48 pages 1 hour read

Wendy Wasserstein

The Heidi Chronicles

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1988

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Socio-Historical Context: Second-Wave Feminism

The play takes place over the years between 1965 and 1989, which are roughly the years during which the second wave of feminism, or the women’s movement, rose and faded in the United States. The first wave, which occurred in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, was connected to the anti-slavery abolitionist movement and centered on procuring legal rights for women, the most significant of which was the right to vote. The second wave arose in the early 1960s after women who had taken over much of the workforce during World War II (1939-1945) were sent back to their domestic lives and subservience within the home so that the men returning from the war could go back to their previous jobs. It’s important to note that poor women and women of color have always been a part of the workforce in order to survive, but their roles and job opportunities were severely limited. A major inspiration for the movement was Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique (1963), which described “the problem that has no name,” or the general discontentment of women in the United States who were relegated to the domestic sphere, where they felt stripped of their senses of self and were at risk of rape and domestic abuse.