A Statistical Analysis of the Impact of Feminist Movement in the United States of America

(This article was prepared by Islamic Research Academy, Karachi, Pakistan and was published in Friday Especial, Karachi)


Gallup International has maintained a periodic survey in the United States.

"If your party nominates a female candidate for president then would you vote her or not?"

What they answered throughout the century is shown in Table 1.

Table 1
YearYesNo
19373364
19494848
19585441
19695340
19838016
19978212

Table 1 shows that americans' opinion has changed significantly over the years. We may say that almost all americans are now in favor of female president. Although, itself, this survey or this change is not important but the possible candidacy of Elizabeth Dole in 2000 and Hillary Clinton in 2004 has made it quite popular among them.

This is not the only example that implies the change in perception of americans regarding the additional role of women in society along with the conventional one. Change has occurred in almost all other spheres. For example, in 1900, female participation in jobs was 19%. It had increased to 46% in 1995. See Table 2:

Table 2
YearFemale Job Participation (%)
190018.3
192020.4
194024.3
196032.5
198042.0
199546.0

Similarly, in 1992, women owned 6.4 million businesses. 20% of the elected persons were women in 1992. Women participation in military and other departments has also increased considerably.

These changes, in fact, are the result of the feminist movement launched in the second decade of nineteenth century in the United States by Francis Wright. The movement touched its peek under the leadership of Victoria Woodhul. That movement was a reaction against the oppression and prejudice women faced those days from men. Men, because of their natural physical strength, oppressed women in severe manner, while they themselves did not fulfil the social and economic obligations they had. Conditions were similar to our [Pakistani] rural areas where feudal lords consider women inhuman and behave rudely. Only women were not the victims of oppression those days, blacks were also regarded only slaves and faced tyranny [if not now!]

Both black population and the women launched their movements almost simultaneously. Women announced their economical independence from men. This goal [of economic independence] soon diverted to individual liberty. Women's religious circles then opposed such independence arguing that this will only make women more vulnerable to men - who is naturally stronger than them. Ideas of other side, however, prevailed.

20th century brought new dimensions for this feminist movement, according to ABCNews "...various experiments were applied." Flappers were one of those new experiments. They were young women from elite class who gave new meanings to the individual liberty or rights as a sequel of feminist movement. They started wearing suggestive dresses in public places and voiced for sexual liberty. Their attitude prevailed among other women and became a trend. Women never then had to ask for such liberties and it was never needed to change the constitution to allow all that - First amendment was there to protect whatever they did. These flappers proved to be the flagship for the change of the role of women in US society and hence became a society we now call United States of America. In those countries, where social structure is not similar to that of US, feminist movements are active to make that one.

What women achieved from the movement? What they lost? We will see it in terms of statistics.

Women came out of their homes and started working with men side by side. They also continued their traditional responsibilities like raising children, household, etc. That naturally increased the burden. They then looked for Daycare centers and, according to an opinion, the recent Littleton [Denver, Colorado] high school incident is one of the outcome of that. (See latest report at www.gallup.com)

In 1955, number of working mothers were 27% while in 1984 they were 60%. Thus women got double responsibility, that is, both of work and home. Therefore whole attitude of the society changed and marriages became ephemeral. In 1960, female maintained households were 15% while in 1994 they were 44%. Please see Table 3:

Table 3
YearTotal householdsFemale maintainedDivorced (%)Single (%)
196045 million4.5 million158
197051 million5.5 million2211
198059 million8.7 million3516
199469 million12 million44*23*
* estimated

According to Table 3, in 1960, women maintained 4.5 million families; that was 10% of total US households at that time, it increased to 17% till 1994. However, on the other hand, in 1994, male maintained families were 1 million - 1.5% of total households. Average annual income of men is 34% more than that of women. This shows the women have 10 times more responsibilities while are paid almost half than men.

In 1994, 10% of total US families were living below poverty line. Women maintain 58% of them. Rest is maintained by either men or both. Similarly 62% of people living below poverty line are women.

Since women started working with men and exposed themselves in every sphere of life, men found more ways to use their physical strength:

According to American Medical Association, the most rapidly increasing crime in the US is sexual assault that currently is at the rate of one every 45 seconds. This estimate is based on only 10% to 50% [most agree on 10%] assaults that are reported.

National Victim Center says that every year 0.7 million women are raped. 61% of them are below 18 years. Family members or boy friends made 80% of assaults. According to a survey of 6,159 college students enrolled at 32 institutions of US, 57% assaults occurred on dates. 54% of the women surveyed had been victims of some form of sexual abuse. More than one in four college-aged women had been the victim of rape or attempted rape. 42% of the victims told no one.

In a survey of male college students, 35% anonymously admitted that, under certain circumstances, they would commit rape if they believed they could get away with it. 43% admitted to using coercive behavior to have sex. One in 12 admitted to committing acts that met the legal definitions of rape, and 84% of men who committed rape did not label it as rape. 15% acknowledged that they had committed acquaintance rape, and 11% acknowledged using physical restraints to force a woman to have sex.

In a survey of high school students, 56% of girls and 76% of the boys believed forced sex was acceptable under some circumstances. 65% of the boys and 47% of the girls said it was acceptable for a boy to rape a girl if they had been dating for more than six months. 51% of the boys and 41% of the girls said forced sex was acceptable if the boy "spent a lot of money" on the girl.

Another survey shows that from 1985 to 1994, the number of women AIDS victims is 3 times more than that of men. Please see Table 4:

Table 4
 AIDs Victims
Sex198519901994
Male75213638163361
Female520453813423

All these figures show that feminist movement, unfortunately, has taken women from one form of oppression to another - to a style of oppression where women seems to be independent but is again being oppressed. The difference is that the number of oppressors on a woman has increased. She is now more vulnerable and more accessible. She is alone and burdened more - - and yet, she is paid almost half as are men. That's all because this oppression has been named as progress and women are told that their rights are to do what this form of progress demands. Men are abusing women by making them a tool for themselves. They use and abuse women and then they throw them away. Women have been commercialized. Their roles as sisters, mothers, wives and daughters have been changed into models, miss universes, miss IMF, etc - in short - contracts.

Sources:

  1. The 1986 Information Please Almanac, Houghton Fifflin Company, Boston, 1986
  2. The World Almanac and book of Facts 1997, World Almanac Books, Mahwah, New Jersey
  3. The Constitution and American Life by David Thelen, Cornell University Press
  4. The World Book Encyclopedia, 1988
  5. http://infoplease.lycos.com
  6. http://www.census.gov

 


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