40 Basic Rights Women Did Not Have Until The 1970s
40 Basic Rights Women Did Not Have Until The 1970s

40 Basic Rights Women Did Not Have Until The 1970s

Trista - June 26, 2019

40 Basic Rights Women Did Not Have Until The 1970s
A woman using an ATM for the first time. Pinterest.

11. Women Couldn’t Open A Bank Account

One reason women couldn’t legally own a bank before the 1970s is because they couldn’t legally open a bank account. Just like women couldn’t get a credit card without their husband’s signature, they couldn’t open a bank account without their husband’s permission. One of the reasons ladies couldn’t open their own bank account was because people believed they wouldn’t be able to handle the financial part. Men saw females as delicate creatures who couldn’t understand many of the things they could.

40 Basic Rights Women Did Not Have Until The 1970s
The Feminine Mystique. Amazon.

10. Women Couldn’t Discuss Sex Openly

It’s hard to think of this one today, but before the 1970s, women could not discuss their sex lives or anything having to do with sex openly. Of course, many females probably addressed the topic of sex privately to their friends, but it wasn’t acceptable to discuss in public. While it wasn’t illegal, many women often followed the rules of what people considered socially acceptable and what people didn’t. The woman and book that really changed the way women discussed sex is Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique.

40 Basic Rights Women Did Not Have Until The 1970s
A mother with her baby in the 1970s. Flashbak.

9. Women Couldn’t Breastfeed In Public

Realistically, breastfeeding in public is a controversial topic today. However, before the 1970s, this topic was not even a controversy because it simply wasn’t allowed. Mothers were not allowed to breastfeed their children in public. In fact, many places discriminated against mothers who breastfed as they worried it would happen in their business. The discrimination against breastfeeding mothers legally ended when Congress passed a law saying that a public place could not discriminate against women who breastfed as they saw it as a violation of their equality rights.

40 Basic Rights Women Did Not Have Until The 1970s
Females at school during the 70s. Reddit.

8. Females Couldn’t Receive An Equal Education

Women dealt with discrimination in education regularly. Not only weren’t they allowed to obtain a law degree or go to ivy league colleges before the late 1960s and into the early 1970s, but they faced discrimination in the educational setting in many other ways. By many men, women just couldn’t handle higher education. Some people actually felt that girls weren’t smart enough to obtain a certain level of education. For decades, some people felt women belonged in the kitchen more than they belonged in school. This idea created much discrimination and unequal treatment in the educational system.

40 Basic Rights Women Did Not Have Until The 1970s
Women walking in Hermosa Beach in the 1970s. Reddit.

7. They Couldn’t Adopt A Baby As A Single Woman

Women couldn’t do tons of things before the 1970s, and one of these things was they couldn’t adopt a baby if they didn’t have a male partner. Even though the majority of women before the 1970s stayed home and raised the children while their husband went to work, the lawmakers believed that they shouldn’t be able to adopt a baby without having a husband. Even if the single woman lived wealthy, remained healthy, and could give the child a great home, no one would allow her to because she was wasn’t married.

40 Basic Rights Women Did Not Have Until The 1970s
Katharine Graham, pictured in 1975, was the publisher of The Washington Post. Wikimedia Commons.

6. She Couldn’t Be The CEO OF A Fortune 500 Company

With all the rules, laws, and regulations surrounding women before the 1970s, it’s probably no shock that it took until the early 1970s for a woman to become the CEO of a Fortune 500 Company. Katharine Graham became the first female CEO in American history of a Fortune 500 Company when she took over The Washington Post in 1972. While what she did had never been illegal, this doesn’t take away the fact that Graham broke barriers for many other ladies.

40 Basic Rights Women Did Not Have Until The 1970s
Angela Davis in 1969. Bettmann / CORBIS.

5. They Couldn’t Have Their Own Mind

Of course, women actually had their own mind before the 1970s, but this didn’t mean that their intention was considered valuable. While women acquired certain tasks, they were tasks that men felt women were capable of doing, such as taking care of the children, cleaning the house, and cooking a meal. An example of this is the fact that wives needed their husbands’ permission to do many things, including getting a job. There are also examples of requiring a husband’s signature to obtain a credit card.

