Body & Health Timeline
Planned Parenthood Federation of America (est. 1942) evolved out of Margaret Sanger’s American Birth Control League (est. 1938). Planned Parenthood (as it is commonly known) operates health centers which provide birth control, testing and treatments for diseases, and abortions. Planned Parenthood. Margaret Sanger archive, New York University. Margaret Sanger archive, Smith College.
During World War II, major baseball league owners turned to women ball players to bring fans to ball parks. The Rockford Peaches were the champs of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Most teams had disbanded by 1954. The 1992 film, A League of Their Own, popularized the League. “Belles of the Ball Game” by Bill Fay. Video, National History Day Project by Ally & Gina Franken. Photo: Betsy Jochum, The History Museum, South Bend, Indiana; Creative Commons license.
The enormous popularity of Dr. Benjamin Spock’s Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care was due to its empathetic tone, respect for mothers, the focus on children’s emotional needs, calls for flexibility in the raising of children, and its comprehensive coverage. The book changed the way baby-boomers were raised. Dr. Spock obituary. “Feminists Protest Spock's Sex Bias,” by Louise Bernikow.
Vice Versa is regarded as the first lesbian publication written by a lesbian for lesbian readers. It was written and typed (in carbon) by Lisa Ben (a pseudonym for Edith Eyde), who subtitled it “America’s Gayest Magazine.” Only nine issues (June 1947 to February 1948) were written. Later, Ben wrote for the lesbian magazine The Ladder. Digitized issues. Lisa Ben biography and videos. “Vice Versa - The First ‘Lesbian’ Magazine,” by Erica Davies.
Alfred Kinsey and his team at the Kinsey Institute published two Kinsey Reports about modern sexual behavior: Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953). The books, while academic in nature, expanded the public discussion about sexuality. History of The Kinsey Institute. Review in New York Times. Dr. Kinsey obituary. Photo: staff at Kinsey Institute for Sex Research; Smithsonian Institution archives.
Male and Female: A Study of the Sexes in a Changing World is anthropologist Margaret Mead’s sixth book and it continues her research on the development of gender norms. Mead’s central finding, that different cultures have different gender role expectations, continues to inform the debate about the relationship between society and biology in the construction of gender. Margaret Mead exhibit, Library of Congress. Margaret Mead archives. Margaret Mead’s Legacy, Barnard College. Audio Interview. Photo: Margaret Mead, Library of Congress.
In 1950, twelve-year-old Kathryn Johnston became the first girl to play Little League Baseball, joining a team in Corning, New York. Her presence led to the Tubby Rule, which banned girls from the League until 1974, when a lawsuit filed by the National Organization for Women on behalf of Maria Pepe, who played with a Hoboken, New Jersey team, led to girls’ acceptance in the League. 30th anniversary of Little League's decision. Tubby Johnston’s website. “Kathryn ‘Tubby’ Johnston in a League of Her Own,” ESPN. “Before Title IX, There Was Maria Pepe,” by Christina Settimi. Video interview, Maria Pepe.
Christine Jorgensen, born George Jorgensen, became the first person to complete a sex reassignment surgery. Her initial surgeries were performed in Denmark. Jorgensen became a public advocate for transsexuals. Christine Jorgensen’s website.
In December 1953, the first issue of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy magazine featured film star Marilyn Monroe on its cover and inside was a picture of a nude Monroe as the Sweetheart of the Month (now called the Playmate of the Month). Almost 55,000 copies, at 50 cents each, were sold. History of Playboy. “A Bunny’s Tale” by Gloria Steinem.
Dr. Katharina Dalton introduced the term premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in a co-authored 1953 British Medical Journal article and challenged the view that it was not biologically based. Her 1997 book, Once a Month, was a bestseller. Katharina Dalton obituary. Tribute to Dr. Dalton. “PMS and the Wandering Womb” by James Hamblin.
The first Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Championship was held in 1955 in Indiana. The LPGA was founded in 1950 by thirteen women golfers, including Babe Zaharias. “LPGA joins forces with PGA” by Ron Sirak. Mildred Zaharias biography.
The Ladder was a monthly lesbian magazine published from 1956 to 1970. Its first editor, Phyllis Lyon, was a cofounder of the Daughters of Bilitis (est. 1955) and the magazine became the organization’s house publication. The Ladder is considered the first national lesbian magazine. The Ladder Periodical Collection. Lesbian Herstory Archives video project. Del Martin obituary.
When Althea Gibson won the French Open she became the first African American to win a tennis Grand Slam title. The next year, after she won Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals, she became the top-ranked woman tennis player. In 1957, she became the first Black woman to appear on the cover of Time magazine. Biography. Tennis Hall of Fame. Brooklyn Museum exhibit. Photo: Library of Congress.
Ann Bannon’s lesbian pulp fiction novel, Odd Girl Out, was the first in a series of books about lesbian love and relationships. The series, known as The Beebo Brinker Chronicles, was published from 1957 to 1962 and the books are now considered lesbian classics. Bannon (a pseudonym for Ann Weldy) is recognized as a pioneering lesbian writer. Ann Bannon’s website.
The Barbie Doll was created by Ruth Handler. Over 350,000 Barbies were sold by the Mattel Company in 1959. The Ken Doll went on the market in 1961. The Barbie Doll has been criticized for fostering unhealthy ideas about women’s bodies. However, Ruth Handler also invented the first breast prosthesis for mastectomy patients. The Barbie Story. Video, first television commercial for Barbie dolls. “Ruth Mosko Handler unveils Barbie Doll,” Jewish Women's Archive.
The Pill, the popular name for the contraceptive pill Enovid 10 mg, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1960. Letter from Barbara Seaman to Senator Nelson on dangers of the Pill. “The Power of the Pill” by Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz. Erica Jong video interview, 50 Years of the Pill.
Helen Gurley Brown’s best-selling self-help book, Sex and the Single Girl, told women how to meet men, act sexy, succeed at work, handle money, entertain, dress, and have an affair. In 1965, Brown became the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine. Brown told the New York Times in 1982: “I am a feminist.” Obituary, Washington Post. Obituary, New York Times. Photo: Library of Congress.
Sherri Finkbine, a married woman from Arizona, sought an abortion after discovering that the drug Thalidomide, which she had been taking, causes deformity in fetuses. She was forced to travel to Sweden because her local hospital refused to allow the abortion. Finkbine’s story raised public awareness about the drug Thalidomide and contributed to changes in abortion laws. Abortion Collection, Smith College. “Abortion mother returns home,” BBC.
Sylvia Plath’s semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar tells the story of a young woman’s struggle with depression and her feelings about women’s roles. Plath committed suicide soon after the book was published. Biography. Reflections on her legacy.
“ The Negro Family: The Case for National Action” is also known as the Moynihan Report. Issued by the U.S. Department of Labor, the report stated that the “Negro community has been forced into a matriarchal structure which … seriously retards the progress of the group as a whole.” The report opened a national debate about the black family and black women’s status in society. PDF of original report. Text of report, U.S. Department of Labor. Moynihan Report Revisited. “Misrepresenting the Moynihan Report” by James T. Patterson.
The miniskirt was first popularized by Mary Quant in London and then became a global phenomenon when it was worn by film stars, fashion models on runways, and young women students. The miniskirt was a symbol of liberation for feminists. “A History of the Miniskirt”. “On the Hemline -- Miniskirt Protests.”
