In the 1970’s recognized feminist, Gloria Steinem declared to the world, ‘A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.’ This message, first coined by journalist Anna Dunn was paraphrased from a philosopher’s quote, ‘A man needs God like a fish needs a bicycle.’
The concept that women need not depend on men, and men need not depend on God, resonated with women weary from inequality and gender discrimination. From bra burnings to political protests, American women in the 1970’s sought liberation. They yearned to free themselves from perceived oppressive patriarchal chains and release their pent up roars.
The feminist movement of that day promised change and newfound independence. In the 1972 case of Eisenstadt v. Baird, the Supreme Court gave single individuals access to birth control. For some, this seemed like a light at the end of a tunnel. The pill gave the illusion that women could escape the prison of being barefoot, pregnant and regulated to domestic affairs. When the pill was accepted, the nation was primed for abortion. In 1973 Roe v. Wade was passed, legalizing abortion on demand and forever changing the world in which women live.
It’s been over 40 years since the infamous abortion decision that divided a nation. Where are U.S woman today in terms of progress and their pursuit of rights? On the positive side the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 report shows a substantial rise in the educational attainment of women ages 25-64 in the labor force. In 1970, 11% of working women held college degrees, in 2012 the number more than tripled to 38%. Working women are also earning more than in the past. In 2012 women’s earnings were 81% of men, compared to 62% in 1979.
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