Deep Thoughts #5: Women's Lib

I don’t think people these days understand the magnitude of equal rights for women. Men have pretty much been top dog since pre-history – since we were hunting on the African savannah hundreds of thousands of years ago.  Women being considered coequal with men literally hasn’t occurred since humans have been human. Whether you think this is a good thing or a bad thing, or whether you think that women still have a ways to go before becoming completely coequal, you have to admit that this is a turning point of epic proportions.

Now before you get upset, I’m not saying women have never had an important role to play – I’m just saying that the guys were numero uno in the communal units, the households and in society (with few anomalies). It wasn’t until the latter half of the 1960s that things started to change… and my question is WHY.

In all of human history, why now? We humans have been around for a long time…. What was so special about the late sixties that triggered this change?

Enlightenment? NO

I don’t think for one minute that mankind suddenly reached an enlightenment. We are every bit, if not more, stupid than we’ve ever been.  There simply hasn’t been some sort of philosophical game changer.  Men are every bit the same as they were in the 1950s, 1850s, and as far back as you want to go.

Religion? NO

I don’t think it was because the human race cast of the shackles of religion.  First, religion in and of itself is not bad. It can be a great source of recognizing the dignity of your fellow man – and woman.  It’s true that often promotes violent misogyny, as it still does in certain parts of the world. However, it can’t be the reason for such a gigantic change as women’s lib because, for the most part, religion acclimates itself to the persuasions of the people. In other words, if a culture is hedonistic, their religion will follow suit.  If a culture is paranoid and angry, their religion will reflect that disposition.  It’s not a “chicken or the egg” scenario.  The mindset of the people comes first.


I’ve heard a lot of historians attribute the shift to World War II, where women compensated in the workplace for the GIs overseas.  Once the soldiers returned to the States, women had embedded themselves in the economy to such an extent, that there was no going back to a homogenously male workforce.

I don’t buy this explanation. There’s been many times throughout history where the men have shoved off to war and the women fill in the gaps.  Yet, it’s never stuck before – why did it stick in the 1960s?

Technology? YES

As much as we’d like to think humanity has reached an enlightenment, that we’ve come a long way morally – the fact of the matter is that it comes down to a simple matter of no longer needing masculine strength in the workforce.

Once man moved away from hunting for a living, it was basically all about farming for tens of thousands of years - back breaking work that required strength.  Along comes the Industrial Revolution and the workforce shifts to the factory – still a job that requires strength.

By the mid twentieth century, work was beginning to require a lot more brain power versus brute strength.  Now that women could leave the home, thanks to technologies that made cooking and cleaning no longer day-long chores, they easily fed into the demand for desk jobs.  A booming American economy provided the perfect storm for easy entry into this new workforce of “thinkers”.

By the 1980s, Americans got to enjoy the materialist bonanza that was the two-parent income! Now that both parents could earn a decent living, it seemed that the sky was the limit – household incomes basically doubled. We all won the freaking lotto in the eighties.

Unfortunately, the giant-piles-of-cash-for-everyone party was fairly short lived. It would seem this seismic shift that was Women’s Lib was taken for granted and underestimated.  The change it brought was still underway…. and still is to this day.  What are the results? They are no less than all-encompassing.

Result #1: The Economy is F***ed

We got used to the good life with this two parent income dynamic. We thought that we could keep it up indefinitely, not realizing that inflation would catch up with us.  For instance, in the 1980s (and into the 90s), it became taken for granted that all middle class families would send their kids to college. Now, in 2011, the student loan debt in the US is actually larger than our total credit card debt. Holy shit.

We also began to think that we were entitled to big-ass houses…. which ultimately led to the housing bubble.  Americans could no longer afford their upward mobility, but banks were only too willing to let us purchase our tuition and mortgages on credit. Big mistake.

Result #2: Men Will Fade

In study after study, it’s been demonstrated that this new brand of workforce is actually more suited to the mind of a female than to a man.  The organization and attention to detail needed in today’s jobs are better suited for women than men – like it or not, it is simply the case. 

And have you taken a look around college campuses these days? It’s all female.  Females simply flourish in this environment – in test taking, in work ethic, in focus.  Men are being left in the dust, and it’s not a gradual thing – it’s changing drastically.  It seems, the only place where men still occupy the majority is prison. Sad but true.

