This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

Men and women the late 20th Century

It wasn't until I started working on the family genealogy, and studying how my ancestors lived that I realized how much of a "backlash" my generation, that is, the men who had come of age in the late 20th Century, had been.

The backlash, of course, was driven by the new rights and freedoms of women. Before the late 20th Century, women had very little choices in life. They could get married. Or not. They had been given the right to vote in the 1920s, but not a lot had happened for many decades afterwards. By the 1970s, women were fed up. They wanted equal opportunity. They wanted to be able to earn as much money as a man. Many people would argue that women don't have the same rights and privileges as men today, but if they could see what it had been like in the 1970s, they would be impressed at how far they have come.

For men like me, the backlash effect of the old "stay at home, homemaker wives" was to deal with, almost exclusively, with what today would be called a "militant feminist". Everything that even implied being female by the 1970s was, oddly enough, considered an insult. Women had protest rallies where they burned their bras. Really, go look it up. And, as I came of age in the 1970s, I took all of this for granted. I didn't expect women of my generation to cook, or clean or do housework. They got married and had children, but the assumption was that it was not "their life". "Women's work" was degrading. "The only thing I know how to make for dinner is reservations" was pretty much what it was like.

If you are old enough to remember the TV show "Married with Children", you can see the exaggerated "woman who does nothing" character portrayed by the mom. She didn't cook, clean, etc. She sat around all day and her neglect created a hell on earth for her husband, whom she despised. Funny stuff, and although that sort of thing was already going away by the 1980s, it was seen as the logical conclusion of what marriage would be in the future.

The backlash against my generation, of course, was to skip back a generation. It started with women quietly deciding that it was OK to be female. I'm sorry I missed it, but that's the way it goes.

Post a Comment