Part II – 1973

1953 | 1954 | 1955 | 1956 |1957 | 1958 | 1959
1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963 | 1964 | 1965 | 1966
1967 | 1968 | 1969 | 19701971 | 1972 | 1973
1974 | 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 | 1980
1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987
1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | Epilogue, 1993


For the first time in 24 years, the U.S. Senate had no women members. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, who had served since January 3, 1949, was defeated in her re-election bid in November 1972. (01/20/73)

Justice Harry A. Blackmun wrote the decision in Roe v. Wade (see below) legalizing abortion. He was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Nixon, a third choice after two previous nominees, Clement Haynsworth and Harrold Carswell, failed to be confirmed by the Senate due to a successful campaign by civil rights groups. (01/22/73)

An official cease-fire agreement was signed in Paris effectively ending the U.S. role in combat in the Vietnam War. An end to the military draft was announced on the same day. (01/27/73)

Anne Armstrong was appointed by President Nixon to the Cabinet as counselor to the President, the first woman to hold such a position. One of her duties was to coordinate the appointment of women to federal posts. (02/01/73)

The U.S. House of Representatives appointed its first female page. (05/31/73)

President Nixon, in his human resources message to Congress said the administration “will continue” to support ratification of the [Equal Rights) amendment “. . . so that American women. . . need never again be denied equal opportunity.” However, the administration did not go all out for ratification, because of an alleged fear that if the White House pressed aggressively for ratification, it might generate more opposition to the amendment on the ground that the President was overstepping his authority. The White House limited its support to some telephone calls, telegrams, and an occasional speech by an administration figure, such as Jill Ruckelshaus. (03/01/73)

Women’s Equality Day, conceived by NOW, and introduced in Congress by Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY), was confirmed by Congress and the President. Feminist groups took to the parks and streets across the country to celebrate the 53rd anniversary of Women’s Suffrage. They also promoted a boycott of Farah Pants because of its discriminatory practices. (08/26/73)

Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in a tennis match billed as “The Battle of the Sexes” in the Houston Astrodome. The match was set up after Riggs claimed that even an over-the-hill man could beat any championship class woman. King defeated Riggs in straight sets in the five-set match which was televised nationally. (09/20/73)

Betty Friedan met with Pope Paul VI, who told Friedan: “We want to express our gratitude and appreciation for all you have done for the women of the world.” He gave her a medallion of his likeness, and she gave him the women’s equality symbol known as the “Brassy,” created by NOW National Board Member from Los Angeles, Judith Meuli. (10/24/73)

The Watergate scandal unfolded throughout the year as Judge John Sirica sentenced the burglars (03/23/73); top White House aides had to resign (04/30); and the Senate Judiciary Committee conducted televised hearings (05/17/73); Vice President Agnew also resigned to avoid charges of income tax evasion; Senator Gerald Ford replaced him. (10/12/73)


A U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade declared invalid all state laws that restricted abortion in the first three months of pregnancy, grounding the decision on the right to privacy. According to the Court, the decision in the first trimester of pregnancy was to be left to the woman and her doctor. During the second trimester of pregnancy, the states could regulate the abortion procedure only in a manner reasonably related to the states’ interest in protecting the health of the woman. In roughly the third trimester, after viability of the fetus, the states could regulate or even prohibit abortion except when necessary to save the life or health of the woman. On the same day, in Doe v. Bolton, the Court struck down procedures required by statute that created unnecessary obstacles for a woman who sought an abortion. (01/22/73)

NOW protested Jaycees’ sexism at the Tulsa, OK, headquarters of the Junior Chamber of Commerce. NOW stated that while the Jaycees purport to develop leadership in community service, its membership is limited to men, which wrongly utilizes its tax exempt status and consciously violates the law and spirit of the American committment to equality. (02/19/73)

The NOW Task Force on Sexuality and Lesbianism was established two years after the NOW membership, at its national conference in Los Angeles, adopted a resolution stating that “a woman’s right to her own person includes the right to define and express her own sexuality and to choose her own lifestyle.” (1973)