So, where will all this ultimately lead? Who knows?  We are in the midst of a transition, and there’s simply no way to predict where it will lead. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on the matter.


  1. Sadly, in much of the world, and parts of our own country, women still aren't equal. Just talk to your average Southern Baptist, or Orthodox Jew. Let's hope women take over the world...just so they don't have to start acting like men to do it. As I told my daughter a couple of days ago, look around at all the problems in the world--all created by men!!

  2. I'll say this about that: if men had to give birth, the human race would have died out centuries ago. (And I say that as a heterosexual man.)

  3. Actually, DA, even in Orthodox Judaism women are seen as SUPERIOR to men in many ways. For instance, women are seen as men's spiritual superiors, therefore women DO NOT HAVE TO PRAY! They automatically go to Heaven. God listens to them before men. The whole "thank you for making me a man" prayer is simply because men, being women's spiritual inferiors, HAVE to stop and pray at certain times of the day. Therefore they're saying "Thank you God for making me a man so I have this extra work of praying to you."

    Also, Judaism is the first, and probably still the only religion to make it ILLEGAL for a husband to rape his wife. Sex is 100% at her discretion. And while the husband is only allowed to orgasm in the vagina, any way she gets sexual satisfaction she's allowed to do/have done. Because Jewish men are legally required to sexually satisfy their wives, even if the wife cannot have children. (Unlike many Christians who believe sex should only be for procreation and once the wife has menopause they stop having sex.)

    Rabbis have even sat down and set out how many times a year, as per career, a husband must have sex with his wife (if she wants it).

    If the husband doesn't give his wife enough pleasure in bed, she's allowed to seek out a divorce and marry someone who does sexually satisfy her.

    Heck, abortion is even seen as okay so long as the mother's life is in danger. And the rules to that has been expanded to include women who are pregnant after being raped. So even if the pregnancy is otherwise normal, because the conception came by violence, it can been seen as endangering the mother's life and therefore she can get an abortion if she wants.

    So yeah, there's actually a lot about Judaism that is very feminist.

    Me, I think in many ways feminism has ruined things for women. I want a man to open a door for me - especially when I've got my hands full - help me carry something heavy, make the first move, and defend me from bullies. Most men I meet refuse to do these things claiming that to do what I want would make them "chauvinist pigs."

    I think when a man won't help a woman carry something heavy it just makes him a lazy jerk.

    And I'm a MISS not a Ms, damn it! I freaking HATE being called Ms as much as I hate being called JJ. NEVER call me either or I will hurt you!

  4. My explanation is the outburst of youth culture in the 1950s America. Never before in the hisory of mankind, in any country, the youth had their clearly marked identification, their own space that mimicked that of the adult world; their had their own market: vast industries worked for their clothing, their music, movies and TV. College life (for girls) was the extension of that youth culture, by which I mean a degree of ideological autonomy the youth had.

    Could it be that young men were conditioned, too, and were more benevolent to the increasing role of women in their society?

    I also want to note that there will always be a creative refuge for men. Unlike women, men are more inclined to abstract (philosophy, inane inventions, even painting), and more precisely - morbid abstract. That explains why there are not many women in philosophy or inventions. To think outside the norm - and to further extent to go literally insane - is mostly a men's privilege, which is dictated by how their brain operates. For example, there are more sexual deviations and more psychopathological anomalities among men than women, which confirms the restlessness of men's brain.

    Back to Gillian's question. I would also compare the situation in various countries. For example, are women in Mexico emancipated the same way as in the USA? If yes, when did it happen and why? In the Soviet Union women were emancipated in the 20s enough to take many, previously predominantly men's professions, including in academia and industries.

  5. Problems don't depend on men or women, it is geneal question without answer. Another question is why some people can do bad things? It's not important who does it, but it can be a man or a women. I think that such problem is uncorrect.

  6. @ian - As far as men being more abstract thinkers (whether or not that's true, I don't know), doesn't that just mean we will have a lot of talented derelicts? The economy, the workforce, the engine that runs this country is not going to slow down for philosphers.

