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I am a 19-year-old student and need some help. What does it mean to be a woman in the 90's and into 21st century... and how are these expectations different from expectations of the 70s and 80s? Thanks.

Thanks for your note to FEMINIST.COM, which is much more complicated to answer than one might have guessed. For starters, there is "no one" woman, therefore there is no way to accurately say what it means to be a woman in the 90s compared to the 70s and 80s.

Generically--or generally, there are a few conclusions. Women are clearly in a different situation than they were twenty years ago. However, this doesn't entirely mean a better situation. For the better, feminism has changed society to such an extent that there is at a minimum a glimmer of understanding that women are to be valued and respected. At least one woman has entered most professions and, thereby, proving that at least one woman is capable of doing what men can do (For instance, be CEOs or professional athletes or fire fighters.) However, within these professions, women still have to work twice as hard to be taken half as seriously. And when they do, on average they are still only earning (on average) .75 cents to the male dollar.

Women are also pressured to still have two jobs--one outside the home--and an unpaid job in the home. Of course, these are generalizations, but for the majority of families, women are still assumed to be the primary care givers even when they are working equally outside the home.

Since 1972, women have had the right to a legal abortion, but only to have more and more restrictions placed on that right to the extent that it hardly looks like reproductive freedom.

As I'm trying to say--yes, women have made specific gains, but in response to that there has been greater pressure to preserve the hierarchy and thus more pressue to restrict women from realizing their equality. I hope that helps -- good luck - Amy

P.S. Here's a suggestion for further answers to your question--think about what your life is like in comparison to someone who was your age 20 years ago. Ask your mother, an older friend.


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