Hippie Culture and Gender

Beginning in the 1960’s and into the 70’s as well, America developed a relatively large counterculture. Originating in San Francisco and spreading from there, the counterculture attempted to redefine what it meant to be a part of American society, how media played a role in our lives, and how people related with one another. This change in thought process came to be known as hippie culture, and spread into all sorts of American foundations; hippie capitalist, hippie labor, and so on. The counterculture is widely noted as a movement of progressive thought, but seemed to contradict its own message when it came to gender. Simply put, women did not achieve the same recognition or status for their contributions to the counterculture, and although opportunities for women widened during this decade, the role of women in the counterculture was in many ways an argument against its own ideas. The second wave of feminism occuring within the hippie culture made plenty of positive progress as a feminist movement, but still struggled to attain the equality that was so central to the ideas of the counterculture.

Michael J. Kramer’s Republic of Rock narrates the many cultural components that came together to form the counterculture in San Francisco, the hub of the movement, and begins with Ken Kesey, the Merry Pranksters, and the acid tests. Ken Kesey, a former ap97042403946-5a7470fbbeccab4812da1025b296eff8b67312e1-s800-c85author, volunteered for a research project in the early 60’s that tested LSD, and strongly believed that, “that psychedelic drugs could be used as a tool for enlightenment” (Kramer 33). The Merry Pranksters was the name given to his group of friends which included his wife, family, artists, and writers, who all sought to, “explore interpersonal group communications in both their art and their partying,” (Kramer 33) with the use of LSD. Kesey wanted to extend their revelations and experiences to the public, saying “‘When you’ve got something like we’ve got … you’ve got to move off of it and give it to other people. It only works if you bring other people into it.’” (Kramer 34). The parties he and the Pranksters hosted at his house in La Honda as well as in a variety of nightclubs, theaters, lodges, and ballrooms, were the early stages of the acid tests. These events set up the identifying features of the counterculture and psychedelic rock, “loud music, light shows, psychedelic poster art, and intense communion between performers and audiences. They also fused music to issues of citizenship and civic organization,” (Kramer 34). The acid tests in general are best described as “funhouse microcosms of the ideals of Cold War culture in the United States. Participants experimented with what kinds of civic interactions were possible in an inhospitable yet alluring world of the technological sublime” (Kramer 34). The event set-ups consisted of amplifiers, tape loops, strobe lights, black lights, and other forms of image and sound alteration, so that the 91a596c75758ea136d521fb046688dc6attendees could understand, “the American ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness within the setting of Cold War American power, abundance, and, more ominously, the ever-growing shadow of the escalating war in Vietnam” (Kramer 35). The acid tests eventually expanded past the friends of Kesey and The Pranksters, and invites were handed out to everyone. At acid tests like Muir Beach, the Filmore Auditorium, and so on, fliers were handed out and everyone was encouraged to participate to the best of their ability, solidifying the theme of inclusivity that permeated the counterculture.

920x920The acid tests gave all who participated a platform that, “was profoundly collective, even as it was about individuals exploring their own self-identities.” (Kramer 43). This idea lay a foundation for women to explore their identities, and their connection with American society. That being said, the acid tests, “could be severely limiting for women but also, at times, enthrallingly liberating was indicative of the Pranksters’ emphasis on immersive anarchy.” (Kramer 55). The Prankster’s hope was that, “In the confusing, heterotopic swirl of the events, attendees would, ideally, widen the range of accepted behavior, probe the possibilities of limitlessness, and grasp the need for certain kinds of collective dependence and obligation” (Kramer 55), but despite that goal, women were still receiving labels that their male counterparts did not. They were labeled as “groupies”, even though the Acid Tests remained, “a surprising space for bold new experiences of self, intimacy, and larger social relationships that included, but were not limited to, coupling” (Kramer 53). The beginnings of the counterculture provided a fantastic platform for women to extend and reinvent their own image in American society, even if the pressure of the mainstream culture was preventing them from achieving equality within the new hippie culture.

As the counterculture movement gained traction and spread throughout the Bay Area, they were able to create new images of the functions of American society, including hippie labor and hippie capitalism, both of which stemmed from the KMPX Radio strike and the Wild West Festival. KMPX Radio is attributed with sharing the messages of the counterculture to the massive Bay Area audience. The station hired many essential female employees who, “became known as the ‘bird engineers’ or ‘chick engineers.’ They often had to endure the sexism of the counterculture, which could be even more extreme than the dominant culture.” (Kramer 78). Despite being well qualified for their jobs, female employees were still falsely labeled as “groupies”, “only interested in sexual relations with rock stars.” (Kramer 78). Despite this, the station granted opportunities to women that were previously only available to men. While on the air, Dusty Street said “I just want to say if it weren’t for KMPX, I would never have become an engineer because chicks just can’t make it in this business.” (Kramer 78). Women disc jockeys ended up becoming extremely popular, and were known for having their pulse on the pop culture of the new counterculture movement, and even ended up having their own Sunday show, “The Chicks on Sunday”, which became an essential platform for the Second Wave of Feminism.

Hippie capitalism and hippie labor came to life at the start of the KMPX Radio strike. As Avalon 19680320.jpgthe station became increasingly popular, the stations owners were looking to profit off of its wide audience. At the suggestion of the station’s management, the entire staff of KMPX went on strike in protest of the owner’s new methodology, and the limits they placed on the employee’s expression of the counterculture. The central idea linking hippie capitalism and hippie labor was the strive for inclusion of all, and a fair stake in the work and benefits received for their work, which is why the KMPX strike is described as a, “struggle over the stakes of citizenship in the growing counterculture of the Bay Area” (Kramer 67). Thanks to the spreading ideas of the counterculture, the strike had massive community support, indicative of how effective the radio station was in sharing hippie culture with the public. As shown in the TV interview with staffers, they had organized many protest events with community support. Multiple unions backed the strike as did citizens, “But other unions chose to stay out of the conflict. Their reasons speak to the ways in which the KMPX strike diverged from older models and norms of labor activism.” (Kramer 85), worried it would offend their members or even inspire a similar strike. Regardless of some of the resistance, the strike brought hippie culture and its constructs straight into the public eye.

