Understanding Women Stereotypes before and after Womens Lib

Women have been the subject of stereotypes for centuries and have evolved dramatically over the past century.The women’s liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s did alot to change the stereotypes of women. Before this movement women have traditionally been thought of as the weaker sex, who needed to be protected and provided for by men. Their place was to be in the home cooking, cleaning and raising the children, while their husbands went to work. The few women that did work outside of the home were often limited to what occupations deemed appropriate for their gender. This would have included teaching, nursing and clerical positions which traditionally were considered suitable for women.  Certainly, while women were expected to be demure, submissive and to know their place, men did treat them according to a code of chivalry due them because of their sex. Men would open doors, carry heavy packages and pay a ladies expenses on dates. This was treatment was expected by most women of the pre women’s lib movement.

The women’s liberation movement by many is credited with the invention of the birth control pill, which freed women from fear of pregnancy and to embrace their sexuality outside the confines of marriage. Along with this came the concept of women entering traditionally male dominated fields like medicine, science and engineering. Women burned their bras and demanded to be treated equally to men in every aspect.  They no longer wanted men to be chivalrous as it was seen as a sign of women’s subjugation to a man. In 1973 Roe v Wade affirmed a woman’s right to control over her reproductive rights and access to legal abortion. Despite these small victories women were still the subject of earlier stereotypes that had prevailed for centuries. 

Since the women’s liberation movement a blend of both traditional and liberal sterotypes have been attributed to women. Today women are lumped into one of three categories. The first is the women that believe that a woman’s place is in the home and that men are to be the leaders of the home and community.  The importance of being wives and mothers is a core part of their identity as women. These women are often very religious and believe they are fulfilling the role that God ordained for them. The second is the feminist, those who believe that a woman cannot be fulfilled unless she has a career outside the home and believe they are equally to a man in every aspect. They do not like men opening doors for them or paying their way on dates as they find such behavior demeaning to women. Often they are equated by mainstream society for an extremely masculine appearance and mannerisms. They are often easily offended and confrontational. The third is where most women fit in, in that they want equal pay and access to education, but at the same time embrace their roles as wives and mothers. Some choose to stay home and raise children, others work . These are the women of mainstream American society who while wanting the same opportunities as men, like it when men show them courtesy and respect due them as women.

The women’s liberation movment did very little to advance the lot of American women in society. Women are still paid less than a man for doing the same job, even when she has the same level of education and experience. Women of childbearing age are often discriminated against in hiring and promotion practices or fired because they get pregnant. Abortion rights did not give women the upper hand, it has become just another tool to exploit and deny women opportunties. She can choose either her job or child, but she is told she cannot have both. Equality has been the mantra of the women’s lib movement over equity. While women should be given the same access to jobs and education as men, it is not demeaning to say that men and women are physically and mentally different on many levels.  That is simple biology and human anatomy.  Men are better suited for some jobs and vice versa. Women are faced with more negative sterotypes than ever thanks to the womens lib movement than they were before it. Now in the 21st modern American stuggle to find their place and navigate the sterotypes to define their own core identity.