The U.S. Government Printing Office agreed to accept “Ms.” as an optional title for women in government publications. (02/73)

NOW voted at the 6th National Conference to support workers in the Farah boycott, and the farm workers’ iceberg lettuce boycott. In other actions at the conference in Washington, D.C., NOW established a Task Force on Rape, and a Task Force on Older Women. Resolutions called for a $2.50 minimum wage, decriminalization of prostitution, and divorce law reform. Theme of conference, “Tomorrow Is NOW,” was also the title of the last book written by Eleanor Roosevelt. NOW voted at the national conference to “condemn the policies of the Nixon administration as not being in the interest of minorities.” Members voted resolutions calling for changes in welfare programs, and the establishment of a Committee on Women in Poverty. (02/16-19/73)

NOW chapters in New York City joined 1,000 demonstrators at the New York HEW headquarters to protest proposed federal regulations that would end day care for many recipients. (03/07/73)

Arkansas formally adopted as a state policy the availability of “all medically acceptable contraceptive procedures, supplies and information. . . through legally recognized channels to each and every person desirous of the same, regardless of sex, race, age, income, number of children, marital status, citizenship or motive.” (03/07/73)

Physicians could legally prescribe contraceptives to unwed, unemancipated minors without parental consent, according to an opinion issued by the Attorney General of Missouri, John Danforth. (03/09/73).

NOW’s Task Force on Rape began a campaign to redefine it as a crime of violence against women and to change some of the laws dealing with rape and trials for rape. (1973)

The United States Tennis Association announced the U.S. Open would award equal prize money to women and men. (07/19/73)

A Women’s Hall of Fame was established at Eisenhower College, Seneca Falls, NY. The first 20 inductees included suffragist Susan B. Anthony, author Pearl Buck, American Red Cross founder Clara Barton, aviator Amelia Earhart, artist Mary Cassatt, poet Emily Dickinson, actress Helen Hayes, singer Marian Anderson, former Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, humanitarian Helen Keller, and former First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. (08/73)

NOW chapters demonstrated against the Little League World Series in Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh NOW filed a charge of sex discrimination against the city because Little League games were scheduled in public parks. Pittsburgh had a city ordinance which prohibited sex discrimination in public accommodations. Essex County, NJ, NOW filed charges against the New Jersey Little League, which resulted in hearings by the state’s Division on Civil Rights. (08/25/73)

The Coast Guard quietly did away with its regulations requiring separate bathrooms for men and women aboard ships. A spokesman for the Coast Guard confirmed that separate heads no longer are required as long as privacy is maintained. The move apparently was aimed at letting more women work on oceanographic ships. (09/05/73)

A New Jerry court ruled the Little League in New Jersey must admit girls. The ruling followed a suit in which Judith Weis and Essex County NOW helped to refute testimony by Little League witnesses who claimed girls were not physically able to play baseball with boys. There were reports that the Little League intended to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. (11/07/73)

365 NOW Chapters; NOW Membership 15,000 (1973)


NOW won the first sex discrimination complaint against a university: Johnson v. U. of Pittsburgh. (1973)

NOW began a campaign across the country for enforcement of Title IX which had been passed in June 1972. The Office of Civil Rights and HEW had delayed time after time in preparing guidelines for the enforcement of Title IX in schools. (01/01/73)

The Essex County` (NJ) NOW chapter filed charges of sex discrimination against 13 school systems in Essex and Hudson Counties for maintaining sex-segregated courses in home economics and industrial arts classes. Charges were filed in the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights. (11/03/73)


In another coordinated national action to keep public pressure on AT&T, NOW chapters all over the country presented their local Bell System affiliates with a “bill” for $4 billion in back wages that NOW calculated its employees had lost as a result of discrimination. (01/03/73)

AT&T signed a $38 million agreement with the Department of Labor and EEOC, the largest job discrimination settlement in the nation’s history. It provided that AT&T and its 24 operating companies make one-time lump-sum payments totaling $15 million to 15,000 workers the EEOC found were victims of “pervasive and systemic” discrimination. An additional $23 million per year was allocated for wage adjustments aimed at elevating women and minority males to equal standing with white males in similar jobs. It also provided for new hiring practices aimed at getting more men as operators and clerks and more women into outside craft jobs, and a broadening of management opportunities. (01/18/73)