    Also, there are several countries in Africa where 70 PERCENT of the women have been raped. That is astonishing... and perhaps yet another validation of my argument on the power of technology. What would these countries look like if they had similarly industrialized technologies as the US? I'm prone to think the females would quickly fill those roles and the ex-warlords and unemployed rapist chieftans would fade away.

  7. That "average Southern Baptist" crack is off the mark. The most mysogonistic guys I know are irreligeous borderline white trash.

    I remember in the early 1980s, my stay-at-home mom saying unemployment would go down quick if all the women would go home.

  8. Why did it happen in the '60s? Mao. Or more precisely Madame Mao.

    Tried to destroy the family in China but failed, despite a million or so deaths. Chinese family structure is still as strong today as it was a thousand years ago. Mao succeeded in America, without firing a single shot. Our family structure is permanently gone.

  9. Gilligan, you're a keen observer of social change. I think your analysis is right on the money.

    JamiSings - are you serious? Orthodox Judaism is "very feminist"? An unhappy orthodox Jewish wife can "seek out a divorce". But if her husband refuses to grant the divorce, she's out of luck. Just ask the thousands of women trapped in unwanted marriages. Men hold all the power in this game. Granting a divorce is the prerogative of the husband only in orthodox Judaism. And what if a woman wants an abortion for serious financial or any other non-life threatening reasons? Some religious "authorities" (all men by the way) decree her reasons aren't good enough? What kind of feminism is that? The prayer is not "Thank you for making me a man" but "Thank you for not making me a woman". Either way, a major insult to women - and I say that as a man. Any ladies here who would consider this a compliment? No wonder many enlightened branches of Judaism removed this obnoxious "blessing" from their prayer books.

  10. Some pretty good comments here; this post seems to have touched a nerve. I think that, instead of the 1960s, the change occurred four decades earlier with female suffrage. Once women saw how indispensable they were to the war effort, there was no going back. You want a revolution? How about Russia- the Golden age of the the 1920s coincided with that here in Germany before two totalitarian reactionaries set back the clock. But I wouldn't use the US as a model for women's lib; it was far behind the rest of the world in comparison.

  11. Eh, I never understood why I needed a bunch of women to tell me HOW to be a woman.

    I have a traditional relationship: I stay at home, I take care of the kids, house, the man...and he pays for it. We're both happy, even though there is nothing particularly "feminist" about it, but it's the type of gal *I* want to be.

    I have 2 teenaged boys. I checked out of the feminist movement the day my sons were treated like they were of no account for having a penis. I want good men that I am proud of and this "equality" largely is done at a male's expense through ridicule, displacement and denying them the same chances (look at ads, jobs and college. I also have a newborn girl, and while she will be taught she can be whatever she wants to be, the lesson is really no different from her brothers.

  12. How right you are, sewducky! Just look at the network TV programs over the past couple of decades. They invaribly show a stupid worthless lazy husband who is married to a brilliant hardworking do-everything wife and all of the comedy is at the expense of the schmuck to which this paragon of beauty and intelligence is married. Tool Time, King of Queens, Everybody Loves Ray, etc, etc, etc. Men are being taught to be ashamed of their bodies from earliest childhood, and infant male genital mutilation is close to universal because the natural genitals of a man are considered to be so gross and unsanitary. The women are teaching their sons to wear big baggy oversized clothing to disguise the shape of their bodies, while the girls are being dressed in tight provocative revealing clothing. Any woman that you talk with is likely to talk about being the victim of sexual exploitation, and you will never hear a woman take responsibility for her own sexual activity. I was very supportive of equal rights for women, but now I have learned that they did not want to be equal, they want to domineer and exploit the male gender.

  13. Social equality for women is a luxury that will last as long as life is easy.
    And it is easy -- when was the last time you had to fight a rival to the death, or hunt your supper or starve? If it ever got that tough again, women would again be sequestered, protected, and smacked around when they got uppity.

  14. Social equality for women is a luxury that will last as long as life is easy.
    And it is easy -- when was the last time you had to fight a rival to the death, or hunt your supper or starve? If it ever got that tough again, women would again be sequestered, protected, and smacked around when they got uppity.

