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10 Gender Restrictions Women Faced in the 1960s

What were the gender restrictions women faced in the 1960s? 

The modern world has shown us freedom of speech, social connections are made much easier with the help of the internet, everybody is free to do everything they want, and most importantly, males and females have the same rights. This is like a dream come true for all the women who were living in the 1960s, and faced an abundance of non-ethical restrictions.

If they were happier or not, that’s debatable, and it’s something that we can talk about later in the comments. But for now, we will talk about all the gender restrictions women faced in the 1960s and how they impacted their day-to-day lives.

gender restrictions women faced in the 1960s
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Get prescribed birth control pills

One of the worst gender restrictions women faced in the 1960s was to be forced to have kids even if they didn’t want to. Even if the discussions about birth control pills were in progress and in 1957 the first control pill was licensed was prescribed only for menstrual pain.

Nevertheless, not all pharmacies carried the pill, and it was prohibited in some areas and available exclusively to married women for family planning purposes. Some opponents said that oral contraceptives were equivalent to abortion, encouraged prostitution, and were unethical. Birth control was not authorized for use by any woman, regardless of marital status, until a few years later.

In essence, birth control would have given women a total choice over their lives, their education, and—most importantly—their careers. Something that wasn’t desired for that era.

Get an abortion

Although a few states started to liberalize their abortion restrictions near the end of the decade, women did not have widespread access to legal abortion during the 1960s. The United States Supreme Court didn’t rule that state laws that banned women from having safe abortions were unconstitutional until the momentous Roe v. Wade judgment in 1973, which basically made abortion lawful everywhere.

Interracial marriage

If in 2024 we are more aware of these things and we want to accept inclusion and see everybody as equal, back in the day, you could face prison time if you had a relationship with a man of another nationality.

Even though the Civil Rights Act was approved in 1964, the historic Loving v. Virginia lawsuit didn’t take shape until 1967. Due to the interracial marriage of the couple in question, they risked jail, which sparked a legal dispute that went all the way to the Supreme Court.

Finally, citing breaches of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Court ruled that legislation that forbade interracial marriage was unconstitutional.

Are you fond of learning more things about history and how America was in the 1960s? This book, which is available on Amazon, will help you uncover new (and old) facts that have shaped our country as we know it today. America in the 1960s (Decades of American History) is written in a friendly manner that adults and young kids can easily understand. Get lost in 128 pages of history, photography, and music specific to the 1960s. 

Open a bank account and get a credit card

Among all the gender restrictions women faced in the 1960s, opening a bank account and having full financial independence were in the top 10. Even if a woman was married, her spouse had to agree to cosign with the bank to provide her with a credit card. In many cases, credit cards were only granted with a husband’s signature as recently as the 1970s.

Unfortunately, women were not allowed to get credit on their own until the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 made it unlawful to discriminate against them based on their gender.

Protect themselves in case of domestic violence in the marriage

Nobody should be treated badly, no matter if they’re in a relationship, partnership, or marriage. If you’re with someone you supposedly love, then applying domestic violence should be out of the discussion. However, back in the day, women weren’t exactly protected by law in cases of marital abuse. Even rape was considered a “family matter.”

Only in 1994 was a law introduced that protected women against domestic violence and rape by their husbands.

gender restrictions women faced in the 1960s
Photo by Billion Photos from Shutterstock

Get an academic education

Were you a woman in the 60s who had a dream of getting a bachelor’s degree? Oh well, bad news! You had to put your dream on hold because Yale, Princeton, Harvard, and other Ivy League universities did not admit women. And this was the situation until the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Harvard completely integrated Radcliffe College in 1977, enabling women to earn degrees from Harvard, whereas Yale and Princeton welcomed women for the first time as students in 1969.

Got pregnant? There was a high chance of losing your job

If you were among those women who were lucky to have a good job but got pregnant, well, unfortunately, your employee could decide to fire you. Luckily, after many women fought back against this thing, in 1978 it was completely eradicated, making sure that no woman could be fired only because she got pregnant.

Same health insurance as men

For those who weren’t living in that era, this seems out of this world. However, in the 1960s, women didn’t have the same rights as men when it came to health insurance. They had to pay a lot more for routine check-ups compared to men.

In addition, women had to ask their husbands to accompany them if they required medical attention, and these consultations were only conducted in their husbands’ presence.

Experience equality in the workplace (nor the possibility of taking legal action against harassment)

Kennedy’s Commission on the Status of Women issued a report in 1963 that included, among other things, the following: women were excluded from higher-paying professional professions and received 59 cents for every dollar earned by males.

Gender discrimination was outlawed along with racial discrimination during the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s legislative process. After the amendment regarding women in the workplace was not given serious attention, the National Organization of Women was founded to ensure total equality for women in really equal partnerships with men.

Until 1977, there was no active law to punish men who harassed their female co-workers, forcing many women in the 1960s to endure workplace harassment.

Serve on a jury

This varied from one state to another because, for example, Utah has deemed everybody fit for jury duty since 1879. Why was this not a thing suitable for women? Or at least this is what people thought back in the day? Because women were seen as caregivers, they had to take care of the kids and the household—two major duties.

Plus, men thought they were also a bit too soft to be able to have an impartial attitude regarding the process. And those gory details about the crimes were just too much for a woman to hear. Only later in 1973, all 50 states allowed women to serve on juries.

We’ve come a long way, and that’s amazing, but while a lot of progress has been made, there are still women who face challenges in their day-to-day lives. So, as a society, we still have much work to do to ensure the well-being of every individual, regardless of their gender.

You may also like to read 14 Bizarre US Laws You Won’t Believe Are Real

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