By the end of the 60’s the counterculture in San Francisco had become so large that the local government decided to lean into it, announcing that Wild West Week in San Francisco would be commemorating the, “cultural renaissance centering around the vitality and freedom of expression of music and art,” (Kramer 94). The planning committee for the Wild West Festival made the concert series a centerpiece of the celebration. Music was always a key component of the counterculture. Kesey and the Pranksters utilized it to enhance the Acid Test experiences and recognized its power early on, and KMPX used it’s broadcasting abilities to share this genre and build awareness of issues by using protest songs. The festival was supposed to celebrate the incredible community the music had brought together, but instead brought questions about hippie labor and hippie capitalism to a boil. The festival planners wanted to be inclusive of all citizens, so “If festivals centered on bringing people out of isolation and into shared interaction with each other, why was participation limited by the cost of a ticket?” (Kramer 98). So ideally, the festival should be free in order to be as inclusive as possible. However, the planners quickly learned that their event needed to be paid for, 19690822and despite the vision of a “communal life, of political and personal engagement in society and of economic interaction that moved toward more collective modes of production and consumption” (Kramer 99), it highlighted problems. The planning committee was receiving a salary, but the bands, artists, and other contributors were expected to partake for free, directly contradicting the hippie labor idea. The committee, intent on creating a Music Council with the profits of the festival, also enraged the counterculture and its hippie capitalists by seeking to keep more profit and not paying it out to the festival’s contributors. The hippie culture had clearly infiltrated the public in such a profound way, that protestors didn’t even allow for the festival to take place, since it went against so many aspects of the new culture it was supposed to be celebrating.

Amidst the rapidly developing ideas of the counterculture, women also were reinventing their idea of their role in society, and brought about the Second Wave of Feminism. Leading activists fought for women to embrace themselves and their womanhood, instead of comparing themselves against their male counterparts. The fight for equal pay and opportunity was taking on a new life, as well as fights against sexual harassment, workplace discrimination, and women’s health issues. Second Wave feminists famously protested the Miss America Pageant, challenging conventional beauty standards held against women. The movement was heavily inspired by the civil rights movement, the anti-war protests, among others, but there is clear inspiration for this movement drawn from the hippie culture. The Second Wave was spread countrywide, but despite it’s scale, “Most leading intellectuals of second-wave feminism did not develop mechanisms for widely disseminating their ideas” (Blair 31). This is apparent in the various forms of feminism that appeared during the movement. A video summarizing the Second Wave lists off several forms of feminism that emerged in the 60’s; psychoanalytical feminism, humanist feminism, socialist feminism, marxist feminism, radical feminism, post feminism, and ecofeminism. The sheer variety of feminisms in the 60’s is a testament to the influence of the counterculture. The counterculture has always strived for its members to reinvent what it means to be a citizen of American society, how they related to others, and was inclusive of all citizens. Women in the Second Wave were enabled to envision a new society in which they were equal, each woman with their own ideas of the best way to achieve that. Women were truly reinventing what it meant to be a citizen of their society, in true counterculture form.130614_5e69z_rci-statusquo-karencho_sn6351-600x357

Women benefited from the new hippie culture, not only by gaining new opportunities in society but by gaining a new platform through the counterculture that they could use to voice their own thoughts about the America they too were equal citizens of. Despite the sexist pressure they endured, and although total gender equality is still something feminists strive for, the counterculture enabled women to find and define their own role, and reexamine the environment they add to.




Blair, Melissa Estes. “‘A Dynamic Force in Our Community’: Women’s Clubs and Second-Wave Feminism at the Grassroots.” Vol. 30, no. 3, 2009, pp. 30–51., http://www.jstor.org.libproxy.sdsu.edu/stable/40388746. Accessed 18 Aug. 2018.

Ideasatthehouse, director. YouTube. YouTube, YouTube, 28 Feb. 2018, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5R1vSZqjO3I.

“KMPX Radio Protest Strike.” San Francisco Tickertape Parade for Nixon (1968) – San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive, diva.sfsu.edu/collections/sfbatv/bundles/232777.

Kramer, Michael J. The Republic of Rock: Music and Citizenship in the Sixties Counterculture. Oxford University Press, 2017.









The role of Music in the 1960s

The role of music in the 1960s was particularly revolutionary in terms of popular music, before the 1960s music didn’t influence people to support a movement or as a medium to protest. At the beginning of the 1960s, some of the trends of the 1950s were still popular; however, the rock and roll of the previous decade started to subdivide in new genres and sometimes simply called Rock. In the early-1960s, Some of the subgenres from rock and roll were pop rock, beat, psychedelic rock, blues rock, and folk-rock, which had grown in popularity.

Bob Dylan Isle of Wight Festival 1969


The 1960’s marked the first cultural-revolution that used the Media, in general, to induce people to take action. Music was important for movements and the counterculture because it became a more open a free field of expression. For example; some of the artists that were known for the protest songs and the hippie movement were: Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, The Mamas & the Papas, Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills & Nash, The Lovin’ Spoonful, The Byrds, The Turtles, Gordon Lightfoot, Peter, Paul and Mary. Also, there were many genres that became really popular for different movements, but The Psychedelic rock was popular during the 1960s. Psychedelic music was associated with the hippie movement and the use of drugs. It is argued that this subgenre of music was created with the intention of “enhancing” the experience of listeners who were using LSD or other substances. The lyrics were often strange and talked about sex, drugs and rock and roll; also, the different bands included different musical instruments like the sitar, tabla, harpsichord, and organ. Psychedelic rock along with Folk rock was the main genres associated with Music festivals and the infamous Summer of the love of 1967. Many popular rock bands (including British bands)  were influenced by this new pe of rock such as The Beatles, The Doors, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jefferson Airplane, Cream, Pink Floyd, and The Yardbirds.


