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Feminist movement: The Transformation of the Generation Born in the 50s/60s

Women born in the 1950s and 1960s faced significant sociocultural transformations, with a particular emphasis on the rise of feminism and its influences on gender issues. The emerging feminist movement was a pivotal force that challenged these norms and drove significant changes to ensure more equality and opportunities for women, paving the way for the deconstruction of these gender stereotypes.


feminist woman

The awakening of adolescence: In search of answers beyond gender stereotypes


Once upon a time there was a little girl who was starting her adolescence. A precocious girl, she was already starting to think about dating. One day, she looked at her cousin and fell in love, even though he was four years her senior. This caused a great stir in the family, as they realized that the girl was no longer interested in playing with dolls, but in playing with dating. But what to do in the face of the strength of adolescence? The girl's mother was worried, but banning would be even worse, as the two lived just a block away from each other. Thus, they began dating.


The days went by and the girl saw her boyfriend talking to an older man, a friend of the family. They were making gestures that seemed to indicate they were talking about girls. She was very, very angry with her boyfriend, asking several questions, until finally he confessed that that so-called "family friend", much older, had suggested that they go to a brothel. The girl was furious and returned home to question the family how they allowed them to take her boyfriend to meet prostitutes, and how that "family friend" could do something so inappropriate.


The answer the girl heard was short and direct: "Men need to look for women." Stunned, the girl asked: "If a man needs a woman to have sex, why doesn't a woman need a man?" The answer he received was even more surprising: "Because women have menstruation to relieve themselves!".


All this happened in the year 1971, when she was only 12 years old.


This is a story based on true events. That girl was perplexed by the distorted views on sexuality and gender. This is just a short story that illustrates how women were often subjected to stereotypes and treated unequally.


Transforming Gender Roles: Women's Struggle in the 50s and 60s


Women who were born in the 50s and 60s lived through a period of great socio-cultural transformations, especially with regard to gender issues. In this context, women faced significant restrictions in their lives, with rigidly defined gender roles and a series of limitations regarding their professional aspirations and participation in the public sphere.


At that time, social expectations of women were based on traditional stereotypes, in which the main role assigned to them was that of wives and mothers dedicated exclusively to the home. Society reinforced the idea that women should focus on taking care of the family, doing housework and obeying established standards of behavior.


Women of my generation already had professional ambitions, and when they reached adulthood, many sought to study to pursue professions that would allow financial and professional independence. Although they grew up under the influence of the culture of the time, many of them overcame the limitations inherent to their mothers' generation, which had career opportunities restricted to areas considered "appropriate" for females, such as teachers, nurses or secretaries. Even in these areas, they faced obstacles and discrimination, often being undervalued and paid less than men in similar positions, which still occurs today.


The Awakening Feminist Movement: Challenging Stereotypes and Redefining Sexuality


This social and cultural context was already being questioned and challenged with the advent of the feminist movement. The feminist movement emerges as a response to the inequalities and injustices faced by women, seeking their emancipation and equal rights. The feminist movement brought to the fore issues such as gender discrimination, domestic violence, wage inequality and the lack of political representation of women.


When Betty Friedan, one of the main activists of the feminist movement in the 1960s, questioned the limited role of women in society, she opened up space for that 12-year-old girl to aspire to personal and professional fulfillment. Surprisingly, even though her mother quit her job when she got married to dedicate herself to being a housewife, she had already been somewhat influenced by this change in the social paradigm and encouraged her daughter to seek independence. The book released by Betty Friedan in the United States, "The Feminine Mystique", was a significant milestone, awakening many women to the awareness that their lives could be more than just a dedication to the home.


In the 1970s, women already knew the right to their own bodies, and the sexual revolution was already in effect, which began the transformation of traditional notions of sexuality and relationships. These achievements made it possible for women to experience a fuller and healthier sexuality, with autonomy to make decisions about their own bodies and intimate relationships. These transformations paved the way for greater gender equality and for a redefinition of social roles and expectations regarding female sexuality.


