1970s Feminism Timeline

Crowd Marching For ERA Rally
Barbara Freeman / Getty Images

A lot of strides were made and momentum gained in the 1970s for the women's rights movement in the United States.


  • Kate Millett's book "Sexual Politics" was published.
  • The first Women's Studies department began at San Diego State University, followed shortly by a Women's Studies program at Cornell.
  • "Sisterhood Is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings From the Women's Liberation Movement" gathered many prominent feminists' essays into one volume.
  • February: Members of the National Organization for Women (NOW) stood up in the U.S. Senate gallery to demand attention for the Equal Rights Amendment.
  • March 18: Feminists staged a sit-in at the Ladies' Home Journal offices, demanding changes in the feminine mystique propaganda of women's magazines.
  • August 26: The Women's Strike for Equality featured demonstrations in cities across the nation. The strike was held on the fiftieth anniversary of women's suffrage.


  • The short-lived feminist art journal Women and Art began publication.
  • NOW staged nationwide demonstrations against AT&T's discriminatory employment and pay practices.
  • A NOW resolution recognized lesbian rights as a legitimate concern of feminism.
  • November 22: Supreme Court case Reed v. Reed declared sex discrimination a violation of the 14th Amendment.


  • Cindy Nemser and other feminist artists founded Feminist Art Journal, which lasted through 1977.
  • January: Ms. magazine publishes its first issue.
  • January - February: Feminist art students staged the provocative exhibit "Womanhouse" in an abandoned house in Los Angeles.
  • March 22: The ERA passed the Senate and was sent to the states for ratification.
  • March 22: Eisenstadt v. Baird overturned laws that restricted unmarried persons' access to contraception.
  • November 14 and 21: The famous two-part "abortion episode" of "Maude" aired and drew protest letters. Some affiliate stations refused to air it. Abortion was legal in New York, where the sitcom took place.


  • The International Feminist Planning Conference was held in Massachusetts.
  • January 22: Roe v. Wade legalized first-trimester abortion and struck down many state restrictions on abortions in the United States.
  • May 14: The Supreme Court ruled in Frontiero v. Richardson that denying military benefits for male spouses was illegal sex discrimination.
  • November 8: Mary Daly's book "Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women's Liberation" was published.


  • The Fair Housing Act of 1968 was amended to prohibit discrimination based on sex along with race, color, religion, and national origin.
  • The Combahee River Collective began as a group of black feminists who wanted to clarify their place in the politics of feminism.
  • Ntozake Shange wrote and developed her "choreopoem" play "for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf."
  • (September) NOW President Karen DeCrow and other women's group leaders met with President Gerald Ford in the White House.


  • The United Nations declared 1975 International Women's Year and organized the first World Conference on Women, held in Mexico City.
  • Susan Brownmiller's "Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape" was published.
  • The Supreme Court ruled in Taylor v. Louisiana that it was unconstitutional to deny women jury service.


  • Take Back the Night marches began, continuing annually in cities around the world.
  • NOW established its Task Force on Battered Women.
  • In Planned Parenthood v. Danforth, the Supreme Court struck down a requirement for written spousal consent before a woman could obtain an abortion.


  • NOW began an economic boycott of states that had not yet ratified the ERA.
  • Chrysalis: A Magazine of Women's Culture began publication.
  • Heresies: A Feminist Publication on Art and Politics began publication.
  • (February) Women Employed held a protest to support legal secretary Iris Rivera, who was fired for not making coffee in her office.
  • (November) The National Women's Conference was held in Houston.


  • (February) NOW declared a state of emergency on the ERA, committing all available resources to the ratification of the amendment as the original 1979 ERA deadline fast approached.
  • (March) President Jimmy Carter established the National Advisory Committee for Women.
  • (June) The ERA deadline for ratification was extended from 1979 to 1982, but the amendment ultimately fell three states short of being added to the Constitution.


  • The first Susan B. Anthony dollar coins were minted.
  • Major organizations such as the AFL-CIO refused to hold their conferences in Miami and Las Vegas, in protest of Florida's and Nevada's failure to ratify the ERA.
  • The Supreme Court ruled in Cannon v. The University of Chicago that individuals have the right under Title IX to bring private lawsuits to fight discrimination.