In the 60s, what kind of image of women did NOW activists consider "false" and what kind of image of women would NOW have considered "accurate"

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The major obstacle that women activists, such as the leaders of the NOW movement, sought to overcome revolved around the social stratification of women.  At the time, women were socially seen as having to assume a role that places them second to men and confined to having achieve a standard that was externally dictated.  This involved women tending to certain roles, looking a certain way, having to feel only certain emotions, and engaging in only certain dialogues.  For example, it was not seen as something appropriate for women to talk openly of political issues or elements of business.  Rather, the conversations women could have were to revolve around family and issues of domesticity.  Women were not allowed to openly criticize government or foreign policy, but rather talk about sewing and problems with the butcher at the local grocery store.  Such social stratification of women proved to be the main elements for which the NOW activists sought to defeat.  This socially dictated and external image of women was designed to keep women locked into defined roles, of which women themselves had little, if any, power in determining.  In demanding a new conception of women, NOW activists felt that it was imperative that women define their own senses of self.  In replacing the stratified image of women, which was determined as a false sense of consciousness, activists sought to see women as capable of engaging in any discussion on any topic, acting in any manner they desired.  If a women wanted to work, she should be able to and be given equal compensation as her male counterpart.  If a women wanted to stay at home, she should be able to do so and be treated with dignity and respect as she does not have to sacrifice her individual and authentic voice.  These images, carved out of women's own sense of definition and genuine voices, are what NOW activists would have considered "accurate."

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