Throughout history, many feminist movements occurred including the women’s movement for equality striving to provide beneficial conditions for women. The 1900s was a significant time period for women as it helped improve living conditions, working conditions, and injustice between men and women.
Topics such as equal pay, abortion rights, jury duty, and the Equal Rights Amendment were addressed. However, this movement for equality was controversial as a number of unexpected fallouts arose. The women’s movement for equality during the 1960s and 1970s was supposed to affect women positively, but in the end negative after effects overpowered the positive.
In 1973, women received the right to obtain an abortion, but many people experienced contradictory outcomes due to a lack of knowledge through abused trust as well as violence. Over the timespan of 23 years, 2,540 violent acts occurred against abortion supporters or abortion clinics as recorded by The National Abortion Federation (Grunwald and Adler 688-689).
Those who attacked the providers felt that it was morally justified because in the long run they were trying to save the lives of the innocent who had no voice. The fetus’ had no ability to defend themselves and people could not allow the murder of unborn children to continue, therefore doing anything to prevent it including violence and breaking the law.
People believed the sanctity of life overpowered the law as their moral values needed to be justified for the greater good. These pro-life supporters ironically risked killing other people who were simply doing their jobs by following the law, which was established by the Supreme Court through the court case Roe v. Wade.
On December 27th, 1984 an abortion clinic bomber who had previously had an abortion, wrote a letter to the editor of the Pensacola News to explain her anti-abortion views, ‘I never realized that at that stage, a fetus is so much a baby that some of them have been born at that point and lived!’ (Abortion Clinic Bomber 688).
Due to a lack of knowledge offered by highly educated and credible doctors it is undoubtedly not a coincidence that this mother turned to abortion. This mother also continued to bomb an abortion clinic because she was unaware of the life of her baby and did not want other women to go through with the procedure.
Some people felt necessity defense was required after experiencing abortion in the act of defending the powerless babies. In January of 1973 abortion activists wrote a pamphlet discussing abortion facts including information warning women that they “must be aware that businessmen [often doctors] in the multimillion dollar abortion business will use this law to make profits without necessarily meeting our needs as women” (qtd. in “Not Just a Medical Procedure”).
Doctors did not inform patients about specific information on abortions because patients were needed to supply doctors with their jobs. Doctors left out the truth when explaining to patients about abortion, therefore many patients believed it would be beneficial for them.
Due to fear as well as a lack of knowledge on available support, many women who received a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome also turned to abortion as proved by multiple studies (Verret). Many of these women felt pressured to have an abortion as doctors were supposed to be highly educated with trustworthy advice, but these doctors abused women’s trust. These women used abortion as a eugenic as the elimination of children with Down Syndrome was common because doctors pressured these women.
Also seen in the pamphlet wrote during 1973 by abortion activists, it stated that “population controllers may try to use legalized abortion to pressure women [especially poor women] who want babies to have abortions” (qtd. In “Not Just a Medical Procedure”).
These women felt abortion was their only option because doctors continued to tell women minimal information knowing women would trust their professional opinion. This absence of knowledge and violence led to a blowback in the expectations of giving women the right to an abortion.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was passed but lack of equality was still extensive as women continued to earn less money due to subjugation through abused power. Before the Equal Pay Act was passed, approximately 20% of women in the United States made up the workforce, thus requiring laws to be passed protecting both women and children (Green and Rogers).
The male dominated workforce was stuck in a self-perpetuating cycle. Males held the majority of the power as they made more money than women, and controlled the women as they abused their power.
This abuse of power is evident as women’s wages continued to be unequal since the men who controlled the workforce ignored laws. Women’s wages concluded to be 59 cents per dollar men made for the same full time work after the Equal Pay Act was passed (“Women”). Even though women were given the right to have equal pay for the same jobs as men, women were still denied equality through lower wages.
Companies continued to downgrade the wages of women as the male dominance was clear. It is not surprising that men used women for their benefit, as the typical abuse of power is abhorrent and unlawful.