When Helen Gurley Brown took over as editor of Cosmopolitan she recast it as a women’s magazine that emphasized sex, beauty, and careers. The “Cosmo girl” became a symbol of the modern urban woman. “Why Don't More People Call Themselves Feminists?” by Jill Filipovic. “Cosmo vs. Ms.” by Jennifer Scanlon. “Helenism” by Judith Thurman.
Members of the Mattachine Society, Janus Society and Daughters of Bilitis formed ECHO, the East Coast Homophile Organizations, in 1963. Their first public action was to picket the White House in 1965 to protest discriminatory laws. ECHO archive, Duke University. 1950s-1960s Homophile Movement, Cornell University. “1969: The Year of Gay Liberation,” New York Public Library.
William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson, who began working together in 1957, published their pioneering study, Human Sexual Response, in 1966. The book was enormously popular and was followed by Human Sexual Inadequacy (1970). In 1978, they formed the Masters and Johnson Institute. Masters and Johnson Collection, Kinsey Institute. “The Real ‘Masters of Sex’,” Life Magazine.
In 1966, Roberta (Bobbi) Gibb became the first woman to run and finish the Boston Marathon. Her race was unsanctioned, as women were not allowed to register. The next year, Gibb ran again. So did Kathrine Switzer, who registered for the Boston Marathon under the name “K. V. Switzer.” Women were officially allowed to enter the race in 1972. “A Run of One's Own” by Bobbi Gibb. Kathrine Switzer’s website. Bobbi Gibb, Boston Athletic Association.
The Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion was founded by ministers and rabbis to help women find safe abortions during an era when abortion was illegal. It was located at the Judson Memorial Church in New York City. In 1969, the group funded a Reproduction Crisis Facility, which closed after the ruling of Roe v. Wade. Clergy Consultation Service archive. Howard R. Moody obituary. Video, “When Abortion was Illegal.”
When the English model Twiggy arrived in New York City in 1967 she was already an icon with her thinness, bobbed hair, and “Twiggy Dresses.” The “Twiggy phenomenon” lasted long after Twiggy retired from modeling in 1970. Photos, Life Magazine. Twiggy’s website.
The Summer of Love was centered in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, where the counterculture celebrated communal living and free love. New York City’s Summer of Love was depicted in the musical Hair. Film, “Summer of Love,” PBS. “Suddenly That Summer” by Sheila Weller. “Free Love: Was There a Price to Pay?” by Brian Alexander.
Governor Ronald Reagan signed the California Therapeutic Abortion Act in 1967, allowing a woman to receive an abortion if a hospital committee found that her pregnancy would cause her physical or mental harm or if a court found probable cause that her pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. The Society for Human Abortion, founded by Pat Maginnis, was one of the leaders in changing California’s abortion laws. California Committee on Therapeutic Abortion records (PDF). Anthony C. Beilenson papers. Article, UCLA Law Review. Pat Maginnis’ website. Film, “Motherhood by Choice, Not Chance.”Society for Humane Abortion, Schlesinger Library.
In 1968, Phillip Morris introduced Virginia Slims cigarettes with the marketing campaign slogan “You’ve come a long way, baby.” Virginia Slims became a sponsor of the Women’s Tennis Association Tour (first called the Virginia Slims Circuit), founded by Billie Jean King. Virginia Slims advertising images, Stanford School of Medicine. “The Death of the Cool Feminist Smoker” by Adrian Shirk.
Patricia Robinson’s “Poor Black Women” was written in response to “Birth Control Pills and Black Children,” a statement by the Black Unity Party of Peekskill, New York, and “The Sisters Reply” to that statement. Robinson writes that the time had come for black women “to question aggressive male domination and the class society which enforces it, capitalism.” “Poor Black Women,” Duke University Digital Collections.
Anne Koedt’s classic feminist text The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm argues that the clitoris, not the vagina, is the center of a woman’s sexual sensitivity and that ignorance about this leads to ideas about women’s frigidity. Koedt drew on the work of Alfred Kinsey and Masters and Johnson. Full text.
The festival called Woodstock was held in Bethel, New York and attended by close to half a million people. The “3 Days of Peace and Music” is considered one of the great music festivals of all time and a defining moment for the counterculture of the 1960s. Woodstock Festival History. Photo by Mark Goff; public domain.
NARAL, the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, was created in 1969 to eliminate laws that could compel a woman to bear a child against her will. NARAL’s initial work included political actions to repeal abortion laws. After Roe v. Wade, NARAL’s new name was the National Abortion Rights Action League. NARAL. NARAL records, Schlesinger Library.
The Jane Collective (Abortion Counseling Service of Women’s Liberation) was an underground abortion service in Chicago. From 1969 to 1973, members of the collective performed more than 11,000 abortions. The Jane Collective was part of the larger Chicago Women’s Liberation Union. Jane Abortion Service, CWLU herstory project. Video, “Jane: A Collective of Women who arranged safe abortions.” Film, “Jane: An Abortion Service.”
The Redstockings, a radical feminist group, held an Abortion Speak-Out in New York City because the only speakers at a legislative hearing about abortion held the previous month were men and a Catholic nun. At the Speak-Out, women testified about their abortion experiences and pregnancies which led to adoptions. “Everywoman’s Abortions: The Oppressor Is Man” by Susan Brownmiller (PDF). Before Roe v. Wade by Linda Greenhouse and Reva Siegel (PDF).
The Edible Woman, a novel by the Canadian author Margaret Atwood, is an exploration of the turmoil that young women experience as they explore their identities, place in society, and relationships to men. Margaret Atwood’s website. Audio interview from Portland Arts & Lectures Archive.
Kate Millett’s scholarly study, Sexual Politics, proposed the revolutionary theory that “sex has a frequently neglected political aspect” and examines how literary male writers use sex to depict women. The book became a bestseller and is considered one of the first books in the new field of women’s studies. The book was criticized by Norman Mailer in his 1971 essay, “The Prisoner of Sex.” Essay, “Sexual Politics” by Kate Millett (incorporated into chapter 2 of the book). Video, “Town Bloody Hall.”Kate Millett interview. Kate Millett papers, Duke University. Article, “The Liberation of Kate Millett.”
The Title X Family Planning Program of the Public Health Service Act provides funds to community health clinics and centers providing family planning services to low-income families. Title X prohibits clinics and centers from using funds to perform abortions. Planned Parenthood receives about 25% of Title X’s overall funds. Title X, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Title X funding history. President Nixon’s statement. “Title X (Public Health Service Act) Family Planning Program” (PDF).Title X Fast Facts, NARAL (PDF). National Women's Health Network records.
Senator Gaylord Nelson called for a Senate hearing about the safety of The Pill. The investigation led to the first PPI (Patient Packaging Insert) to warn users about the drug’s side effects. Women’s health advocate and journalist Barbara Seaman was instrumental in convincing Nelson to call the hearings. Barbara Seaman collection, JWA. Summary of hearings, PBS. “The Pill Hearings” by Amy Bloom.
In her essay “Take a Good Look at Our Problems,” which was published in the book Black Women’s Liberation, Pamela Newman wrote “The very idea that women are here on earth just for having children isn’t true either. We have minds and have the right to determine what we do and say. Child rearing should be a profession, not an automatic duty.” Full text (page 12), Duke University Digital Collections.
