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Second Wave Feminism

The modern period of the American women’s movement, generally called the “second wave” of feminism, spans from the 1960s through the end of the 20th century. The “first wave” of the American women’s movement (mid-1800s-1920) focused primarily on suffrage. The movement for women’s rights surged again in the 1960s when women like Betty Friedan began to speak out about social expectations that limited women’s growth and to demand equality for women. In 1966, the National Organization for Women (NOW) was founded to advocate for women’s rights. In the late 1960s, younger women – many of whom were influenced by the Civil Rights Movement – began to form “consciousness raising groups” where women could talk about their personal lives as women. They began to realize that their experiences and frustrations were often caused by inequities in society, rather than their own personal problems, and they advocated for “women’s liberation” from these social strictures. Within a short period of time, the terms “women’s rights,” “women’s liberation,” and “feminism” became part of the public conversation.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Second Wave Feminism." (Viewed on December 17, 2018) <>.


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