Extra credit – brief description of women 1950s-60s

“… a man’s wife is the show window where he exhibits the measure of his achievement… . The biggest deals are put across over luncheon tables;… we meet at dinner the people who can push our fortunes… . The woman who cultivates a circle of worthwhile people, who belongs to clubs, who makes herself interesting and agreeable … is a help to her husband.”

As housewives, women in 1950s had a “fantastic” lives often depicted as ” Perfect American housewives.” They were presented as loving and caring mothers and wives hoping for suburban houses and life with many children. Women had very simplified lives with the of feeding the family, cleaning the house, cooking and taking care of a family. They were pretty much fulfilling the role of being “woman” and a “housewife” which at that time, socially constructed, meant devoting their lives only to a family, but thinking outside of the home life was very much restricted by the dominance of men.

Extra Credit: Surprises

In Howard Zinn’s chapter labeled Surprises, various social and racial groups are discussed but he places a lot of emphasis on women. His opening statements are all about women and their inferior position to men. To help enhance his argument, he uses quotes from two important individuals to the women’s rights movement: Dorothy Dix and Betty Friedan.

Dorothy Dix wrote an advice column that hit newspapers across the nation after women got the vote describing the current situation. “The woman who cultivates a circle of worthwhile people, who belongs to clubs, who makes herself interesting and agreeable … is a help to her husband”. The reason Zinn opens with this quote is because he wants the first image that you associate women in the 1950’s with, is a sidekick, an assistant. Women at the time very rarely held positions with any power, like managers or executives, but instead had to either fulfill the role of housewife, or a demeaning job in a factory.

The second individual that Zinn draws on to support his argument is Betty Friedan, the author of The Feminine Mystique. Her novel describes as situation that women were beginning to face as the Age of Affluence set in. She describes an instance in which she “heard a mother of four, having coffee with four other mothers in a suburban development fifteen miles from New York, say in a tone of quiet desperation, “the problem.” And the others knew, without words, that she was not talking about a problem with her husband, or her children, or her home. Suddenly they realized they all shared the same problem, the problem that has no name”. This issue was powerful in that it was widespread, affecting countless women living in suburbs. Zinn brings both of these individuals up because they described very real situations, very bluntly, and were able to stand up and express what they saw was wrong with society.


The 1960’s-70 ‘s was an era of revelation for many Americans. It was also an era of many radical movements started by formally oppressed groups of people. Amongst these groups were women; whom were regarded more so as objects, than knowledgeable human beings. At this time, women in politics was an unheard of occurrence, but much to societies surprise, this would soon change. It only took a few braves souls to spark a revolutionary movement. Amongst these was a black congress woman by the name of Shirley Chishlom.

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 stereotype…we must replace the old, negative thoughts about our femininity with positive thoughts and positive actions.

Shirley Chishlom knew that equality wouldn’t come easy, but the role of women in society wouldn’t evolve overnight. World War II granted women with many new job opportunities. These former trophy/housewives were now able to make their own money much to the dismay of their husbands. Such profound changes might not have occurred if it weren’t for the brave actions of people like Chishlom.

Another issue that many people faced at this time was sexuality. Premarital sex was no longer a silent matter and homosexuality wasn’t as much of a taboo as if once was. Still, there was progress to be made.

“Gay” men and lesbian women organized to combat discrimination against them, to give themselves a sense of community, to overcome shame and isolation

Just like the women’s fight for equality this would be no walk in the park. No matter how expressive the LGBT community may been, their inability  to follow  certain “social norms” made them outcasts; which in my opinion, unfortunately is still often the case today. None the less, this oppressed group of peoples effort to speak out made the topic of sex more approachable. Sex became a commonly used element in both literature and everyday conversation… Much to America’s surprise!