Women at the Forefront: Breaking Barriers in Science and Research


In the 1970s, women were already entering areas previously dominated by men, such as science, medicine, law and politics. The achievements of the previous generation paved the way for the following generations of women to aspire to diverse careers and reach prominent positions. The strengthening of the feminist movement allowed women to claim their right to equal access and professional opportunities. The fight for equal opportunities and recognition of women's capabilities has played a key role in opening doors for more women to excel in fields such as science, research and conservation.


Primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall is an example of a woman who challenged established norms and made remarkable contributions in her field. Her groundbreaking work in primatology and environmental conservation reflects the importance of the feminist movement in the quest for gender equality and the empowerment of women in traditionally male-dominated areas. Jane Goodall, born in 1934 and now 89 years old, continues to be an example of courage and determination for women, her passion and her career. His pioneering research and groundbreaking discoveries challenged previously established ideas about the nature of primates, redefining the field of primatology, environmental conservation and animal rights.


In the field of Brazilian science, we have the example of Mayana Zatz, born in the 1950s, who stands out for her pioneering contributions in the field of human and medical genetics, especially in relation to genetic diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy and Huntington's disease. In addition to her scientific achievements, she is recognized as an inspiring leader and advocate for the inclusion of women in scientific research. Mayana Zatz is a professor, director of the Center for Human Genome Studies at the University of São Paulo and founder of the BRAINN Institute. His work has influenced generations of scientists in Brazil and around the world.


Vintage Women: The Legacy of the Feminist Revolution


It doesn't matter which women we are talking about, whether they are women who have chosen to be the breadwinners for their families or those who, like the examples above, have excelled in their professional fields. They were all influenced and benefited from the feminist movement in all professional areas and in all the social rights they acquired, which nowadays are part of what, in a relaxed way and without much commitment, of what I consider the "vintage adolescent revolution".


Some women who grew up in a world full of transformations of our rights may even have some restriction or prejudice in relation to what has been established as a feminist concept today, as the current generation seeks to fully exercise their rights, even if not yet fully recognized, in a world that still continues with male hegemony. However, regardless of whether or not we agree with many concepts, we all benefited from this revolution, which gave vintage women a differentiator for what we call aging.


Between the girl who heard from her family that menstruation was the "benefit" that "freed" her from the "prison" of sexual desire and the woman who writes here, there is a wealth of stories that permeate this whole theme.


Below is a list of some of the main achievements achieved thanks to the feminist movement:

  1. Reproductive rights: The feminist struggle has led to the legalization of abortion in many countries, guaranteeing women the right to decide about their own body and reproductive health.

  2. Equal pay: While there is still a gender pay gap, the feminist movement has contributed to awareness of pay inequality and pushed for laws and policies that seek to ensure equal pay for equal work.

  3. Political Participation: The feminist movement fought for equal political representation, resulting in a greater presence of women in positions of power and influence, both in governments and in international organizations.

  4. Civil and legal rights: Women have gained fundamental civil and legal rights, including the right to divorce, the right to own property, the right to custody of children, and protection from gender-based discrimination.

  5. Education and career: The feminist movement advocated equal access to education and fought against gender stereotypes regarding career choices. This has resulted in more women pursuing higher education and career opportunities in areas previously dominated by men.

  6. Gender-based violence awareness: The feminist movement has brought the issue of violence against women to the forefront, leading to advances in legislation to combat domestic violence, rape and sexual harassment.

  7. Deconstructing gender stereotypes: Feminism has challenged traditional gender stereotypes by promoting the idea that men and women can have diverse interests, abilities, and roles in society.

  8. Redefinition of beauty standards: The feminist movement questioned the beauty standards imposed on women, encouraging acceptance of the body in its various forms and the appreciation of self-esteem and individual well-being.


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