During the late 60’s it was sex and drugs, at least for many teenagers. Woodstock occurred just after I graduated college. The free sex of that generation created problems with pregnancy; a choice of getting a legal abortion became a huge political issue. After hearing the excruciating pain that an acquaintance in the dorm was experiencing after a botched illegal abortion, I realized that women should have a choice. It was only four years later that the landmark decision of Roe V. Wade was made by the Supreme Court; giving women the right to have an abortion legally. There are many who feel that the Supreme Court was out of line in making a decision that should have belonged to the individual states. According to the constitution it was, but no one can deny the political pressure that was brought to bear by the very political ‘Baby Boomer’ Generation. That is when the mantra of a ‘women’s right to choose’ began.
But, along with that choice came the choice of working or staying at home to be a mom. Up until then it was not really acceptable in many families for a woman to work while being a mom. It was okay to be a teacher as long as a close family member took care of the child but daycare or preschools weren’t a choice. It became a significant decision for a woman to choose to go back to work immediately after having a baby, especially if it were a career decision. The glass ceiling, an invisible barrier for women to be promoted in business became an issue. In many cases it still seems to exist, but with more women becoming CEO’s of companies etc., it seems to be abating.
Women in my high school graduating class (1965) eventually become, engineers, scientists, lawyers, programmers as well as stay at home moms. I for one was only given 2 choices a nurse or teacher by my father (he said he wasn’t going to send me to college to be a smart wife), but the fact that I was the first female in my family to go to college was huge. There was a joke that women in the 50’s and 60’s only went to college to get their MRS. Degree, the Baby Boomers changed that. Women’s Lib became a huge movement and spawned such organizations as NOW (National Organization for Women). Many women referred to themselves as feminists denigrating men, burning their bras and marching for equality.
In my next article I will discuss the impact of the women’s movement on women in sports.