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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: “Equality? You don’t know what the hell you want!”

The CBS coverage goes on to inform the public of Betty Freidan’s speech at City Hall in front of hundreds of protestors. The main march took place after work hours down Fifth Avenue and saw no confrontation; there were even a few men in the crowd. Above all, according to CBS News, the ultimate goal of the day’s activities was reached, which was simply to draw the country’s attention to women’s liberation. On the other side of the country in Los Angeles, protesting also occurred. News crews filmed a couple of men protesting against the women, and in response, the women began chanting to the men, “Go do the dishes!” In San Francisco, however, the protesting was almost non-existent and when housewives on the street were interviewed, one declared the movement as “ridiculous” and another woman explained that even though housework can become tedious, a housewife simply “gets over it” eventually (CBS News).

A day later, the front page of the Omaha World Herald displayed a large photo and main story entitled, “Women Strike, Few Absent,” in which the Women’s Liberation Strike was covered by the Associated Press also in an unbiased manner. The story simply informed readers of the previous day’s activities, at one point discussing Senator Jennings Randolf, a democrat for West Virginia, who criticized the Women’s Liberation Movement that day as a “small band of bra-less bubble heads.” In a Senate speech, he said the strike called by the movement is not needed. “The small band of bra-less bubbleheads who consider free and unlimited abortions an absolute ‘right’ are not the valid choice for the American woman” (Omaha World Herald 1).

It seemed things were looking up for the Omaha World Herald and the Midwest’s views on the Liberation Movement in 1970, until I felt compelled to look further into this issue of the newspaper in the microfiches of UNO’s library. A few pages into the August 27 paper, one can find the Women’s News Section, which includes a split pea soup recipe, questions to Dear Abby concerning a cheating boyfriend, and two extremely compelling cartoons. The first is of a moronic brunette in a short skirt who is confused and irritated that her bank is notifying her she is out of money, and she still doesn’t understand why she can’t write a check; this is a blatant blow to the women talked of on the front page of the very same newspaper issue.

A cartoon published in the “Women’s News” section of the Omaha World Herald around the time of the strike.

The second cartoon , even more disturbing than the first, was from the “Love is…” line of cartoons. Apparently, love in 1970 after a major Feminist demonstration was “turning up your nose at the women’s liberation movement” (Omaha World Herald 14). It is apparent that even though the strike was covered in the paper, it was merely to inform the reader of the news; the Women’s News Section, however, suggests a sort of underlying anti-Feminist propaganda, attempting to lead the reader, male or female, in “the right direction” concerning women’s liberation. Even more intriguing is the fact that that cartoon was created by a woman, Kim Casali.

 

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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,