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concluded that women were not only limiting their pregnancies for obvious health reasons, but were, statistically speaking at least, on something of a "baby strike" because of double-role problems; that is, the burden of working both outside and inside the home. Some countries recommended the logical remedy of encouraging men to share child-rearing equally, but other more authoritarian governments simply tried to ensure compulsory childbearing by suppressing contraception and abortion. Since U.S. government experts were speaking of our "unsatisfactorily low birthrate" quite openly by 1979, the question of whether child-rearing is to be supported and aided by both men and women (as the ultraright wing advocates) will be a crucial question of the '80s.

Needless to say, conservative religious authorities were greatly alarmed by these evidences of women's increasing efforts to control our own lives and bodies. Seizing control of the means of reproduction could eventually undermine the sexual caste system itself. Wherever religious patriarchs asserted themselves—from the United Stated Bishops' Conference to the newly theocratic government in Iran—contraception, abortion, and all sex outside marriage (in fact, of any ways in which women could decide our own reproductive and sexual lives) were fervently condemned.

Obviously, the phrase reproductive freedom is simply a more universal way of stating the basic need that waves of feminism had been advancing long before the '70s. Witches and gypsies were literally freedom fighters for women, and their knowledge of contraception and abortion had made them anathema to patriarchs of the past. In the worldwide wave of feminism of the 19th and early 20th century, advocating "birth control" or "fertility control," even for married women, was enough to jail many feminist crusaders.

But the '70s contribution was the stating of reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right; at least as important as other individual freedoms. Regardless of marital status, racist desires to limit or increase certain populations, or nationalistic goals of having more or fewer workers, individual women have the right to make this decision for themselves. Men who want children must at least find women who share that wish, and governments that want increased rates of population growth must resort to such humane measures as lowering infant mortality rates, improving health care during pregnancy, sharing the work of child-rearing through child care and equal parenthood, and protecting the health of older people.

Obviously, this ultimate bargaining power on the part of women is exactly what male-supremacists fear most. Because their authoritarian impulse was so clearly against any sexuality not directed toward family-style procreation (that is, forbidding extramarital sex, homosexuality, and lesbianism, as well as contraception and abortion), feminists of the '70s were strong enough to stand clearly and publicly on the side of any consenting, freely chosen sexuality as a rightful form of human expression. Words like lovers, sex partners, sexual preference, or gay right began to be



□ Acquittal of Portuguese feminist writers, the Three Marias, by the new revolutionary government in Portugal The acquittal follows the first internationally coordinated feminist demonstrations protesting the government charges.
□ Ms. sponsors Metric Mile at Madison Square Garden, the first race of that length held in the U.S. Olympic Invitational Track Meet. Francie Larrieu wins in both 1974 and 1975.
□ Elizabeth Gould Davis, author of The First Sex, commits suicide because of cancer.

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1975
□ Supreme Court outlaws automatic exclusion of women from jury duty.
□ United Nations declares International Year of the Woman, holds world conference in Mexico City.
□ New Jersey and New York voters reject state ERAs.
□ Supreme Court outlaws different majority ages for women (18) and men (21).
□ U.S. District Court says Arkansas cannot require "Miss" or "Mrs." for voter registration.
□ Laurie Shields and Tish Sommers start Alliance for Displaced Homemakers in California.
□ Supreme Court ruling gives widower with minor children in his care the same right to Social Security benefits for the child's care as a widow is allowed.
□ Ms. published petition for freedom of sexual expression signed by 100 prominent women. More than 11,000 readers respond in support.
□ First American Indian Women's Leadership Conference meets in New York City.
□ Harris Poll shows jump in just four years of those who favor improved status of women from 42 to 59 percent; those who favor legalized abortion from 46 to 54 percent; those who favor more child-care centers from 56 to 67 percent.
□ Pentagon outlaws automatic discharge of pregnant women from armed services.
□ New York State outlaws sex discrimination in insurance coverage.
□ Japanese homemaker is first woman to climb Mount Everest.
□ Federal court decisions give federal employees right to sue for sex discrimination.
□ Supreme Court allows publication of ads for abortion services.
□ Lawyer divorcing wife is ordered to pay her medical school expenses—she worked to put him through law school (Morgan v. Morgan).
□ Kathleen Nolan is elected president of Screen Actors' Guild on feminist platform.
□ First Women's Bank opens in New York City.
□ Women's Action Alliance coordinates U.S. National Women's Agenda, a bill of rights outlining 11 areas of concern to more than 100 women's organizations.
□ Carla Hills is appointed Secretary of Housing and Urban Development—third woman ever to serve in U.S. Cabinet.
□ Joellen Drag is Navy's first woman helicopter pilot. Later files successful class action suit against the Navy for not allowing women pilots to land at sea.
□ Women's Ordination Conference forms to encourage Roman Catholic priesthood for women.
□ National Council of Negro Women publishes landmark report on discrimination against women in housing.



December 1979/Ms./77
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