One of the most Iconic Images, Jimi Hendrix burning his guitar in Monterey Pop Festival


Protest music was different because it always had a message for the audience. This music was often related to social injustice, cultural changes, and all the different conflicts in the 1960s such as the conflict in Vietnam, Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, and the Sexual Revolution. And, in many cases, it brought important messages to the younger generation who would then join the protest, and the different movements got powerful for the support of many young people not only in America but all over the world. According to the people history.com This genre was not necessarily specific to certain artists either, as many mainstream musicians decided to contribute to the cannon with their own feelings. For example, R&B and Soul singer Sam Cooke wrote and recorded “A Change Is Gonna Come” in 1963, a song that became an anthem for the Civil Rights movement in America, along with others like Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” and James Brown’s “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud” from 1963 and 1968 respectively. the war in Vietnam and its complexity in and out of North America made the peace movement to become stronger and bigger; definitely, one strategy was to use music television to inform the people what was really happening in Vietnam. As more and more American troops were being sent to Vietnam with virtually no progress being made. Some examples of anti-Vietnam songs were Pete Seeger’s Waist Deep in the Big Muddy from 1967, The Door’s. The Unknown Soldier from 1968, and Bob Dylan’s Masters of War from 1963. Both folk music and protest music were connected to the hippie movement because many songs talked about peace and love. Some examples of folk rock and protest musicians from the 1960s include Peter, Paul and Mary, Cat Stevens, Buffalo Springfield, Simon and Garfunkel, and Pete Seeger. Something discussed in on of our Zoom meetings, was about the military in Vietnam being aware all the counterculture movement. They were listening to the same songs and were bombed with the same media but they didn’t adopt or supported these new ideas; however, the soldiers enjoyed the different genres of Music.

One of the most Iconic songs for the Counterculture movement in the 1960s by Bob Dylan


Music festivals were really important in shaping the countercultural movement; the music festivals style are familiar with today and we can have a clear idea about how the gatherings would look like and the complete experience. The fashion of the hippy era in the 1960s hasn’t changed too much. There were many legendary Music festivals but one of the most important festivals took place in New York  Woodstock 1969 provided a musical summit for countercultural revolutionaries to express their desire for change in American culture with more than 500,000 people, this was a memorable music festival. Even Jimi Hendrix and The Who performed.  With no doubt, music is part of our lives and influence significantly our mood or how we feel. In conclusion, music influenced so much in the youth of the 1960s and in my opinion these festivals were something positive for American culture because racism, hate, the war wasn’t present on these festivals, people just gathered and enjoy in a really complicated time for the United States.

Woodstock 1969, with more than 500,000 people 







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Women’s second wave movement Race and Class

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The 1960’s was marked by young people’s dissatisfaction of what society expected or wanted from them.  There were many protests signaling their dissatisfaction with the government. Women were amongst those who were dissatisfied with their position in the country and sought for equal rights. To provide more context to the issue of social class and race, an explanation of the situations that brought the unhappiness and the need to protest for all women of the sixties. It is important to know the historical context happening to minority groups in general to make an assessment on class and race in the women’s movement; those happenings were the reason why many of the minorities in the united states were discontent. That dis-contentedness bridged the gate in the women’s all-inclusive second wave feminist movement.

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In the beginning our great country did not offer everyone rights. People who had voting rights were primarily land owners, that later changed. Men were unhappy at their lack of power and inability to vote whilst at the same time African Americans did not have power in voting rights which resulted in the Civil war. The period after the civil war afforded many the right to vote “[a]fter the Civil War, the 14th  amendment granted the right to vote to adult males and the 15th amendment said voting rights could not be denied on account of race. Suffragists were bitterly disappointed that women were excluded from coverage by these amendments […]” (Yeakel). Most were included in having the ability to vote or have some form of power except for women which resulted in the women’s suffrage movement; the movement of women fighting for their right to vote. “With so few rights, many women drew parallels between their social and political state and that of slaves.” (Woman Suffrage). The inability for any woman to vote and men’s outright indifference fueled women to continue to fight for their voting rights. “[W]omen organized, petitioned, and picketed [for the] right to vote, […] [m]ilitant suffragists used tactics such as parades, silent vigils, and hunger strikes.” (Woman Suffrage). This was the first feminist movement.

Image result for women's movement social class boundaries 1960s The suffrage movement started with educated white middle-class women disgruntled with their inequality. The first feminist movement was successful, by the 1920’s it afforded voting rights for white women. Some women were able to work during World War I and World War II when women were asked to join the workforce to help the men win the war.  “Women’s mobility seemed real but threatening” (55, Sternheimer).  Therefore, men continued to promote that “women’s virtue was fragile and easily corrupted if not protected by men and powerful institutions [,]” (61, Sternheimer) this was a result of men being threatened by women moving up in society; albeit this is still construed in the white middle class’ depiction of upward mobility. It is evident here that it was mostly women, white women who were afforded upward mobility. Yet, “[m]ost women still depended on men’s earnings for economic survival, and marriage was still vital for women financially” (71, Sternheimer). Equality was still not existent with women and men. Men were in a higher class than women because of the afforded financial stability that followed.

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There were several precedents that allowed the second wave feminism to take place. “The counterculture movement that emerged in tandem with the student antiwar protest of the era called into question many previously taken for granted assumptions about American life: that the government was trustworthy; that chastity, marriage, and monogamy were ideal; and that consumption of material goods was central to happiness” (172, Sternheimer) Students were protesting with their discontent toward the war in Vietnam. Student protest resulted in the motivation for the Civil Rights movement and the Second Wave Feminist movement. The civil rights movement (and the activists involved) gave women a model for success. The method the civil rights movement. “The rising expectations of equality following WWII helped galvanize the civil rights movement during the 1950s, challenging both the racial order and the meaning of the American Dream.” (178, Sternheimer) African Americans and Latinos were not given the same opportunities as the white middle-class men when the GI bill was introduced, this stagnated minorities from being able to rise from poverty level into the middle class. “Civil rights movement leaders demanded entrée into the middle class. The spoils of the postwar era were not shared equally. In 1959, 18.5 percent of American families lived below the federal poverty line; by 1970 that rate had dropped to 10 percent, but the poverty rate for black families in the 1970 remained stubbornly high nearly 30 percent. “(178, Sternheimer). Motivated by the student protests and tired of being abused and segregated by the Jim Crow laws the Civil rights movement emerged. Although women wanted to be part of the civil rights movement they were not necessarily a primordial concern for people of color in the civil rights movement. “The 1960s Civil Rights movement offered little amount of respect for women.”(Choen) This lack of inclusion afforded women with the courage to start their own movement.