  15. There is a new book out by conservative Bill Bennett called "The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood." The CBS Early Show interviewed him about it this morning and he touched upon all of the points in your post and talked about how men are falling behind women in the workplace and education. He went on to say that women's lib was great but one of the problems that it's caused is that men no longer have the pressing need to marry and provide for a woman and that means a lot don't have or want to make a commitment. They brought up the news reported earlier this week about the marriage dip--just over half of U.S. adults are married today compared to 72% in 1960. I plan on posting about the marriage trend soon. Anyways thanks for another inspirational and insightful post.

  16. I'm a little terrified by these comments, to be honest. I've browsed this blog for quite a long time, but this is the first post to really hit a nerve.

    For one thing, I am sick to death of hearing privileged white men complain about how men being portrayed as stupid or lazy on tv somehow counterbalances the enormous amount of shit women are still getting thrown at them in the media, in the home, at their jobs, ANYWHERE. It's a harmful stereotype, obviously. But so is their often catty, out-of-their-league, long-suffering wife. What on earth kind of message is that sending to women, too?

    And same with women like you, sewducky. You act like you're taking a stand against something harmful or aggressively being thrown in your face. It's your right to enjoy being a housewife. That's a full-time job. But please don't tell me you imagine all 'feminists' as bra-burning, men-hating lesbians who can't appreciate good ole' chivalry anymore! You do know what feminism is, right? Men can be feminists, too. I'm finding it difficult to see how you're finding more equality for women is at the "expense" of the men, unless you mean that women receiving more social and political respect somehow demeans us all.

    And Gilligan, please tell me I'm reading this post wrong. Are you actually claiming that women somehow having any kind of finesse with technology has led to the destruction of our economy and men fading away? Because that honestly sounds batshit crazy. It really does. Why is it a sex thing? Why not a people thing, a population thing? Men aren't going anywhere just because more women are going to college than in previous generations. Whether you meant it or not, the entire tone of the post is incredibly condescending to women. I'm disappointed.

  17. After the major inaccuracies of the first paragraph, I quickly realized how that was going to set the tone for the rest of this post. What a treat.

    Gilligan, how convenient of you to ignore everything from Seneca Falls to WWII! I'm assuming it's because you are completely unaware of it. Even before then, women have been fighting for this since the US began – and in other countries, like Britain for example, long before our country was even conceived. Women didn't start to get a foothold in the US until well after the Civil War. Can you guess why? White men were fine with white women voting to compensate for
    black men voting – because that meant TWICE as many white votes!

    Are you actually suggesting that there have been no economic depressions before women's liberation movements? You truly believe this is the fault of women exclusively? You sound like a conspiracy theorist.

    You only believe men will “fade” because you believe that men are worth more than women.
    Men don't go to college as often because they DON'T HAVE TO COMPETE AS HARD. There is an uneven return on education: men who go to college earn more than women who have the same amount of education. A man without a degree has more options than a woman without a degree. It's survival that more people are going to college. Everything in society can be explained by self interest, not “women are better at organization!”

    Feminism is all inclusive. Sara is completely right. Sewducky, if you had a traditional family and it is what you want, then there is EVERYTHING feminist about that! If that is what you want, then that choice is the essence of feminism!

    People tell me sometimes that the women's equality movement is over. Thanks for giving me a perfect example to show how much farther there still is to go until women can be viewed as the equal people they are.

  18. Elizabeth, you're kidding, right? Where was it even implied that there was no such thing as economic depressions prior to women's lib? No comprende.

    To claim that the two parent income has had no significant impact on our economy is just plain wrong, not to mention a little odd. It has greatly transformed our economy and it has vastly restructured the average american househuld.

    And what about my post gave you the impression that women haven't striven for equal rights prior to the seventies? Actually, it states the reverse (perhaps you stopped reading). The reality is that women have not been allowed a foothold until after WWII and the complete makeover of the workplace via technologies. I was conveying the point that the transition occurred, not due to enlightenment but rather due to fortuitous opportunities.

    The women's equality movement is by no means over. Agreed. Perhaps, if you read my post again you'll find that is exactly what I'm saying - the strides women have made have not been due to some miraculous change of heart of men (i.e. an enlightenment); instead, the positive change has been due to the nature of the workplace no longer requiring brawn and, instead, favoring qualities typically associated with females.

    How in the wide world of sports is this incorrect? Am I missing something?