Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Timeline: United States: 1990s

1990s: The Fighting Back Decade

In 1991, Backlash, The Undeclared War on American Women by Susan Faludi was published, documenting the backlash against the feminist movement throughout the 1980s. Yet throughout the 1990s, women and minorities fought back. Anita F. Hill charged conservative federal appeals court judge Clarence Thomas with sexual harassment; the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was approved; and, on TV, Xena the Warrior Princess and Buffy the Vampire Slayer demonstrated women's physical prowess and ability to overcome all evils.

On a lighter note, the England women's cricket team competed in trousers for the first time; Ellen DeGeneres came out proudly as the first openly lesbian character in her TV show; and Sex and the City—the show that often tackled socially relevant issues, such as the sexual status of women in society—became all the rage.

Under the presidency of Bill Clinton, women won many wars on the home front. The Violence Against Women Act and the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) were both passed; and women began earning 71 cents for every dollar paid to men, a substantive increase from the decade before. Carol Moseley Braun became the first African American woman elected to the U.S. Senate; Janet Reno became U.S. Attorney General; and Madeleine Albright was appointed the first female U.S. Secretary of State, making her the highest-ranking woman in the United States government.

While internationally, women were rising to Heads of State at lightning speed with France, Bangladesh, Canada, Turkey, and New Zealand all electing their first female prime ministers.

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