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To what extent was X the most important turning point for women?

The most important turning point for womens civil rights was the 1960s. This is because it saw social, economic and political advancement in their civil rights that was sustained. Earlier in the time period women had achieved minor successes but were not as strong or sustained as the progress made in the 1960s. This was caused by the fact that the 1960s saw women unite together for the first time; this had clearly hindered their progress through the early period. In the 19th and early 20th century womens activism was only the folly of white middle class women. Subsequently they only addressed white middle class problems. However, by 1960s women were disillusioned with JFK and united, and achieved major progress. The 1960s was clearly the most important turning point for womens social rights. This is because it saw the birth and rise of new-feminism. This went on to have a massive impact on the way Americans thought. For example, in 1968 65% of young women aspired to be housewives, but by the mid-70s only 25% of women held these aspirations. This shows how important the 60s were as a social turning point as changed womens attitudes and fuelled long-term female empowerment. In the early period there was little change in womens social rights and subsequently no turning points. In 1873 the Comstock Laws were passed, which effectively banned contraception, and thus banned womens choice on child bearing. However, this was not that significant compared to the 1960s as many women were strongly Christian in the 19th Century and so did not agree with contraception, meaning that the Comstock Laws werent a turning point per se. In the 1920 M. Sanger set up the American Birth Control League. This was the first legal birth control clinic. However, as a turning point, it was not as significant as the 1960s as it only received a minority of support in 8 states. This meant it did not challenge womens role in society as much as the 1960s. Comparing the two the 1960s is a considerably more powerful turning point. This is because it saw the introduction of the pill. Women were now in control of their body and their role as child bearer was being continually challenged. The 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade can be seen as a significant turning point for social rights as it legalised abortion across the US. However, compared to the 1960s it was less important. This is due to the fact that this case more so than the 1960s initiated a backlash to feminism, which impeded womens rights. Books such as Power of the Positive Woman were published in reaction to the Roe v. Wade case. The book repackaged separate spheres for women. This shows that Roe v. Wade was not as significant as the 1960s as it set up a backlash which hindered womens social rights. The 1960s was the most important turning point for womens social rights as it changed womens role in society in American forever. Women were no longer seen as child bearers by the majority of the population, but as professional equals in control of their body. Furthermore womens own attitudes had changed, many women no longer wished to be servants to men, but as just another worker, another brick in the wall. As a far as economic rights are concerned the 1960s was the most important turning point. The 1920s can be seen as a turning point as there was a

6% rise in female works. Although this seems a small rise, it was significant considering what had gone on before in the 19th Century. However, there was no sustained progression. The Great Depression significantly backpedalled on the progression of the era. During the depression 82% of people believed that men should have jobs ahead of women, and there was pressure on women to quit their jobs for men. Furthermore, in the 1920s women faced wage discrimination. This shows that the 1920s was limited as a turning point as the progress made was reduced during the Great Depression. Economic advancement picked up for women again during World War 2. Both World Wars provided economic advancement for women, however World War 2 more so. American only joined World War 1 in the closing stages so women had got a foothold in their jobs, and not as many jobs had been available. During World War 2 America joined earlier and so women were able to keep jobs post-1945. 75% of women who worked towards the war effort remained in employment once the war ended. This was a considerable turning point as it meant that women were getting closer and closer to making up 50% of the workforce. This was limited as a turning point however because women still faced sever wage discrimination, some women were laid off to make room for men. Also the idea of separate spheres was still prevalent in American society. Most importantly though, unlike the 1960s, World War 2 did not mark a change in government attitudes. The G.I. Bill of Rights was only open to men; this shows that the government still held the view that women and men occupied two separate spheres. However, the 1960s can be seen as a significant turning point. The EPA was introduced in 1964 along with the CRA. This ensured women achieved equal pay for equal work. Additionally, by the 1960s twice as many were working than in the 1940s. Also, with the introduction of the CRA and EPA, African-American women achieved de jure equal status in the workplace. The economic progression continued beyond the 1960s, unlike the 20s. For example, by 1992 women earned 98% of mens pay, showing significant advancement. This shows the significance of the 1960s as it ensured sustained progress. At first look it appears that the 1920 19th Amendment is the most important political turning point as it gave women the vote. However its significance as a turning point is limited as women tended to vote the same way as their husbands. Also, working-class women were struggling to get by and so had little time to get politically involved. There is little evidence to suggest that the vote was used to promote significant change for women. Furthermore, women failed to make substantial change. This shows that the 1920s as a political turning point was limited. The repealing of the 18th amendment showed womens power a political force. It was a turning point as it showed womens importance, something the 19th amendment failed to achieve. However, its success as a turning point is limited. This is because the women did not campaign to advance womens rights instead they focused on a domestic issue, thus cementing the theory of separate spheres. Also, unlike the 1960s women continued to remain split. The 1960s can be considered a turning point as women increased their campaigns. The reaction of women to the limitations of Kennedys actions is largely what makes the 1960s so significant: radical feminists, mostly young, educated women, began to campaign more forcefully for womens rights.

Many organisations and campaigns were set up, inspired by the increasing number of feminist books such as The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. In 1966 Friedan and other activists founded the pressure group the National Organisation for Women. They were very active in protest, using methods such as lobbying members of the US Senate and filing lawsuits against discrimination. However, the 1960s was not a strong turning point as despite an increase in radical feminism, women in general had still not gained a strong position in politics, by 1969 women made up 2% of congress. It is fair to argue that as far as political rights are concerned there were no clear turning points. Instead womens rights progressed slowly. For example, even after the NWPC in 1971, women still only held 17% of Congress seats in 1992. This shows that womens political rights never went through a sudden change but continually progressed between 1920 and 1992.