [75] [ page needed ]

The "tomboys" were generally single women, but were older than the "flirts". They attempted to separate themselves from the female stereotype and focused on their status as coal miners and tried to develop a "thick skin". They responded to harassment with humor, comebacks, sexual talk of their own, or reciprocation. As a result, they were often viewed as sluts or sexually promiscuous and as women who violated the sexual double standard. Consequently, they were subjected to intensified and increased harassment by some men. It was not clear whether the tomboy strategy resulted in better or worse job assignments. [74]

The findings of this study may be applicable to other work settings, including factories, restaurants, offices, and universities. The study concludes that individual strategies for coping with sexual harassment are not likely to be effective and may have unexpected negative consequences for the workplace and may even lead to increased sexual harassment. Women who try to deal with sexual harassment on their own, regardless of what they do, seem to be in a no-win situation. [74] For example, after an anti-groping device allowing victims to mark their assailants with an invisible ink stamp has been released in Japan, some experts claimed it is wrong to put the onus on the victim. [76]

Common effects on the victims Edit

Common psychological, academic, professional, financial, and social effects of sexual harassment and retaliation:

  • Becoming publicly sexualized (i.e. groups of people "evaluate" the victim to establish if he or she is "worth" the sexual attention or the risk to the harasser's career)
  • Being objectified and humiliated by scrutiny and gossip
  • Decreased work or school performance as a result of stress conditions increased absenteeism in fear of harassment repetition of character and reputation
  • Effects on sexual life and relationships: can put extreme stress upon relationships with significant others, sometimes resulting in divorce
  • Firing and refusal for a job opportunity can lead to loss of job or career, loss of income
  • Having one's personal life offered up for public scrutiny—the victim becomes the "accused", and his or her dress, lifestyle, and private life will often come under attack.
  • Having to drop courses, change academic plans, or leave school (loss of tuition) in fear of harassment repetition or as a result of stress
  • Having to relocate to another city, another job, or another school
  • Loss of references/recommendations
  • Loss of trust in environments similar to where the harassment occurred
  • Loss of trust in the types of people that occupy similar positions as the harasser or his or her colleagues, especially in case they are not supportive, difficulties or stress on peer relationships, or relationships with colleagues
  • Psychological stress and health impairment
  • Weakening of support network, or being ostracized from professional or academic circles (friends, colleagues, or family may distance themselves from the victim, or shun him or her altogether)

Some of the psychological and health effects that can occur in someone who has been sexually harassed as a result of stress and humiliation: depression anxiety panic attacks sleeplessness nightmares shame guilt difficulty concentrating headaches fatigue loss of motivation stomach problems eating disorders (such as weight loss or gain) alcoholism feeling betrayed, violated, angry, violent towards the perpetrator, powerless or out of control increased blood pressure loss of confidence or self-esteem withdrawal isolation overall loss of trust in people traumatic stress post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) complex post-traumatic stress disorder suicidal thoughts or attempts, and suicide. [77] [78] [79] [80] [81]

Post-complaint retaliation and backlash Edit

Retaliation and backlash against a victim are very common, particularly a complainant. Victims who speak out against sexual harassment are often labeled troublemakers who are on their own "power trips", or who are looking for attention. Similar to cases of rape or sexual assault, the victim often becomes the accused, with their appearance, private life, and character likely to fall under intrusive scrutiny and attack. [82] They risk hostility and isolation from colleagues, supervisors, teachers, fellow students, and even friends. They may become the targets of mobbing or relational aggression. [77]

Women are not necessarily sympathetic to female complainants who have been sexually harassed. If the harasser was male, internalized sexism (or jealousy over the sexual attention towards the victim) may encourage some women to react with as much hostility towards the complainant as some male colleagues. [83] Fear of being targeted for harassment or retaliation themselves may also cause some women to respond with hostility. [84] For example, when Lois Jenson filed her lawsuit against Eveleth Taconite Co., the women shunned her both at work and in the community—many of these women later joined her suit. [85] Women may even project hostility onto the victim in order to bond with their male coworkers and build trust. [84]

Retaliation has occurred when a sexual harassment victim suffers a negative action as a result of the harassment. For example, a complainant be given poor evaluations or low grades, have their projects sabotaged, be denied work or academic opportunities, have their work hours cut back, and other actions against them which undermine their productivity, or their ability to advance at work or school, being fired after reporting sexual harassment or leading to unemployment as they may be suspended, asked to resign, or be fired from their jobs altogether. Retaliation can even involve further sexual harassment, and also stalking and cyberstalking of the victim. [83] [84] Moreover, a school professor or employer accused of sexual harassment, or who is the colleague of a perpetrator, can use their power to see that a victim is never hired again(blacklisting), or never accepted to another school.

Of the women who have approached her to share their own experiences of being sexually harassed by their teachers, feminist writer Naomi Wolf wrote in 2004: [86]

I am ashamed of what I tell them: that they should indeed worry about making an accusation because what they fear is likely to come true. Not one of the women I have heard from had an outcome that was not worse for her than silence. One, I recall, was drummed out of the school by peer pressure. Many faced bureaucratic stonewalling. Some women said they lost their academic status as golden girls overnight grants dried up, letters of recommendation were no longer forthcoming. No one was met with a coherent process that was not weighted against them. Usually, the key decision-makers in the college or university—especially if it was a private university—joined forces to, in effect, collude with the faculty member accused to protect not him necessarily but the reputation of the university, and to keep information from surfacing in a way that could protect other women. The goal seemed to be not to provide a balanced forum, but damage control.

Another woman who was interviewed by sociologist Helen Watson said, "Facing up to the crime and having to deal with it in public is probably worse than suffering in silence. I found it to be a lot worse than the harassment itself." [87]

Backlash stress Edit

Backlash stress is stress resulting from an uncertainty regarding changing norms for interacting with women in the workplace. [88] Backlash stress now deters many male workers from befriending female colleagues, or providing them with any assistance, such as holding doors open. As a result, women are being handicapped by a lack of the necessary networking and mentorship. [89] [90]

Most companies have policies against sexual harassment however, these policies are not designed and should not attempt to "regulate romance" which goes against human urges. [91]

Act upon a report of harassment inside the organization should be:

The investigation should be designed to obtain a prompt and thorough collection of the facts, an appropriate responsive action, and an expeditious report to the complainant that the investigation has been concluded, and, to the full extent appropriate, the action taken.

When organizations do not take the respective satisfactory measures for properly investigating, stress and psychological counseling and guidance, and just deciding of the problem this could lead to:

  • Decreased productivity and increased team conflict
  • Decreased study or job satisfaction
  • Loss of students and staff. Loss of students who leave school and staff resignations to avoid harassment. Resignations and firings of alleged harassers.
  • Decreased productivity and increased absenteeism by staff or students experiencing harassment
  • Decrease in success at meeting academic and financial goals
  • Increased health-care and sick-pay costs because of the health consequences of harassment or retaliation
  • The knowledge that harassment is permitted can undermine ethical standards and discipline in the organization in general, as staff or students lose respect for, and trust in, their seniors who indulge in, or turn a blind eye to, or treat improperly sexual harassment
  • If the problem is ignored or not treated properly, a company's or school's image can suffer
  • High jury awards for the employee, attorney fees and litigation costs if the problem is ignored or not treated properly (in case of firing the victim) when the complainants are advised to and take the issue to court. [19][80][81][92][93][94][95]

Studies show that organizational climate (an organization's tolerance, policy, procedure etc.) and workplace environment are essential for understanding the conditions in which sexual harassment is likely to occur, and the way its victims will be affected (yet, research on specific policy and procedure, and awareness strategies is lacking). Another element which increases the risk for sexual harassment is the job's gender context (having few women in the close working environment or practicing in a field which is perceived as atypical for women). [96]

According to Dr. Orit Kamir, the most effective way to avoid sexual harassment in the workplace, and also influence the public's state of mind, is for the employer to adopt a clear policy prohibiting sexual harassment and to make it very clear to their employees. Many women prefer to make a complaint and to have the matter resolved within the workplace rather than to "air out the dirty laundry" with a public complaint and be seen as a traitor by colleagues, superiors and employers, adds Kamir. [97] [98] [99]

Most prefer a pragmatic solution that would stop the harassment and prevent future contact with the harasser rather than turning to the police. More about the difficulty in turning an offense into a legal act can be found in Felstiner & Sarat's (1981) study, [100] which describes three steps a victim (of any dispute) must go through before turning to the justice system: naming – giving the assault a definition, blaming – understanding who is responsible for the violation of rights and facing them, and finally, claiming – turning to the authorities.

It may include a range of actions from mild transgressions to sexual abuse or sexual assault. [2] Sexual harassment is a form of illegal employment discrimination in many countries, and is a form of abuse (sexual and psychological abuses) and bullying.

The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women classifies violence against women into three categories: that occurring in the family, that occurring within the general community, and that perpetrated or condoned by the State. The term sexual harassment is used in defining violence occurring in the general community, which is defined as: "Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution." [101]

Sexual harassment is subject to a directive in the European Union. [102] The United States' Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states, "It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person's sex."

In India, the case of Vishakha and others v State of Rajasthan in 1997 has been credited with establishing sexual harassment as illegal. [103] In Israel, the 1988 Equal Employment Opportunity Law made it a crime for an employer to retaliate against an employee who had rejected sexual advances, but it wasn't until 1998 that the Israeli Sexual Harassment Law made such behavior illegal. [104]

In May 2002, the European Union Council and Parliament amended a 1976 Council Directive on the equal treatment of men and women in employment to prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace, naming it a form of sex discrimination and violation of dignity. This Directive required all Member States of the European Union to adopt laws on sexual harassment, or amend existing laws to comply with the Directive by October 2005. [105]

In 2005, China added new provisions to the Law on Women's Right Protection to include sexual harassment. [106] In 2006, "The Shanghai Supplement" was drafted to help further define sexual harassment in China. [107]

Sexual harassment was specifically criminalized for the first time in modern Egyptian history in June 2014. [108]

As of 2016 [update] , sexual harassment remains legal in Kuwait [109] and Djibouti. [110]

Varied legal guidelines and definitions Edit

The United Nations General Recommendation 19 to the convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women defines sexual harassment of women to include:

such unwelcome sexually determined behavior as physical contact and advances, sexually colored remarks, showing pornography and sexual demands, whether by words or actions. Such conduct can be humiliating and may constitute a health and safety problem it is discriminatory when the woman has reasonable ground to believe that her objection would disadvantage her in connection with her employment, including recruitment or promotion, or when it creates a hostile working environment.

While such conduct can be harassment of women by men, many laws around the world which prohibit sexual harassment recognize that both men and women may be harassers or victims of sexual harassment. However, most claims of sexual harassment are made by women. [111]

There are many similarities, and also important differences in laws and definitions used around the world.

Africa Edit

Egypt Edit

Sexual harassment is rife in Egypt. A 2013 study from the United Nations showed that 99.3 percent of Egyptian women have suffered some form of sexual harassment. Authorities punish women when they do speak out. [112] [113] [114]

Morocco Edit

In 2016, a stricter law proscribing sexual harassment was proposed in Morocco specifying fines and a possible jail sentence of up to 6 months. [115] The existing law against harassment was reported to not be upheld, as harassment was not reported to police by victims and even when reported, was not investigated by police or prosecuted by the courts. [115] [116]

Australia Edit

The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 defines sexual harassment as ". a person sexually harasses another person (the person harassed ) if: (a) the person makes an unwelcome sexual advance, or an unwelcome request for sexual favours, to the person harassed or (b) engages in other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in relation to the person harassed in circumstances in which a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would have anticipated the possibility that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated." [117]

Europe Edit

In the European Union, there is a directive on sexual harassment. The Directive 2002/73/EC – equal treatment of 23 September 2002 amending Council Directive 76/207/EEC on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion, and working conditions states: [102]

  • sexual harassment: where any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature occurs, with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment

The Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence also addresses the issue of sexual harassment (Article 40), using a similar definition. [118]

Denmark Edit

Sexual harassment is defined as, when any verbal, non-verbal or physical action is used to change a victim's sexual status against the will of the victim and resulting in the victim feeling inferior or hurting the victim's dignity. Man and woman are looked upon as equal, and any action trying to change the balance in status with the differences in sex as a tool, is also sexual harassment. In the workplace, jokes, remarks, etc., are only deemed discriminatory if the employer has stated so in their written policy. Law number 1385 of December 21, 2005 regulates this area. [119] [120]

France Edit

In France, both the Criminal Code and the Labor Code are relevant to the issue of sexual harassment. Until May 4, 2012, article 222-33 of the French Criminal Code described sexual harassment as "The fact of harassing anyone in order to obtain favors of a sexual nature". [121] Since 2002, it recognized the possibility of sexual harassment between co-workers and not only by supervisors. On May 4, 2012, the Supreme Court of France quashed the definition of the criminal code as being too vague. [122] The 2012 decision resulted from a law on priority preliminary rulings on the issue of constitutionality. As a consequence of this decision, all pending procedures before criminal courts were cancelled. Several feminist NGOs, such as AFVT, criticized this decision. President François Hollande, the Minister of Justice (Christine Taubira) and the Minister of Equality (Najat Belkacem) asked that a new law be voted rapidly. As a result, LOI n°2012-954 du 6 août 2012 was voted in, providing a new definition. [123] [124] In addition to criminal provisions, the French Labor code also prohibits sexual harassment. [125] The legislator voted a law in 2008 [126] that copied the 2002/73/EC Directive [127] [128] definition without modifying the French Labour Code.

According to Abigail C. Saguy in her book What is Sexual Harassment: From Capitol Hill to the Sorbonne, "According to French penal law, sexual harassment is also different from rape and sexual assault in that it does not involve physical contact. Rather, with sexual harassment , economic dependence and official authority alone are used to pressure a person into having sexual relations(pg.24)."