Judy Blume’s novel, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, centers on a sixth grader’s life as she deals with her family’s Jewish and Christian religions and tackles coming-of-age issues such as her changing body, a new school environment, and boys. Judy Blume’s website. Judy Blume biography.
The Female Eunuch by Australian scholar Germaine Greer was an international bestseller and is considered a foundational feminist text. A eunuch is a castrated or celibate man; a female eunuch is a woman who has been sexually repressed by societal norms. Greer argues that women internalize the hatred men have for them. “What Germaine Greer and The Female Eunuch mean to me,” The Guardian. Video, “Germaine Greer: Feminism in the Global Context.” Video, “Germaine Greer,” ABC Australia, 1972. Photo by Hans Peters, Creative Commons license.
“Women and Their Bodies” was first a workshop at a women’s liberation conference at Emmanuel College (near Boston). Workshop members founded the Doctor’s Group, which became the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective. The Doctor’s Group issued a 193-page course booklet, “Women and Their Bodies,” which was reissued in 1971 as Our Bodies, Ourselves. History of Our Bodies, Ourselves.
Bev Cole’s essay “Black Women and the Motherhood Myth” was published in “The Right to Choose Abortion,” a pamphlet issued by Female Liberation, a Boston women’s liberation group. Cole’s first sentence is “The abortion issue must be faced by each and every woman, especially Black and Third World women.” Full text, p. 52, Before Roe v. Wade (PDF).
Rape: The First Sourcebook for Women, edited by Noreen Connell and Cassandra Wilson, was published by the New York Radical Feminists. It followed a Rape Speak-Out and rape conference, both organized by the Radical Feminists. They declared in their “Manifesto of Shared Rape” that rape “is a matter to be dealt with in feminist terms for female liberation.” New York Radical Feminists radio recordings. “Speaking Out Against Rape” by Tanya Serisier. “Manifesto of Shared Rape.”
The Dalkon Sheild, a contraceptive intrauterine device (IUD), was promoted by the A. H. Robins Company as a safe and reliable form of birth control when it went on the market in 1971. The deaths of eighteen women and injuries to thousands more led to court cases and settlements that cost billions of dollars. In 1976, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandated that IUDs be tested and approved. “The Charge: Gynocide” by Barbara Ehrenreich. National Women's Health Network records.
DES (diethylstilbestrol), a synthetic estrogen, was prescribed to pregnant women from 1938 to 1971 to prevent miscarriages. Research published in 1953 showed that DES did not prevent miscarriages; a study published in 1971 attributed a rare vaginal cancer to DES daughters. In 1971, the FDA advised physicians to stop prescribing DES. “How a 40-Year-Old Discovery Changed Medical Thinking” by John Easton. Sybil Shainwald papers, Harvard University. “Eli Lilly settles suit” linking DES with breast cancer.
Susan Griffin’s “Rape: The All-American Crime” appeared in the New Left journal Ramparts. It was then published as a book titled Rape: The Power of Consciousness. Griffin argues that rape must not be understood as a sexual act but as resulting from the political system of patriarchy. Full text.
The Gay Women’s Open House was held from 1971 to 1979 at the home of Lilli Vincenz, a member of the gay-rights organization Mattachine Society of Washington. The Open House was a safe space for lesbians to meet. It evolved into the Gay Women’s Alternative, which lasted from 1980 to 1993. Videos with article “Lilli Vincenz and the Power of Pride,” Library of Congress. Jeanette Paroly interview. Video interview, Leigh Geiger. Image: Yanker Poster Collection, Library of Congress.
Beverly Padilla published “Chicanas and Abortion” in The Militant. She argues that a woman’s control of her body and mind is a “collective problem,” not a personal issue. The article also addresses the relationship of Chicanas to Chicano men. Reprinted in Chicana Feminist Thought, p. 120.
Phyllis Schlafly accused the women’s liberation movement of “promoting abortions instead of families” in the article “Women's Libbers Do NOT Speak For Us,” which was published in The Schlafly Report. “Women’s lib,” she wrote, “is a total assault on the role of the American woman as wife and mother and on the family as the basic unit of society.” “What's Wrong with Equal Rights for Women” by Phyllis Schlafly. Phyllis Schlafly’s bio. Phyllis Schlafly’s columns, Eagle Forum. “Abortion and the ‘Woman Question’: Forty Years of Debate” by Reva Siegel.
Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English’s Witches, Midwives and Nurses — as well as their two subsequent books, Complaints and Disorders (1973) and For Her Own Good (1978) — are popular feminist texts that raised awareness about women’s historical involvement and the patriarchal controls that led to their loss of power in the healthcare arena. Excerpt (PDF). Barbara Ehrenreich video interview.
Free to Be … You and Me, by Marlo Thomas and Friends, is an audio recording (record album) with songs and stories about how children have the freedom to shape their own identity, including their gender identity. In 1974, Free to Be was a television special. Free to Be Foundation. Video, “Free to Be…You and Me.” Marlo Thomas interview. Letty Cottin Pogrebin biography. Review of the book When We Were Free to Be: Looking Back at a Children’s Classic and the Difference It Made.
Feminists for Life, an anti-abortion organization, was founded with the vision of creating “a better world in which no woman would be driven by desperation to abortion.” The organization provides a “herstory worth repeating” about how “early feminists” were “overwhelmingly pro-life.” Feminists for Life. Video, “The Feminist Case Against Abortion.”
The Joy of Sex: A Gourmet Guide is an illustrated sex manual written by the British physician Alex Comfort. Its title was a clever reference to The Joy of Cooking. The manual was revised in 1992 and 2008 to reflect changes in social attitudes and knowledge. Alex Comfort Collection, Kinsey Institute. Obituary, The Guardian. Obituary, The New York Times.
The Supreme Court ruling Eisenstadt v. Baird stated that unmarried people have the right to contraception. The case resulted from Bill Baird’s challenge to a Massachusetts law stating that only doctors or pharmacists could provide contraceptives, and only to married people. Case documents. “41st Anniversary of Legal Contraception for Single People” by Bridgette Dunlap. “A Major Hero for Abortion Rights and Family Planning” by Donald Collins. “Abortion-Rights’ Scorned Prophet” by Lindsey Gruson.
The Rape Crisis Center in Washington, D.C. was the first in the nation. Its founders were radical feminists. Members of the women’s collective that ran the D.C. RCC published How to Start a Rape Crisis Center and soon centers were established across the country. Under the leadership of Loretta Ross, the D.C. RCC became a “center of black feminist organizing in the country.” DC Rape Crisis Center. Feminist Alliance Against Rape archives. Loretta Ross archive. Film, “Rape Culture.” Photo: © Bettye Lane.
George Weinberg coined the term homophobia in his book Society and the Healthy Homosexual. The book, which criticized psychiatric and psychological theories about sexuality, was considered a revolutionary manifesto. George Weinberg interview.
Betty Dodson’s pamphlet Liberating Masturbation is a pioneering work that explained how women could have sexual pleasure and achieve orgasm without a partner. In 1987, the pamphlet was revised and republished as Sex for One. Full text (PDF). Betty Dodson’s website. “Masturbation: The Secret to a Long Life?” by Stephanie Theobald. Video, “The Betty Dodson Method.”
