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Origins of Modern Feminism and Literature

However, on the very eve of World War II, when the country was still recovering from the Great Depression and unemployment rates had been reduced, hostility toward women in the workplace remained high. Prevailing cultural norms principally dictated a wife-and-mother role for women, and there was by and large an absence of public-policy debate on that subject.

Evolution of the third wave of feminism was all about discourse and debate. It achieved momentum in the 1960s. Part of the reason was publication of the popular Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan, which gave voice not so much to new ideas as to ideas that had lain dormant after World War II and during the 1950s entrenchment of the American nuclear-family myth. It would be hazardous to claim too much for Friedan's text, but its modest agenda came down to the idea that working mothers were perhaps not such a bad idea and might expand women's horizons; that was heresy enough for popular imagination.

Another part of the reason third-wave feminism reached critical mass was the "authority of experience" (Diamond & Edwards, 1977). Social critique that at the time dominated popular consciousness was mainly grounded in race-based civil-rights activism. As of 1960, women who completed adv


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