Feminism, Progress, and Girl Power

Feminism, Progress, and Girl Power

Some Feminism Stats

“For those who turn up their noses at the words feminists and feminism or scoff that feminism is a dirty and utterly pointless word please read this and realize the following list is of NINE things a woman couldn’t do in 1971 – yes the date is correct 1971.

In 1971 a woman could not:

1. Get a Credit Card in her own name – it wasn’t until 1974 that a law forced credit card companies to issue cards to women without their husband’s signature.

2. Be guaranteed that they wouldn’t be unceremoniously fired for the offense of getting pregnant – that changed with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978.

3. Serve on a jury –  It varied by state (Utah deemed women fit for jury duty way back in 1879), but the main reason women were kept out of jury pools was that they were considered the center of the home, which was their primary responsibility as caregivers. They were also thought to be too fragile to hear the grisly details of crimes and too sympathetic by nature to be able to remain objective about those accused of offenses. In 1961, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld a Florida law that exempted women from serving on juries. It wasn’t until 1973 that women could serve on juries in all 50 states.

4. Fight on the front lines – admitted into military academies in 1976 it wasn’t until 2013 that the military ban on women in combat was lifted. Prior to 1973 women were only allowed in the military as nurses or support staff.

5. Get an Ivy League education – Yale and Princeton didn’t accept female students until 1969. Harvard didn’t admit women until 1977 (when it merged with the all-female Radcliffe College).  Brown (which merged with women’s college Pembroke), Dartmouth and Columbia did not offer admission to women until 1971, 1972 and 1981, respectively. Other case-specific instances allowed some women to take certain classes at Ivy League institutions (such as Barnard women taking classes at Columbia), but by and large, women in the ’60s who harbored Ivy League dreams had to put them on hold.

6. Take legal action against workplace sexual harassment. Indeed the first time a court recognized office sexual harassment as grounds for any legal action was in 1977.

7. Decide not to have sex if their husband wanted to – spousal rape wasn’t criminalized in all 50 states until 1993. Read that again…1993.

8. Obtain health insurance at the same monetary rate as a man. Sex discrimination wasn’t outlawed in health insurance until 2010 and today many, including sitting elected officials at the Federal level, feel women don’t mind paying a little more. Again, that date was 2010.

9. Also, take the birth control pill: Issues like reproductive freedom and a woman’s right to decide when and whether to have children were only just beginning to be openly discussed in the 1960s. In 1957, the FDA approved of the birth control pill but only for “severe menstrual distress.” In 1960, the pill was approved for use as a contraceptive. Even so, the pill was illegal in some states and could be prescribed only to married women for purposes of family planning, and not all pharmacies stocked it. Some of those opposed said oral contraceptives were immoral, promoted prostitution and were tantamount to abortion. It wasn’t until several years later that birth control was approved for use by all women, regardless of marital status. In short, birth control meant a woman could complete her education, enter the work force and plan her own life.

Oh, and one more thing, prior to 1880 which is just a few years before the photo of this very proud lady was taken (above), the age of consent for sex was set at 10 or 12 in more states, with the exception of our neighbor Delaware – where it was 7 YEARS OLD!”

(As seen on CNN)

And for some more recent girl power: the young woman below just swam the length of Long Lake in Maine, and amazing 11.5 miles in 6.5 hours. She is a camper this July at Camp Newfound, where I’ll be for my artist-in-residency at Creative Arts Camp at the end of August. Here’s to progress for all.


I work to amplify good wherever I find it. I love color, texture, beauty, great ideas, nature, metaphor, deliciousness, genuine spirituality, and exploring new territory. I encourage authenticity, nurture creativity, champion sustainability, promote peace, and hope to foster a new renaissance where we all are free to be our most fulfilled, multifaceted, and terrific selves. Read more here.


  1. Meg Hanson 3 years ago

    Wow I can hardly believe that some of these laws were not passed until the 1970’s!!!

  2. Mary Beth Williams 3 years ago

    Love this! Thank you precious Polly !

  3. Cheryl 3 years ago

    Thank God progress has been made, particularly with the age of consent. We need to keep moving forward on that trajectory until true equality exists.

  4. Brian G 1 year ago

    I remember 1971 – when my relatively new CS mom turned out to be the secret practitioner for neighborhood girls who would hurt themselves, pray for them and drive them to clinics, sign for bc pills, give them guidance, etc. Back then, there was a very good chance the teens simply being kicked out of the house on the street by their parents, and they had nowhere to turn except for my mother. Didn’t find out about this until about 30 years later!

    Girl power! Once again, mom to the rescue about the importance of a male’s mentality.

    After my dad gave me “the talk”, my mom did a follow-up with the mental aspects if I wanted to have *meaningful* relationships with women:

    1) Don’t obviously eyeball us with what your dad told you.
    2) Don’t approach us even with that on your mind, we know when you do that.
    Still young I asked “How do you know?”
    She replied “it’s called Girl-power. Just be cool like you want to make a friend”

    3) If you approach a group of women, and some seem older than the others, don’t mentally group us by age or leave us out of the conversation. It hurts us. We know when you do that too. And, when you get older, you might miss the love of your life.

    That’s was a lot to take in on one day. :) I wonder if any young mothers of male children do a mental followup after “the talk” like above, and introduce um, girl-power? (if too young to fully understand CS etc)

    • Author
      Polly Castor 1 year ago

      I hope they do! Good for her! She did you proud.

  5. Brian G 1 year ago

    Related: I now understand who that “You better Love your inner-sister” thought came from that I balked at a few years ago.

    I ran across a Nov 4, 1972 Sentinel article titled “Bride and Bridegroom”. While reading this site, I flashed back to a memory of my mom laying that article on me as a teen and asking me if I wanted to be a bride? Say what???

    That article was written in a way that was advanced for it’s time. More relevant today than back then; and when shown to my grandmother, I was told not to listen to all that CS “hippie talk”. Get a haircut too.

    Essentially it’s about completeness. Makes me feel right, and not ashamed to read and enjoy all the “girlie” things on the site. Also a GREAT message about marriage, especially for those yearning or heart-broken.

    • Author
      Polly Castor 1 year ago

      This site is not ” girlie!”

      • Brian G 1 year ago

        I agree wholeheartedly. I guess I was using my conservative 1972 grandmother’s voice. :)

        To prove it, I am man enough to take that bride and bridegroom Sentinel article seriously, and have done the following to put words about completeness into practice and not just theorize it.

        I say goodnight and goodmorning to my feminine side before falling asleep or when just waking. And mean it. Generally feel better all day, without losing my identity. Apparently she liked being finally noticed and taken seriously.

        I’ve even picked out a song for the occasion:
        Mazzy Star “Fade Into You”

        Nothing girlie about it all, except for those afraid to be complete. Really is mentally healthy to do this.

  6. Brian G 1 year ago

    I’ll stop with this – once I recognized my completeness, eroding women’s rights are now affecting ME *directly*, and not just happening to “them”. A sense of outrage at mortal mind trying to take me (us) back to the 70’s, or even the 1800’s needs to be handled as trying to prevent progress and equality. Heh, mortal mind didn’t expect a kind of Shirley Muldowney racer thing going on under my helmet.

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