Extra Credit Blog Post (women and Indians)

Chapter 19 is titled “surprises” because new kinds of people started to emerge in the 1960s and 70’s. these groups of people were silent for so long and during these times, they found the courage to get out from underneath the rock.
Women were one of these groups. they already obtained voting rights, but they just like men, they wanted more. Since the beginning of time, women have been known as housewives, they cooked, cleaned and took care of the children. world war 2 brought change to this, that is when women stepped up to the plate. but by the 60s they were getting even more recognition. 23 million woman workers earned a paycheck and their numbers were growing. one thing that was surprising is that many women started going to jail due to sit ins and protests. age did not matter; older women like Ell Baker, Amelia Boynton and younger women like Gloria Richardson and Annelle Ponder. Fannie Lou Hammer became famous for her quote “I’m sick of tired of being sick and tired”. women are known for their gossip, but now instad of talking about nothing they started to talk about “the problem”. women all knew what it was, and they started to do something about it. this was a very important movement because women wanted to be recognized, and in the summer of 1964 women went on strike against their own husbands, they didn’t cook or clean or do anything. Shirley Chisholm a black congresswoman said “the law cannot do it for us, we must do it for ourselves. women in this country must be revolutionaries”

Another group were the Indians. people thought that they were gone but they were always here, it is their country. one indian was arrested in the fish ins, he was a veteran of the Vietnam war. once he was arrested he stated “i hereby renounce further obligation in service or duty to the united states”. hat is saying something.Indians adopted the American way and they fought back with newspapers. they created editorials and started their own paper, Akwesasne Notes. one of the most surprising event is when more than 600 Indians took over Alcatraz. they made it the center for indian life. they wanted to depollute the air and start fishing again, basically go back to their native ways. But the U.S kicked them out. so the Indians started to do something about it. in 1969, the indians started a convocation where they spoke out.
we have learned from the past that being silent does nothing. if you want to start a revolution you must speak, and then you will succeed.

Extra Credit

“A few years ago I was suspended for three days from work because my children were still young and I had to take time off when they were sick. . . . They want people who keep quiet, squeal on one another, and are very good little robots. The fact that many have to take nerve pills before starting their day, and a week doesn’t go by that there aren’t two or three people who break down and cry, doesn’t mean a thing to them.“

in this quote, it shows that women didnt have any rights in workingplace, and according what she wrote on the newspaper, 90 percent of  the workers in her department were women ,but all the supervisors were men. as she said above, women were treated unfairly . she was suspended because she needed time to take care of her sick children. it is apprehensible thing in today’s society, however, at that time, she got suspended for three days. they wanted these feminine workers to work as robots which meant they didnt have freedom, didnt have break, didnt have rights that a worker should have. some of women cant give it no more, so they came up and tried to fight for their rights. when people grouped up, the power of them is marvellous.

“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…”

this quote was said by Shirley Chisholm, a black congresswoman. this quote reflected that Shirley was kind disappointed to laws, because even the Equal Rights Amendent was passed by states, women still didnt really feel any changes on them.  they still cant do whatever they wanted to do, still were inferior to men. under the pressure of women being treated unequaly, Shirley decided to fight for themselves. Shirley thought that they need to take action on things rather than just speak out. action could change old, nagative thoughts and stereotypes quickly. they must do something to replace those old ideas and thoughts to bring out a new perspective of women.



Final Essay Questions

For the final essay, you will be asked to respond to one of the two questions below.  Your essay should have a clear thesis and contain SPECIFIC references/quotes from our readings.  


Question One:  Write a historical essay about the film Far From Heaven (2002), placing the film’s characters and themes in the context of readings from For the Record and A People’s History of the United States.  How does the film reflect the different challenges and opportunities faced by different kinds of individuals in 1950s America?


Question Two:  Write a historical essay about the film Taxi Driver (1976), placing the film’s characters and themes in the context of readings from For the Record and A People’s History of the United States.  How does the film reflect the different challenges and opportunities faced by different kinds of individuals in 1970s America?

Change Comes After the Tragedy

A local woman, Mrs. Unita Blackwell, said:”I feel that the federal government have proven that it don’t care about poor people. Everything that we have asked for through these years had been handed down on paper. It’s never been a reality. We the poor people of Mississippi is tired. We’re tired of it so we’re going to build for ourselves, because we don’t have a government that represents us.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         The freedom of Black liberty was fought for an entire century in America. Progress would also be made but it never moved forward. Black people were given fake freedom in which the government would not even lend support. It was a curse to be a black person for many people in the United States, but to be poor and black was hell on earth. Mrs. Unita Blackwell felt the pain of being one of the many without a voice. In a time where one reaches there lowest point, a revolution is always next. It is not confusing to why she wanted to build the government for themselves and it was not confusing to why so many tragedies occurred  during these times. In 1967, the Detroit riots killed 3 black teen-agers, a police attack in a school campus killed 2 black females, policemen killed unarmed black people and killed suspected black looters without warnings. The “white” government was obviously fearful of what was to come. They were all actions from the result of fear, but it only sparked more rage. It would soon be discovered as Howard Zinn states, ” later that the government in all the years of the civil rights movement, while making concessions through Congress, was acting through the FBI to harass and break up black militant groups. “This was the social order and political order of our government. In the end they would soon come to realize that if they can’t beat them they would join them.

