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Feminist Chronicles - 1966

Events

At the Third Annual Conference of Commissions on the Status of Women in Washington, D.C., the failure of the EEOC to enforce Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prompted the formation of NOW. Twenty-eight women contributed $5 each to help fund its organization. (06/28-29/66)

NOW Founding Membership 28; NOW Startup Budget $140 (06/28-29/66)

The founding conference of NOW was held in Washington, D.C. Betty Friedan was elected president and Kay Clarenbach, chair of the board. Aileen Hernandez (subject to her consent-she was not present), executive vice president; Richard Graham, vice president; and Caroline Davis, secretary-treasurer. (10/29-30/66)

NOW Membership 300; NOW Annual Budget $1500. (10/29-30/66)

To refine its policies and establish its specific goals, NOW set up seven Task Forces: Family Life, Education, Employment, Media, Religion, Women in Poverty, and Women's Legal and Political Rights. (10/29-30/66)


Economic

Almost immediately after its founding conference, NOW petitioned the EEOC for public hearings on its advertising guidelines, threatened the Commission with a mandamus action to compel enforcement of the prohibition against sex discrimination, demanded the appointment of at least two women as EEOC Commissioners, initiated a campaign to persuade President Johnson to extend Executive Order 11246 (prohibiting discrimination by federal contractors) to include women, and demanded the EEOC show its own commitment to ending sex discrimination by appointing qualified women to its top staff. (1966)

Flight attendants filed complaints under Title VII on industry policy requiring them to quit if they got married, pregnant or reached the age of 32-35. The airlines asked the EEOC to rule that sex was a BFOQ (Bona Fide Occupational Qualification) for the job of flight attendant. (1966)

The EEOC issued guidelines that approved sex-segregated "Help Wanted" classified ads. (04/22/66)

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), established by the Civil Rights Act to implement Title VII and its prohibition against discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, stated it had no authority to rule on the conflict between Title VII and state protective legislation and the courts would have to resolve the issue. (08/19/66)

EEO Commissioner Aileen Hernandez urged the entire Commission to accept the recommendation of the General Counsel and issue the finding that sex was not a BFOQ for the position of flight attendant. (09/06/66)

Five NOW officers and 35 members filed a formal petition with the EEOC for hearings to amend the regulations on classified job advertising that permitted segregating the ads on the basis of sex. (12/19/66)


Religion

Pope Paul VI received the report of the Pontifical Commission on the Family. Though the results weren't leaked until nine months later, theologians voted 64-4 that Catholics should be permitted to use artificial contraception as a form of "generous and prudent parenthood," Only four conservatives (one of whom became Pope John Paul II), in a separate minority report, condemned contraception as "intrinsically evil." (08/66)


Legal

In White v. Crook, a three-judge federal court declared an Alabama law that excluded women from state juries to be unconstitutional. (02/07/66)

NOW 's Legal Committee, chaired by Marguerite Rawalt and including Carruthers Berger, Mary Eastwood and Phineas Indritz, was authorized to take action on behalf of the airline stewardesses and the case of Velma Menglekoch v. the California Industrial Welfare Commission in which Menglekoch charged loss of wages and promotional opportunity because she was denied the right to work overtime under California protective legislation applicable only to women. (This had been one of the first complaints received by the EEOC and had been referred to Hernandez to decide; she found "reasonable cause" to believe Menglekoch was discriminated against by her employer's adherence to state law. The Hernandez decision on the case had been held up pending discussion by the full Commission, which deter-mined, on a split vote, not to decide the case. (10/29-30/65)

Romania substituted a restrictive abortion law for one allowing abortion on request.(10/66)


Political

A poll by the Field Research Corporation indicated that only 25% of the population favored very restrictive abortion laws, while 65% favored liberalizing them. (07/66)

Margaret Sanger, champion of birth control, died in Tucson, AZ, just a few days short of her eighty-eighth birthday. (09/06/66)

Aileen Hernandez submitted her resignation as EEOC Commissioner, effective November 10, ". . . in frustration over the inaction on this issue [flight attendants] and other cases which had drifted on for more than a year in spite of the time requirements of Title VII." (Under Title VII, cases were supposed to be disposed of in 60 days). (10/10/66)


The Backlash

The Los Angeles Archdiocese hired the firm of Spencer-Roberts to organize Right-to-Life groups in California. (1966)

The National Observer published a front page feature article entitled, "Women Are The Next Great Issue For Civil Rights," (quoting Friedan), by Mark R. Arnold. The article began: "Warning to all American husbands: the days of male supremacy are numbered. Your wives, victimized and degraded by a double standard in law and custom, have found a new champion. It is NOW-the National Organization for Women-a militant new women's rights movement envisioned as becoming a mass-based pressure group capable of fulfilling the dream of emancipation of womanhood held out by the Nineteenth Century suffragettes." The article concluded, "it remains to be seen whether great numbers of women will rally to NOW's call to arms." (12/26/66)

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