We’ve all seen (or been) the overworked woman who tries to do it all; she works full time, has a full time job, has a gaggle of children with a heap of activities, homework and sports for her to attend or attend to and she also has the pressure of having energy to fulfill her husbands “needs” when the lights go out at night.
While many people can argue that the feminism movement has helped to advance women and given them rights that they should have always had, there are those who argue that those so called advancements have not really helped women to live more fulfilling lives.
A few things that have gotten better for women:
1. More reproductive control and s*[email protected] freedom allow us to enjoy safer s*x with more partners—and to shape our careers and make more money without having to worry about an unintended pregnancy. Economists recently found that women with access to the Pill made 8 percent more money by the time they were 50 than women who lived in states that make it harder to buy the Pill.
2. Women’s participation in the workforce has increased dramatically, from nearly 40 percent in 1960 to over 60 percent today.. This translates, plainly, to more opportunity and greater chances for women to do more varied kinds of work—and earn money—than Friedan could have imagined a half century ago.
A few things that still haven’t changed…or have even gotten worse:
1. Women work more—but boy, is it hard sometimes. The United States lags embarrassingly far behind the rest of the world when it comes to guaranteeing paid maternity leave (i.e., we don’t have any, while women in other nations around the world, from Pakistan to Mexico to Canada, are guaranteed between 12 weeks and a year). We need paid leave for new mothers and fathers as well as quality subsidized child care so that when the 50 percent of families with two earners and the 26 percent of single parents need to get back to work, there are options available. Most important, we need to begin thinking of work-life balance not as a woman’s problem but as a human problem. Without that, we’ll never have as many women as men in politics, in boardrooms, in research labs, or in other important fields.
2. We’ve turned mothering into a competitive sport. Women are expected to research every aspect of parenting—strollers, naps, nutrition, sleep habits—from the moment they get pregnant. Researchers have found that today’s mothers—even the ones who work full time outside the home—now actually clock more hours with their kids than back in the days when Friedan wrote about the stranglehold of child care. Time for yourself? Forget it.