Women and Homosexuals in the Sixties.

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After a long-life period where women had unique duty to be perfect housewives, the sixties is an era of movements, actions, protest, and most importantly an era of change for women’s status.

“Time indeed were changing.” (Zinn) Zinn explains, in this chapter, that women, instead of only taking part of community clubs as the women would do in order to feel valuable in the 50’s, were taking part into various movements, such as Students for a Democratic Society, an antiwar group which organized a parade called “The Burial of Tradition Womanhood.” Although, he mentions that few disagreements among women and men were build on whether women should battle only in general movements such as racism, or more especially their own issues in society, the feminist movement was gaining value and was starting to be heard.

The image of women, as an object of decoration, which has been constructed for many years was finally questioned, and moreover rejected by the Radical Women in the fall of 1968. As Zinn puts it, “people were beginning to speak of ‘Women’s Liberation.’”

“There is no “joining” WITCH. If you are a woman and dare to look within yourself, you are a WITCH. You make your own rules.” Is a quote from the WITCH organization formed by NY Radical Women. This quote shows effectively how women were freeing themselves from the traditional rules and male domination by taking responsibilities and promoting the power of free-will.

Moreover, the change, in this era, did not only touch the middle class housewives from the 50’s. In fact, Zinn mentions the lower social class and African americans women by quoting Helen Howard, an organizer, who explains that through the meetings, and thus by standing up, the community was not afraid anymore.

The feminist movement gained more and more valued and popularity through publications such as women’s magazines, newspapers and books.
This led, from 68, the right of women to choose for themselves, and especially about child birth. Indeed, abortion became a woman’s rights, and thus, from justice, abortion became a private matter. Women were finally the only actors and decision makers of their own lives.

As Zinn mentions, regarding the Equal Rights Amendment, “It seemed clear that even if it became law, it would not be enough, that what women had accomplished had come through organization, action, protest. Even where the law was helpful it was helpful only if backed by actions.” In other words, women understood that they had only to count on themselves for change, and thus, this self-consciousness made them questioned the roles of gender, reject the male supremacy, and a strong union between women, also called sisterhood.

In my opinion, I think it is pretty clear why this category of individuals had to be mentioned in Zinn’s chapter. Women, instead of hoping, have created, during this period, a modernization of society by supporting and fighting against male dominance that women from today thank.

 

The sixties, not only focused on individuals’ movements as feminist, but also broke sexuality taboos by raising people’s consciousness through media, and liberalism.

While, in the 50’s, sexuality is a matter for silence and taboo, Zinn mentions the sexual behavior went through outstanding changed few years later with individuals revolting “against artificial and unquestioned ways of living.”
Indeed, sex between two people that were not married was spoken freely, and moreover, homosexuality, which was seen as a disease in the 50’s, was openly accepted as heterosexuality.  Thus, many individuals finally show their true self by not concealing their sexuality anymore, and organized meetings to reject discrimination, and encourage sexuality equality.
Media and literature helped tremendously to let this new insight on sexuality grow.

This whole new vision on homosexuality was one of the first steps in American history to truly show Democracy. From seeing it as a mental illness to simply sexual attraction, it has pushed people to be truer towards themselves, and among society than they ever had.
Finally, even though it took a major period of time to accept the concept of gay marriage in the United States, the homosexuals’ movements, in the sixties, were the first ones to fight for equality.