Germany Edit

In June 2016, the governing coalition decided about the key points of a tightening of the law governing sexual offenses (Sexualstrafrecht, literally: law on the punishment of sexual delicts). On July 7, 2016, the Bundestag passed the resolution [129] and by fall of that year, the draft bill will be presented to the second chamber, the Bundesrat. [130] By this change, sexual harassment shall become punishable under the Sexualstrafrecht. [131]

Now sexual harassment is punishable by law according to § 184i of the law governing sexual offenses. The law only states unwanted physical contact as sexual haressment but has been extended in 2020 to include "cybergrooming" as well. [132]

Greece Edit

In response to the EU Directive 2002/73/EC, Greece enacted Law 3488/2006 (O.G.A.'.191). [133] The law specifies that sexual harassment is a form of gender-based discrimination in the workplace. Victims also have the right to compensation. [134] Prior to this law, the policy on sexual harassment in Greece was very weak. Sexual harassment was not defined by any law, and victims could only use general laws, which were very poor in addressing the issue. [135] [136]

Russia Edit

In the Criminal Code, Russian Federation, (CC RF), there exists a law which prohibits utilization of an office position and material dependence for coercion of sexual interactions (Article 118, current CC RF). However, according to the Moscow Center for Gender Studies, in practice, the courts do not examine these issues. [137]

In 2008, The Daily Telegraph quoted a survey in which "100 percent of female professionals [in Russia] said they had been subjected to sexual harassment by their bosses, 32 per cent said they had had intercourse with them at least once and another seven per cent claimed to have been raped." [138]

Switzerland Edit

A ban on discrimination was included in the Federal Constitution (Article 4, Paragraph 2 of the old Federal Constitution) in 1981 and adopted in Article 8, paragraph 2 of the revised Constitution. The ban on sexual harassment in the workplace forms part of the Federal Act on Gender Equality (GEA) of 24 March 1995, where it is one of several provisions which prohibit discrimination in employment and which are intended to promote equality. Article 4 of the GEA defines the circumstances, Article 5 legal rights and Article 10 protection against dismissal during the complaints procedure. [139] Article 328, paragraph 1 of the Code of Obligations (OR), Article 198 (2) of the Penal Code (StGB) and Article 6, paragraph 1 of the Employment Act (ArG) contain further statutory provisions on the ban on sexual harassment. The ban on sexual harassment is intended exclusively for employers, within the scope of their responsibility for protection of legal personality, mental and physical well-being and health. [ citation needed ]

Article 4 of the GEA of 1995 discusses the topic of sexual harassment in the workplace: "Any harassing behaviour of a sexual nature or other behaviour related to the person's sex that adversely affects the dignity of women or men in the workplace is discriminatory. Such behaviour includes in particular threats, the promise of advantages, the use of coercion and the exertion of pressure in order to obtain favours of a sexual nature." [139]

United Kingdom Edit

The Discrimination Act of 1975 was modified to establish sexual harassment as a form of discrimination in 1986. [140] It states that harassment occurs where there is unwanted conduct on the ground of a person's sex or unwanted conduct of a sexual nature and that conduct has the purpose or effect of violating a person's dignity, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. If an employer treats someone less favourably because they have rejected, or submitted to, either form of harassment described above, this is also harassment. [141]

Sexual harassment is also now considered discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act 2010 merged over 116 separate pieces of legislation under one act that protects the rights of citizens and promotes equality for all people. [142] Although this act is in place, many are pushing the UK government to put even more policies in place to stop sexual harassment in the workplace. One group in particular, "This is Not Working", acts because according to recent surveys done by the Women and Equalities Committee, workplace sexual harassment is still very prevalent, even with the current legislation. The movement pushes for even more employers to take responsibility and proactively prevent sexual harassment. [143]

Asia Edit

China Edit

In China, the 2005 Law for the Protection of Women's Rights and Interests of the People's Republic of China states "sexual harassment against women is prohibited" [144] although the law does not explicitly define what sexual harassment is. [145]

Sexual harassment is still pervasive within Chinese culture. A 2018 survey of female journalists revealed that 80% had experienced unwanted behavior, [146] and an online survey of college students from all 34 provinces the same year revealed that 75% of female students and 35% of male students had experienced sexual harassment. [147]

Lebanon Edit

As of 2020, it is estimated that one in four women in Lebanon have been subjected to some form of unsolicited sexual advance, ranging from verbal to physical. [148] On 21 December 2020, the Lebanese Parliament passed a law criminalizing sexual harassment. [148] There was no national legislation to directly criminalize sexual harassment prior, with draft laws being proposed several times without effect. [148]

India Edit

Sexual harassment in India is termed "Eve teasing" and is described as: unwelcome sexual gesture or behaviour whether directly or indirectly as sexually coloured remarks physical contact and advances showing pornography a demand or request for sexual favours any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct being sexual in nature or passing sexually offensive and unacceptable remarks. The critical factor is the unwelcomeness of the behaviour, thereby making the impact of such actions on the recipient more relevant rather than intent of the perpetrator. [103] According to the Indian constitution, sexual harassment infringes the fundamental right of a woman to gender equality under Article 14 and her right to life and live with dignity under Article 21. [149] [ permanent dead link ]

In 1997, the Supreme Court of India in a Public Interest Litigation defined sexual harassment at workplace, preventive measures and redress mechanism. The judgment is popularly known as Vishaka Judgment. [150] In April 2013, India enacted its own law on sexual harassment in the workplace—The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. Almost 16 years after the Supreme Court's landmark guidelines on prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace (known as the "Vishaka Guidelines"), the Act has endorsed many of the guidelines, and is a step towards codifying gender equality. The Act is intended to include all women employees in its ambit, including those employed in the unorganized sector, as well as domestic workers. The Indian law does not permit the victim or complainant to take assistance of a legal professional in the inquiry, however, in Arti Devi Vs Jawaharlal Nehru University, [151] the High Court of Delhi permitted the complainant to avail the services of a counsel as her defence assistant.

The Act has identified sexual harassment as a violation of the fundamental rights of a woman to equality under articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India and her right to life and to live with dignity under article 21 of the Constitution as well as the right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business which includes a right to a safe environment free from sexual harassment. The Act also states that the protection against sexual harassment and the right to work with dignity are universally recognized human rights by international conventions and instruments such as Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, which has been ratified on the 25th June, 1993 by the Government of India. [152] [ circular reference ]

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 introduced changes to the Indian Penal Code, making sexual harassment an expressed offense under Section 354 A, which is punishable up to three years of imprisonment and or with fine. The Amendment also introduced new sections making acts like disrobing a woman without consent, stalking and sexual acts by person in authority an offense.

Israel Edit

The 1998 Israeli Sexual Harassment Law interprets sexual harassment broadly, and prohibits the behavior as a discriminatory practice, a restriction of liberty, an offense to human dignity, a violation of every person's right to elementary respect, and an infringement of the right to privacy. Additionally, the law prohibits intimidation or retaliation thus related to sexual harassment are defined by the law as "prejudicial treatment". [104]

Japan Edit

Sexual Harassment, or sekuhara in Japanese, appeared most dramatically in Japanese discourse in 1989, when a court case in Fukuoka ruled in favor of a woman who had been subjected to the spreading of sexual rumors by a co-worker. When the case was first reported, it spawned a flurry of public interest: 10 books were published, including English-language feminist guidebooks to 'how not to harass women' texts for men. [153] Sekuhara was named 1989's 'Word of the Year'. The case was resolved in the victim's favor in 1992, awarding her about $13,000 in damages, the first sexual harassment lawsuit in Japanese history. [154]

Laws then established two forms of sexual harassment: daisho, in which rewards or penalties are explicitly linked to sexual acts, and kankyo, in which the environment is made unpleasant through sexual talk or jokes, touching, or hanging sexually explicit posters. This applies to everyone in an office, including customers. [153]

Malaysia Edit

In Malaysia, sexual harassment as defined by the Employment Act 1955, is “any unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, whether verbal, non-verbal, visual, gestural or physical, directed at a person which is offensive, humiliating or a threat to their well-being”. The Act does not distinguish between male and female or employer and employee. As such, sexual harassment can be committed by a female against a male, or an employee against an employer.

Sexual harassment is common, and since 2010 trains on the Malaysian Railway have included pink-coloured women-only cars as a means of cutting down on it. [155] There are also women-only buses in Kuala Lumpur since 2010. [155] In 2011, the government launched a women-only taxi service in the greater Kuala Lumpur area. [156] The taxis have women drivers, and operate on an on-call basis. [156]

Pakistan Edit

Pakistan has promulgated harassment law in 2010 with nomenclature as "The Protection Against Harassment of Women at The Workplace Act, 2010". This law defines the act of harassment in following terms. "Harassment means any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors or other verbal or written communication or physical conduct of a sexual nature or sexually demeaning attitude, causing interference with work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, or the attempt to punish the complainant for refusal to such a request or is made a condition for employment." Pakistan has adopted a Code of Conduct for Gender Justice in the Workplace that will deal with cases of sexual harassment. [157] The Alliance Against Sexual Harassment At workplace (AASHA) announced they would be working with the committee to establish guidelines for the proceedings. AASHA defines sexual harassment much the same as it is defined in the U.S. and other cultures. [158] [ full citation needed ]

Philippines Edit

The Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 was enacted: [159]

primarily to protect and respect the dignity of workers, employees, and applicants for employment as well as students in educational institutions or training centers. This law, consisting of ten sections, provides for a clear definition of work, education or training-related sexual harassment and specifies the acts constituting sexual harassment. It likewise provides for the duties and liabilities of the employer in cases of sexual harassment, and sets penalties for violations of its provisions. A victim of sexual harassment is not barred from filing a separate and independent action for damages and other relief aside from filing the charge for sexual harassment.

United States Edit

Evolution of sexual harassment law Edit

Workplace Edit

In the United States, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, sex, color, national origin or religion. Initially intended to only combat sexual harassment of women, <42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2>the prohibition of sex discrimination covers men and women. This discrimination occurs when the sex of the worker is made as a condition of employment (i.e. all female waitpersons or male carpenters) or where this is a job requirement that does not mention sex but ends up preventing many more persons of one sex than the other from the job (such as height and weight limits). This act only applies to employers with 15 or more employees. [29]

Barnes v. Train (1974) is commonly viewed as the first sexual harassment case in America, even though the term "sexual harassment" was not used. [160] In 1976, Williams v. Saxbe established sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination when sexual advances by a male supervisor towards a female employee, if proven, would be deemed an artificial barrier to employment placed before one gender and not another. In 1980 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued regulations defining sexual harassment and stating it was a form of sex discrimination prohibited by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the 1986 case of Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, the Supreme Court first recognized "sexual harassment" as a violation of Title VII, established the standards for analyzing whether the conduct was welcome and levels of employer liability, and that speech or conduct in itself can create a "hostile environment". [161] This case filed by Mechelle Vinson ruled that the sexual conduct between the subordinate and supervisor could not be deemed voluntary due to the hierarchical relationship between the two positions in the workplace. [162] Following the ruling in Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, reported sexual harassment cases grew from 10 cases being registered by the EEOC per year before 1986 to 624 case being reported in the subsequent following year. [163] This number of reported cases to the EEOC rose to 2,217 in 1990 and then 4,626 by 1995. [163]

The Civil Rights Act of 1991 added provisions to Title VII protections including expanding the rights of women to sue and collect compensatory and punitive damages for sexual discrimination or harassment, and the case of Ellison v. Brady (US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit – 924 F.2d 872 (9th Cir. 1991)) resulted in rejecting the reasonable person standard in favor of the "reasonable woman standard" which allowed for cases to be analyzed from the perspective of the complainant and not the defendant. [164] However, some legal scholars have argued this does not go far enough and that the reasonable person standard also needs to take intersectionality into account. [165] Also in 1991, Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co. became the first sexual harassment case to be given class action status paving the way for others. Seven years later, in 1998, through that same case, new precedents were established that increased the limits on the "discovery" process in sexual harassment cases, that then allowed psychological injuries from the litigation process to be included in assessing damages awards. In the same year, the courts concluded in Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, Florida, and Burlington v. Ellerth, that employers are liable for harassment by their employees. [166] [167] Moreover, Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services set the precedent for same-sex harassment, and sexual harassment without motivation of "sexual desire", stating that any discrimination based on sex is actionable so long as it places the victim in an objectively disadvantageous working condition, regardless of the gender of either the victim, or the harasser.

In the 2006 case of Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. White, the standard for retaliation against a sexual harassment complainant was revised to include any adverse employment decision or treatment that would be likely to dissuade a "reasonable worker" from making or supporting a charge of discrimination.

During 2007 alone, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and related state agencies received 12,510 new charges of sexual harassment on the job. [168] In Astra USA v. Bildman, 914 N.E.2d 36 (Mass. 2009), applying New York's faithless servant doctrine, the court held that a company's employee who had engaged in financial misdeeds and sexual harassment must "forfeit all of his salary and bonuses for the period of disloyalty." [169] The court held that this was the case even if the employee "otherwise performed valuable services," and that the employee was not entitled to recover restitution for the value of those other services. [169] [170]

The 2010 case, Reeves v. C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. ruled that a hostile work environment can be created in a workplace where sexually explicit language and pornography are present. A hostile workplace may exist even if it is not targeted at any particular employee. [171]

From 2010 through 2016, approximately 17% of sexual harassment complaints filed with the EEOC were made by men. [172]

Education Edit

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (United States) states "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

In Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public Schools (1992), the U.S. Supreme Court held that private citizens could collect damage awards when teachers sexually harassed their students. [173] In Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser (1986) the courts ruled that schools have the power to discipline students if they use "obscene, profane language or gestures" which could be viewed as substantially interfering with the educational process, and inconsistent with the "fundamental values of public school education." [174] Under regulations issued in 1997 by the U.S. Department of Education, which administers Title IX, school districts should be held responsible for harassment by educators if the harasser "was aided in carrying out the sexual harassment of students by his or her position of authority with the institution." [175] In Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, and Murrell v. School Dist. No. 1, 1999, schools were assigned liability for peer-to-peer sexual harassment if the plaintiff sufficiently demonstrated that the administration's response shows "deliberate indifference" to "actual knowledge" of discrimination. [176] [177]

Additionally Edit

There are a number of legal options for a complainant in the U.S.: mediation, filing with the EEOC or filing a claim under a state Fair Employment Practices (FEP) statute (both are for workplace sexual harassment), filing a common law tort, etc. [178] Not all sexual harassment will be considered severe enough to form the basis for a legal claim. However, most often there are several types of harassing behaviors present, and there is no minimum level for harassing conduct under the law. [70] The section below "EEOC Definition" describes the legal definitions that have been created for sexual harassment in the workplace. Definitions similar to the EEOC definition have been created for academic environments in the U.S. Department of Education Sexual Harassment Guidance. [179]

EEOC Definition Edit

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claims that it is unlawful to harass an applicant or employee of any sex in the workplace. The harassment could include sexual harassment. The EEOC says that the victim and harasser could be any gender and that the other does not have to be of the opposite sex. The law does not ban offhand comments, simple teasing, or incidents that aren't very serious. If the harassment gets to the point where it creates a harsh work environment, it will be taken care of. [3] In 1980, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission produced a set of guidelines for defining and enforcing Title VII (in 1984 it was expanded to include educational institutions). The EEOC defines sexual harassment as:

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

  1. Submission to such conduct was made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment,
  2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual was used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or
  3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

1. and 2. are called "quid pro quo" (Latin for "this for that" or "something for something"). They are essentially "sexual bribery", or promising of benefits, and "sexual coercion".

