1970s: The Feminist Decade
This was the decade of feminism. Landmark books like Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch and Kate Millet's Sexual Politics sold in the millions. Magazines like Ms., off our backs, and Spare Rib increasingly found their way into women's homes, and the feminist publishers Virago and Feminist Press were launched.
Women began playing a more critical role in international politics. U.S. armed forces appointed their first female general; Bella Abzug won election to the U.S. House of Representatives; Ella Grasso was elected the first female governor; and Margaret Thatcher swept to power as Britain 's first woman prime minister.
Throughout the 1970s several key pieces of legislation were passed in the U.S. Abortion was legalized; the Equal Rights Amendment was re-introduced and passed the Senate in 1972; the marital rape law was enacted for the first time; the Equal Employment Opportunity Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act were both passed by Congress, and women were granted equal access to higher education.
Women, it appeared, had certainly "come a long way," as the 1970 Virginia Slims ad reminded them. In 1973 Billie Jean King defeats champion player Bobby Riggs, a former Wimbledon Men's Champion, in a "Battle of the Sexes" match; Singer Patsy Cline was the first woman inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame; Helen Reddy won a Grammy Award for the hit record I Am Woman, the first explicitly feminist song. On the pop front, television shows presented characters who worked against the stereotype of women as passive, married, and/or male dependent, e.g., Maude, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, One Day at a Time, and Charlie's Angels.