1970s Feminism Timeline

Key Events of United States Feminism During the 1970s

Crowd Marching For ERA Rally
Crowd Marching For ERA Rally, Pittsburgh, 1976. Barbara Freeman / Getty Images


  • The first Women's Studies department began at San Diego State University, followed shortly by a Women's Studies program at Cornell.
  • Kate Millett's book Sexual Politics was published
  • Sisterhood is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings From the Womens Liberation Movement gathered many prominent feminists' essays into one volume.
  • (February) Members of the National Organization for Women stood up in the Senate gallery to demand attention for the Equal Rights Amendment.


  • Supreme Court case Reed v. Reed declared sex discrimination a violation of the 14th amendment.
  • The short-lived feminist art journal Women and Art began publication.
  • NOW staged nationwide demonstrations against AT&Ts discriminatory employment and pay practices.
  • A NOW resolution recognized lesbian rights as a legitimate concern of feminism.


  • Ms. magazine began regular publication.
  • Eisenstadt v. Baird overturned laws that restricted unmarried persons' access to contraception.
  • Feminist art students staged the provocative exhibit Womanhouse in an abandoned house in Los Angeles.
  • Cindy Nemser and other feminist artists founded Feminist Art Journal, which lasted through 1977.
  • (March) The ERA passed the Senate and was sent to the states for ratification.
  • (November) The famous "abortion episode" of Maude drew protest letters, and some affiliate stations refused to air it. Abortion was legal in New York, where the sitcom took place.


  • Roe v. Wade legalized first trimester abortion and struck down many state restrictions on abortions in the United States.
  • The Supreme Court ruled in Frontiero v. Richardson that denying military benefits for male spouses was illegal sex discrimination.
  • The International Feminist Planning Conference was held in Massachusetts.
  • 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.



  • (February) NOW declared a state of emergency on the ERA, committing all available resources to 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. University of Chicago that individuals have the right under Title IX to bring private lawsuits to fight discrimination.

Also in the 1970s:

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Napikoski, Linda. "1970s Feminism Timeline." ThoughtCo, Mar. 25, 2017, thoughtco.com/1970s-feminism-timeline-3528911. Napikoski, Linda. (2017, March 25). 1970s Feminism Timeline. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/1970s-feminism-timeline-3528911 Napikoski, Linda. "1970s Feminism Timeline." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/1970s-feminism-timeline-3528911 (accessed January 24, 2018).