There has been a drastic change in the definition of marriage ranging the past fifty years. Today more and more women are joining the workforce rather than staying home to take care of the children. It is evident that women have been getting, so to say, the short end of the stick, where in heterosexual marriages with or without children (same sex marriages are being left out for arguments sake), the husband is seen as what Steve Mitz in New Rules; Postwar Families 1955-present commonly refers to the “breadwinner father.
This husband”s responsibilities are to take care of the financial aspects of the family while the “stay-at-home mom“(Mitz, 16) takes care of the children, does all the laundry, cleans the house, goes to the grocery store, takes little jimmy to the hospital, to school, to his soccer game, does the dishes, is the husband”s secretary, all on top of working full-time. The reason for this long list of responsibilities is to compare whether the husband”s contributions to the family are equal to that of the wives. No, they are not equal.
Women are not happy with having to go to work on top of cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the children, while the husbands have the same responsibilities as before. It seems only fair to split the family responsibilities down the middle taking into consideration general male muscular superiority. Some men have a preconceived notion, usually established from their parents, that women are supposed to cook and clean, and every night dinner should be on the table with the biggest piece of chicken on the husband”s plate.
We”ll times are changing and it is time for the husband to start sharing the chicken(not literally). It is time for the husband to start sharing duties that now working mother”s have on top of their “stay-at-home mom” responsibilities. Steve Mitz says it best when he replies, “American Family life has undergone a historical transformation as radical as any that has taken place in the last 150 years. ” In the quotation above Mitz is implying that drastic changes are redefining gender roles in today”s marriages. In the fifties it was common practice that women stayed home and men worked.
Today things are different, women are more educated disabling the husband”s ability to control their wives. Instead of a mutualistic marriage, men in the fifties used uneducated women, to put it point blank, as their slaves. It is apparent in today”s changing society that women are reexamining their situations at home, they are realizing that they are not being treated fairly. Women are reexamining societal norms, increasing their education, and changing unjust laws making it abundantly clear that they are sick of getting “the short end of the stick” in their marriages.
The saying “the short end of the stick” is used in this essay to mean that wives are holding down full time jobs on top of cooking, cleaning etc, while husbands are not pitching in helping with the stereotypical women duties i. e. , cooking, cleaning, laundry etc. Societal norms must constantly be reexamined and changed. For example, in the days of Frederick Douglas, an African American pioneer, it was an established norm that slaves were prohibited from learning to read. Douglas, who was curious, decided that he would learn to read by tricking the white boys of the time into playing games that would teach him new words.
Also, Douglas would try to read the notes his master would send with him on errands. Once Douglas learned to read, it changed his world, he realized that the white slave owners oppressed him and his people. Douglas became so upset over the fact that slavery was so widely accepted by his people that he sometimes thought he would have been better off it he had never learned to read. Since the majority of slaves of the time couldn”t read, they were unknowing of their oppression, while Douglas realized his surroundings needed to change.
The point of this tangent story relates to how the husband of the fifties(fifties is used as a generalization for the past regarding the time frame Mitz talks about) is like the slave owner and the wife like the unknowing slave. Today women are like Douglas, but in a different time frame. Once they had the ability to see their situations in a different light, as Douglas did, they could do something about it. Societal norms of the fifties said that if men and women didn”t marry, they are “denigrated as sick, neurotic or immoral, and couples who did not have children were seem as selfish. “(Mitz, 18).
This indicates to the reader that the norms of marriage and children masked the true light of the wives oppressive lives. Through reexamination, people eventually realize that what was once suits society no longer accommodates some divisions within that society. If these established norms exclude change, how can we as a people, let alone a couple that has to share a life together, grow and change? The answer is we can”t change unless norms are reexamined through increased education and opportunity. Increased education and opportunities are big reasons women are realizing that they are getting the “short end of the stick.
Education, as it allowed Douglas to see his oppression, allows women to realize that they are involved in a marriage that is not fair to them. Today more and more women are getting college degrees. These degrees enable women to acknowledge inequalities within their marriages. Without education, wives are repressed individuals. Degrees can also change what wives classify as their deepest satisfactions. A mother of the fifties may have been content with watching little jimmy grow up, which is satisfying in a different way, however, intellectual curiosity may spark a change in personal value.
Do the majority of people with increased education, regardless of sex, want to work at McDonalds? Does the complexity of thought increase with education? In the fifties women “passed on education”(Mitz, 18) entering into marriage relying on a husband to take care of them. This reliance on the husband sets the wife up to be taken advantage of. Today women are more careful about entering in the state of holy matrimony. “Till death do you part” is a long time where shifts in values can make that creed nearly impossible.
Being more critical before getting married can save the couple and any future children headaches. Another reason why women in the past didn”t go to college is because their parents only pressured the male children in the family to go to college. Males in the past also got more recognition for playing sports than their female counterparts. Again, this is due to the fact that in the past young females would not need to know how to kick a soccer ball, but rather to know how to separate whites from the darks when doing laundry.
Young women in the past were almost predestined to follow the traditionalist values of getting married and having children. Not only does increased education and opportunity reveal to women the inequalities within their marriages, but also the changes in unjust laws further show that society knows that women are getting the “short end of the stick. ” According to the article New Rules; Postwar Families 1955-present Mitz”s gives the statistic that “fifty percent of all court business involves domestic relations.
This astounding statistic shows that women are fed up with getting “the short end of the stick. ” Also in the same article, Mitz expresses how women are getting “the short end of the stick” legally when he replies , Nineteenth century legal presumptions about the proper roles of husband and wife has also been called into question. Until recently, the law considered the husband to be ‘head and master” of his family his surname became his children”s surname… he was immune from lawsuits initiated by his wife, and he was entitled to sexual
In the quotation above, Mitz provides examples of the unjust laws regarding oppressed women. These laws catered to the husband”s needs and not their wives. Mitz then says, Since the 1970″s several state supreme courts have ruled that husbands and wives can sue each other, that the husband cannot give the children his surname without the wives permission, and that husbands can be prosecuted for raping This quotation shows that women are speaking out getting unjust laws changed. These laws, which we know to be morally wrong, are now being rewritten to fit the needs of today”s wives.
Laws from the past and future are going to have to be constantly reexamined in order to continually fit the needs of our changing society. Finally, wives are going to continue to get “the short end of the stick” until husband”s start to really help women with family responsibilities. Today”s society is ever changing and through education and reexamination of social norms and laws, the definition of gender roles are going to have to be redefined in order to distribute the family responsibilities in a fair and neutral manner.