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FEATURE | fall 2007

Then and Now

In the year Ms. began publishing, women were rarely doctors, architects or U.S. congressmembers—let alone a speaker of the House. Women smoked more, cleaned house more and couldn't marry if they were lesbians. Hardly anyone had heard the terms "cellulite" or "priest abuse," and now they're ubiquitous. Here are a few snapshots of women's lives in 1972, compared to the way we are today. For more great “then-and-now’s”, see the new issue of Ms., now available on newsstands.  

POLITICS/GOVERNMENT
1972: 15 women in U.S. Congress (<3%)
2007: 90 women in Congress (17%), including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi

REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS
1972: Roe v. Wade is a year from being decided.
2007: Roe v. Wade under increasing threat from a Bush-stacked Supreme Court.

ENVIRONMENT
1972: DDT banned.
2007: Global warming finally gets the world’s attention.

WORK
1972: Women earn 59 cents for every dollar men earn.
2007: Women earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn.

BUSINESS
1972: Women own 4.6 percent of U.S. businesses (as sole or majority owners).
2006: Women own 40 percent.

SPORTS
1973: Tennessee's women's-basketball coach Pat Summitt hired at yearly salary of $8,900.
2006: Tennessee basketball coach Pat Summitt becomes the first collegiate women’s coach to be paid over $1 million a year.

MILITARY
1972: Women are 1.4 percent of the military.
2006: Women are 14.6 percent.

 ADVERTISING
1970’s: Virginia Slims co-opts feminism to sell cigarettes to women.
2007: Cigarette ads in women’s magazines still target teenage girls and young women.

BODY IMAGE
1973: The word “cellulite” popularized by Nicole Ronsard’s 1973 bestseller Cellulite: Those Lumps, Bumps and Bulges You Couldn't Lose Before.
 2007: A Google search for “cellulite” gets more than 2,150,000 hits, while Amazon.com lists over 1,050 products targeting cellulite, including “cellulite-
reducing shoes.” The term still has no medical meaning.

LGBT RIGHTS
1972: Concept of gay marriage or civil unions hardly on anyone’s radar.
2007: Five countries (Belgium, Canada, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain) and one U.S. state (Massachusetts) allow same-sex marriage. Domestic partnerships or same-sex civil unions are legal in 16 countries and nine states.

ART
1972: Artists Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro facilitate the “Womanhouse” project in Los Angeles, transforming an old house into rooms of feminist art fantasy.
2007: The Brooklyn Museum of Art permanently installs Judy Chicago’s masterwork “The Dinner Party” and opens the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.

 HOUSEWORK
1965: U.S. women spend an average 240 minutes per day on housework; men spend 42.
2003: Women spend 133 minutes average, men 81.