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Women were tired of being treated as second class citizen to men and of supporting men’a agendas. Betty Freidan wrote a book called the “Feminine Mystique” written in 1963 “criticized the idea that women could only find fulfillment through child rearing and homemaking.”(History and Theory of Feminism). Post war women were expected to have gone back home and taken care of their families. However, in the 1960’s women had already felt what it was to work, instead of staying home, having more of a fulfilled version of themselves. Along with the youth of the time they became non-conformed and skeptical with what the government and men wanted from them. “For many Americans whose basic economic needs felt secure, other concerns arose, particularly as the conflict in Vietnam expanded.” (171, Sternheimer).  Women were discontent with their roles of housewives and mothers they wanted more, they wanted respect. As Moraga, and Anzaldua explain in the Book  “Bridge called my back” , “When we view liberation as a scarce resource, something only a precious few of us can have, we stifle our potential, our creativity, our genius for living, learning and growing.” Women wanted equal rights with men, and not the ones that were already offered so that they could grow as women. ”

Image result for women's movement social class boundaries 1960sLater, it was noted in “the problem that has no name” which signified that not all women were middle class white and well educated, that not all women were the same or went through the same “house wife syndrome”. The problem with Second wave feminist movement was that it was not equal towards all women and it assumed that all women had the same problem. “It begins with the question of the social construction of gender and the mainstream feminist assumption that ‘woman’ means middle class white woman. The challenge to this assumption is then posed by women of color, poor women, immigrants, lesbians and women in the ’third world.” (Feminism and the Race in the Unites States). Through the feminist movement and their meetings, it was evident that not everyone had struggled with being bored at home wanting more fulfillment. Women, all kinds of  women, wanted equality for all . “A Black feminist presence has evolved most obviously in connection with the second wave of the American women’s movement beginning in the late 1960s. Black, other Third World, and working women have been involved in the feminist movement from its start, but both outside reactionary forces and racism and elitism within the movement itself have served to obscure our participation. “ (Moraga, Anzaldua, Bridge called my back). Due to rascism it was not dully noted that there were colored women who wanted liberation.  There was a misrepresentation of colored and other Third World women,”the African American feminist and intellectual Gloria Jean Watkins (who uses the pseudonym “bell hooks”) who argues that this movement glossed over race and class and thus failed to address “the issues that divided women.” (History and Theory of Feminism) The lack of equality among women led to the women’s movement to bring out different types of women and their own version of feminism; the Anarcha, socialist and Marxist, Radical, Liberal, Black, Postcolonial and third world, Multiracial, Libertarian, to name a few. Each of these feminist movements argued something that they felt the other was missing.  “Given this emphasis on class struggle and class formation, on the totality of social relations that define the position of interacting collectivities in society, materialist critique locates the ground of institutional racism and racially-based inequality in the capitalist division […]”(From Race to Cass Struggle) Because the women’s movement was so emphasized on one type of woman it obscured the overall goal of what the feminist movement should have been.

“I send a warning to you white woman. The women’s movement the feminist movement is not a middle class clique. It is not an elitist class of white women hiding from men. It is a positive ever growing movement of women who believe in the equality of all people. Women who are not willing to settle for token change but insist that the economic and political resources and power of this nation this world be distributed equally. It is women being concerned about women and being willing to place women’s needs and their development first I challenge you brown woman. You, who will not interface the women’s movement. You, who say the movement is separatist, white, lesbian, without glamour. Further, you say you are too liberated and want to be dependent, protected, shackled to the pedestal. “Ain’t you a woman?” Look at yourself, your community, your country, your world and ask yourself, who has the least to lose and the most to gain from economic security, equality, freedom? Who has waited longest, deferred most, worked hardest, lived poorest, nurtured, encouraged, loved more while asking the least in return. Who I ask you? Yes, you are correct. You yourself” (Moraga, Anzaldua, Bridge called my back).

In this excerpt from a “Bridge called my back”, it is explaining the discontent with the middle class white woman’s version of what the feminist movement was and what it should be. It further tells women of color to not negate the women’s movement for they are affected by it as well. Regardless of their discontent with what Betty Freidan assumed, it opened an opportunity for women. The women’s movement failed in the equal rights amendment. However, inclusion of all types of women led to more credibility for the women’s rights.Image result for civil rights movement

Image result for women's movement social class boundaries 1960sWomen also showed their solidarity and unhappiness in large numbers, expressing that their voices mattered. The number of marchers exceeded Friedan’s “wildest dreams.” […]” ‘easily the largest women’s rights rally since the suffrage protests’. As Joyce Antler, a historian who participated in the demonstration [said] many of these women “were veterans of civil rights marches and anti-war protests of the 1960s.” (Cohen, Sasha) When Joyce Antler explains that there were veterans of the civil rights movement it could be a broad term for anyone, men and women  white and colored, who participated in the women’s march. It is important to denote that women of colored highly participated in the civil rights movement compared to white women. “Considering the civil rights movement, we found that white women were much less likely to be activists than black women.”(Stewart)  In the women’s movement, despite their disagreement with semantics, women’s unity prevailed in great numbers.