– And when they did join them, they used black government leaders to be the leaders of marches and the new social order. Malcolm X new this was happening and opposed it with his speeches.

Radical Rationalizing

“A new mood has sprung up among Negroes, particularly the young, in which self esteem and enhanced racial pride are replacing apathy and submission to the ‘system'” (460)

1967 was the time of the greatest riots in American History.  This quote, taken from a Commission Report blamed white racist as the cause of such explosive radical behavior. The initial purpose of the  commission report was to get people to face the rebellion and hopefully alleviate some of the tension; however, in Howard Zinn’s eyes, this wasn’t entirely achieved.  “Black Power” became the new slogan of radical blacks and black activists. Among these were Malcolm X; who Zinn regards as “the most eloquent spokesman for (Black Power).” X was a vital component in the radical movement and extremely influential throughout the black youth.  His speeches,encouraging self defense and somewhat subversive acts, were heard all through out the country. To some , the black revolts came as a  surprise; but not to Zinn. He argues that the memory of the terrible acts of hatred were too much for blacks to suppress.

In response to the radical rioters the Civil Rights Act of 1969 was passed, which prohibited violence against blacks. Blacks were now allowed to go to fancy restaurants and hotels. They were allowed to attend universities as well as medical and law schools…if and only if, they could afford it.

Separate and UNequal

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka” (1954) by The Supreme Court Reporter

“we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation companied of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment….”

In the history of America, it is evident that there has been an opposition against groups that appear or act differently than what is considered to be normal. For hundreds of years, Blacks in America fought to be freed form slavery, and following freedom they fought for equality in all aspects of life. In the ruling of the Plessy v. Furguson Case of 1896, it was said that facilities for blacks and whites respectively may be separate but that they must be equal. Demonstrating a minuscule amount of compliance to this “separate but equal” notion, the Supreme Court of the United States was prompted by the NAACP in 1954 to review it. The court recognized achievements of blacks as well as recognized American-born blacks as citizens no different than American-born whites.

I believe that this quote epitomizes the ruling of the court in saying that Blacks are not allowed to be deprived of their right to “life, liberty, and property.” As American citizens, the court stated, blacks too have a right to learn in public facilities and that these facilities should not be separated, as separate facilities “deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities.” The fact that these statements were made by the Supreme Court–a function of the United States government–demonstrates that the ultimate ruling of the court is one that is intended to provide a just democratic republic in which all citizens are treated equally. In America during this time, it was difficult for many white Americans to accept racial equality as a principle in life. The fact that the Supreme Court decided in favor of equality for blacks recognizes the continuous issue of social equality, and also that there should not be a distinction between blacks and whites that causes the minority race to receive less benefit in society (i.e. education). It also recognizes this ongoing social conflict in a political aspect, as a branch of the government put forth a new notion of equality for the society to adhere to.

Jie Cao’s group work

“Busy Wife’s Achievements,” Life Magazine. 1954.

“Her husband comes home for lunch almost every day and Marge makes it a point, whatever her schedule, to be there too”

It reminds me to that about CEDAW.

So, what is CEDAW?


It typically talks about culture as a barrier to progress, and see culture as an obstacle to the human rights of women. Many cultures limit women’s participate in the public life, people think women’s position is to stay at home and raise the children. For example, in African, women’s genitalia play the role in the highly gendered ways women’s sexuality is restricted and women’s subordination ensured, and there is unequal access to education and jobs, to clean water and adequate food, and to divorce and equal inheritance also burden African women. It says the culture in the past time is based on the sex, in order to fix the problem, we have to modify people’s point of view from different sexuality. In the modern society countries, women are gaining their rights back by economic advance.