Women– Terms of Liberation

Women– Terms of Liberation

AT LEAST FOR THE MOMENT, Women’s Liberation is “in.” Its advocates get wide publicity in the mass media, and there is talk, mostly not very serious, about what “those women” want. On campuses, as in professional organizations, there has been mounting pressure to hire and promote more women, to provide child-care facilities for married women students and employees, and to offer courses on the history and the status of women. The voicing of these demands will increase significantly at professional conventions. I predict comparable increases in the political and economic realms, as women organize and demonstrate to change laws and employer practices that discriminate on the grounds of sex. Among activist women there is clearly a new note of optimism.

This optimistic sense does not, however, seem to be shared by many men. The majority of American men appear to be convinced that if they wait out the storm, activism will die down and they can then continue to run government agencies, businesses, and universities. I do not share the view that the women’s rights movement is a passing thing. Indeed, I think the movement has not yet reached its crest, though I also believe it faces hard times. What follows is an attempt to sketch both the encouraging and discouraging developments that may mark the women’s movement in the next decade.

At the outset I shall draw on my personal experiences in academic and private life, upon participation in several reform movements in recent years, and upon a commitment to fundamental change in American society.