The Helms Amendment bans the use of U.S. foreign assistance funds for abortion as a method of family planning. The U.S. government has not funded any programs that include abortion services in other countries. “Abortion Restrictions in U.S. Foreign Aid” by Sneha Barot, Guttmacher Institute. Summary of Helms Amendment, Center for Health and Gender Equity.
Sarah Weddington was Jane Roe’s lawyer in the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal. Weddington and Linda Coffee argued on behalf of Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe) in their challenge to Texas’s anti-abortion law. The Weddington Center. Video, Roe v. Wade 1971 Oral Argument. Video discussion, 1993. Interview, 2013. Photo: NARA.
In Fear of Flying, a novel about a woman’s sexual fantasies and acts, Erica Jong explored the psychological effects of spontaneous sexual encounters on the narrator’s marriage, poetry, and personal liberation. Erica Jong’s website. Video interview.
Rita Mae Brown’s novel Rubyfruit Jungle narrates the story of Molly’s early same-sex sexual relationships with her school friends, her difficulties with her mother, and her educational path to college. It is considered a classic lesbian coming-of-age novel and is listed at number 18 on The Publishing Triangle’s 100 Best Lesbian and Gay Novels. Rita Mae Brown’s website. “A Manifesto for the Feminist Artist” by Rita Mae Brown, The Furies. Interview.
COYOTE (Cut Off Your Old Tired Ethics) was founded by Margo St. James to advocate for the rights of sex workers (including prostitutes, strippers, and those involved in pornography). St. James argued that sex workers should be considered laborers with the right to the same protections given other workers. COYOTE. COYOTE records, Schlesinger Library. St. James Infirmary.
Boston women interested in starting a health center met at the First Annual Women’s Health Conference in 1973. A year later, they established the Women’s Community Health Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Its core philosophy was self-help. Women’s Community Health Center records, Schlesinger Library. “The Vagina Dialogues, circa 1970” by Paula Kamen.
The short film “Dyketactics,” by the experimental filmmaker and visual artist Barbara Hammer, is considered the first film about lesbians and lesbian sexuality made by a lesbian. Hammer’s work has received numerous awards. Barbara Hammer website. Excerpt from “Dyketactics.”Barbara Hammer biography. Video, Barbara Hammer talks about filmmaking.
When Women’s Advocates was founded in Minneapolis in 1974 it became the first battered women’s shelter in the United States. At first it was a hotline; then a house was purchased. The group now provides care for about 45 women and children every day. Women’s Advocates. Sharon Rice-Vaughan video interview.
Transition House was the first emergency shelter for battered women and children on the East Coast. It is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In its 40 year history, it has sheltered over 10,000 people. Transition House. History of Transition House. Transition House records, Schlesinger Library.
The Battered Women’s Directory Project, led by Betsy Warrior, gathered and published a comprehensive reference book providing information on shelters, support groups and hotlines, as well as legal and medical information, for battered women. Betsy Warrior biography. Battered Women’s Directory Project records, Schlesinger Library.
In Philadelphia, after the murder of a woman who was walking home alone at night, feminists held a march to raise public awareness of violence against women. In Pittsburgh in 1977, the name “Take Back the Night” was coined by Anne Pride at an anti-violence rally. Take Back the Night marches are now held annually across the country. Take Back The Night. National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women.
Susan Brownmiller’s pioneering study of rape, Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape, examines how rape is about patriarchal power, not isolated actions of men who are naturally deviant. While the book was praised by many feminists for its searching analysis, others were troubled by its essentialism and views on race. Susan Brownmiller papers, Schlesinger Library. Susan Brownmiller biography. Interview. Video, Open Road Media.
The National Women’s Health Network was created by a group of women to lobby for improvements in women’s health care. Its initial name was the Women’s Health Lobby. One of its first campaigns was on behalf of DES (Diethylstibestrol) daughters. The group monitors government, industry, and the health care profession. National Women's Health Network. Barbara Seaman biography. Sybil Shainwald papers, Schlesinger Library. Mary Howell obituary.
Founded by women in the California Bay Area, La Casa de las Madres was the first domestic violence shelter founded in the state and the third in the nation. In 2014, Sonia Melara, one of the shelter’s founders, was appointed to the San Francisco Police Commission. La Casa de las Madres.
Sinister Wisdom was founded in 1976 as a multicultural lesbian art and literary magazine by Harriet Ellenberger and Catherine Nicholson. Sinister Wisdom. “Sinister Wisdom: Promoting a Lesbian Feminist Culture,” Outhistory. Catherine Nicholson biography. Catherine Nicholson papers, Duke University.
A study by the Government Accounting Office, prepared for Senator James Abourezk of South Dakota, revealed that over 3,400 Native American women of child bearing age had been sterilized by Indian Health Service doctors in the Southwest between 1973 and 1976. Letter and summary to Senator Abourezk (PDF). “Guarding Against Coercion While Ensuring Access” by Rachel Benson Gold.
The Supreme Court case of Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth stated that women seeking an abortion did not require parental or spousal consent. The court also ruled that abortion providers must do certain record keeping and reporting. Case documents, Cornell University. Case Summary.
More than 2,000 women from 40 countries attended the International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women in Brussels. The aim of the tribunal was to raise public awareness about and foster networks among advocates working on issues related to violence against women, reproductive rights violations, and gender discrimination. “Crimes Against Women: Proceedings of the International Tribunal” (PDF). Diana Russell’s website.
Women Against Pornography was founded by feminists who asserted that pornography encouraged violence against women. In 1979, Women Against Pornography organized a New York City march. The group disbanded in 1997. Women Against Pornography records, Schlesinger Library. Photo: © Freda Leinwand.
Women Against Violence Against Women was founded in Los Angeles in 1976 to protest the film “Snuff.” Boston women founded their chapter a year later after the release of the Rolling Stones album “Black and Blue.” The focus of their work was on protesting violence against women in the media. The group disbanded in 1984. WAVAW records, Northeastern University. WAVAW archive, UCLA.
Adrienne Rich’s poetic, personal, and scholarly study Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution helped make motherhood an important subject of feminist discourse. Adrienne Rich papers, Schlesinger Library. “Honouring Adrienne Rich.”Of Woman Born, Google Books.
The Hite Report on Female Sexuality, by historian Shere Hite, documents responses to a questionnaire Hite distributed to women asking about their sexual experiences and feelings. Women’s orgasms are a key subject of the book. Shere Hite’s website. Review in The New York Times.
The White Buffalo Calf Woman Society was founded on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota by Tillie Black Bear to help abused women and children. In 1980, the first women’s shelter for victims of rape and domestic violence on an Indian reservation was opened by the WBCWS. Black Bear helped found the South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. White Buffalo Calf Woman Society. “Because as women we are very sacred” by Angela Griffore. Tillie Black Bear obituary. Video, “In Honor of Tillie Black Bear.”
The article “Sterilization Abuse: A Task for the Women’s Movement,” written by members of the Chicago Committee to End Sterilization Abuse (CESA), provided statistics and shocking stories about involuntary sterilization of women, mostly women of color. The article concluded that in addition to legal battles against sterilization abuse, it is important for provide education about patient rights to communities most effected by the abuse. Full text. History of CESA. Relf v. Weinberger.