Eight women were selected by the Navy for flight training, in a test program to assess the feasibility of assigning women to flying duties. (01/73)

Emily Howell of Denver became a second officer for Frontier Airlines, flying Boeing 737 jets. She was the first woman pilot employed in that capacity by a regularly scheduled commercial airline. In June 1973, Bonnie Tibursi became the first female pilot with American Airlines when she began her three-year training program for co-pilot duties. (02/73)

The Bank of California settled a lawsuit by NOW and minority groups charging sex and race discrimination. The bank agreed in federal court to a plan by which women and minorities would constitute a majority of its management positions by 1982. The bank also agreed to establish a $225,000 educational development fund to benefit women and minorities. (05/02/73)

The first interunion conference of trade union women was held in Chicago, a precursor to the formation of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) (06/30/73; see also 03/23/74)

Columbia (SC) NOW filed sex discrimination charges with EEOC against the state and the Governor, for discrimination in employment in state jobs. (09/14/73)

Members of New York NOW raised a banner with the words “Woman Power” over the public gallery of the American Stock Exchange. They said they were protesting “male domination of the Wall Street empire.” (08/23/73)

The September issue of MS. suggested that NASA was a male chauvinist bastion that barred qualified women from competing for positions as astronauts. (09/73)

Demonstrations against the steel industry were initiated in cooperation with the NOW National Compliance Task Force, chaired by Lynne Darcy, by Chicago NOW and Southwestern Pennsylvania NOW Chapters, when it was learned that the steel companies’ plan to correct job discrimination within the industry did not include women. (12/10-14/73)


Pope Paul VI appointed 15 women from 13 nations as charter members of a temporary pontifical Commission on Women in the Church and Society. Debbie Schellman, 21, an art student from Atlanta, was the only American member. Although it was announced that a majority of the commission members would be women, American feminists later complained that only 10% of the group’s 26 members were female, and they criticized the selection of Schellman. It was announced before the Commission’s first meeting in November 1973 that they would not deal with birth control, priesthood for women, or other “doctrinal” issues. In March 1974, the Pope extended the life of the commission to January 1976, to continue it through 1975, the United Nation’s Year of the Woman. (05/03/73)

Margaret A. Haywood was elected the first female moderator of the United Church of Christ. An associate justice of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, she became the first black woman to head a major U.S. denomination. (06/23/73)

Lorraine K. Potter of Warwick, RI, a minister of the American Baptist church, became the first woman chaplain in the U.S. Air Force and the second woman chaplain in U.S. military history. She was assigned to Lackland AFB, TX. (09/73)

Conservative Judaism ruled that women could be counted along with men in making up the minimum number for congregational worship. (09/10/73)

In her new book, Beyond God the Father, Dr. Mary Daly outlined a proposed theology for the women’s movement, rejecting the symbolic male divinity of Christianity. She called herself a “post-Christian feminist.” (10/73)


Singer, songwriter Helen Reddy won a Grammy Award for the hit record “I Am Woman,” the first explicitly feminist song to become a gold record and unofficial anthem of the feminist movement. It was estimated that seven out of 10 record buyers were women. (07/73)

NOW organized support for the “Three Marias” jailed in Portugal for writing a feminist book. In its first international action, NOW chapters in Houston, New York, Washington, D.C., Eastern Massachusetts and Los Angeles had demonstrations at Portugese embassies and consulates in their cities. Similar protests were held the same day in France, Belgium, Sweden, Germany and England. The protest actions and petitions were effective in drawing attention to what was considered the first international feminist cause celebre. The Portugese government suddenly postponed the trial of the Marias in a delaying tactic calculated to relieve public pressure and discourage further demonstrations. (The Three Marias were acquitted in 1974.) (07/03/73)

