Debating A Woman’s Role In Modern Society

There are numerous differing opinions on the roles women are expected to play in our society today. Below are two opposing viewpoints of The Warrior staff.

Ending the ‘Tradition’ of Labels

by Katie Mercogliano ’14

The idea that men are from Mars and women are from Venus has become ingrained in the popular consciousness, but frankly, it is untrue. Both genders are from the same planet: Earth. In America at least, both men and women generally receive the same education, so why can’t women have the same opportunities? Granted, much has been done for women’s rights in terms of the law, but there are still more social limitations placed on women, and not just the “controversies” over wearing lipstick, high heels and who should pay on the first date.

The excess of labels placed upon women include working mom, soccer mom, dragon lady, tomboy, cougar, slut, prude and many more. Whatever lifestyle is chosen by a woman, she gets defined by a society-made, cookie-cutter role. Rather than arguing whether having a more old-fashioned or modern role is a better choice for women, we should just focus on allowing them to have that choice. For the most part, political equality has been obtained through the feminist movement. But without social equality of opportunity for women, they will be stuck in those roles.

There is no debating that women and men are biologically unequal, but that in no way means they should be socially unequal. In all societies, the obvious biological difference between men and women is too often a justification for forcing them into different social roles which limit and shape their attitudes and behavior. That is to say, no society is content with the natural difference of sex, but each insists on adding to it a cultural difference of gender. The simple physical facts therefore always become associated with complex psychological qualities. It is not enough for a man to be male; he also has to appear masculine. A woman, in addition to being female, must also be feminine.

Just because a woman is able to have children does not mean her life should consist of being a stay at home mother or even having kids at all. The belief that working mothers can’t raise their children as well as stay-at-home mothers is a general assumption based on a nonfactual conclusion. According to a systematic review by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, children whose mothers return to work after their maternity leave do largely the same in school and behaviorally in relation to children raised by stay-at-home mothers.

The most prominent battle in feminism today is the one enabling and empowering women to detach themselves from the labels created by the so-called “traditional” patriarchal cultures, and instead define their life with their choices. An identity should be a person’s own choosing rather than a norm that was only invented to restrict women from living their lives.

Something Bigger than Yourself

by Michaela O’Donnell ’13

For thousands of years, women have been birthing, raising and caring for children. However, in the past 60 years, women in the United States have realized that they are equally as capable as men to do any type of job. Despite this excitement of newfound women’s potential in the work place, we have forgotten that having children is a responsibility: a decision made that affects another’s life.

The first couple months of a baby’s life is known as “the critical period,” which is a specified amount of time a baby has to learn necessary skills such as language, motor skills and emotional development  for relationships. This is an important part of the infant’s life because it is the only time when these vital skills will be imprinted into their nervous system.

According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, the average maternity leave in America is 12 weeks. HRSA also says that the “longer length of maternity leave is associated with increased breastfeeding duration, as well as improved maternal mental health and child development.” So why would women choose not to take such a long break from work? Critics say it is because they cannot afford to take off work, but a baby costs $12,500 a year. One would think a prospective mother would take on the responsibility of figuring out financial costs before deciding to get pregnant.

Critics may think that any caretaker will suffice, but the importance of the mother is crucial. At a daycare with a whole room of children, each child will not get picked up and touched as much as a mother would at home. Psychologist Harry Harlow stresses how babies will develop physically and mentally faster with the mother’s attention.

There’s a reason we all call out for “mom” instead of dad, brother or sister when we are afraid or hurt. Besides the obvious connection the mother has to her baby while pregnant for nine months, there is another connection formed when the baby is first born. As soon as a baby is born, the nurse cuts the umbilical cord and immediately plops the baby onto the mother’s chest, un-cleaned and completely natural. This is meant to create a familiar scent a baby can attach to their mother’s image and touch.

Having children and having a career are both choices. Only one of those choices involves something greater than oneself. Many feminists and women argue women should strive for a career, an opportunity women in the past did not have. The choice to be a mother, however, and only a mother, is looked down upon or even condemned. Why? Because it was assigned to us? Try looking at it as an honor, a privilege, to create and raise living breathing humans. It is about time we cared less about ourselves and more about the beings we bring into this world.

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