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Watching Women's Liberation, 1970Feminism's Pivotal Year on the Network News$
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Bonnie J. Dow

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038563

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038563.001.0001

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Making a Spectacle of the Movement

Making a Spectacle of the Movement

The August 26, 1970, Women’s Strike for Equality

(p.144) Chapter 5 Making a Spectacle of the Movement
Watching Women's Liberation, 1970

Bonnie J. Dow

University of Illinois Press

This chapter focuses on the Women's Strike for Equality on August 26, 1970. By this time, women's liberation seemed poised for its triumphal moment in the media spotlight. The House of Representatives had passed the Equal Rights Amendment a few weeks earlier, and all three networks had produced stories that linked this outcome to the movement's momentum. The strike seemed to confirm that momentum: involving tens of thousands of women in the United States and abroad, it was the subject of more national print and broadcast attention than any other feminist event that year. Despite the strike's inclusion of an array of liberal and radical feminist groups, it was an instance of media activism conceived and controlled by the National Organization for Women (NOW), and it put the organization's media pragmatism on full display. Confounding NOW's careful planning, the reports on the strike took an essentially liberal action and presented it as a radical one. Featuring almost no discussion of the three carefully chosen issues—abortion, equal pay, and child care—that the event was designed to dramatize, the network reports instead presented a narrative of feminist deviance, visually depicting the masses of women protestors as an entertaining spectacle.

Keywords:   feminist protest, feminist movement, women's liberation, National Organization for Women, television network, media coverage, media activism, radicalism

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