Wednesday, June 23, 2010
"Women's movements are group efforts, chiefly by women, that seek to improve women's lives or the lives of others. Probably the best-know women's movements are those that have engaged in political efforts to change the roles and status of women in society. Such political movements by women on their own behalf are often referred to as feminist movements. Women's groups also have worked to help others, primarily through religious and charitable activities. Whether political, religious, or charitable, women's movements have sought to achieve greater social, economic, and political involvement for women. "Throughout history, women have usually had fewer rights and a lower social status than men. The traditional role of wife and mother dominated, and most women's lives centered around their households. Women's movements first developed during the 1800's in the United States and Europe and then spread to other parts of the world…. This first wave of women's movements concentrated primarily on gaining voting rights for women. "A second wave of women's movements emerged during the 1960's, another period of great political and social change in many areas of the world. These contemporary women's movements have sought greater equality for women in the family, in the workplace, and in political life" (James Zollinger Giele, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 21, p. 385). Most societies throughout history have put women in an inferior position compared to that of men. This situation may be somewhat understandable because of the natural biological differences between the sexes. The average woman is physically smaller with less powerful muscles, but the fact that women are smaller does not mean that women are less intelligent or less capable in situations where brute strength is unnecessary. The fact that only women can bear children and nurse infants naturally led to the tradition for women to be responsible for child care while men were free to work at greater distances from their families. This division of labor in early societies did not necessarily suggest inequality. In more developed societies, a woman who stayed at home was dependent on someone else - usually her husband - to provide the necessities of life for her and her children. This could put the woman in an inferior economical position unless the husband considered her to be his full partner. I am very grateful for the opportunity that I had to be a stay-at-home mother while my children were growing and developing. I am also grateful that some of my daughters are also given the opportunity to be at home with their children. The Revolutionary War was fought in the name of liberty and equality, and women supported the war by sewing and farming as well as by boycotting British goods. The war did little to increase the rights of women, but it did make the idea of equality more prominent. The Industrial Revolution brought more women into the work place, but their earnings were controlled by their husbands. The various women's movements have brought many rights for women, including better educational opportunities, the right to own property, and the right to vote. There are new attitudes about women and their work today, and there are more women in the work force today than at any previous time. Even though women are not always paid as much for the same work, the pay is more equal than in past years. Men are becoming more involved in the home with both household chores and parenting. More husbands attend natural childbirth classes, and some men even take parental leave from work to care for a newborn baby. . There are still "gender gaps" in political choices. Women tend to choose candidates favoring social programs and domestic spending, while men tend to vote for candidates favoring defense spending. Even though men and women have more equal rights today, we all need to remember that there are eternal differences between the roles of males and females. Men are responsible to preside (take the leadership role) in their families while also protecting and providing for their families. Women are primarily responsible for nurturing their families. When men and women work together, whether in the home, in Church organizations, or the work place, everyone can come out winners by gaining from the male and female perspective on any given idea. God created us as males and females to walk together as equals.