Thursday, October 22, 2009

Women's History in "Time"

Gail Collins, whose book When Everything Changed I'm continuing to read, isn't the only one writing about how women's place in society has changed in the last 40 or 50 years. Ed Rollins published a story at CNN about how much times changed in the life of his mother, recently deceased at the age of 91. He wrote: "she was not just a spectator to those changes, she was a participant and a pioneer. She was not a woman's libber. She just got up every day and led by example."

Rollins cites Time magazine's recent set of stories: The State of the American Woman. The anchor article by Nancy Gibbs, What Women Want, presents a summary which essentially is an echo of Collins' book, which she cites. Writes Gibbs:
It's funny how things change slowly, until the day we realize they've changed completely. It's expected that by the end of the year, for the first time in history the majority of workers in the U.S. will be women — largely because the downturn has hit men so hard. This is an extraordinary change in a single generation, and it is gathering speed: the growth prospects, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are in typically female jobs like nursing, retail and customer service. More and more women are the primary breadwinner in their household (almost 40%) or are providing essential income for the family's bottom line. Their buying power has never been greater — and their choices have seldom been harder.
Time also reports on a number of polls about attitudes towards women. And Maria Shriver wrote about her recent study of how families live and work today and about her mother, Eunice Shriver. She says:
Everywhere I went, people talked to me about how stressed they feel, especially when it comes to financial security. Women said that never before has so much been asked of them, and never have they delivered so much. Divorced mothers talked to me about trying to make do without child support. A single mother who had just lost her job told me she was utterly dependent on her family and friends just to stay afloat. A businesswoman on the West Coast told me she and her husband "are constantly renegotiating our agreement about what gets done [and] who does it." You hear a lot about the search for a "balanced life." More and more women say that if they could, they'd like to leave companies that are unresponsive and start their own businesses. Many of them do. In fact, the number of women working for themselves doubled from 1979 to 2003, so that women make up 35% of all self-employed people.
We're supposed to question ourselves about the value of the changes, maybe. Gibbs cites the recent dubious study proving that women are less happy than the used to be (the change is much more marginal than the ones featured in these articles).

I wonder why this is suddenly such a hot topic. I'm sure I'll figure out the reason soon. In any case, I plan to finish reading the Gail Collins book soon.

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