Name: Nanette Buchanan
Title: The Evolution of the Independent Woman
It has been said that the evolution of the independent woman has destroyed traditional expectations. The role of the woman as a wife, mother, supporter, friend, and employee has changed over the years. Women simply want more, they are willing to do more, and have set their goals higher than the women of the past. But has this caused women to loose what tradition willingly allowed the “woman” to have?
Looking back over time the woman, who was able to handle it all, said little in the home. The husband managed the finances while she raised the children and kept the home clean. Comics of the cavewoman show the woman being dragged by the caveman while he carried the club. This image was never questioned; it was the way of the world. In the time of war women had no choice but to work and manage their homes. The decision to support the troops, sending food, clothing and supplies became a line of work for many women. Women took on jobs as nurses, housekeepers, etc. They kept their families intact and continued to work through the years of the depression. As the years went on women fought for voting rights; they fought to become equally paid employees on jobs, while still managing the home and supporting their mates.
As the economy continued to change so did the life of the working woman. It was frowned upon but understood and accepted; women were employed in all facets of employment. Many were encouraged to further their education, changing the traditional goal of marrying a man that would be her loving husband and financial supporter. It had been shown time after time that there were families that needed two incomes to live in comfort. The financial responsibility of the family was now shared between the husband and the wife. Many of the women who married before the 60’s would argue that the man was still the “bread winner, “as it was his responsibility as a husband to work as much as needed to support his family. A woman without a husband, a home without a man, and a family without the presence of a father was not picture perfect, nor a standard. However it seemed like overnight that women had to take on both roles for the family to survive.
Once again the Vietnam War left woman and families home; men were arrested for crimes at a higher rate, and women, mothers, and wives sought employment. Many middle class and lower income families watched as women of all ethnicities did what they had to do to survive. Homes functioned, while marriages and relationships suffered. Women wanted and demanded more. After all, they could make their own money. What else could the man bring to the table?
“I’m not your superwoman” and “I’m every woman” - the titles of popular songs became the outcry for the educated, employed woman. In relationships, women were begging men to step up, be that man, and take their rightful place in the home and the marriage. It would be an unspoken agreement that the woman would not be submissive as the women of the past. They would continue to move up the ladder in education and employment and their goals would match their accomplishments. In many relationships the roles were reversed in comparison to the traditional roles. When the internal clock sounded, women would find other ways to become mothers. The woman had acquired more and her accomplishments were more than the man could compete with which served as a reminder that she was indeed “every woman.” Becoming a mother was another dream, and in today’s society many women are willing to be inseminated, only needing the sperm, not the man to fulfill another dream.
It has also been said that the woman with a degree, one who is financially independent is angry. She has created for herself a world that no man can fit in. She dates and dabbles with men for temporary pleasures but the traditional courtships - the route to marriage has been destroyed. Where men wined and dined the woman they loved, women now pay for their fantasies to be fulfilled. Vacations, gifts, and money turn the tables and the “good man” is lost in the midst of the men that allow women to shower them with meaningless tokens of love.
Women have said, “A good man is hard to find.” It is an argument that hovers over many relationships. What constitutes a good man? Most men are struggling to find who they are while women are in control of who they are and who they want to be. Men are struggling to stay in school, avoiding the pressures of society as well as the pressures of early fatherhood. Women have set their vision; and though their path is filled with the same struggles, they overcome the obstacles and press on. They become the “superwoman” and fill the shoes of “every woman” long before meeting that “good man”.
There are many men who fear a woman whose salary is substantially more than theirs. It seems they lose a part of their pride. There are relationships and marriages that dissolve merely because the woman becomes the “bread winner.” There are relationships and marriages where because of the changes in the economy, the woman works full time while the man maintains the home and becomes her supporter. But for the totally independent woman, the one who does it all, will they ever be able to have the “happily ever after?” Is it their independence, their social status, their goals, their accomplishments that sets a standard that no man can meet?
Many women who are the single mother, who have pursued a higher education, bought a car, that home, and have the job that satisfies them and their lifestyle are still seeking love. They are still in search of a mate, that man to fulfill the void; they date, but permanent love is more than a dream, it’s their daily prayer. After the struggle and the survival, the last thing a woman wants is to give up what she has gained or to downplay her success. The independent woman is often misunderstood. She is mistaken to be complete, not wanting the average man, or seeking a man of another race with a higher financial status. The independent woman is often left empty, still seeking the simple things that all love contains.
As mothers we encourage our girls, just as we do our boys, to reach for the stars, pursue their dreams and share their life with someone they love. Love should not be based on social status, but we know that without financial support no relationship will blossom into a marriage. In today’s society, concerning relationships - whether it is long term dating or a marriage- women are seeking more than bedroom satisfaction. We no longer allow our parents to accept the pre-nuptial dowry and make the choice for us. After the relationships we’ve had, the father who simply walked away, the husband who is serving time in prison or is enlisted in the military, the sickness or death of our mate, or the man who has lost his job, we have become “the superwoman.” We’ve endured it all and moved on. We’ve become successful, and will not settle. In our independence we’ve become “every woman” and as independent as we are, we still need a “good man” to love.