Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Timeline: United States: 1960s

1960s: The Second Wave

The 1960s in America was one of the country's most turbulent decades. JFK was elected president, then assassinated; the Vietnam War; Marilyn Monroe's suicide; Martin Luther King, Jr.'s rise to power and then assassination; Black Panther movement; Malcolm X's assassination; countless war protests; Robert F. Kennedy's assassination; Stonewall riots; Woodstock; Neil Armstrong's walk on the moon.

Amidst all this, the 1960s saw the re-kindling of female radicalism in the U.S. with the "second wave" of feminism. Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique and founded the National Organization for Women. This was also the decade that saw the first sales of the contraceptive pill and the invention of the mammography machine.

In 1966, Twiggy set a new style for body and hair; two years later the New York Radical Women protested the Miss America competition in Atlantic City. In the mid 1960s, That Girl and I Dream of Jeannie premiered on television, demonstrating women's restlessness with domesticity.

Important legislature was passed in the 1960s that improved conditions for women, as well, such as the Equal Pay Act; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act; and the Executive Order 11375. And in 1961, the President's Commission on the Status of Women was established, with Eleanor Roosevelt as chairwoman.

In Ceylon, Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the world's first woman prime minister, with Indira Ghandi and Golda Meir following soon after. Margaret Chase Smith became the first women nominated for president of the U.S., and Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

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