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Feminist Chronicles - 1962

Events

An American, John Glenn, orbited the earth three times in the spacecraft, Friendship 7. (02/20/62)

The U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Engel v. Vitale ruled that the recitation of a prayer written by a state agency for use in the public schools violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment. (06/25/62)

Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) issued a manifesto, The Port Huron Statement, calling for participatory democracy to overcome a sense of powerlessness in society. Tom Hayden drafted the statement. (07/62)

Marilyn Monroe, 36, was found dead in her home in Los Angeles, an apparent suicide. (08/05/62)

President John Kennedy and Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev faced off over missiles in Cuba. (10/22/62-10/28/62)

Eleanor Roosevelt, the most extraordinary woman of the 20th century, died. (11/07/62)


Lifestyles

Television celebrity Sherry Finkbine, the married mother of four children, and pregnant with her fifth, discovered that Thalidomide, the sleeping pill she had been using, was responsible for an epidemic in Europe of extensive and crippling fetal deformities. Her obstetrician-gynecologist recommended a therapeutic abortion. Concerned that other pregnant women might be taking the same drug, Finkbine told her story to a reporter friend, but after the news story appeared, the hospital where her abortion was to be performed canceled her appointment. Her case became a cause celebre, with opponents of abortion making death threats against her and her other children. The FBI was brought in to protect her. Because of all the publicity, she was denied a visa to go to Japan for the abortion and finally had the abortion in Sweden, where she was told afterward that the fetus was so deformed it would never have survived. (1962)


Economic

Twenty-eight percent of businesses polled in a 1962 study regarded a woman's appearance and "sex appeal" as a "must" job qualification in sales and service industries, particularly for airline stewardesses.

Future Nobel Prize co-winner for Medicine (1988) Dr. Gertrude Elion discovered Imuram, a drug that helped prevent rejection in kidney transplants. It was just one of Elion's many contributions to the treatment of cancer and viruses. Elion would go on to patent 45 vital drug treatments-many in collaboration with Dr. George Hitchings-and, as of 1992, was the only woman in the Inventors' Hall of Fame. (1962)

Eugenie Moore Anderson was appointed U. S. envoy to Bulgaria. America's first female ambassador to a Communist country was the first U.S. woman to serve as an ambassador (to Denmark) in 1949. (1962)


Religion

Pope John XXIII set up the Pontifical Commission on the Family. Birth control was one of the major issues it was charged with studying. (1962)


Media

Two of the networks (CBS and NBC) telecast First Lady Jackie Kennedy's historical "A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy." The 60-minute program was both a rating and a critical success. (02/14/62)

Washington reporter Marianne Means received the New York Newspaper Women's Club Front Page Award. She was the first woman reporter to cover the White House full time (1961-65). In 1963, she would write about those years in a book titled The Woman In The White House. Means would go on to become a lawyer in 1977. (1962)

Nineteen-year old Barbra Streisand made her Broadway debut in a supporting role and stopped the show with a solo spot, "Miss Marmelstein," in the Harold Rome musical, I Can Get It For You Wholesale. (1962)

"How Nice to be a Pretty Girl and Work in Washington" was the title of an article in Life magazine. (1962)

Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring, attacked the careless use of pesticides and revived interest in ecology. (1962)


The Backlash

Christian fundamentalists Mel and Norma Gabler of Long-view, TX, began reviewing textbooks and testifying before the state textbook committee to block the adoption of books they found objectionable. Because Texas purchases as much as 5% of all textbooks in the country, the Gablers had enormous impact beyond their own state. They supported the teaching of Biblical creationism, opposed sex education, and wanted a return to "traditional values." (1962)

A New York Times article paid the country's new First Lady a backhanded compliment: "It is now all right for a woman to be a bit brainy or cultured as long as she tempers her intelligence with a 't'rific' girlish rhetoric." (01/20/62)

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