Redefining Equality in America Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Rebirth of Feminism

The women's movement was spurred on by some dastardly behavior and it has made an immeasurable amount of progress over the years, decades and generations. While most of the progress could not and should not be rolled back, there is perhaps a moment where perhaps the women's movement has become just a little too over-zealous in their aims and ideas and they perhaps need to dial it back just a little bit. This idea can be gleaned from the work of Sara Evans in which she talks about the progress and force that the women's movement has had and still does have. While feminism is still a work in progress and some work is still needed, the definition of success and what the priorities are needs to be refined as well as a more broad-based view of the world we live in and how it must be perceived and addressed.


The author of this report would not argue for a second that the women's movement over the last half century and beyond was wildly successful and they should stand in wonder of what they and their foremothers accomplished. However, the definition of equality and what it means to have a successful women's movement needs to be tampered and shaped just a bit. For example, saying that a woman's proper place is not in the home is a true statement except and unless one is speaking of a situation where the woman in question wants to be a homemaker. As Evans puts it, "the assumption that the woman's proper place was in the home undergirded the legal reality that women had few protections in public"

. However, there is a difference between saying that one is doomed to being a homemaker and simply saying that they have options. Quite a bit of women would love to not to have to work from home and be the one that raises the child but there is almost a guilt that is foisted on those that make this choice of their own volition even if they truly have viable options elsewhere. The work of Evans makes mention of the prior tactic of employers who needed workers to treat women and men entirely separately and that many industries/job types were segregated. This is still the case in industries like engineering (mostly men), computers (mostly men), nurses (mostly women) HR/payroll (mostly women) and so forth. However, that is more a function of preference and tendencies for men or women to choose one field over the other but the gender segregation of these industries is slowly shifting and becoming less gender-specific.

The above is basically proven by the verbiage on page 192 of Evans' treatise when she says that women were looking to "have it all" but were challenged what to define what that means. She goes onto say that women would have "no idea what their work should be" and that having dreams of a big career could cause an "invalidated life"

. Instead, women in a modern context very much have the option to become a career woman if they so choose but to presupposed that deciding against that based on personal choice, and not societal/familial pressure, is a betrayal to feminism or one's self is less than wise. Obviously, a man and a woman who are married and have children (which is further from being the norm nowadays) have the right and responsibility to figure out who will work, when that person will work and how the children will be taken care of. Dual-income families are becoming the norm more and more nowadays. A lot of that is out of necessity but it is often a matter of choice to at least some degree as well.

However, while men may have dominated the more advanced and degrees of the past, there has absolutely been a massive swing. It is to the point that women quite often dominate college campuses and they actually outnumber men. Much the same thing is happening with the workforce participation rate, albeit much more slowly. Much of the progress with that has subsided but not all of it. In the early 1990's, women in the workforce were outnumbered by men by a 0.78:1 ratio

. In other words, there were a little more than 25% more men than women. Not a lot has changed since then, although now it is north of 0.80 and climbing, with the most recent numbers being 82 or 83. As the colleges swarm more with women than men, that number will continue to rise

What seems to be occurring is that feminism is defining what "having it all" means is not something that the broader feminism movement should be doing and instead should be defined by the individual woman making the choice. If a woman wants to be a homemaker and the child or children are cared for, then it is not really anyone else's place to define what "success" is for the woman as perhaps having a homemaker environment for the woman is what they really want. On the flipside, the same thing can and should be said if the man wants to be the homemaker and the woman wants to be the career woman. There are conflicting reports about how much this really goes on but it is beyond dispute that men are treated in a way that very much conflicts with women. For example, a pitcher in Major League Baseball took several days (yes, days) off to spend time with and care for his new child and wife after the former was just born. The pitcher was applauded by many corners of the media, including many to most women, but there was also a lot of demeaning and criticism bout how the birth should have been planned better or that the idea that a man should get paternity leave is a joke. No doubt this is ultimately just an offshoot of the still-forced dichotomy whereby men are to be the breadwinners and women are to be the caretakers if push comes to shove.

Another "step too far" that the women's movement has at least help propagate is the sexual liberation aspect of the movement. Indeed, what someone does sexually and who they do it with is the business of the women and the women alone, just as it should be with the men. Also, to treat women as "sluts" or "whores" if they sleep with more than one man but a man is allowed to get a pass for the same transgression is also a fallacy and then some. However, there is a difference between looking at that and pointing out the seismic increase in unwed parents having children. It is to the point that roughly half of all births are out of wedlock. Breaking free from punitive regulation and moral enforcement may be a good thing at the end of the day but doing so in an irresponsible manner is having dire consequences as many people who do not have the emotional, monetary or other resources to have children are having entirely too many. Conversely, people that are more educated, more stable and more able to have the resources to foster good children-raising are NOT having kids. If this perpetuates too much and for too long, a tipping point whereby under-educated and careless people are the dominant faction will be the norm and that will be extremely messy on a number of levels.

The historical argument being made is that the feminism movements as well as some other forces and trends in the American societal sphere are over-correcting and the definition of "having it all" and "doing the right thing" needs to be honed and shaped just a bit as the "free love" and whatnot of the 1960's is not much wiser than what proceeded it. Surely, anybody that dares to say this in the modern political sphere will be accused of being a Bible-thumper or being sexist. However, this is not a matter of religious morality, but rather a secular morality of having children that are loved and supported as they could and should be and this dovetails with the other overall argument in favor of women being able to define for themselves what "success" is in life, not to mention men. It is true that men and woman will often fall into pre-defined and historical gender roles. However, if that happens to be the case but it is truly what the man and woman in question want, they should be left alone to make that choice and the same should be true if the same happens in reverse. Just as a man should not be lambasted for being a "Mr. Mom," a woman should not be pilloried by anyone for being a career woman. If the true name of the game is equality, then it should be equality of choice and equality of opportunity rather than keeping score as to how many men or women…

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