Twitter user @WPCelebration recently compiled a list of nine activities and rights denied to women in America in 1971, just 48 years ago. The list includes:
- A woman couldn’t get a credit card in her own name. They often needed a man to co-sign for a card. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act put a stop to this discrimination in 1974.
- Until the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, women could be fired for getting pregnant (or not hired if they were pregnant). Despite the act, pregnancy discrimination continues today.
- Women couldn’t attend certain Ivy League schools. Harvard did not fully admit women into its undergraduate program until 1977, Dartmouth took until 1972, and Columbia waited until 1983.
- In some states, women couldn’t say “no” to sex with their husbands. In 1993, the last two states (Oklahoma and North Carolina) withdrew their marital rape exemptions. But even today, several states treat marital rape as a lesser offense with smaller penalties compared to non-marital rape.
- Until a 1972 Supreme Court case, unmarried women in some states were prohibited from purchasing birth control pills.
Ms magazine published a similar list back in 2013 that also included the difficulty in getting a divorce without cause and obtain a safe & legal abortion in all 50 states. Bustle talked to several women about what discrimination was like before many of these changes took place.
I was denied a job in 1970 because I was newly pregnant. They actually had a question on the application regarding the date of your last menstrual period. Also, with my second child in 1974, they were not required to hold your position while you were on maternity leave, and I was told that my job was no longer open and I had to file for unemployment.
As a reminder, women only gained the right to vote in America fewer than 100 years ago.