National Organization for Women
The National Organization for Women (NOW) is an American feminist organization, founded in 1966 and dedicated to equality among the sexes. Among its founders were Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique, and Pauli Murray, who wrote the group’s Statement of Purpose. One of the first issues that NOW supported was the Equal Rights Amendment in the early 1970s.
The National Organization for Women emerged out of President John F. Kennedy’s Commission on the Status of Women, founded in 1961. Kennedy originally appointed former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to head the Commission. Despite federal action in the 1960s, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, many feminist leaders were frustrated by continuing discrimination against women in America. NOW came together in 1966 in an October Organizing Conference from the Third National Conference of Commissions on the Status of Women, which had met the previous June.
One of the first concrete actions undertaken by the National Organization for Women was to sue on behalf of airline flight attendants, claiming sexual discrimination. Today NOW has branch offices in all 50 states. However, the group is not without controversy. Many claim that NOW supports only liberal causes, and not causes that are general to all women. Others claim that NOW is filled with “male bashing.”