Type 3. known as "hostile work environment", is by far the most common form. This form is less clear cut and is more subjective. [83]

Note: a workplace harassment complainant must file with the EEOC and receive a "right to sue" clearance, before they can file a lawsuit against a company in federal court. [70]

Quid pro quo sexual harassment Edit

Quid pro quo means "this for that." In the workplace, this occurs when a job benefit is directly tied to an employee submitting to unwelcome sexual advances. For example, a supervisor promises an employee a raise if he or she will go out on a date with him or her, or tells an employee he or she will be fired if he or she doesn't sleep with him or her. [180] Quid pro quo harassment also occurs when an employee makes an evaluative decision, or provides or withholds professional opportunities based on another employee's submission to verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Quid pro quo harassment is equally unlawful whether the victim resists and suffers the threatened harm or submits and thus avoids the threatened harm. [181]

Hostile environment sexual harassment Edit

This occurs when an employee is subjected to comments of a sexual nature, unwelcome physical contact, or offensive sexual materials as a regular part of the work environment. For the most part, a single isolated incident will not be enough to prove hostile environment harassment unless it involves extremely outrageous and egregious conduct. The courts will try to decide whether the conduct is both "serious" and "frequent." Supervisors, managers, co-workers and even customers can be responsible for creating a hostile environment. [182]

The line between "quid pro quo" and "hostile environment" harassment is not always clear and the two forms of harassment often occur together. For example, an employee's job conditions are affected when a sexually hostile work environment results in a constructive discharge. At the same time, a supervisor who makes sexual advances toward a subordinate employee may communicate an implicit threat to retaliate against her if she does not comply. [183]

"Hostile environment" harassment may acquire characteristics of "quid pro quo" harassment if the offending supervisor abuses his authority over employment decisions to force the victim to endure or participate in the sexual conduct. Sexual harassment may culminate in a retaliatory discharge if a victim tells the harasser or her employer she will no longer submit to the harassment, and is then fired in retaliation for this protest. Under these circumstances it would be appropriate to conclude that both harassment and retaliation in violation of section 704(a) of Title VII have occurred.

Sexual orientation discrimination Edit

In the United States, there are no federal laws prohibiting discrimination against employees based on their sexual orientation. However, Executive Order 13087, signed by President Bill Clinton, outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation against federal government employees. If a small business owner owns his or her business in a state where there is a law against sexual orientation discrimination, the owner must abide to the law regardless of there not being a federal law. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have laws against this form of discrimination in the workplace. These states include California, Connecticut, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin. [184] For example, California has laws in place to protect employees who may have been discriminated against based upon sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation. California law prohibits discrimination against those "with traits not stereotypically associated with their gender", such as mannerisms, appearance, or speech. Sexual orientation discrimination comes up, for instance, when employers enforce a dress code, permit women to wear makeup but not men, or require men and women to only use restrooms designated for their particular sex regardless of whether they are transgender.

Retaliation Edit

Retaliation has occurred when an employee suffers a negative action after he or she has made a report of sexual harassment, file a grievance, assist someone else with a complaint, or participate in discrimination prevention activities. Negative actions can include being fired, demotion, suspension, denial of promotion, poor evaluation, unfavorable job reassignment—any adverse employment decision or treatment that would be likely to dissuade a "reasonable worker" from making or supporting a charge of discrimination. (See Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. White.) [185] Retaliation is as illegal as the sexual harassment itself, but also as difficult to prove. Also, retaliation is illegal even if the original charge of sexual harassment was not proven.

New Jersey Edit

New Jersey was historically known to have one of the strongest anti-sexual harassment laws in the United States. The Law Against Discrimination used to hold an employer liable if the sexual harassment was done by a member of upper-level management. [ citation needed ] In 2015, the New Jersey Supreme Court modified the precedence in the State of New Jersey and prevented the company from being liable if they had a well-published and enforced anti-harassment policy. Accordingly, if a policy existed and was enforced, the victim or witness to the sexual harassment would need to complain about the conduct. The company would not be liable if they investigate the matter and take some remedial measures to make sure that the harassment stops. The Company only becomes liable if the activity occurs again. (See Aguas v. NJ.) [186] [ non-primary source needed ]

Though the phrase sexual harassment is generally acknowledged to include clearly damaging and morally deplorable behavior, its boundaries can be broad and controversial. Accordingly, misunderstandings can occur. In the US, sexual harassment law has been criticized by persons such as the criminal defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz and the legal writer and libertarian Eugene Volokh, for imposing limits on the right to free speech. [187]

Jana Rave, professor in organizational studies at the Queen's School of Business, criticized sexual harassment policy in the Ottawa Business Journal as helping maintain archaic stereotypes of women as "delicate, asexual creatures" who require special protection when at the same time complaints are lowering company profits. [93] Camille Paglia says that young girls can end up acting in such ways as to make sexual harassment easier, such that for example, by acting "nice" they can become a target. Paglia commented in an interview with Playboy, "Realize the degree to which your niceness may invoke people to say lewd and pornographic things to you--sometimes to violate your niceness. The more you blush, the more people want to do it." [188]

Other critics assert that sexual harassment is a very serious problem, but current views focus too heavily on sexuality rather than on the type of conduct that undermines the ability of women or men to work together effectively. Viki Shultz, a law professor at Yale University comments, "Many of the most prevalent forms of harassment are designed to maintain work—particularly the more highly rewarded lines of work—as bastions of male competence and authority." [189] Feminist Jane Gallop sees this evolution of the definition of sexual harassment as coming from a "split" between what she calls "power feminists" who are pro-sex (like herself) and what she calls "victim feminists", who are not. She argues that the split has helped lead to a perversion of the definition of sexual harassment, which used to be about sexism but has come to be about anything that's sexual. [190]

There is also concern over abuses of sexual harassment policy by individuals as well as by employers and administrators using false or frivolous accusations as a way of expelling employees they want to eliminate for other reasons. These employees often have virtually no recourse thanks to the at-will law in most US states. [191]

O'Donohue and Bowers outlined 14 possible pathways to false allegations of sexual harassment: "lying, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, psychosis, gender prejudice, substance abuse, dementia, false memories, false interpretations, biased interviews, sociopathy, personality disorders not otherwise specified." [192]

There is also discussion of whether some recent trends towards more revealing clothing and permissive habits have created a more sexualized general environment, in which some forms of communication are unfairly labeled harassment, but are simply a reaction to greater sexualization in everyday environments. [193]

There are many debates about how organizations should deal with sexual harassment. Some observers feel strongly that organizations should be held to a zero tolerance standard of "Must report—must investigate—must punish."

Others write that those who feel harassed should in most circumstances have a choice of options. [98] [99] [194]

Sexual harassment laws may also be used unfairly applied in effect. Unsolicited sexual advances were considered more disturbing and more discomforting when perpetrated by an unattractive opposite sex colleague than when perpetrated by an attractive opposite sex colleague. [195]

Challenging Sex Discrimination

In the 1970s, “white-collar” office workers organized their own union, 9to5, while activists like Mercedes Tompkins supported women moving into “blue-collar” trades.

Excerpt from “ A Moment in Her Story: Stories from the Boston Women's Movement ,” a film by Catherine Russo. (Running time 1:49) Used with permission. The complete film is available from Catherine Russo Documentaries.

In 1952 the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America published a pamphlet titled “UE Fights for Women Workers,” a primer for battling wage discrimination on the job. No author was listed, but it was later attributed to labor journalist Betty Goldstein, soon to be much better known as Betty Friedan, the author of the groundbreaking 1963 book The Feminine Mystique. Female labor activists had long been aware of the pervasive patterns of sex discrimination in the workplace, especially in terms of unequal pay and limited opportunities, but attacking the problem had been an uphill battle. An early victory was the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, one of the recommendations of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women. A much bigger step forward occurred with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The story has been told many times, and the details vary, but how sex joined the categories of race, religion, and national origin in Title VII prohibiting employment discrimination is quite a tale. It illustrates the difficulty of unraveling knotty issues when racism and sexism get tangled together. And it reveals the divisions between women over what was perceived to be in their best interest. Virginia legislator Howard W. Smith, an avowed segregationist, moved to add the word sex to the pending civil rights legislation hoping to hasten its defeat. Michigan Representative Martha Griffiths, one of the few ranking women in the House, also believed that sex should be included. For her, guaranteeing the rights of black men and women would, in no uncertain terms, disadvantage white women. Oregon Representative Edith Green argued against adding sex. She was concerned that the legislation would deprive women of the benefits of protective labor laws. Griffiths’s argument won the support of all but one of the twelve women in the House and went to the Senate. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was ultimately passed with sex included, and Title VII has been a cornerstone of all women’s employment rights ever since.

But that was only stage one of the fight. The next was to get the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to enforce the law. Even though 37 percent of the initial complaints concerned sex discrimination, the EEOC prioritized civil rights for African Americans, not civil rights for women. Frustration with the EEOC’s foot-dragging led to the formation of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966, which immediately took legal action forcing the EEOC to fulfill its mandate.

Among the first groups of women to come forward were flight attendants, then called stewardesses, uniformly female and subject to a range of arbitrary and demeaning rules about their weight (no more than 135 pounds), appearance (attractive), marital status (single), and mandatory retirement age (thirty-five). The airline industry defended its policy as necessary to cater to its clientele of predominantly male business travelers, which memorably caused Representative Griffiths to ask, “What are you running, an airline or a whorehouse?” Under EEOC pressure, the airline industry did change its rules.

The limits of Title VII led indirectly to the passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title VII did not cover educational institutions, which meant that women faculty, staff, and students had no legal basis to challenge the rampant sex discrimination on their campuses, such as quotas on admissions and discriminatory hiring and salary procedures. While Title IX’s greatest impact has been in expanding opportunities for women’s sports, the original impetus behind the law was challenging sex discrimination in higher education overall.

At the same time that legislation gave women the tools to fight sex discrimination on the job, court challenges also significantly expanded their rights. One force behind these challenges was NOW’s Legal Defense and Education Fund another was the Women’s Rights Project, funded by the ACLU and headed by a young law professor named Ruth Bader Ginsburg. For example, Weeks v. Southern Bell (1966) struck down an employer’s ban on hiring women for jobs that involved lifting anything heavier than thirty pounds (the weight of a toddler, mothers quickly pointed out). Phillips v. Martin Marietta (1971) ruled that an employer could not deny a woman with small children a job if men were not treated the same way. Later on, the Supreme Court ruled in California Federal Savings and Loan Association v. Guerra (1987) that pregnancy was a temporary disability, which guaranteed women time off for childbirth and gave them their original jobs back when they returned to work. These cases seem straightforward, almost commonsense to us now, but it was extremely difficult to break through years of judicial precedent that had treated women as needing special protection on the job.

In their movements, women of color — African American, Chicana, Mexican American, Native American and Asian American — became effective advocates for more equitable pay scales and services for working mothers and families. After the presidential administration of Lyndon Johnson began its War on Poverty, they found allies in some state offices of economic development. But it was mainly in autonomous organizations where women worked out their strategies for improving their economic situation and that of their families. The Chicana Service Action Center, established in 1972, was especially important in helping Mexican-American women living and working in East Los Angeles.

What lie does Gloria Steinem say ignited the conflagration between Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas?

Excerpt from “ Sex and Justice ,” a film by Julian Schlossberg and Seymour Wishman. (Running time 4:55) Used with permission. The complete film is available from Westchester Films, Inc.

What landmark 1976 jury trial, argued by attorney Allyn Ravitz, helped to define sexual harassment?

Excerpt from “ Passing the Torch ,” a film by Carol King. (Running time 3:11) Used with permission. The complete film is available from King Rose Archives. For more information, visit Veteran Feminists of America.

Another important legal tool was the definition of sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination. We have feminist scholar Catharine MacKinnon to thank for articulating the legal argument behind the link (basically that a hostile work environment discriminates against women) and then playing a leading role in Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson (1986), wherein the Supreme Court recognized the legal standing of the concept.

Sexual harassment in the workplace took center stage at the confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas for the Supreme Court in 1991. Testimony by Oklahoma law school professor Anita Hill, who had been Thomas’s subordinate at the Department of Education and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission in the 1980s, illustrated a pervasive pattern of inappropriate behavior on the part of her boss, including pressure to date him socially as well as discussions of pornography and sex during meetings in his office. Even though she felt extremely uncomfortable, Hill did not quit her job, which was important to her professionally. Despite her courageous decision to come forward, the all-male Senate Judiciary Committee voted to confirm Thomas, evidence, many women believed, that “they just didn’t get it.” In direct response, a record number of women sought and won political office in the 1992 elections.

In this survey of legislative and judicial attempts to combat sex discrimination on the job, pride of place goes to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. Here is one story that truly did have a happy ending — eventually, and, it should be noted, forty-six years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Lilly Ledbetter had worked as a supervisor in a Goodyear Tire assembly plant in Alabama since 1979, but only as she neared retirement did she realize she was being paid significantly less than male colleagues with similar seniority and experience. She successfully sued Goodyear for back pay and damages, but the judgment was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2007 on a technicality: Her suit had not been filed within 180 days of her initial employment. In response, Congress passed legislation that restarted the 180-day clock every time a discriminatory paycheck was issued. Showing both its symbolic and substantive importance, this was the first law that President Barack Obama signed when taking office. And Ruth Bader Ginsburg, now a Supreme Court justice, put a framed copy of the bill in her chambers.


The second wave of feminism in the United States came as a delayed reaction against the renewed domesticity of women after World War II: the late 1940s post-war boom, which was an era characterized by an unprecedented economic growth, a baby boom, a move to family-oriented suburbs and the ideal of companionate marriages. During this time, women did not tend to seek employment due to their engagement with domestic and household duties, which was seen as their primary duty but often left them isolated within the home and estranged from politics, economics, and law making. This life was clearly illustrated by the media of the time for example television shows such as Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver idealized domesticity. [6]

Some important events laid the groundwork for the second wave. French writer Simone de Beauvoir had in the 1940s examined the notion of women being perceived as "other" in the patriarchal society. She went on to conclude in her 1949 treatise The Second Sex that male-centered ideology was being accepted as a norm and enforced by the ongoing development of myths, and that the fact that women are capable of getting pregnant, lactating, and menstruating is in no way a valid cause or explanation to place them as the "second sex". [7] This book was translated from French to English (with some of its text excised) and published in America in 1953. [8]

In 1960, the Food and Drug Administration approved the combined oral contraceptive pill, which was made available in 1961. [9] This made it easier for women to have careers without having to leave due to unexpectedly becoming pregnant. It also meant young couples would not be routinely forced into unwanted marriages due to accidental pregnancies.

Though it is widely accepted that the movement lasted from the 1960s into the early 1980s, the exact years of the movement are more difficult to pinpoint and are often disputed. The movement is usually believed to have begun in 1963, when Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique, and President John F. Kennedy's Presidential Commission on the Status of Women released its report on gender inequality.

