Women in the society have been viewed in different ways for some time. This is dependent on the generation that is being examined. The 21st-century women appear to be sophisticated, empowered and driven by their own desires. The same thing could not be said for women who existed in the past decades. They were viewed to be very submissive and did not control most of the things around them. Roles played by women in the different generations tend to differ in one way or another. This is usually defined by the society based on how it perceives women. The ideologies and stereotypes inherent in the society are responsible for shaping these perceptions (Thorne, 2010).
In the 1950s, the mass media played a role in altering the feminist image. Television was the most used tool to influence women to question their image and belittle themselves. Women were viewed as homemakers whose primary role was to take care of their families. They were expected to be submissive and center their lives around the home. In sectors such as the military and comedy, women were less recognized compared to their male counterparts. Books and articles written in the 1950s and 60s, the authors urged women to become satisfied with their role as mothers and wives. These authors also portrayed women seeking careers negatively to discourage others from abandoning their duties in the family.
The Female Mystique talks of the problem of portraying women as housewives that should be satisfied with the role of being wife and mother (Friedan, 2013). The media encouraged them to become housewives, deliver children, and take care of their families. The media image led to the belief that females were not supposed to seek careers, higher education, political rights. As a result, the average marriage age dropped to about 20 years while the older women abandoned their career ambitions. In this way, the media was used to oppress women by crashing their education and career aspirations in favor of men. The main reason for this approach was that men were in power in various institutions, which gave them the chance to demean women as much as they wanted.
From Rosie to Lucy talks about the brainwashing carried out by the media to make women contented housewives and mothers (Friedan, 2013). Women that had participated in the war were portrayed as masculine with huge muscles. However, their image changed after the war and the media reverted to pictures of submissive women. The contrast between the two periods is caused by the demand for manpower during the war. However, women were supposed to reoccupy their positions in the house once the war was over. The transition shows disrespect towards women and the inequality perpetrated by men in the American society. They abused their positions of power by using the media to demean women who had sacrificed themselves during the war as a way of discouraging competition.
In most communities, women were also viewed as men’s property. In this regard, the man was viewed as the head of the family. This came with his attribute of being the sole bread winner in the family. Women were expected to respect the men in their lives at all times. This meant that they could not challenge any orders that they provided. This was regardless of whether the orders were oppressive in any way or not. There are some communities where a woman’s failure to respect her husband was a crime punishable by law. As children grew up, they observed this aspect, and it was engraved in their mentalities. As they became adults, they also aspired to promulgate the status quo (Thorne, 2010). That is why it became quite difficult to break this way of thinking.
The view of women in the society has changed over time. The roles that they are expected to execute and their general perception has changed in the current generation. They are no longer viewed solely as housewives; actually, the percentage of stay at home dads is increasing compared to the stay at home moms (Vleuten, 2016). Women are now competing for opportunities with men.
Initially, it was difficult to hear of a female head of state. This is due to the chauvinism aspects that was in the society. The image that was created always ensured that women were viewed as inferior beings hence did not have the ability to hold equal positions as men. This has really changed. Countries such as Argentina, Germany, Liberia, and Bangladesh have women as their heads of state. In the United States, there has been an increase in the number of women being involved with the Congress. This is an indication of how the society is viewing the role that women are required to play. Some political leaders like Hillary Clinton have decided to go all the way and vie for the top political seat. She has gained the relevant support that has enabled her to elevate to the current status. This is an indication that United States might have a woman president at some point. It might not be exactly now, but with time, it can be actualized.
Currently, the aspect of women empowerment has been on the rise. This concept helps women gain the ability to make their own decisions without the influence of men. The aspect has helped women move towards actualizing the prospect of equality. The society is not yet there, but there is some substantial progress. Women are now venturing into various industries in an attempt to make a living. These include those industries that were initially regarded as being meant for men. Women are breaking these barriers and adopting the notion that “what men can do, women can do better” (Vleuten, 2016). The number of women that are involved with fortune 500 companies is increasing every time. Over 14% of the top 5 leadership positions in Fortune 500 companies are occupied by women (Vleuten, 2016). Yes, this is a small percentage. However, it is progress on its own based on where women have come from.
Women have also taken charge of various social activities in the societies. Most of these activities are meant for the betterment of the individuals involved. Some of these activities include feeding the poor, fighting for equal rights, enhancing a favorable environment among other things. In short, women have taken a major role of being like activists in the society. Generally, they are viewed as being more philanthropic and caring compared to men. These are among the qualities that enable them to act in these capacities. They are more concerned about the general well-being of the entire society.
To some extent, women also play a substantial role in ensuring that the economy moves forward. This is based on their ability to consume goods and services in large quantities. The 21st-century woman is well known for her spending behavior. They like shopping very now and then. Many are the times that women will claim that they are going out for shopping since they do not have anything to wear. It is usually ironical since the very same women have lots of clothes and shoes, yet they claim not to have any. This is good for the economy since it improves the consumer base. It also helps in the circulation of currency. There is the creation of employment opportunities as a result of these spending habits. People employed in these sectors tend to improve their living standards in one way or another.
It is true that the current generation has helped women move forward and increased their role. The aspect has also come along with some negative attributes. Women in the society are being objectified; more so sexually. On most occasions, they are treated as instruments of sexual pleasure. This has been demonstrated on most videos and pictures found in movies, internet and magazines (Thorne, 2010). They are usually used as an attraction for various advertisements. This is demeaning in various ways since it shows a lack of dignity. It is not a favorable portrayal of women in the society.
In conclusion, how women are viewed in the current generation has changed based on how it was some decades ago. However, the view that women need to take care of the families still exists in the modern society though not as it used to be in the past. There is an aspect of roles sharing when it comes to this area. The number of stay at home dads is increasing with time. Women also have the opportunity to indulge in politics and various corporate activities. The progress is not quite significant in some areas like politics, but there are prospects of improvement in future. Men still hold the majority of powerful positions in government and the corporate world. In this way, women are still facing challenges when competing with men since the odds are not on their side. Therefore, although the situation has changed, women are yet to access the same level of opportunities as men. They still seem inferior in some capacity. The aspect of objectification is yet to change. Various media outlets are treating women as objects of sexual pleasure. This is because they find the concept more appealing to the target market. It is not the right way to portray women, and it needs to change.
Friedan, B. (2013). The feminine mystique. New York: W W Norton & Company.
Thorne, M. E. (2010). Women in society: Achievements, risk, and challenges. New York: Nova Science.
Vleuten, A. (2016). The Price of Gender Equality: Member States and Governance in the European Union. New York: Routledge.
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