Maggie May

    Share

The Woman Behind the Words

After simply typing the word “woman” in the Gateway search engine of the online archives, Quinn discovered a column from the spring semester of 1972 entitled “Womankind” by a student named Maggie May. Maggie May wrote eleven articles that focused on the Women’s Liberation Movement that helped define the second wave in U.S. women’s liberation history. After a long and daunting “woman-hunt” to find the woman Quinn saw in the photo that accompanied her columns, she discovered “Maggie May” was an anonym. Even though she may have wished to protect her identity while writing her series of articles, Maggie May was speaking to not only her generation of students and faculty, but also to Quinn, a feminist and student at the same university, nearly thirty years later.

Part One Searching for Maggie May

Part Two History of Second Wave Feminism

While Maggie May was writing her “Womankind” column for UNO’s Gateway Newspaper, the United States was in the midst of what is now known as the Second Wave Feminism Movement. Specific concerns of American women from the early 60s to the late 70s were discussed in Maggie’s articles, including better wages for female workers and the idea that the sexual revolution was harming, rather than helping women at that time. For example, Ms. Magazine featured a “Then and Now” in their Fall 2007 issue of women’s occupations and salaries in the 70s versus 2007. In 1972, women earned 59 cents for every dollar men earned whereas in 2007 women earned 77 cents for every dollar men earned. Also, that same year, women owned 4.6% of businesses as sole or majority owners, whereas they owned 40% in 2006, signifying a major

Part Three Women's Liberation in the News

The media’s portrayal of the Second Wave Liberation Movement definitely had an impact on Maggie May. Although national news stayed unbiased and careful to solely cover the facts, local Midwest news was not so careful, painting Feminism in a negative and downright insulting light. May most likely felt anger or disappointment by the local media’s representation of Feminism and took to properly and objectively covering the movement herself. An extremely common misconception about Feminism in its entirety is that its proponents are angry, bitter housewives too busy to tend to the children between ritual bra-burnings. In fact, the concept of burning brassieres in itself is truly and utterly false. On September 7, 1968, nearly four hundred protesting women gathered outside the Atlantic City Convention Center, where that year’s Miss America Pageant commenced. According to PBS’s American Experience:

One of the protest’s

Part Four Women on Strike

The Liberation Movement got its big break when a mass demonstration was organized by Betty Friedan and occurred across the country on August 26, 1970. According to a YouTube video I found of the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, the demonstrations were covered in an unbiased nature and with both sides of the story told for the country to see. Cronkite explains in his introduction that “a militant minority of women’s liberationists was on the streets across the country to demand equal employment for women, care centers for mothers, child abortions for anyone who wants them, and general equality between women and men” (CBS News). In New York City, an elderly gentleman can be seen walking past the protesting women on the sidewalk, who asks, “What do you want?” A few women shout “Equality!”, and the man’s angry response:

Part Five Who is Maggie May?

A considerable portion of America’s female population began to witness the uprising of Feminism for the second time in the nation’s history and took a more active role in the education of others about the principles of equality between the sexes. Maggie May, a student writer for the Gateway Newspaper of the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO), was one of those women and for me, the search was on to find her—the writer of a series of articles focused on conveying the concepts of Feminism entitled “Womankind.” Les Valentine, archivist for UNO, was the first person I met with to find Maggie. He pulled several issues of the Gateway in the archive offices, along with UNO yearbooks from 1970 to 1973. While referring to the picture Maggie included of herself at the top of every article written, I searched,

Part Six Maggie May's "Womankind"

The reality of social issues in the United States is sometimes difficult to grasp unless it hits home—literally. When an issue, such as Second Wave Feminism, seems to be another fad in American culture, it is not always seen as significant unless it is part of one’s daily life. This is why January 21, 1972 saw the first of Maggie May’s columns entitled “Womankind” in UNO’s Gateway Newspaper. In it, May introduces readers to the Women’s Liberation Movement with the intention of informing UNO about the issues of nation-wide feminists. She explains that her discussions will include the problems of women from a woman involved in the movement. The concept of men versus women is the oldest form of oppression, and the common societal characteristics of women are that they are weak, dainty, irrational, and emotional, and generally incompetent. Plus,