Dr. Helen Rodriguez-Trias was a founding member of both CESA, the Committee to End Sterilization Abuse, and CARASA, the Committee for Abortion Rights and Against Sterilization Abuse. CARASA attempted to build coalitions among women in the health care field. Biography, National Institutes of Health. Biography, National Library of Medicine. “Latinas and Sterilization in the United States,” NWHN article, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. Photo: NIH.
In 1977, the U.S. Congress passed the Hyde Amendment, which prohibited the use of federal funds for Medicaid abortions even if they were medically necessary. The Supreme Court upheld this restriction in 1980; the legislation has been modified several times since then. Text of the Hyde Amendment. “Five Facts You Should Know about the Hyde Amendment” by John Light. “Remembering Rosie Jime’nez,” Fund Abortion Now. Hyde Amendment, National Committee for a Human Life Amendment. “U.S. Abortion Rate Continues to Decline” by Joerg Dreweke. “We Raise Our Voices,” Northeastern University.
Carol Leigh is an artist, prostitute and activist known as Scarlot Harlot. While attending a San Francisco Women Against Violence in Pornography and Media Conference, she coined the term “sex worker” to describe all individuals who work in the sex industry. Biography. Origins of terminology, Prostitutes Education Network.
Louise Brown’s birth in England received world-wide attention because she was the first human who was conceived by IVF (in vitro fertilization). IVF involves a process whereby an egg is fertilized in a laboratory setting and then implanted in a woman’s body. Louise Brown biography, BBC. “The World's First Test-tube Baby,” PBS. Video, “First test tube baby, Louise Brown.”“Making Visible Embryos,” University of Cambridge.
Women Against Violence in Pornography and Media evolved out of a 1976 Violence Against Women Conference organized by the San Francisco Women’s Centers. The group held the first national anti-pornography conference, Feminist Perspectives on Pornography, in San Francisco in 1978, which included an early Take Back the Night March. Andrea Dworkin spoke on “Pornography and Grief” before the march. Women Against Violence in Pornography and Media records. Women Against Violence Against Women records. Andrea Dworkin papers, Schlesinger Library. Radio show, “Violent use of female images in the media” with Andrea Dworkin.
In 1978, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights held a hearing on domestic violence. After the hearing, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence was founded by women in Washington D.C. One of the founders, Lisa Leghorn, argued that the Coalition needed to take a feminist stance because battering was about gender inequality. In 1979, the Office on Domestic Violence was established in the Department of Health and Human Services. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. History of domestic violence prevention, VAWnet. Lisa Leghorn papers, Sophia Smith Collection.
Judy Chicago, a feminist artist, created The Dinner Party to honor women in history. The art installation created controversy because each plate depicts a vulva symbol and as one moves forward chronologically the vulvas become larger as a way to depict women’s empowerment. The Dinner Party is now on permanent exhibit at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum. Judy Chicago’s website. Brooklyn Museum.
Audre Lorde, an African-American lesbian poet, detailed her experiences with breast cancer in The Cancer Journals. The book documents how she experienced her cancer and its treatment, questions the acceptance of the prosthesis, and asks readers to explore the silences around the subject of cancer. Audre Lorde biography. “Audre Lorde's Legacy” by Dagmar Schultz (PDF). “Breast Cancer: Lessons that Audre Lorde Taught Me” by Tanya Christian. Photo by K. Kendall, Creative Commons license.
The National Conference on Third World Women and Violence was held in Washington D.C. to help women share ideas. The conference, sponsored by the Washington D.C. Rape Crisis Center, was closed to white women; 125 women, including about 35 Latinas, attended. Loretta Ross biography. “The Color of Violence Against Women” by Angela Davis.
The National Organization for Women stated its opposition to “pornography, sadomasochism, public sex, and pederasty” when it adopted a resolution supporting “Lesbian Rights.” This helped ignite the feminist “sex wars” of the 1980s. The topic was explored in depth at Barnard College’s “The Feminist and the Scholar” Conference in 1982. Ellen DuBois on “The Feminist and the Scholar” Conference. “The Sex Wars, 1970s to 1980s” by Andrew McBride. “Political is Personal” by Jenna Basiliere.
The Gay Games (first called the Gay Olympics) was founded in San Francisco by Tom Waddell in 1982 as a “celebration of freedom.” Over 1,000 athletes from 10 countries competed in 17 sports at the first Gay Games. Over 10,000 people competed in the 1994 Games, making it a larger event than the Olympics. The Gay Games are held every four years at various international locations. Federation of Gay Games. Federation of Gay Games archive (PDF).
After attending exercise classes with Leni Cazden and then opening an exercise studio, actress Jane Fonda released “Jane Fonda’s Workout video,” which became a best-seller and was followed by a phenomenally popular series of home videos teaching aerobics. Women exercised to disco music, and sales of VCRs skyrocketed. Jane Fonda’s Workout. Jane Fonda biography. “The New Feminism: Reuniting the Head, the Heart and the Body” by Jane Fonda. Article, “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness, 2011.”
The First National Conference on Black Women’s Health Issues met at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. The conference resulted in the formation of the National Black Women’s Health Project, the first women of color reproductive justice organization. The Project encourages African-American women and girls to take an active role in maintaining their physical, mental, and spiritual health. Black Women's Health Imperative. “Black Women's Health Conference” by Betty Norwood Chaney. Byllye Avery biography. California Black Women's Health Project. Center for Black Women’s Wellness.
The Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center opened in New York City to provide an affordable space for lesbian and gay groups to hold meetings. Among the founding groups of the Center were the Gay and Lesbian Switchboard, which was established in 1972, and the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which led the successful fight for the passage of New York City’s 1986 Gay Rights Bill. In 2001 the name was changed to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. History of The Center. Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center records.
In the early 1980s, Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon supported the anti-pornography movement by writing laws that defined pornography as a violation of civil rights. They wrote city ordinances for Minneapolis, Minnesota and Indianapolis, Indiana; the first was vetoed by the mayor and the second was deemed unconstitutional by the circuit court. This civil rights strategy raised questions about the First Amendment. “Organizing Against Pornography,” Minnesota Historical Society. “Pornography and Censorship,” Stanford University. Andrea Dworkin biography. Video, “Trafficking, Prostitution and Inequality” by Catherine MacKinnon. “Defining Law on the Feminist Frontier” by Fred Strebeigh.
The Akwesasne Mother’s Milk Project was founded by the midwife Katsi Cook, a member of the Mohawk tribe. In response to environmental concerns surrounding the development of the St. Lawrence Seaway Project, the project began monitoring PCB levels in breast milk. The project worked on a number of environmental justice issues connected to women and children’s health. Katsi Cook papers, Sophia Smith Collection. Katsi Cook biography. “Into Our Hands” by Katsi Cook.
Lesbianas Unidas was founded by five women in Los Angeles and by 1999 had become an organization of about 1,000 women who focused on both grassroots community activism and national political efforts. Lesbianas Unidas records, Chicano Studies Research Center (in process, 2015). Elena Popp papers.