Women in the 1960’s emerged because of many inequalities. The movement started because women were being pushed aside from the work force after WWII, when they were no longer needed. Prior to the second wave movement there was the suffrage movement which resulted in the 19th amendment that was meant to give women equal rights for work and voting, however it was clear that the 19th amendment only allowed women the rights to vote and no other rights were afforded to them. Women were frustrated with inequality of the workforce and mainly men led labor unions. This view was expressed in Betty Friedan’s book named “Mystique Fulfillment” where she exposes the frustration that women feel at lack of fulfillment as to what society wanted from them. Women of the sixties found that they agreed with this idea and the second wave movement began. The women’s movement piggy backed the civil rights movement when women were offered little to no respect.. “The problem that has no name” assumes it only affected a small minority of white well educated women.  Later they amended their movement to be inclusive to all women because of the backlash and obvious inequality among all types of women. The feminist movement originally included white middle class educated women. Later it was evident that the true inclusion of all women was detrimental in forging credibility for women during the 60’s when minorities where fighting for equal rights.

The women’s rights movement Equal Rights was not successful in amending the Equal Amendment bill, but they were successful in being included in the Civil rights Act. “The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination based on sex, as well as race and national origin, […]” (Faville). The feminist equal rights received credibility with their march and inclusion of all women. Later, Through the civil rights movement they accomplished equal rights comparable to that of white men.



Womans liberation movement and Betty Freidan explaining where the women’s movement should head towards after seeing the diversity in great numbers.




Anzaldua, Gloria. Moraga, Cherrie.  This Bridge Called My Back Writings By Radical Women of Color. 1986 Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press Edition 2. https://monoskop.org/images/e/e2/Moraga_Cherrie_Anzaldual_Gloria_eds_This_Bridge_Called_My_Back_Writings_by_Radical_Women_of_Color-Kitchen_Table_Women_of_Color_Press.pdf

explanation of women of color in the sixties and their views.

Blakemore, Erin. “The Brutal History of Anti-Latino Discrimination in America”   https://www.history.com/news/the-brutal-history-of-anti-latino-discrimination-in-america

Choen, Jerri.Women during The 1960s Civil Rights Movement. WordPress. https://genderraceclassblog.wordpress.com/popular-culture/women-during-the-1960s-civil-rights-movement/

Cohen, Sasha. “The Day Women Went on Strike”. Time Magazine. http://time.com/4008060/women-strike-equality-1970/

how women were treated with the civil rights

Faville, Andrea. “A Civil Rights History: The Women’s Movement”

used to explain what happened after the the women’s movement.

“History and Theory of Feminism”. http://www.gender.cawater-info.net/knowledge_base/rubricator/feminism_e.htm

was used to explain and describe the “Feminine Mystique” and white middle class women. and the inequality of representation for colored women.

LumenCivil rights, American Government.”  https://courses.lumenlearning.com/amgovernment/chapter/the-african-american-struggle-for-equality/

to help with the explanation of the civil rights for african americans.

Sternheimer, Karen. “Celebrity Culture and the American Dream: Stardom and Social Mobility”. 2nd edition. Routledge 2015

Stewart, Abigail. Settles, Isis, Winter Nicholas..Women and the Social Movements of the1960s: Activists, Engaged Observers, and Nonparticipants. Political Psychology, Vol. 19, No. 1, 1998 


help with historical context

Woman Suffrage: History and Time Line

explaining the suffrage movement

Yeakel ,Lynn  Struggle for Women’s Rights and Civil Rights Linked

Civil war and the resulting amendments.


woman holding up equal rights sign.


image of women holding up sign for women’s rights


African american holding a sign :Ivory towers.


We can do it


advertisement of degradation of women


Women’s liberation sign with african american women


Womens right with all inclusive women


Feminism unfinished



The Influence of Television

For the first time in America, televisions were a standard piece of equipment in each home. In the fifties, only 9% of Americans had televisions, but by 1960 87% of households had at least one. This new technology revolutionized the way Americans viewed themselves and the world. Famous news anchor, David Brinkley, once claimed, “television showed the American people to the American people.” TV news broadcasting in particular allowed every American greater access to distant parts of the country and the world. The average citizen was for the first time able to see their politicians, soldiers, and activists in a more authentic light than what would not have been possible through the radio. This authenticity allowed citizens greater power in the political sphere by becoming more informed. The power wielded by television was much needed during 1960/70s America, a time of great turbulence and confusion for many.

One of the greatest sources of turbulence was the Cold War and the proxy wars resulting. The Cold War was a 45 year long battle for political and economic supremacy between the United States and the Soviet Union starting around 1945. The tension between the worlds two superpowers escalated immensely in 1960 when the focus began to shift towards stockpiling nuclear weapons. A scholar at the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Projects claims the nuclear weapons were “an attempt to maintain parity with each other’s stockpiles, but also because the idea of deterring conflict through ‘mutually assured destruction’ had come to be regarded as vital to the national interest of both.” This situation led to an immense amount of fear in the American public, but news broadcasting proved to be an effective way to keep the public up to date. Before 1960, it took international news up to two days to be relayed on news programs (New American Nation). The television revolution proved to be extremely useful in the 60s and 70s during the Cold War



The newer, satellite televisions that rose to popularity in the 1960s allowed Americans to view President Kennedy as he informed the American people about the Cuban Missile Crisis and watch the situation unfold for the days following. This coverage of the Cuban Missile Crisis greatly affected American attitudes toward Kennedy, his policies, and the Cold War in general.


08Steinman-Vietnam2-master675The American public was also greatly affected by the broadcasting of the most notorious proxy war of the Cold War, Vietnam War. This war was already extremely controversial due to the draft system in place to select military personnel to participate; however, the war got even closer to home when it was streamed into the living room of citizens. The streaming of the war “inspired revulsion and exhaustion”  from the American public (Hallin). This revulsion translated into protests of many kinds and eventually the change of policy towards the war.


