Western Woman in Contemporary Times


The thinkers and philosophers who formulated the concept of equality between men and women believed that it would raise women of misery that she had been living in centuries. Therefore a number of questions need to be asked;

Has the modern woman been lifted out of misery that plagued her for centuries?Has the historical imbalance been lifted?Are women fairing any better in terms of political, social and economic opportunities?

The successful woman today is implicitly been defined as one with a successful career, financially independent, and thriving or atleast secure in material terms. Personalities such as Michelle Obama, who had apparently managed to juggle a successful career with being a mother of two and wife to the president, are often cited as role models. Alongside this is the belief that to be dependent upon a husband or father gives the women an inferior status within society. There is a sentiment that a mother and wife having no career has sold herself short in life or is even a failure. This may not be expressed openly but is evident in the manner by which many women feel about themselves when asked the question (especially on game-shows on daytime television), “What is your occupation?” The uneasiness they feel is mirrored when they respond “I am just a mother” or “I am only a housewife.”

This historical problem was the inequality women feared in relation to man ever since their struggle has always been one of being equal to men in terms of work, pay, opportunities and politics. This has led to an increasing shift in attitudes towards gender roles in society, with a belief that the women should have as much right to be the bread earner within a family as the husband.

This has naturally fostered a view in society that the one of the most important objectives of life is to pursue a successful career. The belief is that a career gives a woman status and respect within a society, so marriage should be delayed or avoided altogether, since it would be a hindrance to her career objectives. Children also should be delayed, or maybe she would not have any at all. The belief here is that motherhood will prevent her chances of promotion excelling in her career. Those women who do not work feel a constant pleasure to do so.

Women today fare better even when it comes to pay. Equal pay legislation has been in place for thirty years in the developed countries. This is of no surprise as women were encouraged to enter the workfare due to economic need when they were requested to directly contribute to the economy during the Second World War.

“A major factor in emancipation of women economic need…. economic modernization brought a need for female labour, which was augmented by mobilization for modern war…..The economic involvement of women and social changes resulting from it continued in the inter-war period and after and even brought a few legislative changes of women. These have some effect in social and family life.”

Her day is spent rushing from one responsibility to another; making breakfast for her family, preparing lunch for her husband, getting the children washed and dressed, doing the school run, rushing off to her job, performing a full day strenuous housework, rushing to school to pick up the kids, taking them to after school classes, making the dinner, getting the children ready for bed, and then the routine starts all over again. More often than not, she feels unable to perform any of her duties to the best of her ability because she is so tired, stressed and miserable. Lisa Belkin in a book called “Life’s work: Confessions of an unbalanced mom” writes

“Not one of us seems to be able to give 100% of themselves of their job or to their family and 100% of themselves to taking care of themselves”

So after a century long struggle with an age-old prejudice women do not fare much better. In some ways it is this bad if not far worse. The 21st century woman has moved from being just a man’s other-half to where she is potentially only an object of desire for men and not much else. While this dilemma has confronted women ever since they began to enter the workplace today women face far greater sex. In many fields, not least in the city of London women often expect not to be employed simply on their abilities and intellectual powers, but on her looks, her ‘sex appeal’ also plays a fundamental part in securing existing employment, whether to attract clients with her sexuality or to ‘fit into the team’. An article on BBC News online (Laddism in the city, 10/4/2001) showed the plight of many women working in the city; many say they are “touched up by both colleagues, contacts or compellers…. and think objecting would be bad for business.” Team building meetings and ‘client facing’ often take place in strip clubs or seedy bars. As one woman put it, opting out is not an option, “you had to be part of the gang…they see it as seriously effecting their profits if you miss these events.” Interestingly, the author of the BBC article said one bond trader interviewed for this article suggested to her that “a sexual favour might be adequate compensation for his opinions on why UK government bonds have slumped in afternoon trade.”

So something has seriously gone wrong with male-female relations. Women may not be oppressed the way they were a few centuries ago but the oppression they face today remains; it is just different in its manifestations. The problem lies in the assertion that neither men nor women are inferior to one another. Taken in isolation this is a very simple, indeed obvious truth, but correcting historical prejudice alone cannot be a basis for defining relationships between people. The simple assertion that men and women are equal (i.e. that women are not inferior to men) alone is exceptionally simplistic once its historical context is considered. It also leaves a number of unanswered questions. It does not address how best men and women can co-operate to forge of cohesive society. In the wider context equality alone is very limited in handling disputes and organising the relationships that naturally arise between people. A simple assertion of human equality provides no guidance on the issue of difference and this fact gives rise to need for additional, more elaborate ideas and principles. In reality, the call for equality is nothing more than making man the bench mark to aspire to – the call to equality is oppression itself.

