Makers: Woman Who Make America
Changing the World
The Women’s Movement begins to break out of the campuses and urban centers where it originated to affect nearly every man, woman and child in America. In the early 1970s, feminism became a force that reshaped the relationships between men and women in the most fundamental ways. Divorce rates spiked as women chafed under their traditional roles but, where men could adapt, marriages became stronger than ever. With the widespread adoption of the contraceptive pill, women’s sexuality was freed from the constant worry over pregnancy. At the same time, the Movement targeted states’ restrictive abortion laws, culminating in the epochal Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973. Riding a wave of victories, the Movement aimed for the ultimate victory — passage of a constitutional amendment recognizing women’s equality. But, just as passage seemed assured, a conservative backlash led by Phyllis Schlafly doomed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and put an end to the Movement’s unbroken string of victories. After 1980, the speeches and marches were largely over, but women continued to push for economic and social equality in America.
*PBS production shown using Films on Demand