HITS 2050C Week 3 A Memoir of Social Change (Women's Rights 1960-1975)

HITS 2050C WeeK 3 A Memoir of Social Change (Women's Rights 1960-1975)

HITS 2050C Week 3 A Memoir of Social Change (Women’s Rights 1960-1975)

This memoir reflects on the transformative period of women’s rights from 1960 to 1975, specifically exploring the personal experiences and challenges faced by my mother. The memories of her enduring severe domestic physical and mental abuse still feel vivid and raw, as if they happened just yesterday. Reflecting on her life allows me to gain some perspective and understand the limitations and struggles she faced as a married woman with four children during that time.

In my mother’s generation, women had limited control over their own bodies and lives, often subjected to the authority of their husbands. Upon marriage, she was required to change her last name to her husband’s, erasing her maiden name from official records. Her identity and individuality were overshadowed by her husband’s control. She lived a regimented life, waking up at 6 a.m. to care for her children, dedicating herself to household chores, and enduring the constant fear of not meeting her husband’s expectations. Any deviation from his desires would result in intimidation and belittlement, reinforcing her feelings of worthlessness.

HITS 2050C Week 3 A Memoir of Social Change (Women’s Rights 1960-1975)

The absence of domestic violence shelters during that time was a stark reality. Women had little recourse for protection and were often subjected to abuse without consequences for their husbands. The needs and well-being of women were often disregarded (Neumann, n.d., Gale, 2011). Witnessing the impact of domestic violence on her children, my mother hesitated to have another child, fearing the cycle of abuse would continue. However, access to birth control was limited, and she struggled to prevent another pregnancy while her financial resources were stretched thin to meet the needs of her growing family.

While significant strides were made in women’s rights during this period, such as suffrage, employment, and education rights, the impact on society remained limited. Gender pay disparities persisted, with women in the same professions earning less than their male counterparts (Neumann, n.d., Danver, 2011). Despite being employed, my mother faced criticism from her husband for working too much and not giving him enough attention.

HITS 2050C Week 3 A Memoir of Social Change (Women’s Rights 1960-1975)

The emergence of voices like Betty Friedan challenged the notion of women living under the authority of their husbands within the home. Friedan’s activism in the late 1950s and early 1960s sparked discussions and debates about gender roles and expectations (Neumann, n.d., Danver, 2011). Legislative changes such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963 aimed to address wage disparities, while the availability of contraception for married women in 1965 provided some control over family planning (U.S. News & World Report, 2017; Gale, 2017). Affirmative action programs were also implemented through an executive order in 1968, creating employment opportunities for women (H.R. Magazine, 2014).

HITS 2050C Week 3 A Memoir of Social Change (Women’s Rights 1960-1975)

In California, it was not until 1969 that women gained the right to petition for a “no-fault” divorce, allowing for mutual agreement without blame assigned to either spouse (U.S. News & World Report, 2017; Gale, 2017). The passage of Title IX in 1972 prohibited gender discrimination in education programs receiving federal assistance, ensuring equal opportunities for women in education (U.S. News & World Report, 2017; Gale, 2017). The Supreme Court decisions on contraception and abortion rights further expanded women’s reproductive autonomy.

Despite these advancements, the personal realities and societal expectations of the time made it unthinkable for my mother to report abuse to the police, seek a restraining order, or pursue a divorce. Society would have condemned her, viewing her actions as acts of disobedience. 

HITS 2050C Week 3 A Memoir of Social Change (Women’s Rights 1960-1975)

The limited individual rights she possessed were challenging to uphold. As her child, my perspective on the women’s rights movement is deeply influenced by her experiences, including the additional layers of discrimination she faced as a minority. Her determination to pursue education allowed her to become self-sufficient and break free from the shackles of societal judgment. Her support and emphasis on education also empowered her children to prioritize their own education and independence, shielding them from the vulnerabilities and injustices that come with dependency on others or the denial of their rights.


Danver, S. L. (2011). Revolts, protests, demonstrations, and rebellions in American history: An encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, LLC. Gale. The report from U.S. News & World Report. (2017). Timeline: The Women’s Rights Movement in the U.S. Retrieved from Timeline: The Women’s Rights Movement in the H.R. Magazine. (2014). 50 Years of Progress. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezp.waldenlibrary.org/ps/retrieve

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