By Richard P. Holm, MDIs equality between the sexes good for men and women and society?
Of course, men and women are different in very important ways! Yet some people exploit the differences to make subservient generalizations about women. I've heard it said that women are, or should be: shy, passive, want-to-please, adoring, doting, and happy as homemakers serving their children and husbands. Sigmund Freud the psychoanalyst said, "Nature has determined woman's destiny through beauty, charm, and sweetness... in youth an adored darling and in mature years a loved wife." Freud even went so far as to suggest that women who wanted careers were neurotic and imbued with "penis envy."
As Betty Friedan observed in 1963, Freud's ideas had became especially popular in the mid 1940s, suggesting women are only fulfilled as housewives and mothers, and unhappy having a career. She decries Freud's error-in-judgement in her book The Feminine Mystique. Friedan noted that in the early 1900s there had been grand advances made for the rights of women, especially for higher education, for pursuit of career, and for the right to vote. Except for the right to vote, much of this went away after World War II, when men came home from war and took away jobs from women who had been employed to support the war.
The returning soldier longed for a comfortable home where he was the bread-winner and his wife the house-keeper who raised the children. Friedan said this caused great unhappiness in the some households when women who wanted a career were strongly discouraged to do so. Injustice and inequality beget disharmony.
Since then, due to the effort of Friedan and many others, women have choices and are coming close to equality in career work. Currently new physician graduates are about 50-50 women to men. Studies show satisfying careers and/or choices for all the adult members of a family results in happier children. Outside-the-home careers are not for everyone but the operative word is choice. Equality begets family and societal harmony.
Take it one step further, experts state that empowering and educating women in developing countries, or where there is great poverty, allows for the most effective way to bring the region in the direction of prosperity. Empowered and educated young women... (better yet mothers AND fathers,) raise girls AND boys to become more effective and respectful members of society. Equality between men and women does not subtract from the success of men, it increases success for everyone.
When women and men are equals, society becomes healthy.