How Did Diverse Activists in the Second Wave of the Women's Movement
Shape Emerging Public Policy on Sexual Harassment?
A close look at the history of the emergence of sexual harassment activism reveals a diverse group of people involved in conceptualizing and theorizing sexual harassment, and creating legal prohibitions against it. African-American women, blue-collar women, as well as middle-class white women participated in different ways to create a powerful movement that changed the social landscape of U.S. workplaces and schools. Activists against sexual harassment approached the problem on three fronts. First, individual women around the country began filing lawsuits in the early 1970s. Second, the organized women's movement began to raise awareness about sexual harassment through speak-outs, surveys, and media work. Third, individuals, representatives of feminist organizations, union activists, and government officials lobbied Congress for changes in public policy. At the intersection of these three strands of activism emerged increased awareness of sexual harassment, government policies to discourage it, and legal prohibitions against it. This project presents documentary evidence of how this racially and economically diverse array of activists first articulated the issue of sexual harassment in the 1970s.
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