Friday, January 23, 2009

Did the women's movement do a "disservice" to our young women today?

Did the women's movement do disservice to our young women today?

By way of background, I am having an interesting online conversation with the wife of one of my nephews. She is 37, Hispanic, has two children, a bachelor's degree and works part-time in a law office.

She added the following paragraph to an email where we were discussing another issue. I had previously mentioned that I felt one side came from a point of fear. Then I added, " I do remember when we were fighting for women's rights, they said if we let women out of the kitchen, the world would go to hell in a hand basket. Gosh, if we let Blacks or Mexicans have rights who knows where it would lead; a Black or Mexican President?! Oh, no, lol".

She responded to that with this paragraph:

"And one final note, I just had to laugh when you mentioned the women's movement and how 'they' said the whole world would go to hell in a hand basket if they let women out of the kitchen. Because I think that it's TRUE! I don't think you realize that most young women of today, especially young mothers, think that your generation of women actually did a disservice to women everywhere with your women's movement. Most polls today show that young women do not identify with the women's movement at all and they don't consider themselves feminists. I know I sure don't!"

Do younger women really feel that way?

I don't "identify" with the feminist movement anymore; but we still have a ways to go regarding equal pay and women in management positions.

Do they take for granted some of the things that were not common during our time?
Things like:
      • Fathers helping out more in parenting, managing the house, cooking, shopping, etc.

      • Women, like her, going to school and becoming educated, not just going to college to 'snag a husband" or go into traditional jobs such as nursing, teaching or working as maids, cooks or housekeepers.

      • Single women able to purchase homes

      • Women in law enforcement and other previously male dominated careers.

      • Women able to get credit in their own name-even if she was married.

      • Most of all, it should be acceptable for women to have choices in her life, not just the expectation that one would either be a wife and mom , a nurse or teacher. A woman could have options for both, or choose to be a stay at home mom. I believe raising children is one of the most important job in the world. Unfortunately, not every woman as the financial ability to have that privilege.

      All I have to do is watch a movie or a TV show from the early 60's or 70's to know how far we have come.

      But maybe these young women are so far removed from those times that they don't really understand how it was for us.

      What do you think?


      1. This is an interesting blog. I think that a lot of women under 40 do in fact take for granted what our mothers, aunts, and grandmothers have done for us. I remember my mother attempting to gain her own credit, and being turned down because she was female. When she tried again with my step-father-- whose credit history was far less credit-worthy that her own-- it was a different story.

        If you haven't had those kinds of experiences, it's difficult to have a frame of reference, or really understand that strides that have been made on our behalf.

        It's similar to some of the racial discussions that are occurring right now. When I was in Washington, DC last week, I heard a conservative commentator bemoaning the fact that race was part of this election. Her comment was, "I was offended during the campaign when people suggested that we, as a nation, would not elect a man simply because he was black. We, as a nation, are not racist."

        What? All I could think of was that this woman had clearly not spent any time in the south. Go to Atlanta, where Stone Mountain stands as a monument to slavery and the confederate movement.

        Go to Louisiana where speed signs that say, "35 MPH" are vandalized with amendments such as, "And Niggers: as fast as you can go" that remain for years.

        Go to Texas where blacks are tied to cars and dragged to death.

        Racism is alive and well in many parts of our country.

        I think the notion that the women's movement was a disservice neglects remembrance of a time when women couldn't vote, or when women were laid off so their job could be given to a man, or when supremely qualified women were denied jobs because of the perceived cost of what would happen when they chose to have a child.

      2. I cannot agree more, and will leave it at that.

      3. The women's movement made vast improvements on the civil rights and liberties of women. I suppose it depends on where one might want to lay the blame for the state of today's society. With morals in decline, and family's broken apart and children growing up without strong male role models, it's easy to lay blame on the women's movement. After all, nostalgia says that back in "Grandpa's Day" everything was better. To some degree, the changes which resulted from the women's right movement have laid the foundation for the problems society faces. For example, prior to the movement, divorce was far less common place and even frowned upon. The core family was held in highest regard (even if all involved were completely miserable.) Women who became pregnant out of wedlock were shipped away to save face to the family with the resulting child adopted out. Today, women are independent, they have the option to leave if their husband cheats on them or beats them. This very fact leads it's self to a Pandora’s box of possibilities. Can she make it on her own in an environment which is safe for both her and the children on perhaps a single income? Who will care for the children if she has to work? Who will teach them about morals and discipline them? The truth is that people forget that in times past women had to face these same questions when instead of divorce, it was war that took their husbands. The true problem with society today is not the possibilities opened up to women as a result of their rights. The problem with society today is that everyone refuses to take responsibility for themselves. You see this in every aspect of our society and culture. In divorce, it's always the other person who caused the problem. Look at the fear people have because of frivolous law suits. We even give better medical/psychological treatment to people who perform acts against the law because "they can't help it." Some of those on welfare refuse to get a job because they don't have to, the government will feed them. I ask, where did we go so wrong to find ourselves in this pathetic state? Where did it become okay to just blame everyone else for life's problems? Where did our sense of responsibility go? Where did the very basic moral of treat others as you would like to be treated go? Or is it just so much easier to lay the blame elsewhere, like the women’s right’s movement?