Not only did television affect Americans’ view on war, it also affected their view on GD3which politicians to elect as president. This was directly reflected in the Nixon-Kennedy debates that took place in 1960. Kennedy, much younger and better looking than Nixon, was believed to have won the presidential election because of his performance on T.V., rather than his policies or political views. One way this theory can be seen as true is by examining the information collected during the debates: “informal surveys taken after the debate indicated that audiences who listened on the radio tended to think Nixon had won, while those who watched on TV claimed victory for Kennedy” (Allen). Although it cannot be for certain that Kennedy won for his good looks, or if Nixon lost because voters could see the sweat dripping down his face; it is clear that television played a role in how Americans perceived each of the two candidates.


Television news broadcasts also aided in Americans’ understanding of the civil rights movements. Whereas in newspaper many of the peaceful protests held by African Americans could be ignored or misrepresented on text, the television broadcasts showed these protests for what they were. It also showed how white Americans reacted to the peaceful protests with violence and hate. The raw footage of the Little Rock Nine being attacked by grown men evoked a reaction from fellow citizens including President Eisenhower. Eisenhower described the actions of segregationists as “mob rule” and  “sent 1,200 soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division to protect the teenagers”(Mai). Had news stations not captured direct footage of the situation, the actions of the president may have been different or less drastic.



It is clear how TV held and still holds such an immense amount power. Although to an extent this power is wielded by the stations who choose what to broadcast, it ultimately shifts to the hands of the consumers. From the 1960s onward, television became an integral aspect of American culture and allowed the average citizen to be a part of crucial moments in politics. This power allowed people to choose whose side they are on, what they believe to be true, and how America should be changed.

Photo Sources in order of appearance:





Works Cited

Allen, Steve, and Robert J. Thompson. “Television in the United States.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 18 Oct. 2017, http://www.britannica.com/art/television-in-the-United-States/The-year-of-transition-1959#ref283616.

“Cold War.” Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, www2.gwu.edu/~erpapers/teachinger/glossary/cold-war.cfm.

Hamlin, Daniel. “Vietnam on Television.” The Museum of Broadcast Communications- Encyclopedia of Television – Vietnam on Television, http://www.museum.tv/eotv/vietnamonte.htm.

Mai, Lina. “Little Rock at 60: Student Remembers School Integration Case.” Time, Time, 22 Sept. 2017, time.com/4948704/little-rock-nine-anniversary/.

“Television: TV News and the Early Cold War.” Encyclopedia of the New American Nation, http://www.americanforeignrelations.com/O-W/Television-Tv-news-and-the-early-cold-war.html.


Civil Rights Movement: From Race to Gender



The Civil Rights Movement is perhaps one of the most prominent and impactful movements in American society. The clear objective of the Civil Rights Movement was to end the inequitable and discriminatory actions that were subjected upon African- American individuals; to completely and utterly wipe out racism that was targeted towards them. African Americans experienced major hardships and strife before and during these events. Some of these atrocities ranged from violent acts of beatings, bombings, lynchings, etc. The spark for the Civil Rights Movement began in 1955 with Rosa Parks sitting in the front of the bus, in segregated Alabama no less. Spearheaded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many other different leaders another well-known figurehead is Malcolm X, who had an aggressive approach with the Civil Rights Movement. The charges of the protests and boycotts lasted over a decade from 1955-1968; it was undeniable that race inequality was by and large the main issue within this time, alongside the issue of race. However, even though Civil Rights had a foothold on race issue, there were even a handful gender issues that were also deep inside the Civil Rights Movement. 

Unknown-2.jpeg Rosa Parks in Montgomery Bus

The Women’s Rights Movement occurred alongside the Civil Rights Movement, since most of the men led the charge in the protests there was still some inequality among with what the women especially women of color could do. “Gender inequality was a key issue during the 1960’s.Aside from being unequal to women in general; it was especially difficult for black women during this time (Cohen).” The women of color not only had to deal with racism, but sexism as well.



An analysis from Jennifer Holladay about Dr. Martin Luther King being chauvinistic, she quotes from a book by Michael Dyson; “He believed that the wife should stay home and take care of the babies while he’d be out there in the streets (Holladay et. Dyson).” Further in is that the sentiment was not just limited to King, it was also agreed upon by other black leaders in the Civil Rights Movement as well. 

In 1963 in the Women’s movement, the leader of the N.O.W National Organization of Women, Betty Friedman published her book the Feminine Mystique. The book was paramount in the push for Women’s Rights, but the one key thing that it failed to grab attention to was the inclusion of black women, it focused more on the social norms of the white girls in the 1950s and 1960’s society. “White girls were socialized to marry and then live vicariously through their husbands and children (Holladay).” Even though the book perpetuated the system with its provocative content of gender issues it still had no effect within the Civil Rights Movement as a whole. One would add that it was difficult for black women to see any kind of change their communities. 


Unknown-1.jpeg Unknown-5.jpeg  from left to right: Dorothy Height (1912-2010) and Anna Arnold Hedgeman (1899-1990)

However, that sentiment slightly changed that same year with March on Washington. The March was perhaps one of the most pivotal points in the Civil Rights Movement because of the thousands of U.S. citizens of various racial backgrounds gathered at the nation’s capital. (Cohen). Although the March on Washington was geared towards the issue of race the one thing it did do was acknowledge Rosa Parks. Although she was a prominent figure in the spark to the Civil Rights Movement like the rest of the other women activists there is little recognition for them. Two other female figureheads in the Civil Rights Movement were Dorothy Height and Anna Arnold Hedgeman.

These two women led the National Council of Negro Women. According to Height women would ask gender related questions, men often felt that women were sidetracking the movement’s focus on race (Joseph). It is clear enough that race was more important than gender equality as the bottom line; Height, Hedgeman, and other female activists knew just how important the March was, but they also recognized the importance of having a black female representation at the March as well. However, what was to be expected was the reluctance of the black male leaders when to allow women to speak. Since the movement’s inception black men were expected to lead while the black women supported (Joseph). Those expectations were rampant in the ideas of the men in charge as well as doing the clerical type work too. If any of the women were to go against it, they were met with a fate of being ostracized by both black and white men. 