The Supreme Court case of Grove City v. Bell stated that Title IX applied to specific programs receiving federal funding, such as athletic scholarships, not all athletic activities in an educational setting. Grove City was reversed by the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987, which stated that schools receiving federal funds must comply with civil rights laws in all areas. Clearly the battle for equality in sports was not over. Case documents.
A new focus on the rights of the fetus entered the abortion debate, spurred in part by “The Silent Scream,” Bernard Nathanson’s anti-abortion video from 1984 which allegedly showed a fetus exhibiting pain during an abortion procedure. Video, “The Silent Scream.”“Fetal Images” by Rosalind Petchesky. Bernard Nathanson obituary.
The women’s marathon was first run in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and Joan Benoit (Samuelson) of Maine won it. Joan Benoit Samuelson’s website. Video, “Joan Benoit wins first women’s marathon gold.”Video, Joan Benoit Samuelson speech, 2010.
“A Catholic Statement on Pluralism and Abortion,” a full-page advertisement in The New York Times paid for by Catholics for a Free Choice, was published in support of vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, who had been attacked for stating that Catholics did not have a monolithic position on abortion. The ad stated that only 11% of U.S. Catholics disapproved of abortion in all circumstances and that a large number of Catholic theologians believed that “abortion, though tragic, can sometimes be a moral choice.” Full text (PDF).
The Global Gag Rule (also known as the Mexico City Policy) withheld U.S. government funds from nongovernmental organizations that provided abortion counseling or services or advocated foreign governments for abortion rights. The Rule has been rescinded and reinstated by successive administrations since 1985. Summary, Center for Health and Gender Equity. “Women Want the Global Gag Rule Gone” by Suzanne Petroni.
Connexxus, a women’s center, was founded by Adel Martinez and Lauren Jardine to provide health and social services to lesbians in the Los Angeles area. The first center was in West Hollywood. A second center, Connexxus East/Centro des Mujeres, opened in East Los Angeles in 1986. Connexxus closed in 1990. The group was notable for having an operating budget of over $200,000. Connexxus/Centro des Mujeres archive. Summary, Mazer Lesbian Archives.
Setsuko (Suki) Terada Ports founded the Minority Task Force on AIDS under the auspices of the Council of Churches in New York City as an advocacy service that emphasized the needs of black and Hispanic people. Ports also started the Family Health Project in 1988 to expand her work with low-income families affected by AIDS. The Minority Task Force is now known as FACES NY. Setsuko Ports interview (PDF). FACES NY.
Anti-abortion movement activists associated with Operation Rescue, founded by Randall Terry, started holding protests in front of reproductive health clinics. One of the largest protests was the 1991 “Summer of Mercy” blockades in Kansas. In 1994, the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) was passed. Operation Rescue. Operation Rescue timeline, History Commons. Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances, U.S. Department of Justice. Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances, National Abortion Federation (PDF).
The National Latina Health Organization was founded in Oakland, California by healthcare providers to encourage Latinas and their families to take greater control of their health practices. Traditional healing methods, educational efforts, and community activism were important components. Luz Alvarez Martinez interview (PDF). Luz Alvarez Martinez papers, Sophia Smith Collection.
In Bowers v. Hardwick, the Supreme Court ruled that gay adults do not have the constitutional right to engage in consensual sodomy and that the Georgia Sodomy Law was legal. In 2003, the Court ruled in Lawrence v. Texas that that state’s sodomy law was unconstitutional and all adults have the right to engage in private sexual activity. Case documents. Summary, PBS. Harry A. Blackmun papers, Library of Congress.
San Francisco gay rights activists, wanting to memorialize those who lost their lives to AIDS, created the Memorial Quilt and the NAMES Project Foundation. The quilt, with 1,920 panels, was first displayed at the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. AIDS Memorial Quilt.
The Chicago Women’s AIDS Project was the city’s first support group for women living with AIDS and HIV. The Project has expanded to help post-incarcerated women, women in recovery, and transgender women with programs focused on health care. Chicago Women’s AIDS Project. “AIDS: The Long View” by Stephanie Taylor.
Formed initially as the Native American Community Board by a group of Native Americans living near or on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center was established after Charon Asetoyer visited the National Black Women’s Health Project in Atlanta, Georgia. Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center. Records, Sophia Smith Collection. Charon Asetoyer interview.
October 11, National Coming Out Day, was established by Jean O’Leary and Robert Eichberg after the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. The annual event is considered a celebration of individual lives and community acceptance of gays and lesbians. Summary, Human Rights Campaign. Exhibition, Cornell University.
Webster v. Reproductive Health Services was a serious challenge to Roe v. Wade, which made abortion a woman’s fundamental right. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Missouri law’s provisions, which included a prohibition on public funding for abortions, was constitutional. Pro-choice advocates saw the decision as an encouragement to states to pass restrictive antiabortion laws. Case documents. Video, oral arguments. “Can Pro-Choicers Prevail?” by Margaret Carlson.
The brochure “We Remember: African American Women Are for Reproductive Freedom” declared women’s right to abortion and asserted that women of color have the right to choose whether to have children. It was written in response to the Supreme Court’s 1989 Webster v. Reproductive Health Services decision. The statement begins: “Choice is the essence of freedom.” In 1990, the authors created the group African-American Women for Reproductive Freedom to continue their work. Full text. “African-American Women and Abortion” by Loretta Ross.
Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice was founded to protect women’s reproductive rights, health, and justice by using a social justice framework, which explores the intersection of racism, sexism, xenophobia, heterosexism, and class oppression. The group’s former name was Asians and Pacific Islanders for Reproductive Health, and is known now as Forward Together. “A New Vision” brochure (PDF).
Pro-choice advocates organized to protest the Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion rights (Webster v. Reproductive Health Services) and gathered in Washington for the first March for Women’s Lives. Video, “March for Women's Equality, Women's Lives.”Photos by Jo Freeman. History of Marches and Mass Actions, NOW.
The Domestic Violence Coalition on Public Policy was founded to advocate for federal legislation and evolved into a national alliance of advocates and activists. One of its major efforts was the passage of the Violence Against Women Act (1994). It is now known as the National Network to End Domestic Violence.
The Empowerment Through Dialogue conference was organized by the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center in South Dakota. The event was attended by Native American women from eleven tribes. They created a Native Women’s Reproductive Rights Coalition. By 1994, the Reproductive Rights Coalition included 150 women from 26 tribes. Historical Note, Sophia Smith Collection. Reproductive Justice Agenda.
Pat Nalls started a hotline for women in the Washington D.C. area after her husband and daughter died of AIDS and she was diagnosed as HIV positive. The hotline evolved into a support group that became, in 1995, the Women’s Collective, to support women and families dealing with AIDS and HIV. The Women’s Collective.
Since 1990, the National Institutes of Health Office of Research on Women’s Health has promoted research on women’s health, worked to ensure that women are represented in health research studies, and supported women’s advancement in biomedical careers. It is the first public health service office to focus specifically on promoting women’s health research. National Institutes of Health Office on Women’s Health.
Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth argues that while women have made legal and economic gains, they have been psychologically and politically undermined by societal expectations about women’s physical beauty. A debate ensued about the book’s argument and Wolf’s use of facts. Naomi Wolf profile, The Guardian.
