Feminism – a basic introduction

The 1970s were a time of political action in New Zealand. Different social movements sprang up based on the liberal-humanist idea that all people are of equal value and should be treated that way. Second-wave feminism (see reference list below) calling for equality for women in economic, political and personal endeavours, was influential. Up to this time women had limited control of their sexuality, fertility and finances, had very limited choices in socially acceptable paid and unpaid work, particularly after marriage. They found it very difficult both socially and financially to leave an abusive relationship or keep their children if they did. Abortion, which is addressed in Allie Eagle and Me was a particularly contentious issue. In the 70s feminists wanted to change legislation surrounding the practice, to make it available from proper healthcare professionals, and on demand. This was because of the number of women who died during or after illegal abortions performed without any standardization of training or care. Coupled with a changing political climate, activism and political protest eventually resulted in the legalization of abortion (see a history of abortion in New Zealand) for women who are mentally unstable or who will be put at physical risk from carrying a foetus to full term. This legislation, covered in the 1977 Contraception, Abortion and Sterilisation Act and the 1961 Crimes Act, is currently still in effect. Feminist activity is frequently associated with a movement of women into paid work, protest marches and a push for legislative change (as in the abortion debate), or taking part in consciousness-raising groups, but it took many forms. One of them was embodied by the way feminist women made art.

Second-wave feminism references

Second-wave feminism on Wikipedia
(NB this is a description of the American Second Wave)

Christine Dann. Up from under : women and liberation in New Zealand, 1970-1985 Published:Wellington, N.Z. : Allen & Unwin : Port Nicholson Press, 1985.

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