The proof is obvious that society has progressed overall throughout history in their views and postulations on women’s rights. Even more obvious is the inherent shift in the male/female dynamic that has accompanied this emergence of independent ladies. But it is not as rosy and victorious as would appear from the surface, much like the nuances of racism are still all too recognizable fifty years after the Civil Rights Movement. A large facet of the entire identity of one half of our political party system is their stance to deny women the choice to decide whether or not having a baby is the right course of action for their life. And yet still others of that same group stand defiantly against her ability to protect herself from being in that situation in the first place. The other half ultimately promote paying women to have children: the less work she does and the more kids she has, the more the government supports her. From behind the smoke and mirrors of supposed equality an increased hostility is surfacing, and both the magicians and the women are to blame. Women are seemingly more empowered yet less respected overall, and they are still very much subject to the forces of discrimination.
The plain truth of the matter is that women were indeed, and still are in fact, more respected and cherished by men and other women when they keep their work to the confines of domestic endeavors. Single, hard-working women are often looked down upon or become emotional prey to the very men that seek them. Married mothers who keep a career often find their time away from home and their children is the brunt of accusations, rendering them responsible for the decline in attentive parenting and thus the rise of insubordinate, attention-deficit riddled children.
Throughout history some percentage of women have always worked, as servants, housekeepers, ladies’ maids, governesses, teachers, and tutors. And their children were not viewed as neglected, certainly not any more than the children of nineteenth century high society women whose merits rested solely in their needlepoint skills or their aptitude at the pianoforte, hence spending much of their time at home, and who rarely attended their children, surrendering the brunt of the child-rearing to the governesses. In the working classes the children often were expected to work, sometimes the same grueling hours as their adult counterparts. The Donna Reed era came at a time after women were not only a viable commodity in the professional workforce, but had single-handedly filled every male shoe from the factory to the baseball field during World War II, and can be viewed as an obvious attempt to restore “order” to the family. It is the product of this generation that now comprise the majority of the authority figures in the United States.
Also consider the women today who do not work at all and rely on government subsidy and child support for their income. These women are theoretically all stay-at-home moms, and the presence of this demographic is entirely counterintuitive to the theories that working women are the reason for modern parenting woes.
It seems to be a modern stigma, then, that neglected children are the result of women who choose employment outside the home, a mindset that has come about only since the entrance of women into professions previously only open to men, and a journey that was thwarted when society seemed to say, “Whoa, slow down, ladies…” in the 1950s and early 1960s. Thus, the only difference in the attitudes towards modern women and their parenting skills can be extrapolated, albeit accurately when a close observation of societal progression has been made, to be the result of a subtle but powerful backlash against women’s rights instigated by inane societal standards that lack accurate definition, consistency, and credibility. Furthermore, it is often those who perpetuate and condone a lifestyle of living outside ones means who rail against families who quite simply must have two incomes in order to survive, when said survival is finitely contingent upon two vehicles, a mortgage for a house you hate but a school district you love, five cell phones, a 42 inch television, 895 cable channels, and $4/gallon gas.
Thus we have infused modern culture with two innately opposing ideas: it is acceptable for a woman to hold gainful employment, yet she is still encouraged in her “duty” to breed, and it is the clash of these two evident but ignored social stigmas that have actually made women themselves guilty of discriminate feminism. Many women and couples have children before they are truly ready because it is a socially acceptable notion, but then the wife and mother realizes years later she wants the career, she wants the income because it is her modern right as an empowered woman. Indeed it is, but it is now tinged with the reality of motherhood, which has the distinct capability of transforming either into resent or indifference.
Women mature faster than men, but they also mature longer and as a result become more complex beings much more capable and desirous of change. Thus amid the spectrum of married women battling the intricacies of modern feminism there are, as in most cases, two sides to the story, both equally resplendent in their contributions to a convoluted and confused sense of modern female identity. There are the conflicting standards set by the proverbial They*, and then there are the women that conform to them.
Returning now to the world of the single woman in the 21st century, the ramifications feminism has errantly doled out to this breed have intensified, and the edges of this sword cut deep because they too are cleverly disguised within the oxymoron of several societal implications. In some regard, the attitudes toward single women have softened significantly, for it is indeed a quite recent phenomenon that choosing to remain single is viewed as an acceptable alternative to being unhappily married or checking the “divorced” box on your tax return. It is, but it isn’t. It is because the term “Old Maid” has been politically cor-rectified to “Cat Lady,” and because women are able to financially support themselves and not doomed to either surrender their fortunes to their spouse if they marry or die alone in their parents’ house if they don’t. It isn’t because despite this outward display of acceptance there is still a powerful undercurrent of disdain and disapproval that rages beneath the surface, and it is revealed, ironically, in attitudes, actions, and admonitions that have evolved out of the minds of single men and married women. But again, responsibility also lies with the women themselves, and whether or not they respect their independence and thus respect themselves.