The zine riot grrrl popularized the name riot grrrl, a movement within third-wave feminism that uses music, art and literature to explore a range of feminist issues. An earlier zine, Jigsaw, founded in 1988, helped build the riot grrrl community, which includes the American band Bikini Kill, the English band Gossip, and the Russian activists Pussy Riot. Riot Grrrl Collection, New York University.
In 1986, 19-year old Jeanne Clery was raped and murdered in her Lehigh University dorm room. Her parents formed the Clery Center for Security on Campus and lobbied Congress for what became the Jeanne Clery Act, or Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act. It requires colleges and universities to make public their security policies and crime reports, and to provide timely warnings about campus threats. Clery Center. Text of Jeanne Clery Act. U.S. Department of Education campus security resources.
The Pink Ribbon became associated with breast cancer awareness after pink ribbons were distributed by the Susan G. Komen Foundation in New York City. In 1992, the organizers of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month adopted the pink ribbon as its official symbol. Pink ribbon campaigns have been praised for raising awareness and criticized for the commercialization and corporatization of breast cancer. Susan G. Komen Foundation. Pink Ribbon International. Think Before You Pink. Photo: Creative Commons license.
At the annual convention of the Tailhook Association, a fraternal organization for those who work with aircraft carriers, U.S. Navy and Marine Corps officers sexually assaulted 83 women and 7 men. Assistant Secretary of the Navy Barbara S. Pope played a central role in making sure there was a proper investigation. The incident raised public awareness about sexual assault, sexual harassment, and inequalities in the U.S. military. Tailhook '91, PBS Frontline. “Tailhook '91 and the U.S. Navy” by Joslyn Ogden.
The National Organization for Women and other feminist organizations led the March for Women’s Lives in Washington D.C., totaling about 750,000 marchers. Like the 1989 March for Women’s Lives, this one was prompted by a Supreme Court case (Planned Parenthood v. Casey) that would restrict women’s abortion rights. Video, “1992 March for Women's Lives.”Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
In 1982, Pennsylvania passed a restrictive abortion law with five regulations. The Supreme Court ruling of Planned Parenthood v. Casey upheld requirements for parental consent, informed consent, and a 24-hour waiting period. The court ruled against the spousal notice rule. Case documents.
In 1992, Glamour magazine, under the editorship of Ruth Whitney, won the National Magazine Award for public interest for two articles, by Le Anne Schreiber, on teenage pregnancy and abortion. According to a Columbia Journalism Review survey, Glamour covered abortion more often than any other popular women’s magazine. “What Kind of Abortions Do We Want?”by Le Anne Schreiber. “Grit and Glamour” by Deirdre Carmody.
Equality Now was founded to promote the human rights of women and girls around the world through coalition building and by documenting violence and discrimination. In 1993, the Women’s Action Network had about 1,000 groups and individuals in 23 countries campaigning on behalf of women. Equality Now.
The Committee on Women, Population and the Environment is a multi-racial organization that examines the relationship between the environment, women’s fertility choices, and population control policies that target specific communities. More recently the organization also focused on immigration rights and what it calls the “greening of hate.” CWPE.
Brandon Teena, a 21-year old transgender man from Nebraska, was murdered. His death raised public awareness about violence against transgender and transsexual persons, as well as gays and lesbians. The film Boys Don’t Cry is based on this case. “The Brandon Teena Story” by Karina Eileraas. “Two Decades After Brandon Teena's Murder” by Stephanie Fairyington.
Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold is a history of the lesbian community of Buffalo, New York. Liz Kennedy and Madeline Davis conducted a 13-year oral history project to collect stories for the book, which is considered one of the earliest scholarly lesbian histories. Audio recordings, Lesbian Herstory Archives. Elizabeth Kennedy papers. Video, “Stonewall Nation” by Madeline Davis. “Lesbians, World War II and Beyond” by Lee Roosevelt.
The California Breast Cancer Act was passed after grassroots activists, most of them women who had or had survived breast cancer, demanded more resources be spent on research. The Act allocated 45 percent of an increased tobacco tax to breast cancer research and established the California Breast Cancer Research Program. California Breast Cancer Research Program.
Writer Cherrie Moraga gave the keynote address at this conference, which included sessions on lesbian health, community organizing, and other issues. The conference was a major step in establishing a network of lesbian Latinas. The National Latino/a Lesbian and Gay Organization disbanded in 2004. National Latino/a Lesbian and Gay Organization records. Laura Esquivel biography.
The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health was founded in 1994 around the core values of “salud, dignidad, y justicia” (health, dignity, and justice). It is the only national reproductive justice organization for Latinas and their families. The group focuses on abortion access and affordability, sexual and reproductive health equity, and immigrant women’s health and rights. National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. Video, 15th anniversary celebration.
The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) makes it a federal crime to injure, intimidate, or interfere with those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health care services. The act was passed after a dramatic increase in violent acts against reproductive health care providers and clinics, including the murder of Dr. David Gunn in Florida. While there has been a decrease, violence continues, including the 2009 murder of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas. FACE Act, U.S. Department of Justice. National Clinic Access Project. “Protecting Access to Clinics,” Guttmacher Institute (PDF). “When Metaphor Becomes Reality,” Planned Parenthood.
Reproductive Justice is a movement supported by individuals and groups across the U.S. to connect reproductive rights with social justice ideals. The term, while in use earlier, gained popularity at the 1994 Illinois Pro-Choice Alliance Conference, where the Black Women’s Caucus took the name “Women of African Descent for Reproductive Justice.” “Understanding Reproductive Justice” by Loretta Ross. History of Reproductive Justice Movement, ACRJ. National Black Women's Reproductive Justice.
The First Nation Women’s Alliance evolved out of the Native American Domestic Violence Forum, a committee of the North Dakota Council on Abused Women’s Services. The Alliance worked to support and advocate on behalf of Native women who have experienced violence in their lives. Alliance of Tribal Coalitions to End Violence.
The Vagina Monologues is a play by Eve Ensler that includes monologues about sexual experiences, sexual violence, body image, women’s experiences of menstruation and other topics. Ensler sought to “celebrate the vagina” as a symbol of women’s empowerment. The play is often performed to raise funds for local women’s anti-violence organizations. Eve Ensler’s website. V-Day. Interview, The Guardian. TED Talk. Photo: The Vagina Monologues at Tufts University, Creative Commons license.
When Brown University demoted its women’s gymnastics and volleyball teams from university-funded status to club teams, women’s sports advocates protested, took the university to court, and won when the court stated that Brown was in violation of Title IX. Case documents. U.S. Department of Justice Amicus Curiae Brief (PDF). Introduction, Equal Play: Title IX and Social Change.
The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) was founded by the National Basketball Association in 1996 and began its first season in 1997. The WNBA followed in the footsteps of the Women’s Professional Basketball League (WBL), which played from 1978 to 1981, and the Women’s American Basketball Association (WABA), which played in 1984, 1992 to 1995, and 2002. History of WNBA. Photo: Karima Christmas, Washington Mystics; Creative Commons license.
First named HOPE for Girls, Khmer Girls in Action is a women’s reproductive health and empowerment project founded by young Cambodian women. The group expanded its programs to help Southeast Asian women and men in Southern California by advocating for wellness centers and school health clinics. Khmer Girls in Action.
The SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective began as a network of sixteen organizations representing the interests of African American, Arab American, Asian/Pacific Islander, Latina, and Native American women. It was founded to educate women of color about issues of reproductive justice and advocate for public policies in their interests. SisterSong. SisterSong archives.