External video
Prospects of Mankind with Eleanor Roosevelt What Status For Women?, 59:07, 1962.
Eleanor Roosevelt, chair of the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women, interviews President John F. Kennedy, Secretary of Labor Arthur Goldberg and others, Open Vault from WGBH [10]

The administration of President Kennedy made women's rights a key issue of the New Frontier, and named women (such as Esther Peterson) to many high-ranking posts in his administration. [11] Kennedy also established a Presidential Commission on the Status of Women, chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt and comprising cabinet officials (including Peterson and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy), senators, representatives, businesspeople, psychologists, sociologists, professors, activists, and public servants. [12] The report recommended changing this inequality by providing paid maternity leave, greater access to education, and help with child care to women. [13]

There were other actions by women in wider society, presaging their wider engagement in politics which would come with the second wave. In 1961, 50,000 women in 60 cities, mobilized by Women Strike for Peace, protested above ground testing of nuclear bombs and tainted milk. [14] [15]

In 1963, Betty Friedan, influenced by Simone de Beauvoir's ground-breaking, feminist The Second Sex, wrote the bestselling book The Feminine Mystique. Discussing primarily white women, she explicitly objected to how women were depicted in the mainstream media, and how placing them at home (as 'housewives') limited their possibilities and wasted potential. She had helped conduct a very important survey using her old classmates from Smith College. This survey revealed that the women who played a role at home and the workforce were more satisfied with their life compared to the women who stayed home. The women who stayed home showed feelings of agitation and sadness. She concluded that many of these unhappy women had immersed themselves in the idea that they should not have any ambitions outside their home. [13] Friedan described this as "The Problem That Has No Name". [16] The perfect nuclear family image depicted and strongly marketed at the time, she wrote, did not reflect happiness and was rather degrading for women. [17] This book is widely credited with having begun second-wave feminism in the United States. [18]

The report from the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women, along with Friedan's book, spoke to the discontent of many women (especially housewives) and led to the formation of local, state, and federal government women's groups along with many independent feminist organizations. Friedan was referencing a "movement" as early as 1964. [19]

The movement grew with legal victories such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Griswold v. Connecticut Supreme Court ruling of 1965. In 1966 Friedan joined other women and men to found the National Organization for Women (NOW) Friedan would be named as the organization's first president. [20]

Despite the early successes NOW achieved under Friedan's leadership, her decision to pressure the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to use Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to enforce more job opportunities among American women met with fierce opposition within the organization. [20] Siding with arguments among several of the group's African-American members, [20] many of NOW's leaders were convinced that the vast number of male African-Americans who lived below the poverty line were in need of more job opportunities than women within the middle and upper class. [21] Friedan stepped down as president in 1969. [22]

In 1963, freelance journalist Gloria Steinem gained widespread popularity among feminists after a diary she authored while working undercover as a Playboy Bunny waitress at the Playboy Club was published as a two-part feature in the May and June issues of Show. [23] In her diary, Steinem alleged the club was mistreating its waitresses in order to gain male customers and exploited the Playboy Bunnies as symbols of male chauvinism, noting that the club's manual instructed the Bunnies that "there are many pleasing ways they can employ to stimulate the club's liquor volume". [23] By 1968, Steinem had become arguably the most influential figure in the movement and support for legalized abortion and federally funded day-cares had become the two leading objectives for feminists. [24]

Among the most significant legal victories of the movement after the formation of NOW were a 1967 Executive Order extending full affirmative action rights to women, a 1968 EEOC decision ruling illegal sex-segregated help wanted ads, Title IX and the Women's Educational Equity Act (1972 and 1974, respectively, educational equality), Title X (1970, health and family planning), the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (1974), the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, the outlawing of marital rape (although not outlawed in all states until 1993 [25] ), and the legalization of no-fault divorce (although not legalized in all states until 2010 [26] ), a 1975 law requiring the U.S. Military Academies to admit women, and many Supreme Court cases such as Reed v. Reed of 1971 and Roe v. Wade of 1973. However, the changing of social attitudes towards women is usually considered the greatest success of the women's movement. In January 2013, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced that the longtime ban on women serving in US military combat roles had been lifted. [27]

In 2013, the US Department of Defense (DoD) announced their plan to integrate women into all combat positions by 2016. [27]

Second-wave feminism also affected other movements, such as the civil rights movement and the student's rights movement, as women sought equality within them. In 1965 in "Sex and Caste," a reworking of a memo they had written as staffers in civil-rights organizations SNCC, Casey Hayden and Mary King proposed that "assumptions of male superiority are as widespread and deep rooted and every much as crippling to the woman as the assumptions of white supremacy are to the Negro," and that in the movement, as in society, women can find themselves "caught up in a common-law caste system." [28] [29]

In June 1967, Jo Freeman attended a "free school" course on women at the University of Chicago led by Heather Booth [30] and Naomi Weisstein. She invited them to organize a woman's workshop at the then-forthcoming National Conference of New Politics (NCNP), to be held over Labor Day weekend 1967 in Chicago. At that conference, a woman's caucus was formed, and it (led by Freeman and Shulamith Firestone) tried to present its own demands to the plenary session. [31] However, the women were told their resolution was not important enough for a floor discussion, and when through threatening to tie up the convention with procedural motions they succeeded in having their statement tacked to the end of the agenda, it was never discussed. [32] When the National Conference for New Politics (NCNP) Director William F. Pepper refused to recognize any of the women waiting to speak and instead called on someone to speak about American Indians, five women, including Firestone, rushed the podium to demand to know why. [32] But Willam F. Pepper allegedly patted Firestone on the head and said, "Move on little girl we have more important issues to talk about here than women's liberation", or possibly, "Cool down, little girl. We have more important things to talk about than women's problems." [31] [32] Freeman and Firestone called a meeting of the women who had been at the "free school" course and the women's workshop at the conference this became the first Chicago women's liberation group. It was known as the Westside group because it met weekly in Freeman's apartment on Chicago's west side. After a few months, Freeman started a newsletter which she called Voice of the women's liberation movement. It circulated all over the country (and in a few foreign countries), giving the new movement of women's liberation its name. Many of the women in the Westside group went on to start other feminist organizations, including the Chicago Women's Liberation Union.

In 1968, an SDS organizer at the University of Washington told a meeting about white college men working with poor white men, and "[h]e noted that sometimes after analyzing societal ills, the men shared leisure time by 'balling a chick together.' He pointed out that such activities did much to enhance the political consciousness of poor white youth. A woman in the audience asked, 'And what did it do for the consciousness of the chick?'" (Hole, Judith, and Ellen Levine, Rebirth of Feminism, 1971, pg. 120). [32] After the meeting, a handful of women formed Seattle's first women's liberation group. [32]

Some black feminists who were active in the early second-wave feminism include civil rights lawyer and author Florynce Kennedy, who co-authored one of the first books on abortion, 1971's Abortion Rap Cellestine Ware, of New York's Stanton-Anthony Brigade and Patricia Robinson. These women "tried to show the connections between racism and male dominance" in society.

The Indochinese Women's Conferences (IWC) in Vancouver and Toronto in 1971, demonstrated the interest of a multitude of women's groups in the Vietnam Antiwar movement. Lesbian groups, women of color, and Vietnamese groups saw their interests mirrored in the anti-imperialist spirit of the conference. Although the IWC used a Canadian venue, membership was primarily composed of American groups. [33]

The second wave of the feminist movement also marks the emergence of women's studies as a legitimate field of study. In 1970, San Diego State University was the first university in the United States to offer a selection of women's studies courses. [34]

The 1977 National Women's Conference in Houston, Texas presented an opportunity for women's liberation groups to address a multitude of women's issues. At the conference, delegates from around the country gathered to create a National Plan of Action, [35] which offered 26 planks on matters such as women's health, women's employment, and child care. [36]

By the early 1980s, it was largely perceived that women had met their goals and succeeded in changing social attitudes towards gender roles, repealing oppressive laws that were based on sex, integrating the "boys' clubs" such as military academies, the United States armed forces, NASA, single-sex colleges, men's clubs, and the Supreme Court, and making gender discrimination illegal. However, in 1982, adding the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution failed, having been ratified by only 35 states, leaving it three states short of ratification. [37]

Second-wave feminism was largely successful, with the failure of the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and Nixon's veto of the Comprehensive Child Development Bill of 1972 (which would have provided a multibillion-dollar national day care system) the only major legislative defeats. Efforts to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment have continued. Ten states have adopted constitutions or constitutional amendments providing that equal rights under the law shall not be denied because of sex, and most of these provisions mirror the broad language of the Equal Rights Amendment. Furthermore, many women's groups are still active and are major political forces. As of 2011 [update] , more women earn bachelor's degrees than men, [38] half of the Ivy League presidents are women, the numbers of women in government and traditionally male-dominated fields have dramatically increased, and in 2009 the percentage of women in the American workforce temporarily surpassed that of men. [39] The salary of the average American woman has also increased over time, although as of 2008 it is only 77% of the average man's salary, a phenomenon often referred to as the gender pay gap. [40] Whether this is due to discrimination is very hotly disputed, however economists and sociologists have provided evidence to that effect. [41] [42] [43]

Second-wave feminism ended in the early 1980s with the feminist sex wars [44] and was succeeded by third-wave feminism in the early 1990s. [45]

In 1967, at the International Alliance of Women Congress held in London, delegates were made aware of an initiative by the UN Commission on the Status of Women to study and evaluate the situation of women in their countries. Many organizations and NGOs like the Association of Business and Professional Women, Soroptimists Clubs, as well as teaching and nursing associations developed committees in response to the initiative to prepare evaluations on the conditions of women and urge their governments to establish National Commissions on the Status of Women. [46]

In Turkey [47] [48] and Israel, [49] second-wave feminism began in the 1980s.

Germany Edit

Also see below in this article under Film

During the 1960s several German feminist groups were founded, which were characterized as the second wave. [50]

Spain Edit

The 1960s in Spain saw a generational shift in Spanish feminist in response to other changes in Spanish society. This included increased emigration and tourism (resulting in the spread of ideas from the rest of the world), greater opportunities in education and employment for women and major economic reforms. [51] Feminism in the late Franco period and early transition period was not unified. It had many different political dimensions, however, they all shared a belief in the need for greater equality for women in Spain and a desire to defend the rights of women. [52] Feminism moved from being about the individual to being about the collective. [53] It was during this period that second-wave feminism arrived in Spain. [51] [54]

Second-wave Spanish feminism was about the struggle for the rights of women in the context of the dictatorship. PCE would start in 1965 to promote this movement with MDM, creating a feminist political orientation around building solidarity for women and assisting imprisoned political figures. MDM launched its movement in Madrid by establishing associations among the housewives of the Tetuán and Getafe in 1969. In 1972, Asociación Castellana de Amas de Casa y Consumidora was created to widen the group's ability to attract members. [51]

Second-wave feminism entered the Spanish comic community by the early 1970s. It was manifested in Spanish comics in two ways. The first was that it increased the number of women involved in comics production as writers and artists. The second was it transformed how female characters were portrayed, making women less passive and less likely to be purely sexual beings. [55]

Sweden Edit

In Sweden, second-wave feminism is mostly associated with Group 8, a feminist organization which was founded by eight women in Stockholm in 1968. [56]

The organization took up various feminist issues such as demands for expansions of kindergartens, 6-hour working day, equal pay for equal work and opposition to pornography. Initially based in Stockholm, local groups were founded throughout the country. The influence of Group 8 on feminism in Sweden is still prevalent.

The Netherlands Edit

In 1967, "The Discontent of Women", by Joke Kool-Smits, was published [57] the publication of this essay is often regarded as the start of second-wave feminism in the Netherlands. [58] In this essay, Smit describes the frustration of married women, saying they are fed up being solely mothers and housewives.

The beginnings of second-wave feminism can be studied by looking at the two branches that the movement formed in: the liberal feminists and the radical feminists. The liberal feminists, led by figures such as Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem advocated for federal legislation to be passed that would promote and enhance the personal and professional lives of women. [59] On the other hand, radical feminists, such as Casey Hayden and Mary King, adopted the skills and lessons that they had learned from their work with civil rights organizations such as the Students for a Democratic Society and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and created a platform to speak on the violent and sexist issues women faced while working with the larger Civil Rights Movement. [60]

The liberal feminist movement Edit

After being removed from the workforce, by either personal or social pressures, many women in the post-war America returned to the home or were placed into female only jobs in the service sector. [61] After the publication of Friedan's The Feminine Mystique in 1963, many women connected to the feeling of isolation and dissatisfaction that the book detailed. The book itself, however, was not a call to action, but rather a plea for self-realization and consciousness raising among middle-class women throughout America. [62] Many of these women organized to form the National Organization for Women in 1966, whose "Statement of Purpose" declared that the right women had to equality was one small part of the nationwide civil rights revolution that was happening during the 1960s. [63]

The radical feminist movement Edit

Women who favoured radical feminism collectively spoke of being forced to remain silent and obedient to male leaders in New Left organizations. They spoke out about how they were not only told to do clerical work such as stuffing envelopes and typing speeches, but there was also an expectation for them to sleep with the male activists that they worked with. [64] While these acts of sexual harassment took place, the young women were neglected their right to have their own needs and desires recognized by their male cohorts. [64] Many radical feminists had learned from these organizations how to think radically about their self-worth and importance, and applied these lessons in the relationships they had with each other. [65]

Feminist activists have established a range of feminist businesses, including women's bookstores, feminist credit unions, feminist presses, feminist mail-order catalogs, feminist restaurants, and feminist record labels. These businesses flourished as part of the second and third waves of feminism in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. [66] [67]

In West Berlin sixteen projects emerged within three years (1974–76) [68] all without state funding (except the women's shelter). Many of those new concepts the social economy picked up later, some are still run autonomously today. [69] [70]

Second-wave feminists viewed popular culture as sexist, and created pop culture of their own to counteract this. "One project of second wave feminism was to create 'positive' images of women, to act as a counterweight to the dominant images circulating in popular culture and to raise women's consciousness of their oppressions." [71]

"I Am Woman" Edit

Australian artist Helen Reddy's song "I Am Woman" played a large role in popular culture and became a feminist anthem Reddy came to be known as a "feminist poster girl" or a "feminist icon". [71] Reddy told interviewers that the song was a "song of pride about being a woman". [72] The song was released in 1972. A few weeks after "I Am Woman" entered the charts, radio stations refused to play it. Some music critics and radio stations believed the song represented "all that is silly in the Women's Lib Movement". [73] Helen Reddy then began performing the song on numerous television variety shows. As the song gained popularity, women began calling radio stations and requesting to hear "I Am Woman" played. The song re-entered the charts and reached number one in December 1972. [74] [71] [75] [76] [77] [78] [79] [80] [81] [82] "I Am Woman" also became a protest song that women sang at feminist rallies and protests. [83]

Olivia Records Edit

In 1973, a group of five feminists created the first women's owned-and-operated record label, called Olivia Records. [84] They created the record label because they were frustrated that major labels were slow to add female artists to their rosters. One of Olivia's founders, Judy Dlugacz, said that, "It was a chance to create opportunities for women artists within an industry which at that time had few." [85] Initially, they had a budget of $4,000, and relied on donations to keep Olivia Records alive. With these donations, Olivia Records created their first LP, an album of feminist songs entitled I Know You Know. [86] The record label originally relied on volunteers and feminist bookstores to distribute their records, but after a few years their records began to be sold in mainstream record stores. [85]

Olivia Records was so successful that the company relocated from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles in 1975. [86] Olivia Records released several records and albums, and their popularity grew. [84] As their popularity grew, an alternative, specialized music industry grew around it. This type of music was initially referred to as "lesbian music" but came to be known as "women's music". [84] However, although Olivia Records was initially meant for women, in the 1980s it tried to move away from that stereotype and encouraged men to listen to their music as well. [85]

Women's music Edit

Women's music consisted of female musicians combined music with politics to express feminist ideals. [87] Cities throughout the United States began to hold Women's Music Festivals, all consisting of female artists singing their own songs about personal experiences. [88] The first Women's Music Festival was held in 1974 at the University of Illinois. [88] In 1979, the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival attracted 10,000 women from across America. [88] These festivals encouraged already-famous female singers, such as Laura Nyro and Ellen McIllwaine, to begin writing and producing their own songs instead of going through a major record label. [88] Many women began performing hard rock music, a traditionally male-dominated genre. One of the most successful examples included the sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, who formed the famous hard rock band Heart. [13]

Film Edit

German speaking Europe Edit

The Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin gave women a chance in film in Germany: from 1968 on one third of the students were female. Some of them - pioneers of the women's movement - produced feminist feature films: Helke Sander in 1971 produced "Eine Prämie für Irene" [A Reward for Irene], and Cristina Perincioli (although she was Swiss not German) in 1971 produced "Für Frauen – 1.Kap" [For Women – 1st Chapter].

