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A Statistical Analysis of the Impact of Feminist Movement in the USA
Political Issues
Islamic Research Academy

Gallup International has periodically conducted a survey in the United States. The question asked was: “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

Year Yes No
1937 33 64
1949 48 48
1958 54 41
1969 53 40
1983 80 16
1997 82 12

 

Table 1 shows that the American opinion in this matter has changed significantly over the years. We may say that almost all Americans are now in favour of a 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 shows the change in perception of the 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

Year

Female Job Participation (%)

1900

18.3

1920

20.4

1940

24.3

1960

32.5

1980

42.0

1995

46.0

 

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. The movement was a reaction against the oppression and prejudice women faced in 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.

Both black population and the women launched their movements almost simultaneously. Women announced their economical independence from men. This goal 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 are 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 countries, where the social structure is not similar to that of the US, feminist movements are active to make that one.

What did women achieve from the movement? What did they lose? The answer lies in the 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 day-care centres and, according to an opinion, the recent Littleton [Denver, Colorado] high school incident is one of the outcomes of that. (See latest report at www.gallup.com)

In 1955, the number of working mothers was 27% while in 1984 it was 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

Year

Total households

Female maintained

Divorced (%)

Single (%)

1960

45 million

4.5 million

15

8

1970

51 million

5.5 million

22

11

1980

59 million

8.7 million

35

16

1994

69 million

12 million

44*

23*

* estimated

 

According to Table 3, in 1960, women maintained 4.5 million families; that was 10% of the 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 that 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. The 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 the 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 Centre 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 the 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 behaviour to have sex. One in 12 admitted to committing acts that met the legal definition 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 female AIDS victims is 3 times more than that of men:

 

Table 4

 

AIDS Victims

Sex

1985

1990

1994

Male

7521

36381

63361

Female

520

4538

13423

 

All these figures show that the 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 of 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 men are. 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 throw them away. Women have been commercialized. Their roles as sisters, mothers, wives and daughters have been changed into models, miss universes, and miss IMF.

 

Bibliography

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 Encyclopaedia, 1988

5.   http://infoplease.lycos.com

6.   http://www.census.gov

 

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