MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) — To understand why the Women's Center in Marquette started 40 years ago, a little context is necessary.
The women involved in the center's beginnings — Holly Greer, Sally May, Pat Micklow and Karlyn Rapport, now affectionately called The Founding Mothers — can offer some perspective on what their world was like in 1973.
"A married woman couldn't get a library card on her own," Rapport told The Mining Journal of Marquette ( http://bit.ly/1emsqKT ). "Her husband had to sign for her to get one."
"And a woman couldn't get a loan on her own," May said. "And a married woman was referred to as 'Mrs. John Doe'. Her first name wasn't in there at all."
It was during an era when women's rights were being brought to the mainstream of society's discussions that the Women's Center was born, 40 years ago.
It was after Betty Friedan's seminal book, "The Feminine Mystique" was published in 1963 that something began to stir in towns across the United States.
"'The Feminine Mystique' voiced feelings we had about our lives," Rapport said.
"The Women's Center started, really, with us establishing consciousness-raising groups in the late 1960s," Micklow said.
"We had a big meeting of some of these smaller groups," Greer said.
"We were all together," May said. "The first one I went to seemed very subversive to me. I had said I would go and I did go and wow, was it an eye-opener to be in this large group in a basement."
May was not alone in that feeling of initial uncertainty.
"I was a young married woman with children. I loved my family but I felt trapped," Micklow said. "That's why I went."
And some of the women interested in consciousness-raising were even more conflicted.