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the Second Wave of Feminism

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AS91234 (AS 2.6) Examine how a significant historical event affected New Zealand society
Event: The Second Wave of Feminism
The Second Wave of Feminism flourished in the 1970s as a result of gender discrimination against women and inequality in New Zealand. The issue of abortion was a significant social feature of the Second Wave of Feminism. Women felt that they needed to be represented politically to gain economic independence and raise awareness of important social issues. The Second Wave of Feminism had both short and long term political, economic and social impacts on New Zealand.
The Second Wave of Feminism promoted feminist ideas that encouraged women to alter society’s outlook of women. Women in New Zealand had suffered gender discrimination. Organizations that influences these ideas were WONAAC, ALRANZ and WEL. Their policies and objectives were different but all advocated for women’s rights. Women in New Zealand were no longer isolated from the rest of the world with the introduction of television. Women and feminists in particular were influenced by other movements around the world including the gory Vietnam War and the courageous Black Civil Rights Movements in America. Feminists were moved and inspired. The author of a feminist book called, “The Female Eunice,” Germaine Greer visited during the Second Wave of Feminism in 1973. Her visit triggered a positive change in women’s attitudes towards feminist issues. She aggressively opposed even the idea of a patriarchal society. She swore in public and got fined $40. Betty Friedman’s, “The Feminine Mystique” was an inspiring book that provoked further advocating and protestation from women in New Zealand. The Thursday magazine talked about cabbage patch syndrome (depression in urban areas). The social feature of liberation was essential in ensuring change in the Second Wave of Feminism. The “Reclaim the Night” marches were carried out in Wellington. This included the banging of pots and pans and chanting, drawing the media’s attention to the issues of rape and domestic violence. The Auckland Women’s Liberation Movement protested outside the Town Hall where a NZ Beauty Pageant was being held, with signs that said, “Miss NZ, prime beef export?” These feminists saw beauty pageants as degrading to women because during the contests the contestants were judged on their appearance and promoted their bodies as sexual objects in order to win. Feminists during the Second Wave of Feminism wanted to prove that women were not sexual objects, that women should be equal with men. Women wanted to destroy all stereotypes of women. Feminists wanted to change the role of women in society by gaining political, social and economic independence.
Restrictions placed on abortion were controversial and this angered women as it allowed them no control over what happened with their own bodies. During the 1960s and 1970s, “backstreet abortions” were carried out. These “backstreet abortions” often resulted in death or serious injury as they were unhygienic and unsterilized. Abortions were considered a social crime by many. Women wanted a say in what they did to their bodies as they felt it was their right. In 1973, Dr James Woolnough opened an abortion clinic in Remuera. Police raided this clinic and photocopied files that eventually got Dr Woolnough arrested. His acquittal was a turning point in the pro-abortion movement. The Society of the Unborn Child was an anti-abortion organization. The Catholic Church supported SPUC’s policies and objectives. SPUC actively advocated for the illegalization of abortion by standing outside abortion clinics and by protesting. Abortion was a key social feature of the Second Wave of Feminism.
“Pub Liberations” were carried out as a social feature of the Second Wave of Feminism to put an end to gender inequality in bars and pubs. These “Pub liberations” were carried out by Women Liberation movements all over New Zealand. Women Liberal’s in Auckland entered the bistro bar at the Great Northern Hotel in protest against exclusively male pubs and bars. The bars manager and other men inside the bar responded with violence of their own. Punches were thrown at the women who men thought were “out of place.” “Pub liberations” were seen as a huge success of the Second Wave of Feminism.
Feminist organizations such as WONAAC were particularly concerned about inequalities in the workplace. The adopted the slogan “women can do anything,” to raise the self-esteem of women all around New Zealand who made significantly less money than men. Women were unable to work before 6am or after 6pm, meaning that women were not given the same opportunities and could not make as much money as men could. This infuriated Women’s Liberations movements who felt discriminated against. Statistics show that only 1.9% of women made over $3000 a fortnight, while 20.9% of men made this easily. Women were making under 80% of what men were making. This degraded the economic worth of women. Women needed political representation to gain economic independence and equality within the workplace.
The need for political representation was a key political feature of the Second Wave of Feminism. The Women’s Electoral Lobby (WEL) lobbied for the political representation of women. WEL advocated for the needs of women to be voiced. In particular the issues of domestic violence and rape as well as general gender discrimination across the nation. These were sensitive subjects in desperate need of addressing. The Rape Crisis were a group that worked towards a rape free New Zealand. Rallies and protesting were the main methods of protest during the Second Wave of Feminism but WEL used the protest method of direct public exchange with politicians. Members of WEL were able to persuade especially male politicians to advocate for women’s rights. They also put up posters of the faces of politicians with the caption: “Will he vote for you right?” The WEL were absolutely instrumental in passing laws such as the Equal Pay Act entitling women to the same pay as men and the Domestic Violence Act. The WEL adopted the slogan “the personal is political,” as they took the personal issues of women and made them political.
Feminists were represented politically as a long term impact of the Second Wave of Feminism. In 1999 a huge 31% of parliamentary seats were taken by women. Women gained political independence and this helped to raise awareness of social issues for women in New Zealand. It was recognized that the needs of Pakeha women and Maori women were very different. There were different perspectives and groups that needed to be represented politically. Labour is not the only party that is inclusive of women in today’s elections. The sensitive issues of rape and domestic violence were finally given recognition. A women’s council was established within the labour party by the WEL. Helen Clarke is a previous prime minister from the Labour Party. Although women’s rights are being recognized, there are still far more male seats than female in parliament.
Social change is a long term effect of the Second Wave of Feminism. Some equality in the workplace, in bars and pubs and other public places was achieved. Police officers became wearier of domestic violence and rape cases. It has become more than mundane for men and women to share a public space. Men are now accustomed to a more dominant female role in society. Beauty pageants have become less popular and less influential, thought they are still held but are no longer televised or promoted. Rape and violence as sensitive issues are now able to be openly discussed in public, in the media and are politically addressed as important social issues. New Zealand society still has the highest number of domestic violence cases in the world, however. The Second Wave of Feminism did not stop rape and violence but it did impact awareness of the issues. Attitudes have changed since the Second Wave of Feminism began but some women still feel discriminated against today.
The Second Wave of Feminism effectively resolved the issue of abortion in New Zealand. Abortion was legalized and now women have the right to abortion, the contraceptive pill and free child care within their respective communities. A women is now allowed a say in what happens to her body. SPUC still exist with 70,000 members but protests are not as radical as they were during the Second Wave of Feminism. The Catholic Church still promote their unwavering support towards the anti-abortion movement. In 1988 there were 5000 abortions carried out and in 1998 there were 15000 abortions carried out showing the confidence of women who did not want a baby. Abortion is now accepted in New Zealand society politically but some still see abortion as a social crime.
New Zealand society today still shows the impacts of the Second Wave of Feminism. Social and political changes have occurred. The Second Wave of Feminism was very much a result of gender discrimination and inequality in the workplace, in pubs, the lack of political representation for women’s rights, restriction placed on abortion and the time of technological advancement during the 1970s that enabled impressionable New Zealand Women an insight to modern rebellion. Feminist issues were addressed and resulted in political, economic and social change for New Zealand society.

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