After WWII and into the 1950’s the culture was dominated by men. Women having replaced men in the wartime workforce then returned to primarily domestic duties. Men and most women viewed the world from a Neolithic point of view. Man was the hunter gatherer and woman was his unpaid employee on the homefront. There was a type of partnership but the guy was the senior partner. There was certainly love in the relationship but in some ways it was paternalistic. For young women the lifetime goal was to find a mate capable of producing quality offspring and financial security. This usually meant a physically strong man with the ability to “take care of her”. This also required young men to display a level of “machismo”.
Sexual behavior was subject to strict rules of conduct with kissing and petting in the back seat of cars being the limit of experimentation. Women who went beyond that were considered to be “sluts”.
Then in the 1960’s everything began to change. Young people began to see through the apparent hypocrisies of their parent’s generation. They began to rebel against the social order. Exacerbated by the Vietnam conflict they created a culture of anger and rebellion rejecting the restrictions of the previous decade. Communes and free love were introduced into the culture. Drug use was rampant and addiction became a recognized evil.
The following decades modified these trends but never reversed them. The result has been that much of our current culture is based upon individual choices and preferences. While drug abuse continues to be illegal, there is widespread usage throughout the country. Sexual choices are considered to be private decisions without societal judgement and casual experiences are more acceptable. At the same time, beginning in the 1960’s, women have increasingly asserted their independence.
This has resulted in an aggressive assault on the male dominated world demonstrated by radical feminism. At a minimum, there is a growing recognition of equality between the genders. At the extreme there are calls for women to take control at all levels.
- Does anthropology define gender differences?
- Does DNA define the differences?
- Have men been excessively feminized?
- Is it appropriate/possible to raise gender-neutral children?
- Are women, in general, smarter than men?
- Are women more emotional than men?
- Was the world of the 1950’s better, worse, or just different?