In the preceding chapters we have traced the demographic and ideological foundations upon which a social movement could be established. By the early 1960s there were hundreds of thousands of women “structurally available” for recruitment; that is, they had actually experienced discrimination and recognized the gap between their talents, skills, and expectations on the one hand, and the reality of their position in the home, schools, and workplace, on the other. Ideas about the causes of their lower status became personally relevant, and authors who addressed this issue found—finally—a ready readership. But resources and ideas must be mobilized in order to create a social movement organization. In this chapter we describe the reemergence of an organized feminist movement and follow its early history, beginning with the link between feminism and Civil Rights activism in the 1950s and 1960s.
The history of the New Feminist Movement is intricately interwoven with that of the other dominant social movement of our times—the Civil Rights movement (Blumberg 1984). In this respect, contemporary feminism resembles the earlier movement for women’s rights that was linked to the cause of abolishing slavery in the United States (Giele 1995). The abolition and Civil Rights movement provided