Social Changes 50s – 70s
Levittown
• Created after WWI
because of demand for
homes
• Developer, named Levitt,
bought farms and
converted them to
suburban homes
• Cookie-cutter
Gender Roles in the 50s
• Dad is the bread winner
• Mom is the happy homemaker
Television – family time
Homemaker’s Lives Made Easier?
Dissatisfied in the Home
• In the 50’s, it was said that women went to
college for a “Mrs.” degree, not a B.A.
– Women were not thought of as ambitious and
weren’t encouraged to be
• Women became dissatisfied with cleaning
and baking
• Betty Friedan – The Feminine Mystique
– Women who want a career are ambitious and
motivated - they are not flawed or unfeminine
Betty Friedan – The Feminine
Mystique
Women in the Workplace
• Women with college degrees
would still be in designated female
roles, even if they are qualified to
do much more
• Women seeking advanced roles or
promotions would be bypassed for
men even if the man was clearly
less qualified
• Help Wanted ads in newspapers
were separated by gender
• Women made less money than
men doing the same job
• Harassment
Changes for Women
• Presidential Commission on the Status of Women –
1961
– JFK commission, but prompted by Eleanor Roosevelt
– Analyzed disputes between men and women in the workplace
– Led to improvements in women’s rights
• Equal Pay Act – 1963 – JFK reform
– Men and women would be compensated equally in government
jobs
• National Organization of Women – (NOW)- 1966
– Founded by Betty Friedan
– Objective – bring women into the mainstream of American
society by forging an equal partnership with men
Sexual Revolution
• Stigma associated with sex, particularly with women
• Kate Millett
– Wrote Sexual Politics
• Said culture creates women’s societal roles, not a lack of
intelligence or a biological inferiority
• Women suppress their sexual activity because society tells them to
do so
• Ushers in sexual revolution
• Valerie Solanas
– Wrote the SCUM Manifesto (Society for cutting up men)
– Men are human abhorations that act solely upon their sexual
drive
– She tried to kill Andy Warhol
Kate Millett & Valerie Solanas
Sexual Revolution Goes to Court
• Griswold v. Connecticut – 1965
– Connecticut law prohibits use of contraceptive
devices
– Supreme Court overturned this and ruled that it
violated a person’s 4th amendment rights to privacy
– Opened the door for Roe v. Wade
• Roe v. Wade - 1973
– Struck down state laws that forbade abortions
– Cited the right to privacy (4th Amendment)
Equal Rights Amendment - 1971
• People cannot be denied their rights based on
gender
• This was never ratified
• Gloria Steinem
– Founder of Ms. Magazine
– Wrote about discrimination and gender roles
• Phyllis Schlafly
– Against ERA because it would have a bad impact on
the family
– Working mothers would lead to social problems
Gloria Steinem & Phyllis Schlafly
Jack Kerouac & the Beat
Movement
Allen Ginsberg - Howl
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed
by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection
To the starry dynamo in the machinery of night
Rock & Roll of the 50s
Rock & Roll of the 60s
Summer of Love - 1967
• Young people from all over the country went to
San Francisco to listen to music, take drugs, and
“be”
• Long haired men & women – called hippies
• They brought these ideas back to their homes
• The sensibilities of the youth did not jive with
those of their parents
– Birth control, premartial sex
Woodstock
• 1969 – Music festival – Musicians that are
part of this counterculture talk about
political issues, drugs, rebellion.
• They speak out against the war in Vietnam
• People were openly defying societal
norms by engaging in behaviors like taking
drugs & having sex
Anti-War Demonstrations
• As news of casualties rolled in, people became
more agitated
• Anti-war protests rose on college campuses
• Students march to Pentagon in 1967
– Try to storm Pentagon, hundreds arrested
– Some protestors stick flowers in the barrels of rifles
• Kent State – 1970 – After Cambodia invasion,
students protest at Kent. National Guard opens
fire killing 4.
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Social Changes 50s – 70s