In West Germany Helma Sanders-Brahms and Claudia von Alemann produced feminist documentaries from 1970 on.

In 1973 Claudia von Alemann and Helke Sander organized the 1. Internationale Frauen-Filmseminar in Berlin.

In 1974 Helke Sander founded the journal Frauen und Film – a first feminist filmjournal, which she edited until 1981.

In the 1970s in West Germany, women directors produced a whole series of Frauenfilm - films focusing on women's personal emancipation. In the 1980s the Goethe Institute brought a collection of German women's films in every corner of the world. “…here the term ‘feminist filmmaking’ does function to point to a filmmaking practice defining itself outside the masculine mirror. German feminism is one of the most active women's movements in Europe. It has gained access to television engendered a spectrum of journals, a publishing house and a summer women's university in Berlin inspired a whole group of filmmakers . ” writes Marc Silberman in Jump Cut. [89] But most of the women filmmakers did not see themselves as feminists, except Helke Sander [90] and Cristina Perincioli. Perincioli stated in an interview: “Fight first … before making beautiful art”. [91] There, she explains how she develops and shoots the film together with the women concerned: saleswomen, battered wives - and why she prefers to work with an all female team. Camera women were still so rare in the 1970 that she had to find them in Denmark and France. Working with an all women film crew Perincioli encouraged women to learn these then male dominated professions.

Association of women filmworkers of Germany Edit

In 1979, German women filmworkers formed the Association of women filmworkers [92] which was active for a few years. In 2014, a new attempt with Proquote Film (then as Proquote Regie [93] ) turned out to be successful and effective. A study by the University of Rostock shows that 42% of the graduates of film schools are female, but only 22% of the German feature films are staged by a woman director and are usually financially worse equipped. Similarly, women are disadvantaged in the other male-dominated film trades, where men even without education are preferred to the female graduates. [94] The initiative points out that the introduction of a quota system in Sweden has brought the proportion of women in key positions in film production around the same as the population share. [95] As a result, the Swedish initiative calls also for a parity of film funding bodies and the implementation of a gradual women's quota for the allocation of film and television directing jobs in order to achieve a gender-equitable distribution. This should reflect the plurality of a modern society, because diversity can not be guaranteed if more than 80% of all films are produced by men. ProQuote Film is the third initiative with which women with a high share in their industry are fighting for more female executives and financial resources (see Pro Quote Medien (2012) and Quote Medizin).

United States Edit

In the USA, both the creation and subjects of motion pictures began to reflect second-wave feminist ideals, [96] leading to the development of feminist film theory. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, female filmmakers that were involved in part of the new wave of feminist film included Joan Micklin Silver (Between the Lines), Claudia Weill (Girlfriends), Stephanie Rothman, and Susan Seidelman (Smithereens, Desperately Seeking Susan). [97] [98] Other notable films that explored feminist subject matters that were made at this time include the film adaptation of Lois Gould's novel Such Good Friends and Rosemary's Baby. [99]

The documentary She's Beautiful When She's Angry was the first documentary film to cover feminism's second wave. [100]

Use of birth control Edit

Finding a need to talk about the advantage of the Food and Drug Administration passing their approval for the use of birth control in 1960, liberal feminists took action in creating panels and workshops with the goal to promote conscious raising among sexually active women. These workshops also brought attention to issues such as venereal diseases and safe abortion. [101] Radical feminists also joined this push to raise awareness among sexually active women. While supporting the "Free Love Movement" of the late 1960s and early 1970s, young women on college campuses distributed pamphlets on birth control, sexual diseases, abortion, and cohabitation. [102]

While white women were concerned with obtaining birth control for all, women of color were at risk of sterilization because of these same medical and social advances: "Native American, African American, and Latina groups documented and publicized sterilization abuses in their communities in the 1960s and 70s, showing that women had been sterilized without their knowledge or consent. In the 1970s, a group of women. founded the Committee to End Sterilization Abuse (CESA) to stop this racist population control policy begun by the federal government in the 1940s – a policy that had resulted in the sterilization of over one-third of all women of child-bearing age in Puerto Rico." [103] The use of forced sterilization disproportionately affected women of color and women from lower socioeconomic statuses. Sterilization was often done under the ideology of eugenics. Thirty states within the United States authorized legal sterilizations under eugenic sciences. [104]

Domestic violence and sexual harassment Edit

The second-wave feminist movement also took a strong stance against physical violence and sexual assault in both the home and the workplace. In 1968, NOW successfully lobbied the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to pass an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prevented discrimination based on sex in the workplace. [105] This attention to women's rights in the workplace also prompted the EEOC to add sexual harassment to its "Guidelines on Discrimination", therefore giving women the right to report their bosses and coworkers for acts of sexual assault.

Domestic violence, such as battery and rape, were rampant in post-war America. Married women were often abused by their husbands, and as late as 1975 domestic battery and rape were both socially acceptable and legal as women were seen to be the possessions of their husbands. [106] Because of activists in the second-wave feminist movement, and the local law enforcement agencies that they worked with, by 1982 three hundred shelters and forty-eight state coalitions had been established to provide protection and services for women who had been abused by male figures in their lives. [107]

Title IX Edit

Coeducation Edit

One debate which developed in the United States during this time period revolved around the question of coeducation. Most men's colleges in the United States adopted coeducation, often by merging with women's colleges. In addition, some women's colleges adopted coeducation, while others maintained a single-sex student body.

Seven Sisters Colleges Edit

Two of the Seven Sister colleges made transitions during and after the 1960s. The first, Radcliffe College, merged with Harvard University. Beginning in 1963, students at Radcliffe received Harvard diplomas signed by the presidents of Radcliffe and Harvard and joint commencement exercises began in 1970. The same year, several Harvard and Radcliffe dormitories began swapping students experimentally and in 1972 full co-residence was instituted. The departments of athletics of both schools merged shortly thereafter. In 1977, Harvard and Radcliffe signed an agreement which put undergraduate women entirely in Harvard College. In 1999, Radcliffe College was dissolved and Harvard University assumed full responsibility over the affairs of female undergraduates. Radcliffe is now the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in Women's Studies at Harvard University.

The second, Vassar College, declined an offer to merge with Yale University and instead became coeducational in 1969.

The remaining Seven Sisters decided against coeducation. Mount Holyoke College engaged in a lengthy debate under the presidency of David Truman over the issue of coeducation. On November 6, 1971, "after reviewing an exhaustive study on coeducation, the board of trustees decided unanimously that Mount Holyoke should remain a women's college, and a group of faculty was charged with recommending curricular changes that would support the decision." [108] Smith College also made a similar decision in 1971. [109]

In 1969, Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College (then all male) developed a system of sharing residential colleges. When Haverford became coeducational in 1980, Bryn Mawr discussed the possibly of coeducation as well, but decided against it. [110] In 1983, Columbia University began admitting women after a decade of failed negotiations with Barnard College for a merger along the lines of Harvard and Radcliffe (Barnard has been affiliated with Columbia since 1900, but it continues to be independently governed). Wellesley College also decided against coeducation during this time.

Mississippi University for Women Edit

In 1982, in a 5–4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan that the Mississippi University for Women would be in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause if it denied admission to its nursing program on the basis of gender. Mississippi University for Women, the first public or government institution for women in the United States, changed its admissions policies and became coeducational after the ruling. [111]

In what was her first opinion written for the Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor stated, "In limited circumstances, a gender-based classification favoring one sex can be justified if it intentionally and directly assists members of the sex that is disproportionately burdened." She went on to point out that there are a disproportionate number of women who are nurses, and that denying admission to men "lends credibility to the old view that women, not men, should become nurses, and makes the assumption that nursing is a field for women a self-fulfilling prophecy". [112]

In the dissenting opinions, Justices Harry A. Blackmun, Warren E. Burger, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., and William H. Rehnquist suggested that the result of this ruling would be the elimination of publicly supported single-sex educational opportunities. This suggestion has proven to be accurate as there are no public women's colleges in the United States today and, as a result of United States v. Virginia, the last all-male public university in the United States, Virginia Military Institute, was required to admit women. The ruling did not require the university to change its name to reflect its coeducational status and it continues a tradition of academic and leadership development for women by providing liberal arts and professional education to women and men. [113]

Mills College Edit

On May 3, 1990, the Trustees of Mills College announced that they had voted to admit male students. [114] This decision led to a two-week student and staff strike, accompanied by numerous displays of nonviolent protests by the students. [115] [116] At one point, nearly 300 students blockaded the administrative offices and boycotted classes. [117] On May 18, the Trustees met again to reconsider the decision, [118] leading finally to a reversal of the vote. [119]

Other colleges Edit

Sarah Lawrence College declined an offer to merge with Princeton University, becoming coeducational in 1969. [120] Connecticut College also adopted coeducation during the late 1960s. Wells College, previously with a student body of women only, became co-educational in 2005. Douglass College, part of Rutgers University, was the last publicly funded women's only college until 2007 when it became coed.

Some black and/or working class and poor women felt alienated by the main planks of the second-wave feminist movement, which largely advocated women's right to work outside the home and expansion of reproductive rights. Women of color and poor white women in the U.S. had been working outside of the home in blue-collar and service jobs for generations. Additionally, Angela Davis wrote that while Afro-American women and white women were subjected to multiple unwilled pregnancies and had to clandestinely abort, Afro-American women were also suffering from compulsory sterilization programs that were not widely included in dialogue about reproductive justice.

Beginning in the late 20th century, numerous feminist scholars such as Audre Lorde [121] and Winona LaDuke [122] critiqued the second wave in the United States as reducing feminist activity into a homogenized and whitewashed chronology of feminist history that ignores the voices and contributions of many women of color, working-class women, and LGBT women. [123] [124]

The second-wave feminist movement in the United States has been criticized for failing to acknowledge the struggles of women of color, and their voices were often silenced or ignored by white feminists. [125] [123] It has been suggested that the dominant historical narratives of the feminist movement focuses on white, East Coast, and predominantly middle-class women and women's consciousness-raising groups, excluding the experiences and contributions of lesbians, women of color, and working-class and lower-class women. [44] Chela Sandoval called the dominant narratives of the women's liberation movement "hegemonic feminism" because it essentializes the feminist historiography to an exclusive population of women, which assumes that all women experience the same oppressions as the white, East Coast, and predominantly middle-class women. [126] This restricting view purportedly ignored the oppressions women face determined by their race, class, and sexuality, and gave rise to women-of-color feminisms that separated from the women's liberation movement, such as Black feminism, Africana womanism, and the Hijas de Cuauhtémoc that emerged at California State University, Long Beach, which was founded by Anna Nieto-Gómez, due to the Chicano Movement's sexism. [127] [128] [129] Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term "intersectionality" in 1989 in response to the white, middle-class views that dominated second-wave feminism. Intersectionality describes the way systems of oppression (i.e. sexism, racism) have multiplicative, not additive, effects, on those who are multiply marginalized. It has become a core tenet of third-wave feminism. [130]

Many feminist scholars see the generational division of the second wave as problematic. [131] Second wavers are typically essentialized as the Baby Boomer generation, when in actuality many feminist leaders of the second wave were born before World War II ended. This generational essentialism homogenizes the group that belongs to the wave and asserts that every person part of a certain demographic generation shared the same ideologies, because ideological differences were considered to be generational differences. [132]

Feminist scholars, particularly those from the late 20th and early 21st centuries to the present day, have revisited diverse writings, [44] oral histories, artwork, and artifacts of women of color, working-class women, and lesbians during the early 1960s to the early 1980s to decenter what they view as the dominant historical narratives of the second wave of the women's liberation movement, allowing the scope of the historical understanding of feminist consciousness to expand and transform. By recovering histories that they believe have been erased and overlooked, these scholars purport to establish what Maylei Blackwell termed "retrofitted memory". [133] Blackwell describes this as a form of "countermemory" that creates a transformative and fluid "alternative archive" and space for women's feminist consciousness within "hegemonic narratives". [133] For Blackwell, looking within the gaps and crevices of the second wave allows fragments of historical knowledge and memory to be discovered, and new historical feminist subjects as well as new perspectives about the past to emerge, forcing existing dominant histories that claim to represent a universal experience to be decentered and refocused. [134]

1920 — America Becomes a Democracy (Sort Of)

As 4 million young men were drafted to serve as U.S. troops in World War I, women took over many jobs traditionally held by men in the United States.

The women's suffrage movement experienced a resurgence that dovetailed with the growing antiwar movement at the same time.

The result: Finally, some 72 years after Seneca Falls, the U.S. government ratified the 19th Amendment.

While Black suffrage was not to be fully established in the South until ​1965, and it continues to be challenged by voter intimidation tactics to this day, it would have been inaccurate to even describe the United States as a true representative democracy prior to 1920 because only about 40% of the population—White males—were allowed to elect representatives.

A Brief History of Women’s Liberation Movements in America

During the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, feminist activism—richly diverse both in the women involved and in its aims, tone, and strategies—exploded in the United States and around the world, forever changing society by expanding the rights, opportunities, and identities available to women. And at the center of everything that the women’s liberation movement achieved was the writing that both forged and propelled it, writing that continues to inspire, challenge, educate, and even offend.

