It’s August 26, 1970, fifty years after women were granted the right to vote and hold public office*, and everyone is glued to the news. In Louisiana, photos of grooms are replaced with brides in public wedding announcements, in Massachusetts, some female preachers are being invited to take the pulpit by their male colleagues, and across the country housewives are refusing to complete chores, watch children, or cook.
In New York City, forty foot banners are being hung from the Statue of Liberty, and over fifty thousand people are marching down 5th avenue behind Betty Friedan in a demonstration so large that they overtook the entire street in an unstoppable wave of people. Over the course of the day, over 100,000 people will participate in over 90 demonstrations across the country, all demanding equal rights for women culturally and under the law. The protest, known as the Nationwide Strike for Equality, is the largest demonstration for women’s rights ever seen in the USA.
The Nationwide Strike for Equality is a hallmark of Second Wave Feminism, which identified and named “un-nameable” gender based systemic cultural inequities. Second Wave Feminists sought to contradict and provide options for women outside of prescribed gender roles. They emphasized that true equality is more than the right to vote, but also the right to cultural agency and power in society.
Second Wave Feminism had its flaws – specifically in that it emphasized the struggles of white women to represent the struggles of all women – but reflecting on the shortcomings of the movement allows us greater clarity to see where we can make strides toward greater equality in the present.
We here at oVertone have a part to play in feminist history – as a female founded and led company, we exist thanks to the perseverance of activists that came before us, and our core values of “never stop learning” and “intersectional feminism**” dictate that we continue to embrace and push for a future where our collective freedoms are not controlled by unquestioned cultural norms.
We have both the opportunity and the obligation to continue to question the standards of our industry and society and learn how we can do better and go farther.
In 2021, Women’s Equality Day must seek to be inclusive of more than just the liberation of white women – we need to listen closely and seek to genuinely understand nuanced systems of oppression so we can continue to make progress as a society for all, not some. We ask, like the National Organization of Women in 1970 – are we settling for too little, and how can we demand and work for better, for all?
*However, it is critical to note that due to systemic racism, Black women did not truly receive the full benefits of the passing of the 19th amendment until 1965 with the passing of the Voting Rights Act, and Native American people have struggled to gain full voting rights in the USA, with the most recent affirming and protective legislation being passed in 1982, these being only two examples of white supremacist oppression in the USA as it concerns equal rights.
**Intersectional Feminism, a concept created by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, that illustrates how our various identities intersect and impact our power and agency in our society.
Learn more about Intersectional Feminism here.