The Feminist Movement is a series of campaigns on issues such as reproductive rights (including abortion), domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay, sexual harassment, and sexual violence.
The history of feminist movements has been divided into three “waves”. Each is described as dealing with different aspects of the same feminist issues. Feminism reached the popular consciousness in the sixtieth with the passage of the Civil Rights Act prohibiting employment discrimination, and a lot of media exposure. Some primary issues of this time were equal pay, equal education access, freedom from sexual harassment, and the right to safe, legal abortions.
Shirley Chisholm is a black congresswoman, who took an active part in processing Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) liked many women did. But she realized even where the law was helpful it is helpful only if people put it into an action. She said “the law cannot do it for us. We must do it for ourselves. Women in this country must become revolutionaries. We must refuse to accept the old, the traditional roles and stereotypes… We must replace the old, negative thoughts about our femininity with positive thoughts and positive action…”. In Zinn’s opinion that “this meant the rethinking of roles, the rejection of inferiority, the confidence in self, a bond of sisterhood, a new solidarity of mother and daughter.” Zinn disclose that feminist is the main propellant of this movement instead of law. Once we put the law into action, the law becomes meaningful and useful. Moreover, it also shows that this movement is a movement to wake up the self-awareness of women. More and more women realized that they are not an accessory of men, and family isn’t a prison to restrict their right of freedom. Instead of hating men, most feminists believe equality between the sexes will benefit men by unshackling them from traditional expectations. This movement is not only a movement for the social, political, and economic equality of men and women, but a “consciousness raising” of women to the entire society as a whole.
There is another movement incurred by prisoners, which made prisoners no more put out of sight and behind bars. A man in Walpole prison Massachusetts wrote: “every program that we get is used as a weapon against us. The right to go to school, to go to church, to have visitors, to write, to go to the movie. They all end up being weapon of punishment. None of the programs are ours, everything is treated as a privilege that can be taken away from us. The result is insecurity-a frustration that keeps eating away at you.” Zinn include this case in the book because he wants to show the reality of prison falters. At that time the prison was based on hard labor, prisoners were not only suffered with various punishments but lack of basic human right. Such as their letter would be read or tear up by guards, and all visits were not permitted. Moreover, Zinn in his book indicates that “the prison in the United States had long been an extreme reflection of the American system itself: the stark life differences between rich and poor, the racism , the use of victims against one another, the lack of recourses of the underclass to speak out, the endless ‘reforms’ that changed little.” The poorer you were the more likely you were to end up in jail because the law was always on the rich’s side. In result, the jails end up full of poor black people. The movement of prison is not only a movement for the human right of prisoner, but it is movement for people to re-examine the law system and hear the voice from people in the lowest level of society.
So far, never in American history had more movements for change been concentrated in so short a span of years. That is why Zinn called this time of period as a SURPPRISES.