It is evident that women were disenfranchised when it came to their involvement in political affairs such as being on a jury. In the St. Tammany Parish where Billy J. Taylor was on trial for kidnapping, breaking and entering, and rape no women were drawn out of the 175 people to be on his jury (“Taylor v. Louisiana”). Considering this is not a coincidence but rather a scheme as males maintained a large majority of political power during the time period.
Men used this power to keep women off the juries in order to keep their own power. During the court case Taylor v. Louisiana, an argument took place on October 16, 1974 discussing the number of women on juries and how many women were excluded based on their gender; “Now, in Washington parish which is a parish above Saint Harmony and part of the same judicial district, only one woman has ever been known to volunteer for jury service and there have never been anyone appear on the petit jury” (“United States”).
Considering only one female had volunteered for the jury the conspiracy continues as males had continued to deprive women from their right in a larger geographical area.
Males wanted to prevent women from accessing political power by restraining them from being on the juries. On October 16, 1974 a verbal argument took place between court personnel revolving around the court case Taylor v. Louisiana and a women’s right to be on a jury; “Well then you’re really saying that we haven’t had juries at all for over a century in this case?…When 53% of a community are excluded from the jury, I would say that that’s correct Your Honor” (United States).
The conspiracy concluded to be true as not a single trial was equal due to the lack of women and defense for women to be allowed on juries. Men held the power as they continued to be paid more and prevented women from being on juries by turning a blind eye. In the end, Taylor was convicted of being guilty and evil had triumphed as at that time a law was not passed to require women on juries.
In 1972, the Equal Rights Amendment lacked to be passed due to sexism and selfishness. The Senate approved the Equal Rights Amendment by confirmation of 84 to 8 on March 22, 1972 and from there the Equal Rights Amendment waited for validation from the states (Schwarz 110). The national government strongly approved the Equal Rights Amendment, however the necessary number of states needed to ratify the amendment was never achieved.
Many states that still did not approve the E.R.A. were in the South including Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and the exception of Arizona and Utah being states in the West (Willingham). Ideology in the South overall disagreed with the idea of gender equality which can be corroborated as Louisiana was one of the states, and it had a history of denying opportunities to women as proven in the court case Taylor v. Louisiana.
In the ideology of men, the best way to hold women back was to deprive them of their political power. Therefore male domination and sexism at the national level continued to be indestructible as men held on to as much power as possible.
On October 22, 1979 Jimmy Carter addressed his accepting opinion on the Equal Rights Amendment during a speech at the White House; “And I would like to remind this group, as Lynda Bird Robb reminded me this afternoon, that I am the seventh consecutive President who has endorsed the ratification and the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment’.
President Jimmy Carter was born in Plains, Georgia which is another Southern state that did not ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
Even though Carter came from the South he claimed to support the Equal Rights Amendment, but was also cynical and selfish as he attempted to gain more political support to advance his power as president. The Equal Rights Amendment was given until 1982 to receive ratification from 38 states, but the E.R.A. acquired ratification from only 35 states.
Even though three-fourths of Americans were in favor of the amendment, since the E.R.A. did not pass the states it was not enforced (Schwarz 110). The Equal Rights Amendment was a main progression in the women’s rights movement as an amendment is the strongest document able to be passed.
However, since the amendment did not pass through the states it was ineffective towards helping women’s equality. Sexism prevalent in the South prevented men from wanting to support the E.R.A. as their selfish desires altogether did not want to allow women to hold more power.
Overall, the end results of the controversial topics of abortion, equal pay, jury duty, and the Equal Rights Amendment during the women’s movement for equality were certainly contrary to the expectations.
Negative outcomes arose throughout the movement and a majority of these outcomes can still be seen today including unequal pay, lack of information on abortion, violence regarding abortion, and the Equal Rights Amendment still was not passed through the states. The history of and knowledge regarding women’s equality is significant to know so future actions can be taken to end inequality and injustice for women around the world.