Yet, by the mid-1980s, despite occasional victories, the feminist movement had become so distorted and vilified that the tag “feminist” was rejected by many women who had welcomed the changes in their lives the movement produced. At the end of World War II—and even as recently as 1970, as detailed by Gene Boyer in her essay, excerpted in this volume, “Are Woman Equal Under the Law?”—a husband’s forcing sex on his wife was not legally considered rape. In some states, unless there was a title establishing the wife’s ownership, all her purchases belonged to her husband, even if bought entirely with her own earnings, and a married woman could not make a contract or obtain a credit card without her husband’s signature.

In many states a mother who daily lifted and carried her toddler could be barred from any job that required lifting more than 25 pounds, or, in California, newspaper employment ads were segregated by sex, and sometimes also by race. There were no policewomen or female firefighters and hardly any women broadcasters—female voices were considered too “shrill.” In fact, any job that required authority was in practice off limits to women: most law and medical schools had female quotas, and women were excluded from the clergy of most religions. Women made on average 59 cents for every dollar a man made for similar work, with the largest gender pay gap for women of color. All hurricanes bore female names, women being considered the creators of chaos, and in 1970 a prominent physician famously declared on TV that women were unfit for high office due to “raging hormonal imbalances of the lunar cycle.”

The revolution began quietly in 1946, when a French philosopher in her thirties named Simone de Beauvoir began to write about what it meant to be a woman. When her book Le Deuxième Sexe (The Second Sex), which criticized all Western thought for positioning woman as Other and man as default, was published in France in 1949, it became a sensation, and, given its stance on religion and sexuality, was banned by the Vatican.

When The Second Sex: Woman as Other was published in the US in 1953, it had a profound effect, influencing many of the women who would go on to create the American feminist movement. One of them was Betty Friedan, then a freelance writer for women’s magazines, who surveyed her Smith College class at their fifteenth reunion and found that an overwhelming number had a common set of complaints, ranging from the vague to the desperate. To their shared malaise she gave the appellation “the problem that has no name.” The Feminine Mystique, published in February 1963, quickly became a best seller. Friedan based her conclusions, which included the need for married women to work outside the home, on her sample of white educated housewives. Though she did not take up the concerns of women, both white and of color, who already had outside jobs and whose paychecks were essential to a family’s survival, the book’s revelations of discrimination against all women reverberated through the culture.

During the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, feminist activism exploded in the United States and around the world, forever changing society by expanding the rights, opportunities, and identities available to women.

Like The Second Sex, The Feminine Mystique was a call to action, but no movement yet existed. This changed in 1966, during the Third National Conference of Commissions on the Status of Women in Washington, DC, which was attended by Friedan. The network of state commissions had been created five years earlier by President John F. Kennedy to document the barriers that limited women’s full participation in American life. The initial report of the commissions, published in 1963, endorsed women’s legal equality, and sex—what is now called gender—was included in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as one of the bases for which employment discrimination was prohibited. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was established as Title VII’s enforcement arm, but although nearly a third of the almost two thousand complaints filed during the EEOC’s first year concerned sex discrimination, those complaints were seldom acted upon. Anger at this injustice led 28 conference attendees, meeting in Friedan’s hotel room in June 1966, to plan a civil rights organization “to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now, assuming all the privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men.”

The result was the National Organization for Women (NOW), the first grassroots organization of the movement that has been written into history as the second wave of feminism. (The 19th-century women’s rights movement, which won the women’s suffrage amendment in 1920, is known as the first wave.) NOW’s first organizing conference was held in Washington, DC, four months later. The 49 members in attendance—five of whom have writings in this volume: Friedan, Gene Boyer, Mary O. Eastwood, and civil rights activists Pauli Murray and Shirley Chisholm—hammered out a platform focused on ending legal discrimination in employment, education, and reproductive rights. NOW grew rapidly and today has hundreds of thousands of members, female and male, in more than five hundred chapters nationwide.

Soon after its founding, NOW would feel pressure from an emerging movement of radical women activists to broaden its concerns. That movement, which named itself women’s liberation, had its own history, goals, and style that differed from those of NOW. Its members, many of them young veterans of the civil rights, antiwar, and student movements, began to extend the radical social analyses they had learned in those movements to the situation of women. Some organized women’s caucuses within their civil rights and New Left organizations, such as the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Young Lords Party (both represented in this volume) but others, after presenting their ideas to dismissive or contemptuous male comrades, decided their cause required an independent women’s movement. Unlike women’s rights activists (also sometimes called moderate, reformist, or liberal feminists) who created traditional organizations like NOW and the National Women’s Political Caucus with officers, bylaws, and chapters, radical feminists came together in small, autonomous, women-only groups that rejected formal structure and focused on exposing the deep-rooted attitudes of sexism and misogyny and challenging everyday humiliations and injustices.

In Chicago, in 1967, a small band of radical feminists established The Westside Group, widely considered the country’s first radical feminist group. When its cofounder, a 22-year-old art student named Shulamith Firestone, moved to New York City later that year, she helped organize New York Radical Women, the first group in that city. Soon small groups were forming in cities, in towns, and on campuses all over the country—from Boston, New York, and Gainesville, to Chicago, Detroit, Iowa City, and Madison, to Seattle, Berkeley, and Los Angeles. By the early 1970s, radical feminists of diverse identities, ethnicities, races, classes, and sexualities had organized into groups—mainly of like rather than mixed membership—of Black feminists, lesbian feminists, socialist feminists, separatist feminists, high school feminists, as well as collectives devoted to a particular feminist activity, such as providing safe, though illegal, abortions publishing a journal or books opening a gallery or bookstore opposing racism practicing women’s self-defense teaching vaginal self-examination and starting a day care center or a battered women’s shelter.

Soon after its founding, NOW would feel pressure from an emerging movement of radical women activists to broaden its concerns.

In some cities, umbrella organizations like The Chicago Women’s Liberation Union or the Boston area’s Bread and Roses gathered autonomous groups into loose coalitions. Frequently groups divided or split apart—resulting in the proliferation of new ideas and new organizations, and sometimes anger or heartbreak. Yet despite their many differences, radical feminists shared the overarching goal of creating a mass women’s liberation movement to transform power relations between the sexes and thus revolutionize society.

Having grown up in a society in which female subordination in nearly every aspect of life was not only taken for granted but so normal as to be often invisible, radical feminists embraced as their foremost task convincing women of their oppression as women—and the need for a women’s liberation movement. This was accomplished through two major organizing methods: the technique of consciousness-raising (CR), by which women in small groups gained understanding of their subjugation through shared personal testimony—described in Kathie Sarachild’s article on CR in this volume—and women’s liberation writings, a creative ferment of ideas proliferated via feminist newspapers, journals, conferences, and radio programs on radical stations. For many, recognition of a need for change was instantaneous—an experience Jane O’Reilly named a click! moment in her 1972 article “The Housewife’s Moment of Truth,” included here. A mounting sense of purpose aroused excitement, commitment, and sometimes such feelings of rebirth that some women, rejecting patronymics, renamed themselves: Elana Dyke-woman, Laura X, and Judy Chicago, whose name change proclamation we include in our photo insert.

Under the slogans “the personal is political” (discussed by Carol Hanisch in her article “The Personal Is Political”) and “sisterhood is powerful,” women in small groups, in many thousands of living rooms, kitchens, and newly opened women’s centers throughout the country, practiced CR by describing their maltreatment and exploitation in a range of ordinary experiences concerning sex, race, class, family, jobs, housework, health care, childcare, and more. Speaking for the first time of forbidden truths or private humiliations—as would women in the #MeToo movement decades later—they discovered that feelings they thought unique were widely shared: resentment at being judged by their looks, at having to fake orgasms, at being overlooked, silenced, and patronized. In 1969, CR went public in a Greenwich Village church, when the radical feminist group Redstockings presented the movement’s first public speakout—on the subject of abortion—to be followed in subsequent years by other groups’ speakouts on rape and sexual harassment, which ended taboos and opened vital national conversations. It was after reading about the first rape speakout that I, Honor, joined my first CR group in Manhattan.

At the same time, from the mid-1960s on, beginning with Valerie Solanas’s notorious SCUM Manifesto, excerpted here, there was a great outpouring of feminist writing, from incitements to action, group manifestos, and visionary analyses to seething satires, passionate polemics, and the burgeoning of feminist poetry, fiction, plays, film, and visual arts. Before photocopier technology and the Internet, these writings circulated as mimeographed pamphlets piled onto literature tables at every feminist gathering, and in the new feminist newsletters and journals springing up across the country, such as Chicago’s Voice of the Women’s Liberation Movement and The Lavender Woman, Washington DC’s off our backs, Denver’s Big Mama Rag, Iowa City’s Ain’t I a Woman?, Seattle’s Lilith, Baltimore’s Women: A Journal of Liberation, Boston’s No More Fun & Games, New York’s Aphra, Triple Jeopardy, and Notes from the First Year, and the San Francisco Bay Area’s Tooth and Nail, It Ain’t Me Babe, and Mother Lode.

In 1970, the first anthologies of these writings were issued by mainstream publishers and reached an eager mass audience: Sisterhood Is Powerful, The Black Woman, Voices of Women’s Liberation, Women’s Liberation: A Blueprint for the Future. Also that year, two scathing book-length radical feminist manifestos, The Dialectic of Sex by Shulamith Firestone and Sexual Politics by Kate Millett, both excerpted here, swept the nation and the best-seller lists.

Having grown up in a society in which female subordination in nearly every aspect of life was not only taken for granted but so normal as to be often invisible, radical feminists embraced as their foremost task convincing women of their oppression as women.

On August 26, 1970—50 years to the day after the suffrage amendment was adopted and two years after the small, now iconic Miss America protest garnered national media attention for women’s liberation (see photo insert), and which I, Alix, helped to plan and gleefully attended—the movement held its first mass demonstration. A huge march, organized by a coalition of feminist groups as a Women’s Strike for Equality, urged women not to go to work or do housework that day (“Don’t iron while the strike is hot!”).

Some fifty thousand feminists, individually and in more than seventy groups—with names like Revolutionary Childcare Collective, the Lesbian Food Conspiracy, Black Women’s Liberation, Women Artists in Revolution, and Half of Brooklyn, representing both the radical and moderate branches of the movement—paraded together in triumph down New York’s Fifth Avenue (see photo insert). Demonstrators carried signs expressing the day’s spirit and demands: “Free Universal Childcare,” “I Am Not a Barbie Doll,” “Free Abortion on Demand,” “Liberté Egalité Sororité,” “Equal Pay for Equal Work.” In Boston, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Minneapolis, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Los Angeles “sister marches” were held, drawing between one hundred and five thousand demonstrators. The movement had entered the mainstream.

The new movement encompassed a culturally, ideologically, and racially diverse multitude of activists and visionaries and a cadre of daring writers and theorists who would reevaluate nearly every aspect of women’s lives and so thoroughly open new avenues of opportunity that it would seem to subsequent generations they had always been there. The movement that began by addressing “a problem that has no name” had become a movement that named with impunity, bringing into being new ideas and opportunities. Among the new terms were sexism, sexual harassment, marital rape, date rape, wife battering, sisterhood, double and triple jeopardy (early designations of what came to be called intersectionality), womanism, and women’s liberation. The ninety pieces in this volume trace that movement’s arc.

The week of the August 26, 1970, strike and marches, the mass newsweekly magazine Time profiled author Kate Millett and put on its cover her portrait by Alice Neel. Meanwhile, at Newsweek, the other mass-circulation newsweekly, 46 women, many of them researchers who had no opportunities for advancement, let alone bylines—though their qualifications were usually equal to those of the male writers they assisted—were preparing to file an EEOC Title VII suit for sex discrimination. They shrewdly filed their suit on the very day Newsweek published “Women in Revolt,” a cover story about the new movement, for which the male editors had hired a freelance female writer. In 1973 the magazine settled the suit.

Frustrated at their marginalization by the mainstream media, another group of women journalists and editors launched, in January 1972, a national feminist monthly magazine they named Ms. for the honorific that conceals—as “Mr.” does—marital status. A year later, two young feminists, Kirsten Grimstad and Susan Rennie, hit the road to gather information on the panorama of the new women’s culture for a pair of books titled The New Woman’s Survival Catalog (1973) and The New Woman’s Survival Sourcebook (1975), which spread news of women-run services and resources available in towns and cities all over the country. In one locale, a discretely situated lesbian bar was repurposed as a venue for feminist poetry readings and theatre performances in another, feminists took over an old-line sexist radical newspaper. Playwrights, fed-up actresses, and women directors who couldn’t get hired started women’s theatre groups, and women singers and musicians started festivals and record labels.

These guidebooks are snapshots of the scope and reach of feminism at the time, including women’s centers, women’s restaurants, bookstores, schools, communes, and other enterprises that catered to women, including, in Kansas City, a feminist hotel. Many of them would vanish within a few years, but some, like the Feminist Press, the Boston Women’s Health Collective, and a national network of battered women’s shelters and rape crisis centers, endured, sometimes evolving into nonprofit institutions.

Excerpted from the introduction to Women’s Liberation! Feminist Writings that Inspired a Revolution & Still Can, edited by Alix Kates Shulman and Honor Moore. Copyright © 2021 by Library of America. Used by permission of Library of America.

Feminism's Long March: You&rsquove Come a Long Way, Baby (Or Have You?)

In 1968, the Phillip Morris Company launched a memorable campaign to sell Virginia Slims, a new brand of cigarettes targeting women, itself a new phenomenon. It had a brand-new slogan: &ldquoYou&rsquove come a long way, baby.&rdquo The company plastered it on billboards nationwide and put it in TV ads that featured women of the early twentieth century being punished for smoking. In all their advertising, smoking was equated with a set of traits meant to capture the essence of women in a new era of equality -- independence, slimness, glamour, and liberation.

As it happened, the only equality this campaign ended up supporting involved lung cancer. Today, women and men die at similar rates from that disease.

Still, women have come a long way since the mid-twentieth century, and it&rsquos worth considering just how far -- and just how far we have to go.

Once Upon a Time

These days it may be hard for some to believe, but before the women&rsquos movement burst on the scene in the late 1960s, newspapers published ads for jobs on different pages, segregated by gender. Employers legally paid women less than men for the same work. Some bars refused to serve women and all banks denied married women credit or loans, a practice which didn&rsquot change until 1974. Some states even excluded women from jury duty.

Radio producers considered women&rsquos voices too abrasive to be on the air and television executives believed that women didn&rsquot have sufficient credibility to anchor the news. Few women ran big corporations or universities, or worked as firefighters and police officers. None sat on the Supreme Court, installed electrical equipment, climbed telephone poles, or owned construction companies. All hurricanes had female names, due to the widely held view that women brought chaos and destruction to society.

