Feminism is a growing trend in America and the movement itself has led to hundreds of changes in the ways in which women carry and present themselves. Feminism has created a culture that strives for equality among genders; especially in the roles sexes play in society.
Recently, I came across an article that took the idea of feminism and turned it into a negative for marriage. The article itself all but blamed the changing of gender roles for the growing American divorce rate. Now, let me preface this by saying that I, in no way, rule out the possibility that there exists a correlation between the feminist movement and our nation’s newfound comfort with divorce. My frustration, rather, comes from the tone of the article- a tone that blatantly expressed the opinion that a woman who wants a happy marriage will play the role of housewife as opposed to the role of a feminist. Why? Because this eliminates confusion and tension amongst spouses.
The argument went something like this: back in the early years, women played the housewife role and that role was well understood. When a man and a women chose to get married, each knew how their lives would play out- the man would work, the woman would mother. But as the feminist movement began and continued, more women began to question their role in society and in marriage. More women began wanting what they have always deserved but have been relentlessly deprived of- career and freedom. This in turn has led to some confusion over what marriage means to the lives of a couple- hence causing tension and perhaps, a growing divorce rate. Current generations struggle with decisions not forced upon the marriages of the fifties. Are kids something both partners want? If kids are an option, which parent will be the primary caretaker? If the woman makes more in salary than the man, will petty feelings become an issue? Young women of today have opportunities like never before. Lives of travel, career, and sexuality are now as common as housewives themselves, and the pressure to settle down and have kids has all but diminished. College, especially, has changed the course of women’s lives. You’d be hard-pressed to find any set of parents who’d rather their daughter marry at 18 than go on to a secondary education, in fact, it’s practically unheard of.
So why then, I ask, does this article feel the need to make young woman feel a choice between pursuing goals and a happy marriage? Is it completely on the woman’s shoulders? Or should men be growing more accustomed to the ideas of “househusband” and “stay-at-home dad”? It seems almost backwards in thought to make women revert to the ways of their ancestors and choose marriage over work. Mostly, it seems unfair. In what ways can we better prepare ourselves for balancing the good and bad of both ideals?
I’d be interested to hear more from you, the readers, on whether you think it has to be one or the other. Can a happy, stable marriage exist amongst two people trying to pursue their goals? Or must one always play to the wishes of the other?
Oh, and a Happy Valentine’s Day to all. ☺