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Women in America

Before the nineteenth century, most families were organized according to patriarchal tradition. Household heads owned and controlled the means of production, and their wives and children were obliged to provide the unpaid labor needed to sustain family enterprises. Masters of the household had a legal right to command the obedience of their wives and children—as well as any servants or slaves—and to use corporal punishment to correct disobedience. Over the past two centuries, this patriarchal family system collapsed, as household heads lost control over their sons, wives, and servants. The waning of patriarchy was accompanied by a shift toward simpler and more unstable family structures. Intergenerational coresidence, once a standard phase of the life course, is now rare.

In the 1960s one of the most pervasive limitations was the social climate in which women chose what they prepare themselves to do. Too many plans recommended to young women reaching maturity were only partially suited to the second half of the 20th century. Such advice was correspondingly confusing to them.

Even the role most generally approved by counselors, parents, and friends - the making of a home, the rearing of children, and the transmission to them in their earliest years of the values of the American heritage - was frequently presented as it was thought to have been in an earlier and simpler society. Women's ancient function of providing love and nurture remained. But for entry into modern life, today's children needed a preparation far more diversified than that of their predecessors.

Similarly, women's participation in such traditional occupations as teaching, nursing, and social work was generally approved, with shortages underscoring the Nation's need for such personnel. But means for keeping up to date the skills of women who continued in such professions were few. So, too, were those for bringing up to date the skills of women who withdraw in order to raise families but returned after their families are grown.

Commendation of women's entry into certain other occupations was less general, even though some of them are equally in need of trained people. Girls hearing that most women find mathematics and science difficult, or that engineering and architecture are unusual occupations for a woman, were not led to test their interest by activity in these fields.

Because too little is expected of them, many girls who graduate from high school intellectually able to do good college work did not go to college. Both they as individuals and the Nation as a society were thereby made losers. The subtle limitations imposed by custom were, upon occasion, reinforced by specific barriers. In the course of the 20th century many bars against women that were firmly in place in 1900 have been lowered or dropped. But certain restrictions remained.

Some of these discriminatory provisions were contained in the common law. Some were written into statute. Some were upheld by court decisions. Others took the form of practices of industrial, labor, professional, or governmental organizations that discriminate against women in apprenticeship, training, hiring, wages, and promotion.

Women have not only caught up with men in college attendance but younger women are now more likely than younger men to have a college or a graduate degree. Women are also working more and the number of women and men in the labor force has nearly equalized in recent years. As women’s work has increased, their earnings constitute a growing share of family income.

Gains in education and labor force involvement have not yet translated into wage and income equity. At all levels of education, women earned about 75 percent of what their male counterparts earned in 2009. In part because of these lower earnings and in part because unmarried and divorced women are the most likely to have responsibility for raising and supporting their children, women are more likely to be in poverty than men. These economic inequities are even more acute for women of color.

Women live longer than men but are more likely to face certain health problems, such as mobility impairments, arthritis, asthma, depression, and obesity. Women also engage in lower levels of physical activity. Women are less likely than men to suffer from heart disease or diabetes. One out of seven women age 18-64 has no usual source of health care. The share of women in that age range without health insurance has also increased.

Women are less likely than in the past to be the target of violent crimes, including homicide. But women are victims of certain crimes, such as intimate partner violence and stalking, at higher rates than men. In the U.S.A., one third of all women will fall victim to sexual assault, with a woman being raped nearly ever yminute of every day, and over fifty percent of women will experience sexual harassment at some point during their working life. Finally, for people who believe that the fight for equal wages is a thing of the past, each female worker in the US earns on average only seventy­six cents for every dollar a male earns, and while this is an increase of seventeen cents from the 1970s, it is still no cause for rejoicing.

The United States has not yet ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which is one of the United Nations' core human rights conventions, nor has it solved its own increasingly serious problem of gender discrimination, said the article, adding that this has significantly hampered the realization of women's human rights in the United States. American women suffer long-term, systematic, extensive, and systemic discrimination both publicly and secretly, mainly involving economic gender inequality, serious violent offenses against women and lack of protection for health rights among racial minority women. The United States is the most economically developed country in the world, but it fails to effectively protect women's economic rights within the country.

Polarized Gender Identities

Some male managers argue that a woman did not need her job as much as a man because she was married (and presumably her husband could support her). When a woman stands up for herself or women’s rights and is characterized as “shrill,” “a feminazi,” or a “fanatical feminist,” this is evidence of gender bias. Note that claims that African-Americans “have it coming” if they are “too uppity” have faded. Women, too, should be able to stand up for their group without being demonized. One of the major goals of feminism is to eradicate negative and traditional stereotypes of women; thus, it’s rather ironic that many people associate the term feminist with such a negative female stereotype.