Feminism has made men lazy and filled them with a sense of entitlement. At first, because they have to, men seek the strength of a woman that supports herself and they respect her ambition. But then after the contempt of familiarity sets in it is almost as if they think to themselves, “Well if you’re so strong and tough and in control then you do all the work.” But this thought is cleverly translated as it makes the journey from a man’s brain to his mouth, and when he actually speaks these thoughts the words that come out are romantic trappings and empty promises and well-calculated seductions. And the women respond beautifully. They rearrange their schedules and go out of their way, they cater to the men and think they are reacting in a fashion suitable to the current male/female dynamic. It is acceptable for a woman to make the first move or buy a guy a drink. It is acceptable, because she is an empowered woman, to be open about her feelings and generous with her own finances, time, and attention. But the truth of the matter is this male reaction is a blatant retaliation against a feeling of a loss of masculinity, not an acceptance of a societal shift.
By all accounts she is lured in with pretense that plays on the heartstrings of her own innate desires for love, acceptance, and family, and then when the woman does what she thinks the man wants by his apparent permission given her to proceed, his reaction is the same. He retaliates again, but this time with boredom. He is in his nature the aggressor, the victor, the conqueror, and when that role embedded in the primitive strands of his genetic code is usurped, he does not respond with increased strength as he ought, but rather gives in to his subconscious, though undeniably narcissistic, hatred of the current “system” and responds with indifference and apathy. This is his only course of revenge, because the innate views of the less evolved male are now archaic social prototypes tucked safely away in the volumes of Jane Austen novels. And it works, because actually women love Jane Austen novels and so are eager to be the own makers of their ideal instead of facing the agonizing wait for letters from a suitor, and this often leaves a woman pandering in the dust who had no need for the man in the first place.
When it comes to married women’s view of single women, there are most certainly exceptions to the following rule, including women who are indeed married to their true love who may or may not have children, women whose destiny it is indeed to have children and raise them, and married women, usually much older, who are too wise to care. But the married woman that sold out is the arch nemesis of the confidently single woman and has always been prominent in the social strata, but unfortunately in a world of mystique-weary men who choose the path of least resistance, this group is sufficiently expanding in its cruelty to the single lady. At least in the nineteenth century when a woman sold out she was either having her honor rescued or her fortune increased, either way she was finally en route to obtaining at least a semblance of personal freedom, and at the very least it was an escape from her parents’ home. Today the majority of sell-out brides are entering into marriages from a place of lack. Instead of truly desiring a home, a commitment, a family, the strains of opposing feminist views confuse them and they take the matrimonial step because they don’t want to be lonely, they don’t want to pay all of the bills by themselves, they don’t want to be ostracized for being single. Then single women refer to them as sell-outs. And so is cleft a veritable divide between the female race that is nearly as inescapable as it is damaging.
Then flips the coin to the other side, the second edge of the sword, the other variety of single women, who have exploited the acceptance of public affection and cleavage, those who have taken an increased tolerance of sexual freedom and turned it into their absolute only basis for personal identity. Under the self-made guise of independence and detachment these women offer themselves and their bodies to men completely indiscriminately, and the problem is that the results are far from the progressive nature of those that propel a cause, or a people, forward. Namely, the result is a complete lack of respect, although the methods used to obtain them were born out of a movement that gave women the right to dress, act, think, or marry in whatever fashion they desire. Thus, this side of the problem rests not in the initiative, but in the women’s ability to carry out its purpose correctly. Ladies need no longer fret over the accidental revelation of their ankles, they are no longer required to wear a dress or high heels, they can talk openly with a male about the female body’s functions (if they so desire…), but just because it’s a woman’s right to dress like a whore and let men grab her ass and give it up too easy does not mean that she is necessarily taking the most advantage of being an empowered, independent woman by doing so. In fact she is ultimately thwarting progress, because the seeds and the fruit of this behavior are both a low self esteem that perpetuate disrespect. There was a time when women were not even allowed into libraries. Instead of celebrating the rights of women with a mini skirt, a tube top, and a purse full of condoms, read a book.
The keys to true feminine power and progress lie in unity, solidarity, consistency of beliefs, and most importantly in the throws of self respect, for it is the responsibility of the individual woman to make choices in her life that speak to her and that move her, from a place of response and inspiration, not from the shallow grave of societal expectations, no matter which way they swing. A woman’s determination and dedication to her powers of intuition, compassion, and multi-tasking must be put to the use that She sees fit, in concordance with the One who made her to be no more a man and no less a woman than she already is.
When a woman demands equality she is in essence denying herself of the power inside her. Women are not men and they should not be treated like men, women are not merely capable of competing with men they are capable of beating them, and the ineffectiveness of this push for equality is evidenced by the growing yet cleverly disguised contempt for her efforts. A woman should first, and always, earn the utmost respect to which she is undeniably entitled, and then she will not have to concern herself with playing the game, because she will have already won.
*’They’ is the most quoted source for irrefutable fact in the entire course of human history. “Well you know what They say…” ‘They’ can also refer to the collective powers that be, whether natural or supernatural, that reportedly control the tides of modern existence. They want you to think a certain way (their way) or not think at all.