Monday, February 7, 2011

Survey of Users Says Feminism Is Working


According to an article in LiveScience, a new survey of users finds some counter-intuitive responses from the men and women surveyed. Among its findings:
  • Among people who didn't already have a child, 24 percent of men wanted to have children compared to 15 percent of women;
  • When asked whether women should be the primary caregivers of children in a family, 49 percent of women said no while 38 percent of men said the same;
  • Among singles ages 21 to 34, 62 percent said they wanted to get married, 9 percent definitely didn't want to get married, and 29 percent aren't sure.
According to article author Stephanie Pappas, "echo[s] earlier national surveys that reveal ambivalence toward marriage." I think this is generally due to an overall trend toward finding a the right partner for a marriage rather than simply placing sole emphasis on tying the knot. It's a hard attitude to shake -- and many women still feel the pressure to settle down with someone with less emphasis on finding a supportive long-term partnership.

The article even quotes Stephanie Coontz, who wrote Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage and a new book on the effects of Betty Friedan's book, The Feminine Mystique, called A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s (which, by the way, I can't wait to read). Coontz credits the de-stigmatization of singlehood.

Though the survey is far from hard-hitting science, since it relies on a self-selected sample of users of one particular dating service, it does suggest some changing attitudes among people who are interested in dating. The fact that more men and women are both indicating shifting attitudes from what was standard in the 1950s and '60s means that at least to some degree, the idea of gender equality -- also known as feminism -- is working. True, we haven't yet reached the point at which all men and women agree child rearing isn't mainly the responsibility of the woman, but we are at a point where nearly half of women believe that and a significant portion of men do.

Many times when various individuals offer dating advice, one of the key things they point out is that you should be on the same page about major life decisions or it will ultimately end up as a difficult -- or even bad -- partnership. The point about whose responsibility child rearing is seems like an important thing to be on the same page about.

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