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Helen Gurley Brown and Second Wave Feminism - Essay Example

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Second wave feminism refers to the feminist activity period that started in the US in the 1960s. This broadened its focus from the first wave feminism which focused on suffrage and a battle for gender equality to a myriad of issues including sexuality, reproductive rights, family and workplace among others (DuBois and Dumenil 2012). …
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Helen Gurley Brown and Second Wave Feminism
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Helen Gurley Brown and Second Wave Feminism

Download file to see previous pages... The second wave feminism battled against domestic violence, giving proposals on the establishment of marital rape laws, divorce laws and establishing shelters for battered women. As put by Scanlon, it was a movement of obsession with “women’s professional opportunities” and “about their dating prospects” (2009, x). It is believed to have ended in the early 1980s, paving way for third-wave feminism. The work and life of Helen Gurley Brown was observed as being impertinent and daring. It entailed a celebration of feminism and the sexual practices that women enjoyed, thus giving an appropriate understanding of the second wave movement and further providing a vantage point to view the third wave feminism. Born in 1922 in Green Forest, Arkansas, Brown never noticed as she inherited some aspects of her young life and traditions (Scanlon 2009, 1). Her father died when she was young, something that caused her mother a lot of bitterness, claiming that the husband had enslaved her through motherhood and marriage and later left her alone even after she had quit her job to undertake these responsibilities. The realization of her mother’s feelings opened up Brown to feminism (Scanlon 2009, 11). She grew up to author an international best-seller in 1962 titled, Sex and the Single Girl. Additionally, she became the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine for over thirty years, giving her audience articles such as “if you're not a sex object, you're in trouble” and “good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere” that brought out her feminist ideologies. Even so, Brown faced criticisms from various second wave feminists with regard to the messages carried in her books and the Cosmopolitan. First, Brown was criticized of focusing on her individuality as opposed to the group identity of the body of women. Having come from a background of no education and poverty, Brown worked herself up the economic ladder and secured herself employment. She did not allow herself to be held back by structural barriers which she fought against on her way up from a secretary to a copywriter and further to a popular magazine editor (Scanlon 2009, 25). She did not prescribe to overthrowing systems but working towards change. This saw her succeed in her career at Cosmopolitan, earning her a loyal movement of women who prescribed to her philosophies. The women and men equality that Brown prescribed to differed from what other feminists taught. Brown believed that the equality of women to men was in the sexual desire of women. She further alluded to their right to be sexual whether outside or inside marriage. In Cosmopolitan, Brown wrote articles promoting not just economic access equality but also sexual freedom equality. She was an ardent supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, ERA alongside her support for rights to abortion (Scanlon 2009, 256). The second-wave feminists considered men in the then patriarchal society as enemies because they limited opportunities for women. These men took advantage of the caring and nurturing nature of women to confine them to motherhood, denying them their chances in the professional world. These feminists perceived marriage and children as tools used by men to oppress women. On the contrary, Brown did not consider men as enemies, choosing to perceive women as being equal to men in all aspects including their ability to abuse power and playing the games men play in dating. She was therefore criticized of having been absorbed into a system that was oppressive to women. However, Brown argued that she was being a realist and appreciated that if men made rules, then women should have ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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