There was recently a book on the NY Times Bestseller List titled "In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks". I saw the fellow, a comedian, on a TV interview and got something of what the book was about. I haven't read it but the title got me to thinking about that concept in a much larger societal sense.
I don't think there is any sound-thinking person who would not recognize the vital role that women have played in our society since we first crawled out of our caves. Sometimes their role was in support of some great man, who without the loving guidance of the wife, would not have achieved greatness. Sometimes women achieved greatness on their own, in the face of the mores of their time and against stiff opposition.
But it is amazing the strides women have made in less than a century. Is it even conceivable that until the 1920's women were not allowed to vote? Or that for most of our history women were not allowed to own property? In many cultures even now, those restrictions, along with many more, are still in effect. Under most Islamic cultures a man may take up to five wives and, should he want to divorce one of them he must simply pronounce "I divorce you" five times and the wife is sent packing.
Until the 1970's divorce in our own culture was severely frowned upon and the woman bore the brunt of public condemnation. A divorced woman was looked upon as both a failure and an easy mark for men on the prowl.
Contrast that with women today. I read a statistic recently that said that more than half of all American families are led by single women. Expanded state and federal social programs have provided a safety net for women that has afforded her the option of reversing the traditional role and telling hubby to hit the road. State and federal mandates on child support, and welfare and other social programs has made divorce ultra convenient. Should the woman wish to bear additional children government at all levels stand ready to reward her with a host of social welfare programs, funded all day childcare, all day kindergarten, WIC and all manner of support.
Lest you think I am placing the blame for family dissolution on women alone, let me say that men too have found it all too convenient to chalk up a marriage as a "youthful mistake" and head out to greener pastures, with much less concern over who's going to raise and support the children.
Until 30 years or so ago, women were not as prevalent in the work place. Male prejudice against women assuming traditional male jobs kept many jobs for males only. It is noteworthy that, in today's severely depressed economy, it is the women who are quicker to get hired and are less likely to be laid off.
Consequently, women today have become very independent. They need not fear the condemnation for divorce or even for pursuing an active sexual lifestyle, as men have done for centuries. "The Pill" and Betty Freidan and Gloria Steinham all made it quite acceptable for women to assume the dominant role in our society.
Alas, the unintended consequence of this societal shift has been the death of the nuclear family with the host of social ills that have come with it. Kids no longer have a parent at home when they come home from school. Kids are now free to come home, hit the video games or the internet and venture into dangerous activities. Homework is not monitored effectively. Our schools have declined as parent participation in PTA's and Parent-Teacher conferences have become a less important event. Drop out rates are astronomical as school has become a caretaker.
So women have achieved a degree of freedom and equality unthought of a century ago. But I suspect there will require a period of transition as women adjust to their new roles in society. There exists today some sort of freaky duality about what women wish to be and what they wish their men to be. In one instance the modern western woman wants her husband to share in all housekeeping duties, be a partner, rather than an agressor in the bedroom, show a more "sensitive nature, while at the same time fantasizing about brutish hulks and vampires and all manner of S&M master-slave relationships. The bookstores are full of them and women eat them up like Belgian chocolates.
Men too are confused during this transitional period; isn't the evolution of the "metrosexual" just a nudge toward achieving some sort of masculine-feminine balance? Men are increasingly willing to undergo plastic surgery to be more youthful, buy and slather themselves with male cosmetics, tease their hair into spikey attraction and spend more time in front of the mirror to primp and pose.
I have no idea where our society is going but, being an old curmudgeon, and brought up in another age, I don't much care for the status quo. You can't blame women for wanting to be all that they can be...and you can't blame the men of this generation who have been raised to accomodate the societal changes.
It's going to be an interesting ride and, if I had to bet on one sex or the other, I'd go "all in" that in "50 years we'll all be chicks".