40 Basic Rights Women Did Not Have Until The 1970s
Nurses from the 1970s. Godmanchester County Primary School.

4. They Cared More About Education Than Marriage

Starting in the late 1960s and into early 1970s, women began to focus more on their higher education than getting married and starting a family right out of high school. This idea became a drastic change from a few years before when women often got married young because there wasn’t much for them in higher education. However, with ivy league colleges allowing women and more female professionals, higher education started to become more important than getting married after high school.

40 Basic Rights Women Did Not Have Until The 1970s
Ruth Bager Ginsburg in 1972. Jitter Bugged.

3. They Were Scarce in DC

While a few females found their spot in the political field, locally or nationally, before the 1970s politics and women were not a hot topic until the 1970s. In fact, the late 1960s and into the early 1970s saw an increase in women in the political field. In fact, in 1970, about a dozen women had their seat in Congress. On top of this, women had found their political position in their own neighborhoods and continued to write their names on ballots.

40 Basic Rights Women Did Not Have Until The 1970s
Women protesting the Miss America pageant in 1968. folkways.si.edu.

2. They Did Rally Against The Miss America Pageant

In 1968, many women from around the United States got together to protest the Miss America pageant. During this time, they complained because they wanted to be treated as people and not objects. They stated that the Miss America pageant promoted sexism. This opposition is the same mentality that females carried into the 1970s. Instead of feeling like a sexual object or a piece of property, women fought to be able to feel like they mattered and were human beings just like men.

40 Basic Rights Women Did Not Have Until The 1970s
Women’s Strike for Peace And Equality in 1970. Eugene Gordon / The New York Historical Society / Getty Images.

1. Women Fought For The Right To Protest

Before the late 1960s and into the early 1970s women rarely held marches and protests and if they did, these moments saw hostility from males and other females. It all started to change during the 1970s when men joined in on the women’s protests for their rights and equality matters. On top of this, ladies began protesting beyond the majority of discriminatory practices they faced in the United States. They protested for a variety of reasons throughout the United States. Something that wasn’t often seen in the United States previously.


Where Did We Find This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources:

“How Ruth Bader Ginsburg Paved the Way for Women to Get Credit Cards”. Samantha Rosen. Time Magazine. Nov 2020

“Landmark Cases: Roe Vs. Wade (1973).” Alex McBride. Thirteen.org.

“6 Things You Won’t Believe Women Couldn’t Do In 1970.” Suzannah Weiss, Bustle. December 2015.

“Women Officially Acknowledged in BAA Race.” Boston.com.

“10 Things That American Women Could Not Do Before the 1970s.” Natasha Turner, Ms. Magazine. May 2013.

“Things That American Women Couldn’t Do Until the 1970s.” Lisa Waugh, Ranker.

“Efforts to Combat Pregnancy Discrimination”. Nora Ellmann and Jocelyn Frye. American Progress Center. November 2018

“5 Facts About No-Fault Divorce”. Joe Carter. Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. August 2019

“First female West Point graduate reflects on historic anniversary.” Rachid Haoues, CBS Evening News. May 2015.

“Who’s to Blame for America’s Sexual Harassment Nightmare?” Mark Joseph Stern, Slate. October 2017.

“7 Shocking Things Women Weren’t Allowed to Do Until Pretty Recently.” Beth Dreher, Woman’s Day. August 2016.

“Crazy things women couldn’t do 50 years ago.” Adria Valdes Greenhauff, The List.

“Interracial Relationships that Changed History.” PBS.

“6 Things You Won’t Believe Women Couldn’t Do In 1970” Brittany Greco, Bustle. January 2016.

“Women’s Studies” Wikipedia.

“Participation of women in the Olympics.” Wikipedia.