As a result of a campaign against the show organized by the U.S. Catholic Conference, 39 CBS stations refused to carry the re-run of a “Maude” episode in which the 47- year old character finds herself pregnant and eventually opts for abortion. Not one corporate sponsor bought commercial time and there were some 17,000 protest letters.. NOW organized protest campaigns in cities where anti-abortion groups had forced cancellation of the Norman Lear -Bud Yorkin TV show. The episodes attracted 41% of the available audience and CBS estimated that as many as 65 million people watched at least one of the episodes, either first-run or in the re-run. (08/21/73)

The New Woman’s Survival Catalog was published. Edited by Kirsten Grimstad and Susan Rennie, the book was a directory of women’s activities nationwide with emphasis on the various efforts being made to free women from male dominated social attitudes and overdependence on men. It contained practical information on divorce, managing money, how to file a job discrimination complaint, and other data intended to help women realize their growing expectations. (1973)

NOW Vice President-Public Relations, Toni Carabillo, presented extensive testimony to the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Television Code Review Board and the Radio Code Review Board on the image of women and the women’s movement in the media and proposed revisions to the codes prepared by Joan Nicholson, National Coordinator of NOW’s Image of Women Task Force and Whitney Adams, National Coordinator of NOW’s FCC Task Force. The revisions were aimed at establishing stricter guidelines for broadcasters in portraying women in programming and advertising. Joyce Snyder, of New York NOW, was instrumental in arranging NOW’s participation in the NAB Code conferences. The NAB Television Code Review Board agreed to the “thrust and spirit” of NOW’s changes to the television code and NAB also agreed to revisions of its Radio Code as proposed by NOW. In addition, NAB distributed copies of Toni Carabillo’s presentations to all stations subscribing to the radio and television codes. (10/11/73 & 11/02/73)


In a small park across the street from the U.S. Supreme Court, NOW members, dressed in judicial robes, conducted a mock session of the Court. The skit dramatized what the Court would be like if it were composed exclusively of women interpreting the laws that applied to men’s lives. The NOW justices were: Jo Ann Evansgardner, Roberta Benjamin, Muriel Fox, Jacqui Ceballos, Wilma Scott Heide (as Chief Justice), Karen De Crow, Nola Claire, Dorothy Haener and Toni Carabillo. (02/16/73)

The U.S. Supreme Court, in the Frontiero v. Richardson decision, ruled that denial of benefits to military husbands was unconstitutional. The court determined that because Frontiero was denied employment benefits under regulations different from those applicable to her male peers, the statute was discriminatory. Sharon Frontiero, an Air Force officer, had sought increased quarters allowances and medical and dental benefits to cover her husband, benefits which automatically went to male officers for their spouses. Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued the case before the Supreme Court. (05/14/73)

After a five-year campaign by NOW, and three and a half years of litigation of the NOW complaint, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling prohibited sex-segregated employment advertisements. (06/21/73)

A three judge panel ruled that Louisiana’s law which required that women register their desire to serve on a jury with the clerk of court was unconstitutional. (08/31/73)


At its national convention, the YWCA voted to lobby for the ERA, reversing a position the 2.4 million member organization had held for 48 years. (1973)

NOW protested a dinner honoring former Reps. Celler and McCullock, who had opposed civil rights for women of all races, opposing Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Equal Rights Amendment in Congress. NOW’s position was that even though these men had had relatively good records pertaining to civil rights for Blacks, racism and sexism are still closely related, although each issue has unique dimensions.(01/29/73)

NOW action: “I Gave Blood for the ERA” Day. A resolution of the NOW National Board recommended that NOW chapters and members have a “Blood For The Equal Rights Amendment” day in their communities and sell their blood to raise money to help finance the campaign to pass the ERA. Persons unable to do so were urged to donate $10 to the “Blood for the ERA Fund.” Chapters all over the country participated in the action. (02/05/73)

Corrine C. (Lindy) Boggs of Louisiana was elected to the House of Representatives to fill the vacancy caused by the death of her husband, Hale, who was missing and presumed dead in a plane crash in Alaska. (03/21/73)

