Pros and Cons of the Feminist Movement Knights in Shining Armour and Feminism
Days of Chivalry
The feminist movement began a lot earlier than most believe. There is no doubt it has been a liberating experience for women all over the world. With fifty years into the second wave of the movement and the classic catch phrase, ‘equality of the sexes’, now firmly entrenched in the English language, the question still remains. Has feminism helped or hindered the average female?
Remember when women were treated like royalty? Doors opened as if by magic. There wasn’t a woman alive in the western world who had to move her own chair before being seated -- because a gentleman was always within range to take care of that for her. When chivalry was alive and blooming there was no such thing as wet hair on a rainy day with a gentleman always ready with his trusty umbrella.
Giant Poster by Bill Gold
It was also a time when men went to work to ‘bring home the bacon’, while the women stayed home either pregnant or breastfeeding or somewhere in between with a lot of hungry mouths to feed and care for along with her husband. Women were caught up in the whirlwind of daily cleaning, washing, cooking and doing it all again the next day. Men had a job to do and left the home at an early hour so the lady of the house could get on with her daily chores.
The entire era was swept up in the concept of men knowing more and doing it better. Yes, it is hard to believe it was as little as fifty years ago that women didn’t speak of politics or have their own opinions on matters of the world other than what was happening in their own lives or maybe the next door neighbour’s kitchen.
Elizabeth Taylor Was Forgiven For Not Knowing Her Place
The all time movie classic Giant produced in 1956 with Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor in the starring roles and James Dean as co-star. This is a wonderful example of life before the feminist movement. Rock Hudson plays a big time ranch owner from Texas and marries a socialite from the city, a woman with a mind of her own and not afraid to speak it.
Following an evening where the gentleman talk politics and the local women know their place and retire early, Rock confronts his wife telling her she has no business in men’s business.
“You knew who I was when you married me”. Elizabeth Taylor sprouts in her finest city voice. Rock Hudson responds with a dreamy look that says he knows when to back down.
Book Cover of The Female Eunuch
Enter the Female Eunuch
In Australia Germaine Greer led the movement with her now classic work ‘The Female Eunuch’. It was the end of the sixties and women all over the world were ready for the second wave of feminism. Germaine delivered.
Women burned their bras and stampeded the workforce demanding equal pay for equal work. The biggest tragedy of this was the home life that didn’t change. There were still mouths to feed, clothes to wash and houses to look after and so began the era of the superwoman.
If it is to be assumed that most women are not happy digging in the dirt or breaking rocks where has the movement led her? Granted there are the exceptions. Women who have now made their way in what was traditionally considered a man’s world. Female carpenters, accountants and taxi drivers no longer shock the public.
Do women want a man to step in where needed to change a light bulb or fix a broken power circuit? Have the men been criticised once too often so now they are either too scared or can’t be bothered to give a woman that special treatment?
Society has probably moved closer to a happier median in the past ten or twenty years with shared responsibilities in the home so women can now pursue professional development options as well as juggling work and home life. But is either gender happy with the way the feminist movement changed history?
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Copyright © 2010-2011 Karen Wilton
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