Feminism And Gender Equality In The 1990's
Overall, the rights and status of women have improved considerably in the last century; however,
gender equality has recently been threatened within the last decade. Blatantly sexist laws and
practices are slowly being eliminated while social perceptions of "women's roles" continue to
stagnate and even degrade back to traditional ideals. It is these social perceptions that challenge the
evolution of women as equal on all levels. In this study, I will argue that subtle and blatant sexism
continues to exist throughout educational, economic, professional and legal arenas.
Women who carefully follow their expected roles may never recognize sexism as an oppressive
force in their life. I find many parallels between women's experiences in the nineties with Betty
Friedan's, in her essay: The Way We Were - 1949. She dealt with a society that expected women
to fulfill certain roles. Those roles completely disregarded the needs of educated and motivated
business women and scientific women. Actually, the subtle message that society gave was that the
educated woman was actually selfish and evil.
I remember in particular the searing effect on me, who once intended to be a psychologist, of a
story in McCall's in December 1949 called "A Weekend with Daddy." A little girl who lives a lonely
life with her mother, divorced, an intellectual know-it-all psychologist, goes to the country to spend a
weekend with her father and his new wife, who is wholesome, happy, and a good cook and
gardener. And there is love and laughter and growing flowers and hot clams and a gourmet cheese
omelet and square dancing, and she doesn't want to go home. But, pitying her poor mother typing
away all by herself in the lonesome apartment, she keeps her guilty secret that from now on she will
be living for the moments when she can escape...