As late as 1970, Dr. Edgar Berman, a consultant to presidents and to Medicare, proclaimed on television that women were too tortured by hormonal disturbances to assume the presidency. Few people ran into women professors, doctors, or lawyers. Everyone addressed a woman as either Miss or Mrs, depending on her marital status, and if a woman needed an abortion, legal nowhere in America, she risked her life searching among quacks in back alleys for a competent and compassionate doctor.

The public generally believed that rape victims had probably &ldquoasked for it,&rdquo most women felt too ashamed to report rape, and no language existed to make sense of what we now call domestic violence, sexual harassment, marital rape, or date rape. One simple phrase seemed to sum up the hidden injuries women suffered in silence: &ldquoThat&rsquos life.&rdquo

On August 27, 1970, in response to such injustice, 50,000 women marched down New York&rsquos Fifth Avenue, announcing the birth of a new movement. They demanded three rights: legal abortion, universal childcare, and equal pay. These were preconditions for women&rsquos equality with men at home and in the workplace. Astonishingly, they didn&rsquot include the ending of violence against women among their demands -- though the experience and fear of male violence was widespread -- because women still suffered these crimes in silence.

Those three demands, and the fourth one that couldn&rsquot yet be articulated, have yet to be met.

The Hidden Injuries of Sex

As the women&rsquos movement grew, women activists did, however, begin to &ldquoname&rdquo their grievances. Once named, they could be identified, debated, and -- with a growing feminist political voice -- turned into policy or used to change the law.

It turned out that there were plenty of hidden injuries, which women activists discovered and publicized through consciousness-raising groups, pamphlets, and books. Rape, once a subject of great shame, became redefined as a physical assault that had little to do with lust. Date rape, for which there was plenty of experience but no name, opened up a national conversation about what constituted consensual sex. Few people had ever heard the words &ldquomarital rape.&rdquo (&ldquoIf you can&rsquot rape your wife,&rdquo California Senator Bob Wilson allegedly said, &ldquothen who can you rape?&rdquo) In this way, a new conversation began about the right of wives to have consensual sex and the nature of power relations within marriage.

From the very beginning, the mainstream media and the public labeled women activists as &ldquolesbians.&rdquo Why else would they complain about male behavior? Provoked by constant efforts to &ldquotarnish&rdquo all feminists as lesbians, activists chose to embrace the label, rather than exclude lesbians from the movement. In the process, they also began to write about and then discuss compulsory heterosexuality. Together with a burgeoning men&rsquos gay movement, feminist lesbians and gay men formed the Gay Liberation Front in the 1969. Soon, lesbian feminists created an all-women&rsquos group called the Lavender Menace.

The birth control pill and the sexual liberation movement of the mid-1960s gave women new freedoms. Grasping the limitations of such changes without abortion being legalized, feminists soon joined the medical abortion rights campaign of that era. Determined to repeal laws against abortion, in New York they testified before the state legislature and passed out copies of a &ldquomodel abortion bill&rdquo: a blank piece of paper. Through &ldquopublic speak-outs,&rdquo they openly discussed their own illegal abortions and explained why they had made such choices. In Chicago and San Francisco, activists created clandestine organizations to help women seek qualified doctors. Some feminists even learned how to perform abortions for those who could not find a competent doctor.

Then, in 1973, the Supreme Court handed down its famous Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion and ignited the abortion wars that still rage today. You could even say that this is where the culture wars of the coming decades really began, and you wouldn&rsquot be wrong.

What had feminists started? In essence, they had begun to redefine one &ldquocustom&rdquo after another as crimes. For instance, one of the greatest hidden injuries suffered by women in those years was the predatory sexually behavior of male bosses. In 1975, a group of women at Cornell University coined the term sexual harassment. Previously, some women had called it &ldquosexual blackmail,&rdquo but when legal scholar Catherine Mackinnon used the new phrase in the title of her 1979 book, Sexual Harassment of Working Women, both feminists and judges began using it in litigation against predatory bosses. After Anita Hill&rsquos accusations against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991, the phrase became a household term. In that same year, Congress added amendments to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, accepting the feminist argument that sexual harassment violated a woman&rsquos right to earn a living and work in a non-hostile atmosphere.

If the naming of sexual harassment changed the workplace, the reframing of wife-beating as domestic violence turned a custom into a felonious crime. At the same time, feminists spread a network of battered women&rsquos shelters across the nation, offering havens from marital violence and possible death.

A Half-Century to Go

If the women&rsquos movement often surprised and sometimes blindsided men, it also radically expanded America&rsquos democratic promise of equality. Women are now everywhere. No one is shocked in 2013 when a woman enters an operating room or a lecture hall. More than half the undergraduates at most universities are women.

Now, if your boss drives you crazy with sexual advances, you can report him for sexual harassment and sue him in court. If your husband beats you, he can be charged with a felony and, in most urban areas, you can escape to a battered women&rsquos shelter. Women like Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo!, and Ruchi Sanghvi, head of operations at Dropbox, are some of the most powerful players in the new technology universe. Three women have served as secretary of state and one as national security advisor. Three women sit on the Supreme Court. Hillary Clinton almost became the first woman president and may still achieve that goal. Major magazines and newspapers have women executive editors and managing editors -- even the New York Times, which waited until 1986 before reluctantly putting "Ms" in front of women&rsquos names on its pages. Hurricanes now bear male and female names. Women in the U.S. military fight alongside men. They work as firefighters and police detectives, and when a female plumber shows up to fix an overflowing toilet, most people don&rsquot panic.

Because so much has changed, many people, including young women, believe that the longest revolution is over, that we should stop complaining, be proud of our successes, and go home. Consider for a moment, though, the three demands made in 1970, and the fourth one that couldn&rsquot even be articulated.

As anyone who&rsquos been awake for the last decade knows, despite Roe v. Wade, women can&rsquot access abortion providers in many parts of the country. States have passed laws requiring pregnant women to watch ultrasound &ldquopictures&rdquo of their &ldquobabies,&rdquo and forced them to endure 24- or 48-hour waiting periods so that they can &ldquorethink&rdquo their abortion decisions. In May 2012, Utah established the longest waiting period in the nation: 72 hours. In that year, in fact, anti-abortion legislatures managed to pass 43 new laws that, in one way or another, restricted abortion.

In big cities, finding an abortion provider is often not difficult -- unless of course you are poor (because the government won&rsquot pay for abortions). Women in rural areas have, however, been hit particularly hard. They have to travel long distances, pay to stay in hotels while they &ldquorethink,&rdquo and then, and only then, can they make the choice that was promised in 1973. So yes, women still have the right to legal abortion, but less and less access to abortion providers.

And what about child care? In 1971, Congress passed the Comprehensive Childcare Act (CCA), providing national day care to women who needed it. (Such a law wouldn&rsquot have a chance today.) President Richard Nixon vetoed it that December. Using Cold War rhetoric, he argued that the legislation would harm the family and turn American women into their Soviet counterparts -- that is, working drudges. His veto was also payback to his religious supporters in the South who opposed women working outside the home, and so using child care. It set childcare legislation back until, well, this very moment.

Ask any young working mother about the nightmare of finding day care for her infant or a space in a preschool for her child. Childcare, as feminists recognized, was a major precondition for women entering the labor force on an equal footing with men. Instead of comprehensive childcare, however, this country chose the more acceptable American way of dealing with problems, namely, that everyone find an individual solution. If you&rsquore wealthy, you pay for a live-in nanny. If you&rsquore middle class, you hire someone to arrive every day, ready to take care of your young children. Or you luck out and find a place in a good preschool -- or a not-so-good one.

If you&rsquore poor, you rely on a series of exhausted and generous grandparents, unemployed husbands, over-worked sisters, and goodhearted neighbors. Unlike every nation in Europe, we have no guaranteed preschool or after-school childcare, despite our endless political platitudes about how much we cherish our children. And sadly, childcare has remained off the national political agenda since 1971. It was never even mentioned during the 2012 presidential debates.

And let&rsquos not forget women&rsquos wages. In 1970, women earned, on average, 59% of men&rsquos wages. More than four decades later, the figure is 77%. When a university recently invited me to give a keynote address at a conference, they asked what fee I expected. I wasn&rsquot quite sure how to respond. The best advice I got -- from my husband -- was: &ldquoJust tell them to give you 77% of whatever they&rsquore paying the male keynote speaker.&rdquo That response resulted in a generous honorarium.

But what about all the women -- widowed, divorced, or single -- who can&rsquot draw on a second income from a man? How can we claim we&rsquove reached the 1970 equal pay demand when 70% of the nation&rsquos poor are women and children? This isn&rsquot about glass ceilings. What concerns me are all the women glued to the sticky floor of dead-end jobs that provide no benefits and no health insurance, women who, at the end of each month, have to decide whether to pay the electricity bill or feed their children.

As an activist and historian, I&rsquom still shocked that women activists (myself included) didn&rsquot add violence against women to those three demands back in 1970. Fear of male violence was such a normal part of our lives that it didn&rsquot occur to us to highlight it -- not until feminists began, during the 1970s, to publicize the wife-beating that took place behind closed doors and to reveal how many women were raped by strangers, the men they dated, or even their husbands.

Nor did we see how any laws could end it. As Rebecca Solnit wrote in a powerful essay recently, one in five women will be raped during her lifetime and gang rape is pandemic around the world. There are now laws against rape and violence toward women. There is even a U.N. international resolution on the subject. In 1993, the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna declared that violence against girls and women violated their human rights. After much debate, member nations ratified the resolution and dared to begin calling supposedly time-honored &ldquocustoms&rdquo -- wife beating, honor killings, dowry deaths, genital mutilation -- what they really are: brutal and gruesome crimes. Now, the nations of the world had a new moral compass for judging one another&rsquos cultures. In this instance, the demands made by global feminists trumped cultural relativism, at least when it involved violence against women.

Still, little enough has changed. Such violence continues to keep women from walking in public spaces. Rape, as feminists have always argued, is a form of social control, meant to make women invisible and shut them in their homes, out of public sight. That&rsquos why activists created &ldquotake back the night&rdquo protests in the late 1970s. They sought to reclaim the right to public space without fear of rape.

The daytime brutal rape and killing of a 23-year-old in India in early January 2013 prompted the first international protest around violence against women. Maybe that will raise the consciousness of some men. But it&rsquos hard to feel optimistic when you realize how many rapes are still regularly being committed globally.

So, yes, we&rsquove come a long way, but without achieving full access to legal abortion, comprehensive childcare, or equal pay -- those three demands from so many decades ago. Nor have we won the right to enjoy public space without fearing violence, rape, or worse.

I always knew this was the longest revolution, one that would take a century or more to unfold. It&rsquos upended most of our lives, and significantly improved so many of them. Nothing will ever be the same. Yet there&rsquos still such a long way to go. I doubt I&rsquoll see full gender equality in my lifetime.

Backlash in the Workplace

SUSAN FALUD! MAKES a passionate case for the 1980s as the decade of backlash against women. Women made gains during the 1970s—thanks to the feminist movement—that, she says, were then derailed or reversed during the Reaganism of the 1980s. But she fails to situate the struggle for women's rights in the political context of the Reagan era. How far did the African-American community advance? What about working people as a whole? How can we evaluate women's success without using a yardstick that gauges women's struggle within the context of other social and political fights? Social movements take strength and courage---and learn—from other movements for social justice.

Most American women work for pay, if not all their lives, then a large chunk of their lives. Yet Faludi devotes only thirty-seven pages of her 460-page book to a chapter on working women's issues (plus seventeen pages on reproductive rights in the workplace). She cites figures that show women workers holding even, at best. But she neglects to discuss the organizing and the changes in consciousness that laid the groundwork for more tangible gains in the 1990s.

The strength of Backlash is its wealth of facts and its indictment of how the system treats women with contempt. In particular, Faludi's examination of the Sears sex discrimination case, which women lost, details the complicity of the Reagan administration in reinforcing the sexism of the employer. The book's weakness is its failure to examine how it is that asocial movement springs into life, raises demands, organizes, builds alliances, analyzes and refocuses. As activists know, a struggle of working women doesn't just patiently convince employers and legislators, male coworkers and the public at large that the cause is just, and then we win. In fact, we learn as we go, and many of us—and our lives—are transformed by that experience.

When it comes to women workers' issues, Faludi's case for a decade of retreat is overblown. Despite the relative quiescence of the organized women's movement on issues other than reproductive rights in the 1980s (compared to the 1970s), and the devastation of the labor movement, throughout the 1980s women workers made progress in getting our issues into public discussion and in winning allies, even if our tangible gains were small. Let's briefly review six working women's issues: pay equity, affirmative action, discrimination, childcare, parental leave and sexual harassment.

Pay Equity

On the fiftieth anniversary of women's suffrage, August 26, 1970, one of the demands feminists raised was equal pay for equal work. But this demand didn't address the problem of equalizing pay when jobs are overwhelmingly segregated by gender. Those were the days when the Help Wanted ads were clearly marked "men" or "women? As women challenged this practice in the early 1970s, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was invoked to prohibit advertising jobs by gender.

Yet this segregated system reproduces itself so "naturally" that it was difficult to devise methods for tackling the problem. For instance, the 1980 census revealed that 56% of all men and 26% of women were employed in occupations where their sex predominated. In fact, researchers have found that even integrated occupations tend to be segregated by firm, with the male workplaces paying higher salaries than the female ones.

So in the 1970s women activists devised a new way to argue for higher pay for women's traditional jobs, from nurse to secretary to librarian. They coined the term &ldquopay equity,&rdquo and argued that women's jobs could be objectively compared with those traditionally held by men. By assigning point values to the effort, responsibility, skill, and working conditions required of, say, a secretary and a tree trimmer, the activists could show that women's jobs had as much "value" as men's did, and should therefore be paid as well.

The science was shaky, but job evaluation after job evaluation showed that women's work was consistently underpaid. Through direct action, bargaining and lobbying, unions and women's groups were particularly effective at pressuring state and local governments. By 1987, twenty states had granted pay equity raises. Usually the amounts were small: only 24% of state payroll budgets. And almost all progress was in the public sector. (Canada's province of Ontario has mandated pay equity for the private sector as well.)

The broader meaning of pay equity is simply the comparison of all women's median pay to all men's: Remember the famous 59 cents on the dollar that women activists in the 1970s wore on stark buttons? Faludi says that by 1988, on the average, women made 65 cents to a man's dollar. Women with college degrees or African-American women, she says, were worse off, earning 59 cents for every dollar their counterparts earned. Older women made 58 cents, and Latina women 54 cents. Faludi also points out that the pay gap is widening most in the fields where women's employment is growing fastest—waiting tables and cleaning, for example.

Sylvia Nasar attempts to debunk Faludi, with figures she says are more recent and more accurate (The New York Times, "Women's Progress Stalled? Just Not So," October 18, 1992). Triumphantly citing three women economists, Nasar says women's median pay rose to 72% of men's by 1990. She cites women's rising education, experience, and expectations as the causes.