Ellen DeGeneres was the star of the television comedy Ellen. In “The Puppy Episode” in 1997, the show’s main character, Ellen Morgan, came out as a lesbian; at the same time, Ellen DeGeneres herself came out, too. Ellen DeGeneres quotes. “Ellen DeGeneres: Public Lesbian Number One” by Jennifer Reed (PDF). Ellen DeGeneres Show. Photo by Alan Light, Creative Commons license.
Lawyer Wynona Ward founded Have Justice Will Travel to help battered women and children in rural communities. The group provides women with free legal services, transportation to court hearings, and transition counseling. Have Justice Will Travel.
In 1999, Native American women and their allies formed the Oklahoma Native American Domestic Violence Coalition, which evolved into the Spirits of Hope Coalition. The group runs outreach and education programs about domestic and sexual violence and works with law enforcement and health professionals to provide culturally-appropriate services. National Resource Center on Domestic Violence. “Maze of Injustice,” Amnesty International (PDF). “Silent No More” by Mary Ann Pember.
SAFER, Students Active For Ending Rape, was established by Columbia University students to reform their university’s sexual assault policy. The group has evolved into a national organization fighting sexual violence and rape culture on campuses through policy changes. SAFER.
Incite! Women of Color & Trans People of Color Against Violence began as a local group who met at a “Color of Violence” conference at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and has grown into a nationwide network of feminists of color working to end violence against women. Incite!Interview with Nadine Naber and Andrea Smith (PDF).
In 2002, Venus and then Serena Williams were ranked #1 in women’s singles tennis, with Venus becoming the first black woman to hold the #1 position in the Open Era. The sisters turned professional when they were fourteen years of age, in 1994 and 1995 respectively. Since then they have often dominated both singles and doubles women’s tennis. Both women have won four Olympic Gold Medals. WTA website. Venus Williams website. Serena Williams website.
Indigenous Women’s Health Book, Within the Sacred Circle, edited by Charon Asetoyer, is a groundbreaking book about Native American women’s health issues. Like Our Bodies, Ourselves, the book encourages women to take charge of their health care. Educational Materials, Native Shop.
The Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act prohibits late-term abortions. The law is vague about what it considers late term but it is usually understood to mean the second trimester. The 2007 Supreme Court ruling of Gonzales v. Carhart upheld the constitutionality of the ban. The term “partial-birth abortion” was popularized by the National Right to Life Committee. Text of Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act (PDF). Summary, Cornell University. Gonzales v. Carhart case documents.
The Case of Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution by philosopher Elisabeth Lloyd is a criticism of androcentric evolutionary accounts of the human female orgasm, which are built on the assumption that female and male sexuality are alike. Lloyd’s work is part of a larger body of scholarship addressing cultural assumptions in human sexuality studies. Elisabeth Lloyd website. “A Critic Takes on the Logic of Female Orgasm” by Dinitia Smith.
The National Women and AIDS Collective was established to advocate for policies to improve the lives of women with AIDS and HIV. The Collective also works to support women-led member organizations. National Women and AIDS Collective. Video, Vanessa Johnson interview. “Share Knowledge — Take Action,” WORLD.
The Wimbledon Championships changed its policy in 2007 to begin paying equal prize money to women and men tennis competitors. In 1973, through the efforts of Billie Jean King, the U.S. Open became the first major tennis tournament to pay equal prize money to women and men. Wimbledon prize money history. “Wimbledon to Pay Women and Men Equal Prize Money” by Christopher Clarey. Photo: Billie Jean King, Creative Commons public domain.
Maze of Injustice: The Failure to Protect Indigenous Women from Sexual Violence in the USA is an Amnesty International Report that shows how domestic and sexual violence against Native American women is an international human rights issue. The report was researched and compiled, in part, by Sarah Deer (Muscogee Creek), who won a MacArthur Genius Award for her efforts for Native American women and their communities. Maze of Injustice (PDF). Institute for Native Justice.
The Ms. Magazine Forum on Reproductive Health and Rights Worldwide helped enlarge the international discussion about women’s reproductive health as a basic human right. The forum was called specifically to advocate for an increase in U.S. funding for international family planning programs. Daniel Pellegrom, president of Pathfinder International, was among the participants. Video of forum. Pathfinder International.
The 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act expands existing federal hate crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability. The Act is named after two victims of hate crimes, both of which raised public awareness about the prevalence of hate crimes. Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, U.S. Department of Justice.
The Trust Black Women Partnership was created by African American women affiliated with reproductive justice projects across America, including SisterSong, to support the efforts of those who fight for reproductive justice and freedom. The partnership evolved out of the successful effort in Georgia that defeated anti-abortion legislation. “Who We Are,” SisterSong. “Race, Gender and Abortion,” SisterSong policy report (PDF). “Fighting Black Anti-Choice Campaigns” by Loretta Ross.
The first SlutWalk was held in Toronto and events are now held all over the world. The walkers, many of whom are college students, dress in provocative clothing and employ words such as “slut” to raise awareness of and challenge the prevalent belief that rape and sexual violence result from how women dress or act in public. SlutWalk Toronto. SlutWalk New York City. “An Open Letter from Black Women to SlutWalk Organizers.” Photo by Loretta Lime, Creative Commons license.
“Lesbiana: A Parallel Revolution” is a film by Myriam Fougère that documents the history of an international clandestine movement of lesbians who sought to live only with women. “Lesbiana” website.
End Rape on Campus (EROC) was founded as a survivor advocacy group, to lobby for policy and legislative reforms, and to increase public awareness about sexual violence on campus. EROC helps those who want to file a federal complaint under the provisions of Title IX and the Clery Act. End Rape On Campus.
Know Your IX is a national campaign run by students and survivors of sexual violence. It aims to empower students to stop sexual violence and educate them about their rights under Title IX. Know Your IX.
Ultraviolet is a grassroots organization that has campaigned to influence policies about birth control access, violence against women, pay inequality and other issues, to show “corporations, media outlets, and public officials that there is a clear cost for being anti-woman.” The group’s slogan is “Equality at a Higher Frequency.” One of its first campaigns influenced Reebok to end its sponsorship of rapper Rick Ross because his lyrics celebrate rape. Ultraviolet.
The National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame was established in Chicago in 2013 to recognize individuals and groups who have enhanced athletics for the gay and lesbian community. Its 2013 inaugural class had five women out of 17 inductees and in 2014 only three women were included in a class of fifteen. National Gay & Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame.
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The idea of the “Click! moment” was coined by Jane O’Reilly. “The women in the group looked at her, looked at each other, and ... click! A moment of truth. The shock of recognition. Instant sisterhood... Those clicks are coming faster and faster. They were nearly audible last summer, which was a very angry summer for American women. Not redneck-angry from screaming because we are so frustrated and unfulfilled-angry, but clicking-things-into-place-angry, because we have suddenly and shockingly perceived the basic disorder in what has been believed to be the natural order of things.” Article, “The Housewife's Moment of Truth,” published in the first issue of Ms. Magazine and in New York Magazine. Republished in The Girl I Left Behind, by Jane O'Reilly (Macmillan, 1980). Jane O'Reilly papers, Schlesinger Library.