Betty Friedan described Catherine East as “the midwife to the contemporary
women’s movement.” East spent many years working for the federal government, and it was from this position that much of East’s invaluable data and progressive thinking helped forward women’s positions in society. As a staff member on the President Kennedy Commission on the Status of Women, East saw the degree of discrimination women faced nationwide, and she became a feminist.
She held senior posts with every presidential advisory commission on the status of women from 1962 to 1977. East was also one of the architects of the strategy to bring the Equal Rights Amendment out of committee and to passage in House of Representatives.
East’s force often went unnoted, so much so that friends called her “Deep Throat.”
Part of East’s work involved interactions with newspapers’ women’s page editors to spread the message of feminism; this was most visible in her partnership with leading women’s page editor Dorothy Jurney in the project “New Direction for News.” This project involved examining various newspapers for their coverage of women’s issues. The study results found a lack of explanation of women’s issues - and led to the cartoon in this post. The papers for this project are at the WHMC.