Unknown-3.jpeg   Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons (1944- present)

Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons another female activist was a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for Mississippi. She stated “One of the things we don’t often talk about is sexual harassment that often happened toward the women…There is not going to be sexual harassment of any of the women on this project or any women in this community. (Cohen.” She was one of few women in the Student Committee who fought for women’s rights within the Civil Rights Movement; she is an example of how she was making a change that is quickly overshadowed by what the men are doing.

Despite the popular idea that the men were the ones in charge of leading in the Civil Rights Movement, as it turns out the movement itself in a sense was a deviation of the social norms to begin with. What is more is that roles by both men and women were an example. “Many of the Civil Rights organizations were male- dominated; however some allowed and encouraged female leadership and participation (Joseph).” While some men were not keen to this idea neither were some women, but again those were the very few that had conformed to the preexisting gender norms already. In Tiffany Joseph’s essay Black Women in the Civil Rights Movement, she connects the Social Movement Theory with the Civil Rights Movement by delineating it into three categories: Charismatic Movement, Resource Mobilization, and the Political Movement. 

images.jpeg Dr. Martin Luther King giving his famous “I Have A Dream” speech

In the Charismatic Movement theory it is noted that usually it is charismatic leaders such as Dr. King makes an effort to mobilize the masses and inspire them with his speeches of non-violent protests. Due to the societal gender norms, these leaders were mainly black men in South. The South was not ready for women leaders, black women leaders (Joseph). This fact of the matter gave women the more informal leadership positions; i.e. organizers and the community (Joseph). With that in mind it only served as a way for the women to utilize their ability of care and support of not only the leader but the masses that followed by the essential means. This did not displace the black women from leading; rather it was an alternative in leading by a different capacity. “To exclusively apply charismatic movement theory in Civil Rights Movement would discount the activism of thousands of men and women…the charismatic movement is good to start a movement but not sustain it (Joseph).”

images-1.jpeg button made for the March on Washington

The second theory is the Resource Mobilization. This theory was applied extensively throughout the Civil Rights Movement. Those resources include money, people, organizations, communities, etc. the whole gamut of properties within the movement. Gender roles were applied as well, women would have to raise funds using traditional feminine qualities like bake sales or selling dinners (Joseph). Black men and women had different kinds of networks to get their resources. Most of the time these resources would benefit the men in the grand scheme of things considering their power within, nevertheless women’s part was informally affected. 


The third theory is the Political Process theory. To the Civil Rights Movement the U.S. government is considered the established party member (Joseph). The actions of the Civil Rights Movements like the sit-ins and boycotts caught the attention of the government and in this the Civil Rights had received legislative recognition. “This allowed the movement to receive political leverage in challenging the racist status quo (Joseph).” Ultimately this theory is not great in defining challenging the gender norms rather that women were alongside it. 

0*6S1AHzARs-dR0USk..png Women in the front lines protesting 

In conclusion, gender roles within the Civil Rights Movement were kept at the same level as it were in the society of the 1960’s, but it did not necessarily prevent women from stepping up despite the odds that were stacked against them. Gender roles were still being shifted in a ways throughout the 1960s era; black women in some regards were slowly rising from the typical roles they were expected to maintain. Although it was even harder for black women to achieve the same status, they had to work twice as hard if not even harder to be on equal terms with their black male counterparts and white female counterparts. The 1960s proved to be a time for people of color and women that they could rise to the occasion to get their voices heard. One thing that is true is how the efforts of black women did go unnoticed and overshadowed by black men (Cohen), not to mention the harassment behind it all. Nevertheless, what they fought for during the Civil Rights also made an effort to spur on the questioning of gender equality that was so prevalent; be that as it may their efforts would eventually pay off two-fold.


Sources Cited:

  • Cohen, Jerri  Women during the Civil Rights Movement” Web
  • Holladay, Jennifer “Sexism in the Civil Rights Movement: A Discussion Guide” Web. July 7, 2009. Web
  • Joseph, Tiffany “Freedom Now! Student Work- Black Women in the Civil Rights Movement: 1960-1970. Web


image source(s):

Protests in the 1960’s and 1970’s

Protests in the 1960’s and 1970’s


The movements of the 1960’s and 1970’s include the civil rights movement, the student movement, the anti-Vietnam War movement, the women’s movement, the gay rights movement, and the environmental movement. Social change movements erupted in the 1960’s for several interrelated reasons. In the 1930’s, the role of the federal government had become increasingly important in Americans’ everyday lives, and people began to look to the federal government to resolve problems. After World War II (1939-1945), the United States emerged as a global power that competed with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR); this competition was both a political and moral crusade to convince people around the world that Western democracy was superior to the Communist system adopted by the USSR. (Lessonsite) The 1950’s and 1960’s were periods of relative economic prosperity for most of the country, making economic disparity in the United States more obvious. A national culture was emerging that linked all Americans more closely than ever before; television became common and allowed people to witness events taking place in other parts of the country and the world. Lastly, more students were going to college than before World War II, creating a concentration of concerned and educated activists on the grounds of universities and colleges. With education came enlightenment in student’s expectations of what the role their government was to play in their life. People started finding themselves and fighting for what they believed was right and wrong in their society.

The first known major movement was the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The Civil Rights Movement fought to end political, social, economic and legal practices that discriminated against black Americans. The Civil War had officially abolished slavery yet black across America still were not given the same opportunities as white Americans. Blacks fought in the courts, lobbied elected officials, and began a sustained campaign of nonviolent direct action. Many blacks participated in major demonstrations, often led by King, in Albany, Georgia, in 1962; Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963; Washington, D.C., in 1963; and Selma, Alabama, in 1965. Young black activists also played a key role in the civil rights movement. (Lessonsite) Discrimination towards black Americans was more prominent in the South than in the North. Thus looking at the Civil Rights Movement through the lens of time and location, it is not a surprise that students started causing an uproar. They were learning that they had something to stand up for and people as individuals deserve to have equal rights.


