THINGS WOMEN COULDN’T DO IN 1971
By Lisa Bialac-Jehle
Get credit cards in their own names.
The Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 gave women that right. The law forced credit card companies to issue cards to women without a husband’s signature.
Legally get an abortion.
The seminal Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade, which protected a woman’s right to choose, didn’t happen until 1973.
Access the morning after pill or birth control. The FDA first approved emergency contraception in 1998. The morning after pill didn’t become available over the counter until 2013. In 1965 the Supreme Court, in Griswold v. Connecticut, gave married couples the right to use birth control. It wasn’t until 1972 The Supreme Court (in Baird v. Eisenstadt) that single women’s access to birth control was legalized in all 50 states.
Be guaranteed they wouldn’t be fired for getting pregnant. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 added an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, specifying that employers could not discriminate “on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.”
Marry another woman. Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004. That right wasn’t extended to all 50 states until 2015. That right did include men.
Fight on the front lines. Women were first admitted into military academies in 1976. And in 2013, the military ban on women in combat (tied to a Pentagon rule from 1994) was lifted by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta. Prior to 1973 women were only allowed in the military as nurses or support staff.
Take legal action against workplace sexual harassment. According to The Week, the first time a court recognized office sexual harassment as grounds for legal action was in 1977. The 1986 case of Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, was first time the Supreme Court recognized “sexual harassment” as a violation of Title VII.
Decide not to have sex if their husbands wanted to. Spousal rape wasn’t criminalized in all 50 states until 1993.
Obtain health insurance at the same monetary rate as a man. Sex discrimination wasn’t outlawed in health insurance until 2010. Until then, insurers regularly charged women more than men for even the most basic insurance.
Keep your husband, who had been convicted of spousal abuse, from owning a gun. Voisine v. United States, 579 U.S., 2016, was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that reckless misdemeanor domestic violence convictions trigger gun control prohibitions on gun ownership. In other words, until this year, the man that was convicted of beating the crap out of you and your children was still allowed to own a gun and keep it in your house if you decided to still live with him.
Also, married women in particular were afforded very few property rights in many U.S. states and were forced to follow the practice of coverture, which allowed for all of a woman’s property prior to marriage to be under the control of her husband following marriage.
In 1880, the age of “consent” was set at 10 or 12 in most states, with the exception of Delaware…where it was 7.
Feminism…..It’s not just for other women. Know your history. Most of us who were born before the 1970’s know this list is nothing more than a drop in the bucket. It doesn’t even mention things like car loans, mortgages, or the right to sit on a jury. Did you know that until 1975 women didn’t have the right to sit on a jury in all 50 states?
Let the younger generations know how recent these changes are. Some of us who lived in those times still seem to need reminding how different life used to be for women just a very short time ago.
This is an important election year. Women’s rights are again at stake as never before. Remind everyone that we will never go back again. Here’s a detailed timeline of Women’s rights since the 1700s from the NATIONAL WOMEN’S HISTORY ALLIANCE