Week 5 Short Essay – Women in the 1960s,
Write a short argumentative essay (double spaced, 2 pages long) based on the following prompt. (25 points)
This week’s two central texts, Anne Moody’s Coming of Age in Mississippi and chapter one of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, almost seem to describe two distinct Americas; yet they each portrayed real issues having profound effects on the lives, possibilities, and physical and psychological health of American women in the late 1950s and early 1960s. While Friedan’s book identified a “problem” so undefined and under- acknowledged in 1963 that it “ha[d] no name” and no obvious mode of action to address it, Anne Moody described a clearly-defined set of social problems and the concrete actions she and other African Americans (and their white allies) took to combat those problems.
Write a two-page essay that 1) describes these distinct social conflicts faced by American women in the early 1960s and the efforts undertaken to confront them. 2) Make sure your essay puts a name to the central “problems” defined by both Moody’s book and that presented by Friedan (though women in 1963 could not “name” that problem, we, with the benefit of history and the freedom and language it has given us, can).
Then, 3) discuss how both the African American Freedom Struggle (Civil Rights Movement) chronicled by Anne Moody and Friedan’s ground-breaking Feminine Mystique may have contributed to the emergence of Second-Wave Feminism by the end of the decade.
Use the Moody and Friedan, along with the other documents including “Letters from Mississippi” (excerpts); the S.N.C.C., “Position Paper: Women in the Movement,” (1964); Casey Hayden & Mary King, “Sex and Caste: A Kind of Memo…” (1965); and the founding N.O.W. “Statement of Purpose” (1966) to make your case.
Some questions to help you think through your argument: What did women learn from each and how did that spur demands and activism for change? Were any of the issues discussed in Friedan applicable or relatable to someone like Anne Moody? Were there issues uncovered by and encountered in the civil rights struggle that were applicable or relatable to white, middle-class housewives?