To people around my age, you will remember depictions of women burning their bras on TV news or pictures inside national magazines. This protestation seemed to be another step forward in the suffrage movement -- after a lengthy gap.
Women were expressing their displeasure at the inequality of incomes between themselves and men who performed the same work. They were expressing their disdain at nude women being "used" in films and magazines as objects of lust for a male audience. They were expressing their intolerance against the glass ceiling, and more.
I was young when all of this took place, but I understood the arguments being made by women, and they all seemed perfectly coherent and fair-minded to me. My mother worked as a secretary (remember secretaries) all her life, and, as a single mom she provided everything for the continued existence of my sister and myself.
My dad who was a retired pilot with the rank of major in the USAF was a dead-beat father. He seemed to suffer a major depression after his brother (my uncle) was shot down during the Korean War. But, he also was something of a woman's man. In any event, after a few years of marriage (most of which he spent in places like India), plus the infidelity issues, my mother (a devote Catholic) was agreeable to a divorce (despite the fact that she still worshipped the man she married). She was simply tired of the heartache.
So, it was left to her entirely to raise two difficult children on the wages of a secretary. We skimped, and we skimped -- it was just part of our day-to-day routine. Thus, I supported all the rights that women wished to possess. I did not see women as pleasure objects, but as struggling individuals.
The Nuclear Family
Eventually, (post WWII) because of the lavish lifestyles most Americans wished to maintain, it became NECESSARY for the wife in a nuclear family to work -- at least part time -- to offset the purchases rolling off the assembly line.
Those who remained at home to tend to household chores and the rearing of children were (during this period) sneered upon. The destruction of the nuclear family became a disaster on many levels. Women who had insisted that they have equal opportunity at obtaining jobs got their wish.
Only years later did many of them see this opportunity as a kind of curse. The working mom no longer became a matter of choice. No, if you wanted to keep up with the Joneses, mom had to work -- usually full time.
Okay, so, the womens' liberation movement involved some mistakes, but overall, it did lift their status. Gradually, they earned respect in the office. It was no longer innocent or cute to pinch a woman's buttocks upon mere whim (or anything else).
The pendulum actually swung pretty far in the opposite direction. Women obtained guarantees in the workplace that they could not be harassed -- and many a male got booted out from his position as a result. Things peculated to the point where all that women had to do was report a sexual indiscretion to their human resources department, and some kind of investigation would ensue. If the woman had a couple of friends to back up her claim (true or not), the male boss or colleague never stood a chance.
In the Workplace
Now, mostly women dominate over office management positions and everything below that. Many have become CEOs, although they still have some way to go before gaining superiority in the "old man's club." In the Episcopalian Church, women can conduct Mass and administer communion.
Hillary Clinton made a good run for the presidency and only lost out because President Obama seemed to include sweet potato pie in his long list of handouts for the American populace.
Hillary's "favorable" ratings (at the time of this writing) far exceed those of Obama, and this is very interesting. The way my wife summarizes the state of affairs is like this: Men have had their chance to bring peace and prosperity to the word for centuries, and they have failed miserably. It is time to hand the reigns over to a woman Commander and Chief, with a predominately female cabinet, and even with a predominately female Superior Court.
Such an argument leads one into the area of pure speculation and guesswork: Are women as proficient (or more proficient) as men at running the government of an entire country? Perhaps, post-Obama, we may get to see how this plays out. If their supposition turns out to be entirely correct, I'll be suitably ecstatic.
In many less "advanced" cultures, women have played the predominate role in decision making for their group. Observing these diminutive examples, one cannot find anything amiss. The tribe/group does not end up splintered and floundering for survival.
Throughout our history, women deities have played extremely important roles. Their man-made forms were worshipped for hundreds of years. In certain parts of the Christian world many offer up their prayers to Mary, the mother of Jesus, not to God himself. These are generally Catholics who put great stock in the apostles, the saints, and the holy family.
The power of the feminine is psychologically extremely powerful, so these minor deviations are not of concern to the Vatican.
I read that the greatest wealth of this country lies in the hands of women. Well, why not since they often out-live men by a good ten years.
From a psychological perspective it has often been alluded to that behind every great man is an even greater woman. This may very well be true. Women have learned well how to lead from behind. The fact that Nancy Reagan relied upon an astrologist to help guide her husband is an established fact. Probably many great leaders had an influential wife or concubine whispering into their ear.
But there are other examples where women led from the forefront, e.g., Elizabeth I from England or Catherine II of Russia. These women managed to bring a sense of national unity, prosperity, and peace during tumultuous periods of history.
Women on Top
So, where is the womens' movement in America? Frankly, women hardly seem to need one. They are steadily gaining on being the most wealthy individuals in the nation. They are making significant inroads toward becoming CEOs of the top companies in the nation. Wages between men and women are SLOWLY reaching a parity. The day seems to have arrived (or nearly so) where women can celebrate their mothers/grandmothers for burning their bras. The result of their frustration/anger/defiance has started to pay good dividends.
It is not beyond the reach of imagination of seeing the tables turned -- where men lose their dominance and are subjugated to female managers, and even a president. The "smoking room" for men will still be filled with carcinogenic cigar smoke and the smell of brandy, but the concept of back-room deals will have vanished because their power will be truncated at best. That could turn out to be a very good thing. While male unemployment continues to cruise at a ten (or higher) percent altitude, the opportunities for women are far more encouraging and suggest a kind of boundlessness. Women are snatching up good-paying jobs in universities, public service, engineering, science, medicine and so forth. Men may have little choice but to accept the swing of the pendulum in good graces.