The next major protest in America was the anti-Vietnam war protests. Vietnam protest gained national strength in 1965 after the United States started bombing North Vietnam. “In August 1964, North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked two U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin, and President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered the retaliatory bombing of military targets in North Vietnam.”(History.com) The anti-war movement started primarily on college campuses. Leftist from Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) began expressing their opposition for the way the government was handling the war. The primary goal of the SDS was to discuss and examine America’s Vietnam policy and debate what they might do to change the policy. This debate led to the “spirit of questioning authority and determining how common citizens could affect policy-makers was at the core of the antiwar movement.” (Lessonsite)  In 1967, the war cost nearly $25 Billion a year, casualties reached almost 16,000 and over 100,000 wounded. “Under the draft system, as many as 40,000 young men were called into service each month, adding fuel to the fire of the anti-war movement.” (History.com) On October 21, 1967, one of the most prevalent anti-war protests took place at the Lincoln Memorial where nearly 100,000 protestors showed up to demonstrate their uneasiness with the Vietnam war. In 1968, a Gallup poll showed that only 35% of Americans supported President Johnson’s choice to stay in the war with Vietnam. This led the disgruntled students to burn their draft cards and picket Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) buildings. While American’s protested the war, soldiers listened to music on Armed Forces Vietnam Network (AFVN) radios. The American military hoped to raise the morale of American soldiers stuck in Vietnam with failing war effort. “Certain rock songs became anthems in Vietnam because the represented the experience of simultaneously getting away from the war and taking pleasure in its spaces of leisure and entertainment.”(Kramer, 138) The music on the radio became an escape from their awful reality of death and war fully surrounding them. Protest regarding the war taught Americans to pay closer attention to American foreign policy and reminded them that they have a voice. In America, you are free to let your government know that you disagree with their decisions and if enough people agree with you, you can have policies changed.

I think that time plays a vital role in how people act and why they do as they do. I believe that things were starting to shift in America and people were given a little bit more courage to not be so obedient to their government. Time tells us where we have been and where we will go. Life in America shifted from suffering from World War II and the Great Depression to thriving suburban utopia in the late 50’s. By the 60’s and 70’s “celebrity stories focused on tales of unhappy, suffering celebrities.” (Sternheimer) Karen argued that for people in the 60’s, maybe marriage wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, celebrity culture glamorized massive wealth, and thanks to the internet, anyone can be famous. It came to light that after the baby boom era, marital problems became more obvious. Divorce rates rose dramatically until it became the norm. With this becoming the new reality, Ads for books like “How to Find a Husband After Forty” weren’t so shocking to see. Getting a divorce started to be a trend much like the teen marriage era postwar. “The year 1960 marked a peak in the percentage of Americans married: 67 percent of women and 71 percent of men over 15 had been married. The median age at first marriage for women dipped under 21 between 1950 and 1970; divorce rates gradually climbed from just under 8 per thousand in 1955 to 20 per thousand in 1975.” (Sternheimer) Celebrities too started showing that their marriages weren’t all roses and chariots either. Their divorces were plastered on magazine headlines. Again, making celebrities feel a little more like “normal” people. Women wanted to stop being looked at house-wives and start being respected as valuable community members. They gained careers and consequently begun having fewer children. This led to the Women’s Movement.

Image result for womens movement protest
Figure 3 – Women’s Movement Protests





The Women’s Movement primarily began to fight discrimination against women in the work-force. The second wave of feminism peaked in the 1960’s and 70’s and wanted more for women in every aspect of their lives- including family, sexuality, and work. Abortion was illegal in almost all states, rapes were rarely prosecuted, and domestic violence was widely accepted as a private matter. Some radical activists believed that American society would have to be entirely remade. They rejected what they called patriarchal values, or men’s values, such as competition, aggressiveness, and selfishness. They believed that women were naturally more nurturing and compassionate and advocated a society based on women’s values. In the early 1970’s, Congress banned discrimination against girls in schools and feminist lawyers won Roe v. Wade, in which women were now given the choice to have an abortion or not. Roe v. Wade was a huge victory in history for women, I can only hope it doesn’t get over-turned anytime soon with our current administration. I have personally never had to make the decision to have an abortion or not but I would like to believe that I will have the CHOICE if and when the day ever comes. Too many children grow up in foster care, abusive family relationships, or are products of rape as it is. It is a sad and unfortunate reality for millions of people.

“On Sept. 7, 1968, hundreds of women in a radical group called “The “Women’s Strike”, organized by Betty Friedan and the National Organization for Women (N.O.W.), and happened on Aug. 26, 1970— the 50th anniversary of the Suffrage Amendment passing. Women marched on this day nationwide, but the biggest march happened down Fifth Avenue in New York City” (Makers) Women were finally fed up with male-dominated and male-biased fields making all of their decisions for them. Women realized how unequal their lives were in comparison to their male counterparts and decided to start standing up for themselves. People in volume speak a lot louder than just individuals speaking out separately. Thanks to these courageous women changes did happen. Women finally were able to work at jobs that were predominantly male-driven, received higher wages, and were started to be looked at as independent, adult individuals. As a 29-year-old woman, I bet my life would be much different if these powerful women hadn’t paved the way for people like me. Although the pay gap still exists, it is much smaller than it was 40 years ago. I believe the Women’s movement and protests alike also obtain to the lens of time.

After the Civil Rights Movement, protests became more popular as a means to fight for what is right by mass amounts of people. Thanks to protest, a change did happen. It shows how effective it can be when large numbers of people work together for the greater good.


Lessonsite. Author unknown. Date unknown. August 17.2018
History.com. Vietnam War Protests. History Staff. 2010. Aug 17. 2018.
Celebrity Culture and the American Dream. Karen Sternheimer. Routledge. 2015.
The Republic of Rock: Music and citizenship in the sixties counterculture. Michael J. Kramer. Oxford. 2017
Maker.com. Isoke Cullins. 2018. Aug 17. 2018.


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