Life before the second wave was definitely more interested in binary gender stereotypes than we might like to admit. That meant that women were expected to confine themselve to things traditionally feminine in nature; beauty routines, as a result, were intense, strict and rooted in femininity. Beauty parlors that provided all manner of treatments, services and looks were par for the course in the average life of a woman in a post-WWII and pre-Women's Lib world.
Women had jobs, but it was no picnic
Image: H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images
Being a secretary was one of the few acceptable jobs available to women before the second wave took full effect. But just because you had a job and actually had a reason to leave your home, there was no reason to expect that you'd be treated equal to the men in your office. Instead, taking dictation and meeting notes, kowtowing to your male bosses, trying the brush of the creepy gazes of your male co-workers, suffering through mansplaining and so much more (fun!) were expected if you worked as a secretary. But hey, the grass is always greener on the other side, right?
The politics of fandom have always been up for debate, but when female fandom comes into the mix, it's easy to get reductive about the whole thing. Enter: Beatlemania. Beatlemania made women into screaming, heaving, sighing fans of the highest degree; that's not necessarily a bad thing. Rather, watching women turn into piles of goo for four lads from Liverpool was a predecessor to the levels of fandom we saw for, say, boys bands in the '90s or the turnout for the opening of a Kylie Jenner pop-up shop. Yeah, it was intense, but the dedication and passion these young women had in stoking the fandom fires gives way to the validity of loving something like a musical group.
Shopping was one of the few point of socialization for young women. Between school and home life, going out with friends to the shops remains a time-honored social practice. This picture of young women trotting through Carnaby Street in London (one of the city's most fashionable streets) reminds us that the lives of women were are bright, colorful and multi-faceted in the 1960s as they are today.
The leaders of the Second Wave of Feminism in America, particularly, emerged boldly. It is argued that Betty Friedan's (pictured in the foreground) popular book The Feminine Mystiquetriggered the resurgence of feminist politics and activism in America when it was first published in 1963. Gloria Steinem (pictured center) was a journalist and activist whose explosive exposé of what it was like as a woman to work at The Playboy Club put her on the feminist map. In addition to becoming the voice of the Second Wave, Steinem created Ms. Magazine in 1972, providing yet another outlet for women to make their voices heard.
There was no time for mincing words when demonstrating. Women and the men who supported them were not in the mood to mince words when the time came to stand up for equal rights. Just like the signs at the Women's March in Washington D.C. earlier in 2017, these demonstrations and marches were full of colorful signs that colorfully illustrated all the B.S. that was alive and well in the world in the 1960s and 1970s.
The women's liberation movement absolutely spelled political action for any woman who was willing and able. Politicians during this time took note of the Second Wave of feminism sweeping through America and made sure to comment on it in some fashion during their run for office. Following in the tradition of innovation and social betterment, candidate Bobby Kennedy took a page out of his brother's book by speaking to a group of women in Long Island while he was on the campaign trail. If you want to get the vote, you have to make sure you're speaking to the people whose vote you count on.
Angela Davis, along with Friedan and Steinemm was a pivotal figure in the Women's Lib movement. She remains a pivotal voice for women, especially black women, today. Davis is known for her scholarly contributions in the areas of women's studies, politics and culture. Davis has also actively marched and fought for the equal rights of black women and men in America during a time — the 1960s — when the rights of black people were actively being suppressed. Davis' work is not done yet and that fight still continues in 2017.
A young woman sports a vest that says it all: "Love is free." The Free Love movement, part of the counterculture of the 1960s, was a major aspect of self-care and care for one's peers during a time of great social and political upheaval. Women could certainly march for their rights but also expressing love and exploring their sexual freedoms made living as a woman during the Second Wave a revolutionary experience.
Some may think that celebrities voicing their political opinions in 2017 is a bit of a bother, but back in the 1960s and 1970s, celebrities did not mince words about their political opinions. Actively speaking out against America's involvement in the the Vietnam War, actors Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland took part in a political protest in the form of a variety show back in the early '70s. Fonda even went to Vietnam at one point to visit the civilians caught in the middle of the war and was arrested for her political activism at one point.
Australian feminist, activist and author Germaine Greer could be found either speaking out or marching in favor of women's rights during the Second Wave. Her pivotal tome, The Female Eunuch, argued that nearly every facet of a woman's life — from the nuclear family to consumerism to the workplace — was designed to drain her of her vitality and leave her cut off from her true self and source of power.
Steinem leads a rally in the lobby of the United Nations. The women protest for the rights of women around the globe, a cause furthered continued today in Steinem's series with VICE called "Woman." The docuseries chronicles region-specific looks at women's lives around the world and the challenges they face as a result of their womanhood. Never forget that rare is the woman who leads a full free and equal life.