Something Happened: A Political and Cultural Overview of the Seventies
Cars in the U. Wood paneling and shag carpets dominated the interiors. Many automobiles began to lose their character and looked the same across brands and automakers, as well as featuring "luxury" enhancements such as vinyl roofs and opera windows. Automobiles in the U. Ford followed suit two years later, with Chrysler offering new small front-wheel-drive models, but was suffering from a worsening financial situation caused by various factors. By , the company was near bankruptcy , and under its new president Lee Iacocca who had been fired from Ford the year before , asked for a government bailout.
American Motors beat out the U. Big Three to subcompact sized model the Gremlin in , but its fortunes declined throughout the decade, forcing it into a partnership with the French automaker Renault in European car design underwent major changes during the s due to the need for performance with high fuel efficiency—designs such as the Volkswagen Golf and Passat, BMW 3, 5, and 7 series, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class appeared at the latter half of the decade.
Ford Europe, specifically Ford Germany, also eclipsed the profits of its American parent company. The s also saw the decline and practical failure of the British car industry—a combination of militant strikes and poor quality control effectively halted development at British Leyland , owner of all other British car companies during the s. The Japanese automobile industry flourished during the s, compared to other major auto markets.
Japanese vehicles became internationally renowned for their affordability, reliability, and fuel-efficiency, which was very important to many customers after the oil crisis of Japanese car manufacturing focused on computerized robotic manufacturing techniques and lean manufacturing , contributing to high-efficiency and low production costs. The Honda Civic was introduced in , and sold well due to its high fuel-efficiency.
Other popular compact cars included the Toyota Corolla and the Datsun Sunny , in addition to other cars from those companies and others such as Subaru , Mitsubishi , and Mazda. The role of women in society was profoundly altered with growing feminism across the world and with the presence and rise of a significant number of women as heads of state outside monarchies and heads of government in a number of countries across the world during the s, many being the first women to hold such positions.
Both Indira Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher would remain important political figures in the following decade in the s. The opposition to the War in Vietnam that began in the s grew exponentially during the early s. One of the best-known anti-war demonstrations was the Kent State shootings.
How The Seventies Changed America | AMERICAN HERITAGE
In , university students were protesting the war and the draft. Riots ensued during the weekend and the National Guard was called in to maintain the peace.
However, by 4 May , tensions arose again, and as the crowd grew larger, the National Guard started shooting. Four students were killed and nine injured. This event caused disbelief and shock throughout the country and became a staple of anti-Vietnam demonstrations. The s started a mainstream affirmation of the environmental issues early activists from the s, such as Rachel Carson and Murray Bookchin , had warned of.
The Apollo 11 mission, which had occurred at the end of the previous decade, had transmitted back concrete images of the Earth as an integrated, life-supporting system and shaped a public willingness to preserve nature. On April 22, , the United States celebrated its first Earth Day , in which over two thousand colleges and universities and roughly ten thousand primary and secondary schools participated. The s counterculture movement had rapidly undone many existing social taboos, and divorce, extramarital sex, and homosexuality were increasingly accepted in the Western world.
The event of legalized abortion and over-the-counter birth control pills also played a major factor. Western Europe was in some ways more progressive on sexual liberation than the United States, as nudity in film and on TV had been gradually accepted there from the mids, and many European countries during this time began allowing women to go topless in public places.
Nudist culture was also popular during the decade, especially in Germany and Scandinavia. Child erotica found a niche market, but would eventually be banned under child pornography laws in the s to s. The market for adult entertainment in the s was large, and driven in part by the sizable baby boomer population, and the movie Behind the Green Door , an X-rated feature, became one of the top-grossing films of the year. Playboy Magazine appeared increasingly dull and old-fashioned next to new, more explicit sex-themed magazines such as Penthouse Magazine and Hustler Magazine.
By the end of the decade, there was an increasing backlash against libertine sexual attitudes, and the event of the AIDS epidemic helped bring about an end to the Sexual Revolution. Adult movie theaters, which had exploded in numbers during the s and were widely seen as a symptom of urban decay in the US, declined as pornographic movies would largely shift to VHS tapes during the succeeding decade.