More than 300 women from 27 countries attended the International Feminist Planning Conference in Cambridge, MA which was organized and sponsored by NOW. The goal of the planning Conference, organized by National Board member Patricia Burnett, was to build an international feminist movement and to organize a full-scale international feminist conference in 1975. (06/01-04/73)

Doris Wright, a New York NOW Advisory Council member, and Lori Sharpe, New York NOW member, were instrumental in founding the National Black Feminist Organization. (08/15/73)

Cardiss Collins of Chicago was elected to fill the vacancy in the U.S. House of Representatives caused by the death of her husband, George. She was re-elected in 1974 for a full term. (06/05/73)

NOW participated in forming a 13 member Women’s Coalition for the 21st Century, as an alternative to the American Bicentennial Commission which NOW President Wilma Scott Heide described as “undemocratic, political, commercial and anti-feminist.” (09/10/73)

The AFL-CIO reversed its stand opposing the ERA and endorsed its ratification after a campaign led by Ann Scott, NOW Vice President Legislation. (10/26/73)

Eight more states-Connecticut, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming ratified the ERA during the year, bringing the total to 30. (1973)

The Backlash

On the West coast, Helen Andelin, author of a book called Fascinating Womanhood (originally published in 1963), which was used by the Mormon Church as a kind of hand-book to train its women as “domestic goddesses,” emerged as a spokeswoman against the Equal Rights Amendment and the feminist movement. (1973)

The National Committee for a Human Life Amendment was established. (1973)

The Society for a Christian Commonwealth, a conservative Catholic lay organization, called for the excommunication of Justice William Brennan, Jr. for his pro-choice views in the Roe v. Wade decision. (01/26/73)

Joseph Coors funded the formation of The Heritage Foundation, later to become the “think tank” of the Reagan Administration.

Lottie Beth Hobbs founded the Pro-Family Forum in Texas, an anti-abortion, anti-ERA group. Hobbs was also a vice president of the Eagle Forum. (1973)

The National Council of Catholic Bishops warned that Catholics who undergo or perform an abortion “place themselves in a state of excommunication.” (02/13/73)

Eighty six hundred delegates of the Southern Baptist Church in Portland, OR, met at their 116th annual meeting and passed a resolution espousing male superiority. It read in part: “Man was not made for woman, but the woman for the man. Woman is the glory of man. Woman would not have existed without man.” (06/73)

The National Council of Catholic Women reaffirmed its stand in opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment at its convention in New Orleans. (10/73)

Education Research Analysts was incorporated as a non-profit. Run by Mel and Norma Gabler out of their Texas home, its purpose was to search textbooks for signs of unpatriotic, anti-Christian or anti-family sentiments and protest the books use before the state textbook committee. Joseph Coors provided funding. (1973)

Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) introduced an amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act, which prohibited the use of funds for abortion services or research, and for abortifacient drugs and devices (which included menstrual extraction and IUDs). This amendment passed the Senate unanimously. There were no women Senators. (10/02/73)

A Superior Court Judge in Montesano, WA, ruled that Carol & Delores Darrin and Kathy Tosland, who had won starting positions on the Wishkah High football team could not play. The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association ruled that if Wishkah coach John Clark let the girls play on his team, he would have to forfeit the game and the school would be subject to sanctions. The girls, supported by the ACLU, challenged the ruling but lost. (10/10/73)

The Pacific Legal Foundation was set up by the California Chamber of Commerce to protect business and industry from what they termed costly government regulations, such as affirmative action. (1973)

Using the Pacific Foundation as a model, the legal network for the radical right was enlarged with the establishment of the National Legal Center for the Public Interest; Joseph Coors provided funding and served on its board of directors. The National Legal Center began setting up regional legal groups which ultimately included the Connecticut Legal Foundation; the Southeast Legal Foundation; the Mid-America Legal Foundation; and the Mountain States Legal Foundation. (1973)

Sexual Suicide by George Gilder, a diatribe against the feminist movement, was published. In it Gilder asserted, “Women domesticate and civilize male nature. They can destroy civilized male identity merely by giving up the role.” (1973)

Support eh ERA banner