The Study of Man: Woman's Place
The victory of 19th-century feminism—it won for women such goods as higher education, birth control, legal rights, and self-support—has not, it appears, solved the “woman problem.” Rather, her difficulties seem to have shifted from the political and social realm to the more restricted area of the emotions and what is called “successful personal adjustment.” Today the woman problem is most often summed up in the question, “Now that feminism has won, why aren’t women happy?” in which the irritated questioner indicates his acceptance of the widespread belief that women are more unhappy and “difficult” than they were before their victories—maybe, indeed, because of them. (He also seems to be asking: “Why don’t they make men happy?”—a rather impertinent question.)
Trying to cope with this supposed situation, a number of recent writers have put forth axioms regarding woman’s nature, and suggestions as to what would be best for her. Though citing a certain amount of scientific evidence they seem perilously close to the old prejudices regarding “woman’s place.” Since such views have come to play a leading role in contemporary discussions of women’s problems they are worth closer examination. