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A Woman's Challenge

A challenge to women about the freedom we deserve
Being a young woman entering the world of family and business, I appreciate the rights women have in America lacking in other countries. In the Middle East, wearing lipstick is a sign of political rebellion; here in the US women are worrying if their lipstick will 'kiss off.' However, in the efforts to give women freedom and equality, we have forgotten the fundamental differences that determine our sex.

Recently, I read an article entitled, 'The Secret Life of a Working Parent.' (1) In the article, a workingwoman wrote concerning her position as a mother as, 'a liability in the business world, something to 'work around.'' Why has the responsibility of a mother to her children become something to work around? If there is true freedom for women, why should women have to hide the responsibilities of motherhood? All this brings to mind the question: Can women perform the tasks of motherhood and their profession with the same abandonment as men? Can a woman juggle the responsibilities and give both her full attention? Motherhood is rarely considered a fulltime job by society. However, studies show that the average time spent by a full time housewife with a child under one year old is about sixty-seven hours a week. If a woman is working outside the home as well, she has a double workday, bearing her responsibilities at home in silence. Kay Ebeling stated in her 1990 Newsweek article, 'Women and men are not equal, they are different. The economy might even improve if women came home, opening up jobs for unemployed men, who could then support a wife and children, the way it was, pre-feminism.' (2)

Mothers in the workplace are feeling inadequate and overwhelmed. One out of two marriages are ending in divorce. According to a report by the National Health Statistics Bureau, women are filing 93% of divorces in the United States. The stress that juggling two full time jobs puts on a marriage is incredible, as statistics show. We as women, in our efforts to 'becoming something,' have forgotten that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. The impact mothers have on the lives and decisions of children are astronomical. Why leave the care of the compass to others?

Another difference we try to forget is emotional. Let's face it, women are more emotional than men. How many times have you sat weeping through a tearjerker only to realize that the guy next to you is laughing? They see things differently, and don't go through the emotional roller-coasters women do. We face the complexities of womanhood in a society that teaches that men and women are equal in everything? We feel guilty when we cry, and when we feel the blues of life hit us with immeasurable force we struggle to fake a smile and pretend we're fine. We feel guilty to be women: feminine, strong, yet different.

Women are told they have the right to the same benefits as men: free sex, equal opportunities, etc. As a result, women are sexually active with the idea that they can be free from hurt and responsibility because it is their right. Instead, one in three young adults contract a sexually transmitted disease, one in ten become pregnant, and one in four of those pregnancies end in abortion. With over 300,000 women a year in the US alone suffering from post abortion syndrome, the proof that free sex is hurting women is more evident than ever before. Where is the freedom? Who is left to deal with the physical and emotional pain? Who is the one bearing the children and responsible for their care after the father of the baby leaves? According to the US Census Bureau, the number of single mothers with one child has increased from 512,000 in 1982 to 1,378,000 in 1990. For those women who are sexually active and do not contract an STD, or get pregnant, they have devalued themselves; in the eyes of themselves and the men around them.

What happened to the age of women being held in high regard? Women used to be esteemed in society. Men would act with manners and women were to be provided for and protected. For women to be equal with men they would have to step down from their honored position. Mothers were cared for and respected by their children and by society. Now, many college counselors are admitting that women who come to them for career guidance would really rather be a wife and mother. Yet, how could they dare admit that to their peers? Dr Becky Francis, from the University of Greenwich says, 'Girls have changed their perceptions of what it is to be feminine in order to fit in with what is expected of them.'(3) Women who do take a stand for the high calling of wife and mother get the inevitable questions, 'What else do you do?'

I have a radical challenge for women, single or married, to embark upon. It is not easy, nor 'politically correct.' Yet the rewards will be fulfilling beyond anything possible by going with the flow. While you are single, explore your possibilities, enjoy your freedom, and be bold in your personal convictions. If you are married, you should be the thermostat of your home. Set the example of love and make your priorities first God, then your family, then whatever else God has called you to accomplish for Him. Do not forsake your family for your job. Take a hold of your future! Be radical in the way you think and live! It's a challenge, for me, for you, for the world!

As Einstein said, 'Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence.' Only when women realize they are women, completely different than men, with different strengths and weaknesses; different things to bring to the world, and different needs to be met. Only when women embrace who they are and make the men face up to their responsibilities and roles will women have the power to change the world.

(1) Family Circle 'Spring 2000 '- The Secret Life of a Working Parent' (2) Newsweek 'November 19, 2000 '- The Failure of Feminism' 'Kay Ebeling (3) Daily Express 'January 4, 2000 '- Dream Jobs for Girls' 'Dorothy Lepkowska

About the Author
Tenille is currently a freelance writer and editor. She is a former professional ballet dancer and actress.

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