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Sex and Gender

2021 Womanhood

woman in shadow

In 2021 is it harder to be a woman than 50 years ago?

Well 50 years ago was 1971. That is crazy in of itself but anyway let’s think about it.

Women in 1971 and 2021 are affected most by Family Responsibilities Discrimination. While there are no FEDERAL laws protecting anyone from Family Responsibilities Discrimination many states have passed such laws and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Equal Pay Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act and ERISA all offer different types of protections for Family Responsibilities Discrimination. In 1971 only Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 existed, and it wasn’t as broadly interpreted as it is today. Women in 2021 are protected in many states from having to disclose any information about her family or answer questions about the size of her family.

But on the other hand, there is an unspoken expectation for women to have careers and still be able to take care of her family. According to this 2020 study by Gallup married women or heterosexual women living with her partner are still doing more housework than their male partners. The amount of work the man is doing at home is more than his father or grandfather did, but the expectation is still there in most households.

Then there is the split between working women and homemakers.

Societal womanhood doesn’t have a definition anymore. There isn’t one list of rules for a person to follow anymore, because the rules are different depending on a persons race, status as a parent, socio-economic status, gender presentation, or gender identity. And I know that list isn’t comprehensive and a person can fit into more than one of those boxes. It isn’t as though those boxes didn’t exhist in 1972, but some of those boxes were illegal to fit into in 1972, and some of those boxes were more tightly packed in 1972.

We can imagine a woman in 1950 or 1960 and we have a stereotype of a woman in those eras. We don’t have one stereotype for all womanhood in 2021. Again that doesn’t mean that every woman in 1950 was Sandra Dee, but that is what the media portrayed. And then in the 1970s we began having the working woman and the stay at home mom, or the Mary Tyler Moore vs Carol Brady. But womanhood cannot be condensed to two archetypes in 2021.

Does that mean it is better to be a woman in 2021? If you want to know your role and have specific expectations placed on you then being a woman in the past is for you. But if you want to create a new path and have more opportunities, then being a woman now is for you. I also like being able to open up a bank account and a credit card without my husband’s permission.

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