42 comments on “Western Woman in Contemporary Times

  1. Your articles are well written
    They are great
    Are you the write?
    Thanks Imran:-)

    Liked by 3 people


    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t agree with all you are saying here, Imran. As a ‘western’ woman I believe it’s all about choice. In no way do I agree that women should be submissive, and whether a married woman goes out to work or stays at home should be her own choice to make. In many cases ‘choice’ does not come into it as the situation is controlled by the finacial needs of the family. It is true that in the Mille Ages, European women were seriously oppressed – a situation that did not improve until well after the Suffragette movements and the First World War. But women fought hard to have the right to make their own decisions regarding their lives – even their own bodies – and there is no way that they would go back on that. Flaunting their bodies and exposing too much bare flesh is a different matter,and I have my own views on that, but freedom of choice should be open to both genders.
    I am not intending this as an offence to you, Imran, or your religion, but merely state how it is in the west. Our cultures do not agree, and that’s just the way it is. I know both sides condemn each other, but realise that things are unlikely to change at the present time.
    I enjoyed reading your post and certainly respect your viewpoint – as I hope, you will respect mine.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Wonderful food for thought, Imran. Thank you very much. I believe both sexes should have a choice on how they contribute to the family. As long as it works, it works. If people want to have traditional values in their family, i.e. men being breadwinners, I certainly do not judge on that at all. I find it honorable that a woman would take care of domestic issues while a man works. It’s FINE. If the man and woman are happy, let them be. Conversely, if both spouses want to work, that’s fine, too. (This is what me and my partner would do.) Or if a woman wants to work, and the man wants to stay home, that’s cool, too. (Some people do this as well, although it’s less common. A western cartoon, Johnny Test, shows this kind of relationship.)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sadly true. In Japan, women were dragged in to work for ecconomic reasons.This resulted in drop in birth rate. Now there are more senior citizens than youth – resulting in a drop in ecconomic growth.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very well written article! sounds similar to voices raising in my head, Thanks for sharing ! Completely agree to the invisible opression in the name of women liberalization!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very thoughtful post. To this day I feel inferior in saying, “I am a housewife” or saying “homemaker”.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Again a thoughtful article. I enjoy your articles and can see the wisdom in what you say. Housework and raising children used to be looked down upon, though it is a very worthwhile activity and women can feel very fulfilled in doing this, as fulfilled as having a career. And rather than race around like so many of the young mothers have to do these days jiggling both work and children and household, while women are raising children they should be greatly appreciated by society for this ‘work’.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. One of my friend the other day called me up suddenly and said “since you write so i want you to write something about “feminism” the exact defination of that and not what many of them’s redifined or manupilated version.” At first I was a bit confused to what she meant but later when we had a conversation about it, I understood her perspective. She said feminism is not about women being “equal” to men. We both are designed and scripted differently and are supposed to function at their very own pace. Their cannot be a race among them! They both can only work on each other and build an empire together. A simple basic concept has now been severely complexed by our own society.

    I liked how you tried to explain the entire scenario in a very thoughtful manner. Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Imran, until you have walked in a woman’s shoes, you cannot understand her reality.
    Marriage and motherhood is men’s definition for women’s role in society. But it is not all women’s goal.

    Are you surprised that women would push for equality with men? What can you expect when men have barred women’s political participation in society, denied her right to be educated, her right to earn a living, her right to own land, her right to establish credit, her right to vote and debate the laws and institutions that she lives under, her right to be treated with dignity and respect and not exposed or exploited for men’s pleasure, her right not to be physically, sexually or emotionally controlled by a man and yes her right to be an equal human being.

    Some women grew indignant under such oppression and began to push for change, but the freedoms women won were hard fought with much suffering and anguish. Why do men view women’s empowerment as a threat to his power? Women don’t seek power over men. Women seek power with men.

    So, it is not surprising that over time, if men were not willing to embrace women as equal partners, and instead continued to seek control by force or law, that women would grow more independent. First in mind and then in action. Men have always controlled societies and men’s dominance is very clearly understood by every female and male citizen. Some women fear change and accept the status quo. Others view activism as essential to self actualization. Women’s liberation is nothing more than seeking to win back her god-given rights as a human being.

    To address your argument in favor of women remaining housewives and mothers, how have men upheld the trust women placed in them to be the sole provider? Men made women solely dependent on him for everything but then gave himself the freedom to satisfy himself elsewhere by cheating, strip clubs, pornography, divorce and leaving women to raise children alone and in poverty. Marriage is a two-way street. Until it becomes a more equal partnership, I think you will find young women choosing to remain single. They watched their parents and they didn’t like what they saw.

    The challenge for western women and men because men are also negatively impacted by women’s inequality is to insist that for all the contributions women make to society – as primary caregivers and in the paid workforce, or remaining housewives and mothers is to establish equality under a country’s Constitution. New policies and laws must be enacted that protect and uphold the rights of women as dependents or independents. It is the women’s choice to decide.

    The risk is ignoring social progress and failing to set a new standard that reflects where society is today. There is nothing to compel government to serve the public interest of women (and the men and children who share their lives). Accommodation of women’s expanded roles in our economy will come about through men’s acceptance. Men must no longer view women’s empowerment as a threat to their power structure. For this, society pays a hefty price. Human beings are all in this together. For better or for worse.

    Liked by 1 person

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