Assertive women are seen as aggressive - uppity. Established feminine roles documented by social psychologists include the mother, who may take charge of teas and comfort; the princess, who aligns herself with powerful men; the pet, who is nonthreatening and cuddly; and Ms. Efficiency, who acts as a glorified but subservient secretary; or a good daughter to the older and more traditional men, giggling at their jokes and massaging their egos. Women managers tend to be categorized as either unqualified because they are ineffective managers or as unqualified because they are effective but have personality problems.

The glass ceiling is composed of two distinct patterns: one makes it more difficult for women to establish themselves as competent; the other penalizes women for being too competent. The tendency to attribute a man’s successes to skill, while a woman’s successes tend to be attributed to luck is an instance of “attribution bias”. Another example of attribution bias: “Anger is unseemly in a woman”. An angry woman is a witch or a bitch, while an angry man is excused on the grounds that he understandably would not tolerate being “jerked around.” Rules that are apparently objective can be framed around men or masculinity in ways that systematically disadvantage women. Studies have shown that women experience the problems of tokenism until women comprise 18-20% of a given workplace.

Career success in men is often considered an aphrodisiac (think Donald Trump), career success in women is a turn-off to many men. The ideal worker is designed around men’s bodies (they need no time off for childbirth) and men’s life patterns (American women still do 65-80% of the childrearing). All that employers have to do to drive most mothers off the promotion track is to define full time as 50-60 hours a week. Given that roughly 82% of women have children, driving away most mothers means driving away a very high percentage of women. As many as 95% of mothers aged 25 to 44 work less than 50 hours per week year-round.

Sexual harassment is one way sexist men have of controlling women they find threatening. This is typically a “no win” situation for women: A survey by the American Management Association found that even if the woman is the victim, she is just as likely as the offender to be dismissed or transferred.

Feminist is one of the more misunderstood words in the English language. When many Americans hear the word feminist, they automatically envision unattractive, butch man­haters who eschew many cherished cultural traditions: marriage, family, heterosexuality, monogamy, motherhood, and so on. Part of the problem lies in the ongoing negative representations of feminists in the media. For example, in the early 1990s Rush Limbaugh coined the term “feminazis” and used the radio airwaves to incite mass disdain for feminists. By merging the words feminists and Nazis, Limbaugh equated feminists with one of the most feared and destructive groups in history. Even popular mainstream publications continue to reinforce negative and damaging images of feminists.

Julie Bindel shatters the myths, misconceptions and outright lies about the buying and selling of women’s bodies for sex. Julie Bindel - outspoken journalist, tireless radical feminist activist, and political lesbian - is a founder of the UK group Justice for Women, a feminist campaigning organisation that supports, and advocates on behalf of, women who have fought back against or killed violent men; and is a member of the board of SPACE, an international organization formed to give voice to women who have survived prostitution.

Bindel stated in 2015 " ... we had to speak about heterosexuality as imposed upon us, rather freely chosen. This is completely unlike the mantra from the so called “pro-sex” third wave feminists, who claim that we are anti sex and prudish. Political lesbians were the ones that said to women: “you can be lesbians, you can be non monogamous, you can have loads of sex, with loads of women, you can enjoy sex and it doesn’t have to be something that is imposed upon you, by the type of men that think foreplay is unpacking the shopping.”

".... radical feminism saw heterosexuality under patriarchy as massively problematic, because it benefited men and it disadvantaged women. It meant that the family structure was one that had the man at the Head of the household – even if he wasn’t a dinosaur, even if he thought of himself as quite progressive. It meant that he did things to her, sexually.

"... all gender is an imposition of subordination on women, and the opposite of that of course is the dominance of men, who get privilege by being born male, and we get the opposite.... reconciliation has no place in dealing with men’s violence towards women and girls, because the truth with reconciliation is that in reconciling you are saying that you are part of the problem.

"... the strong, abolitionist, survivor led feminist movement that there is now, ... refuses to accept that pornography is anything but prostitution without a camera.

"I would actually put them [men] all in some kind of camp where they can all drive around in quad bikes, or bicycles, or white vans. I would give them a choice of vehicles to drive around with, give them no porn, they wouldn’t be able to fight – we would have wardens, of course! Women who want to see their sons or male loved ones would be able to go and visit, or take them out like a library book, and then bring them back. ... I would love to see a women’s liberation that results in women turning away from men and saying: “when you come back as human beings, then we might look again.”"

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Page last modified: 02-12-2019 18:18:39 ZULU