On Our Word, there's a fabulous post by Maruta that looks back at the tension between the feminist and liberal/progressive movements of the '70s.
I became active in the Women's Movement in the early 1970's. There was a group of young women in their 20's at the time -- now in their 50's ...sigh... I keep doing the math and it still adds up all weird like that -- who came before me. They had started in the late 1960's, during Vietnam and had been part of the anti-War Movement and who had been active in Civil Rights.
It occurred to them that - bloody obvious really - that women were almost always an afterthought. Women were not valued quite the same way as men. For example, if women wanted equality, this was seen as a distraction. It diverted the "movement's" attention away and kept the "movement" from keeping it's collective eye on the ball.
Women "disrupted" the flow of thinking with their "off point" issues that "trivialized" the main point under discussion. Who could be worried about equal pay for equal work issues when babies were being napalmed in Vietnam?
Besides, once the goals were achieved, the new order would give women all the rights they needed. The remnants of the Warren Court went so far as to say the Constitution already guaranteed equal rights and the Equal Rights Amendment, ERA, was not needed as it would be redundant.
These were heady times.
So Civil Rights Legislation has come and is law. The Vietnam War is long over and the black marble rent in the Washington Mall sees ever grayer men coming to remember a war - and people can't remember what it was all about.
But Women's Rights? The ERA? All this stuff that was going to happen if we just stayed the course and did not get the almost exclusively male leadership defocused from the important issues. Well, we're still waiting. Our progress has been a series of encounters where women have made painfully slow progress.
Thanks to the hardline strict father domineering from the right, pressing harder and harder for government interference in privacy and women's liberty in all sorts of areas, the entire debate since the '70s has shifted right, to the point where women's equality is considered a debateable issue, not even worthy of a Constitutional Amendment, let alone a plank on a party platform or a worthwhile topic in many circles.
To be fair, on the left I don't see malice as much as plumb ignorance. Many men -- and it seems a few women too young to remember pre-Roe or even have heard any horror stories from their mothers -- just do not see the significance of feminist concerns. Some people on the left have bought into the right-wing frame, courtesy of Phyllis Schlafly, that feminism is selfish and nihilistic and destructive. They bought into it hook, line and sinker.
There are lessons to be learned from the 2nd wave.
We failed our daughters in two ways. First a lack of resolve and second in a lack of passing on a vision.
The internecine struggles of the late 1970's did not help. Nor did the the separatism. Nor did the battle over sexual orientation. Nor did the fact that we once again let our Blue's(tate) Bothers get us to put our issues on the back burner until "important" things that affect "everyone" got handled first.
When some women stood up and demanded that it was finally a time to discuss women's rights, they were sneered down. They were "feminists," code word for lesbian-losers, who could not get a man. We still hear men getting very upset by the idea a woman would want equality and how ERA legislation is actually designed as a take-over. Happily or sadly, I am old enough to recall the Civil Rights Movement when segregationists said the blacks were going to "take over" and that was what it was all about.
The main issue is not at what point a fetus is viable, although that is of concern to a mother, but who controls a woman's body? This is a bedrock issue that men never face in quite the same way and arguing ignorance of the problem because a man will never face it, is no argument.
We have only ourselves to blame that we look our collective eye off the ball of the "movement." We let our issues become second to those of someone else. We allowed our need for smooth relations with men put us in a secondary position....
...Feminism is a "bad" word so long as men define it. After all, in 1968, it was called Female Liberation and the media changed it to Feminism.
But it isn't what anyone calls it, but the ideas and insights.
So how do we move forward from here?