Nasar admits that part of the reason for the narrowing gap is that the median annual salary for men dropped 8% between 1979 and 1990, while women's rose 10%. But she discounts the importance of the drop for men, citing an economist who once ghost-wrote for Richard Nixon: "Some of the relative gains of women in the bottom half of the wage scale did indeed reflect the sharp drop in the wages of men with high school educations or less during the 1980s. But . 'at the upper end, where men did very well, women went through the roof." And who were Reaganomies all about, anyway?

It is true that the gender gap in wages narrowed between 1985 and 1990 by a penny a year, but at that rate, women workers wouldn't have reached equality until 2017.

If we look at Working Women's list of the twenty best-paid women in 1991, we find Turi Josefsen at the top. She made $23.6 million, including bonuses and exercised stock options, as executive vice president of U.S. Surgical Corporation. The list includes eight others who made more than a million dollars last year, while #20 clocked in at $518,000. Despite this largesse at the upper end of the scale, the magazine noted that the wage gap widened in 1991.

Last summer the Census Bureau reported that household income has dropped 5% since 1989 and its purchasing power is lower today than it was in 1979. If we look at the labor movement, we see that the 1980s were first and foremost a concessionary era—neither unions nor working people as a whole were making progress on anything, much less "new" issues. The difficulty of making gains on pay equity underscores the importance of the health of the whole labor movement to women workers, including non-union women.

Discrimination and Affirmative Action

Since at least 45% of the wage gap is caused by job segregation, another way to narrow it is through affirmative action. Affirmative action programs helped women and minorities move into jobs they hadn't held in large numbers before, from blue-collar skilled jobs to professional and managerial ones.

Formal affirmative action programs were dealt body blows by the Reagan administration, which brought court cases arguing that such programs discriminated against white men. Faludi says that occupational segregation eased by in the 1970s, but stalled in the 1980s. The result: by 1986, more women were taking home poverty level wages than in 1973.

The percentage of women holding down clerical jobs, she says, climbed to nearly40% in the early 1980s, higher than in 1970. Between 1976 and 1986, the lowest job rungs in the federal government went from 67% female to 71%.

In the dozen occupations where women made the most progress entering male jobs, Faludi argues that it was usually because the pay and status of those jobs had fallen dramatically, and men were bailing out Through the wonders of computers, typesetting went through several evolutions, craft unions were busted, and women were allowed into the field. With the spread of chain drugstores, pharmacists were devalued. And as branch managers of banks lost status and autonomy, the job was opened to women.

Faludi points out that between 1972 and 1988 women increased their share of legal, medical, and other elite professions by only 5%. But even in the elite professions women face remarkable discrimination. The Working Women's survey (January 1993) noted that the entry of larger numbers of women into law and medicine has widened the wage gap between men and women in those professions.

After 1983, women made no progress breaking into the skilled trades. The percentage of women carpenters, for example, fell from 1% to .5% of that trade. Overall, between 1975 and 1988 women working in blue-collar nontraditional jobs rose from 1.1% to 1.4% of the workforce—not a lot of progress in fourteen years.

Even more distressing is the fact that 70% of girls attending vocational high school are in programs leading to traditional women's jobs. In 1990 the Michigan Women's Assembly--a coalition of twenty-two organizations with predominantly women members—called on vocational administrators to "stop training girls to be poor. "

The 1964 Civil Rights Act barred employment discrimination and gave victims the right to sue. The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), created by the 1964 act, reported that during its first year of existence, over one-third of all charges were brought on the basis of sex discrimination.

Throughout the 1970s women worked to add an Equal Rights Amendment to the federal Constitution. When Congress passed the amendment in 1972, it placed a seven-year time limit on the second stage of the process, ratification by three-fourths of the state legislatures.

Time limits had been imposed on only a handful of amendments, so in the late 1970s the women's movement fought for—and won—an extension. But in July 1982, with bipartisan collaboration in various state legislatures blocking ratification and an active right-wing campaign against the ERA, time ran out.

This setback was followed, at the end of the decade, by Supreme Court rulings that made it much harder to prove discrimination under the 1964 act The Court said, for instance, that the law covered hiring, but not any discrimination after the employee was hired.

To put some teeth back into the law, Congress passed another Civil Rights Act in 1990. The first version was vetoed by George Bush, but he eventually supported a watered-down version in 1991—one that specifically outlawed &ldquoquotas.&rdquo Nonetheless the 1991 Civil Rights Act is significant because it overturned several Supreme Court decisions that had weakened affirmative action plans. It also wrote "adverse impact" language into law for the first time, and made it easier for women and people of color to sue for damages as victims of discrimination.


Fewer than 7.5% of all U.S. families have a father who goes to work and a mother who stays at home to care for the children. Today nearly 60% of women with children under six are in the labor force within ten years that figure will reach 70%. How prepared is our society for these changes?

During the 1980s a coalition of women's groups, unions, and advocates for children fought for the Act for Better Childcare, which was finally passed in October 1990. It provided three years of block grants to states, which then had some discretion how to spend the money. ABC was meant primarily to aid low-income families—those whose income is less than 75% of the state median. They were to receive tax credits plus vouchers to use at the daycare centers of their choice. There was to be more money for staff training and more subsidized slots, with 750,000 children slated to benefit.

But 10 million children under the age of six are in need of childcare programs, with another 10 million in need of before-school and after-school programs and planned summer activities. A study funded by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department recommended that the $8 billion in public subsidies for childcare be increased to $20 billion.

Are employers taking up the slack? Of the six million companies in the United States, 4,150 provide childcare assistance, and much of this is minimal—such as a referral service. Only 850 employers provide on or near-site childcare.

In September 1992, 137 companies and organizations committed $25.4 million toward 300 childcare and eldercare programs in forty-four communities across the country. The money was for ten new facilities to train providers to start in-home program for the elderly, and to develop school vacation programs. Eleven blue-chip companies led the drive, including IBM, Xerox, and American Express. This initiative indicates that parts of the corporate class are taking the availability of childcare seriously. They want their women workers to be at work every day, just like the men.

But nothing was said about cost That's the rub. Care for one pre-school child can easily cost $6,000 a year. And childcare would be even more expensive if childcare workers didn't subsidize the industry through their low wages. These workers are %% women, with an average wage of $9724, most often without benefits. The turnover rate approaches 40% a year—only dishwashers change jobs more frequently!

Clearly the only solution is publicly funded and operated childcare. The idea sounds too expensive to attain—but so did public education in the early nineteenth century.

Parental Leave

Rather than fighting only for maternity leave, in the 1980s activists expanded the concept to meet women's changing needs and to secure rights for fathers. Many women workers in the "sandwich generation' were finding care of aging parents as big a responsibility as child-care. Thus family leave was proposed, and in September 1992 Congress approved a bill that would require companies with over fifty workers to grant twelve weeks of unpaid leave for the care of a new child or for serious illness of the worker or a family member. In addition, the employer would have to continue health coverage during the leave.

The bill affects about half the workers in the country. Gentle George Bush vetoed it twice because, he said, the government should not tell employers what to do. But passage sailed through Congress and was signed by President Clinton in the first few weeks of new administration.

Twenty-five states have passed their own parental leave laws—many weaker than the federal bill (only a few provide for health benefits seven cover only the public sector). Of companies with a hundred or more workers, 37% offer parental leave—usually only to women. Thirty-six percent of union contracts provide for extended maternity leaves.

Note, however, that all these gains are unpaid leaves, unlike the situation in many western European countries. Once again, the burden is placed upon the individual family unit.

Sexual Harassment

In the late 1970s a small but articulate movement of women held hearings, demonstrated, spoke on talk shows, and pressed employers and unions to install guidelines for dealing with harassers. They argued that sexual harassment has less to do with sex than with power and control Federal enforcement agencies and courts responded by interpreting existing anti-discrimination laws to include sexual harassment, and by defining it quite broadly.

Progress on achieving language in union contracts was mediocre, although many unions have paid attention to the issue—publishing pamphlets, for example, and holding classes for women or stewards. One reason, of course, that union women's departments and women's committees take up sexual harassment is that it's much easier than broaching higher pay.

Ironically, the Anita Hill case did more to raise public consciousness on sexual harassment than did all the excellent work done by the women's movement and union women over the past decade. Hill, of course, rested on their shoulders—they had defined the problem that previously had no name. In the year since Hill's testimony, the EEOC reports that sexual harassment complaints have risen dramatically, from 6,500 to more than 10,000.

What's A Victory?

While Susan Faludi has compiled impressive statistics and cases about the institutionalized sexism of our society, her analysis isn't all that helpful to activists Looking through her lens—defining everything that happened in the 1980s as evidence of a backlash—she ends up minimizing any partial victories that women won, and leaves any possible allies completely out of the equation. This is particularly striking in her discussion of the 1991 Supreme Court ruling banning "fetal protection" policies on the job. Under these policies, women who could not prove they were infertile were banned from certain jobs, such as those involving lead. These were often the higher-paying jobs in a plant.

Faludi correctly nails employers with the charge that they developed the policies not out of concern for growing fetuses but out of their fear of liability. She points to the Reagan administration's double standard: encouraging fetal protection policies for the 1.4 million women working in traditional male industries, but opposing investigation of the harm that VDT work might pose to 11 million women clerical workers. She notes, too, that male coworkers were often delighted with the policies because they felt threatened by losing the exclusive right to bid on higher-paying jobs.

Actually Faludi has little to say about the 1991 ruling, in which the justices found the company's plan violated the law. In one paragraph she notes the victory, then adds that the court could not recompense the women for nine years of lost wages and missed opportunities. Nor were the corporations touting fetal-protection policies discouraged they simply shifted to subtler and more sophisticated tactics&hellip. (440) In fact, Faludi loads the dice so much that she reverses the story of the two important fetal protection cases, telling the victory first (1991), then the defeat (1983).

Our evaluation of the 1991 decision is different. The Supreme Court ruled on a class action discrimination suit filed by the United Auto Workers on behalf of all past, present and future production and maintenance employees in the bargaining unit at Johnson Controls, Inc., a manufacturer of lead-acid car batteries. Under company policy only those women who could prove they were infertile, had been surgically sterilized, or had gone through menopause were allowed to work in battery production. In fact, the policy banned fertile women from all jobs that could lead to promotions into jobs with lead exposure.

The Court ruled that company policy was exclusionary, pointing out that it "is not neutral because it does not apply to the reproductive capacity of the company's male employees in the same way as it applies to that of the females." ("Fertile Women Can Apply," Patricia Horn, Dollars & Sense, June 1981)

From the beginning of the twentieth century, employers and legislators have sidestepped the problem of providing a safe work environment by writing various protection policies for women. These include the right to sit down on the job, limiting the amount of weight a woman can lift, or restricting women from night shift work. All too often unions were willing to go along because they saw such policies as saving jobs for men. As the Cigarmakers International wrote as early as their 1879 annual report, 'We cannot drive the females out of the trade, but we can restrict their daily quota of labor through factory laws. While protective legislation didn't create a sex-segregated work force, it did reinforce the pattern.

One of the reasons that working women championed the ERA was its sweeping challenge to the mountain of state protective legislation and company policies. It wasn't that women wanted terrible conditions. Rather, they saw how those protections kept them out of the higher-paying jobs. So ERA advocates fought to write into the amendment's 'intent' the principle that discrimination would be ended by extending protection to men.

This approach to protective legislation, developed by the women's and union movements, is key to overcoming the division of workers at the workplace—and winning victories. Let's look again at the problem of reproductive hazards. An estimated 20 million workers work with these hazards, ranging from lead to pesticides and anti-cancer drugs. And of the 90,000 chemicals in commercial use, only 5,000 have been studied for toxicity. Of those, three (lead, ethylene oxide and dibromochloropropane) are currently listed as reproductive hazards.

But obviously much investigation still remains to be done, and rarely did the studies consider the problem of male reproductive health. The companies chose only to1protect' the fetus, where the link between birth defects and poison in the workplace is more obvious, and not the sperm, which are also susceptible to damage. The companies' fetal protection policies were in reality a way of getting off the hook—evading the responsibility for cleaning up the workplace for everyone.

Interestingly enough, the Court's decision boosted workers' efforts to reduce workplace hazards, by charging employers with more responsibility for learning about and publicizing the effects of toxic substances they use. It's true that those companies will seek to evade the implications of the decision. But that's nothing new, or related to the 1980s. That's just the nature of capitalism itself.

Employers may deal with the decision in a number of unacceptable ways. They could scrap the bans on women of childbearing age and institute a "let the worker beware" policy. They could shut down the plants and move to a Third World country. Or, if workers and their unions continue the fight, companies could be forced to exclude toxic substances, and not the workers.

The 1991 decision was an important, though limited, victory, just as the Roe v. Wade decision was twenty years ago. It is up to the social movements both to wage the legal battle and to fight for the broadest, most user-friendly interpretation. If we misevaluate our victories, we disarm ourselves.

The Crucial Question of Allies

Throughout Backlash, and especially in the chapters we are focused on, Faludi introduces the reader to many brave, determined, intelligent and perceptive women. She makes the point in the epilogue that no matter how bruising each woman's collision with the backlash was, each continued to fight in her own way. Yet there's the overwhelming impression that those women carried out a relatively isolated struggle. There's rarely a reference to a meeting, petition, educational conference, demonstration or leaflet Almost always she portrays the male coworkers as equally brutal enemies of women as the employer and the Reagan administration.

We believe that approach is self-defeating. Women workers need allies. We need to figure out how we can win others to understand that our fight is part of a larger battle for social justice.

What's the basis for alliance? Simply the reality that, in the big picture, most of us do not gain from discrimination. As Freada Klein, who conducts training sessions for major corporations on sexual harassment, points out, "workplaces with high rates of sexual harassment also have high rates of racial harassment, discrimination and other forms of unfair treatment" (Working Women's Survey on Sexual Harassment, June 1992) The old Wobbly slogan that -An injury to one is an injury to all" applies. The UAW is a thoroughly male-dominated union. That it brought suit against Johnson Controls on behalf of its women members and pursued the case for seven years indicates unity is achievable.

Women at Work

During the 1980s, then, feminists and their allies launched a teach-in on a range of "new" issues—especially parental leave and sexual harassment—as well as new approaches to the old problem of the wage gap. Just about everyone except the hard right wing now accepts that childcare and parental leave are a reality that workers need.

If you listened to the right-wing ideologues of the 1980s and 1990s, you might think that women's choice" to work was still an unsettled issue But if anything became clearer than ever during the 1980, it was that women will not be forced back into the home. Today business and government can't function without women's labor.

In 1989, 68% of all women ages 16-64 were in the labor force, and women made up fully 45% of the labor force. Women not only have to work, they want to work—in spite of how hard it is to have both a job and a family. Our task is certainly unfinished, but through the 1980s we learned both from the few victories and from the many setbacks.

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