Crime rates in the US had been low from the s until the mids, but began to escalate after due to a complex of social, economic, and demographic factors. By the s, crime and blighted urban areas were a serious cause of concern, New York City being particularly affected. In , the US Supreme Court ruled capital punishment unconstitutional, then reversed the ruling only four years later.
Lax judicial and sentencing practices in the US during the s and s also contributed to high crime rates.
The Second-Wave Feminist Movement in the United States, which had begun in the s, carried over to the s, and took a prominent role within society. The fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which legalized female suffrage in was commemorated by the Women's Strike for Equality and other protests.
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This work inspired similar networks of safe houses for female victims of abuse in other countries, with the first shelter in continental Europe opening in Amsterdam in With the anthology Sisterhood is Powerful and other works, such as Sexual Politics , being published at the start of the decade, feminism started to reach a larger audience than ever before.
In addition, the Supreme Court 's decision of Roe v. Wade , which constitutionalized the right to an abortion, brought the women's rights movement into the national political spotlight. Even musically, the women's movement had its shining moment. Australian-American singer Helen Reddy , recorded the song " I Am Woman ", which became an anthem for the women's liberation movement. Most efforts of the movement, especially aims at social equality and repeal of the remaining oppressive, sexist laws, were successful. Doors of opportunity were more numerous and much further open than before as women gained unheard of success in business , politics , education , science , the law , and even the home.
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Although most aims of the movement were successful, however, there were some significant failures, most notably the failure to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U. Constitution with only three more states needed to ratify it efforts to ratify ERA in the unratified states continues to this day and twenty-two states have adopted state ERAs.
Also, the wage gap failed to close, but it did become smaller.
The second wave feminist movement in the United States largely ended in with the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment, and with new conservative leadership in Washington, D. American women created a brief, but powerful, third-wave in the early s which addressed sexual harassment inspired by the Anita Hill — Clarence Thomas Senate Judiciary Committee hearings of The results of the movement included a new awareness of such issues among women, and unprecedented numbers of women elected to public office, particularly the United States Senate.
The Civil Rights Movement of the s began to fracture in the s, as social groups began defining themselves more by their differences than by their universalities. The Black Nationalist movement grew out of frustrations with the "non-violent" strategies of earlier Civil Rights Activists. With the assassinations of both Martin Luther King, Jr. The feminist movement also splintered from a larger push for Civil Rights in the s. The seventies were seen as the "woman's turn", though many feminists incorporated civil rights ideals into their movement.
A feminist who had inherited the leadership position of the civil rights movement from her husband, Coretta Scott King , as leader of the black movement, called for an end to all discrimination, helping and encouraging the Woman's Liberation movement, and other movements as well. At the National Women's Conference in a minority women's resolution, promoted by King and others, passed to ensure racial equality in the movement's goals.
Similarly, the gay movement made a huge step forward in the s with the election of political figures such as Harvey Milk to public office and the advocating of anti-gay discrimination legislation passed and not passed during the decade. Many celebrities, including Freddie Mercury and Andy Warhol , also " came out " during this decade, bringing gay culture further into the limelight.
The Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on July 1, , lowering the voting age for all federal and state elections from 21 years to 18 years.
Something Happened: A Political and Cultural Overview of the Seventies
The primary impetus for this change was the fact that young men were being drafted to fight in the Vietnam War before they were old enough to vote. During the early s, popular music continued to be dominated by musicians who had achieved fame during the s such as the Rolling Stones , The Who , Bob Dylan , The Grateful Dead , and Eric Clapton.
In addition, many newcomer rock groups such as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin appeared. The Beatles disbanded in , but each member of the band immediately released a highly successful solo album, and Paul McCartney especially would remain extremely popular throughout the decade.
The s saw the rapid commercialization of rock music, and by mid-decade there were a spate of bands derisively dubbed "corporate rock" due to the notion that they had been created by record labels to produce simplistic, radio-friendly songs that offered cliches rather than meaningful lyrics.
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Funk , an offshoot of soul music with a greater emphasis on beats, and influences from rhythm and blues , jazz , and psychedelic rock , was also very popular. In response to this, rock music became increasingly hard-edged, with British early metal artists like Led Zeppelin , Black Sabbath , and Deep Purple. This was a break from the intellectual serial music in the tradition of Schoenberg , which lasted from the early s to s.
In Europe, there was a surge of popularity in the early decade for glam rock.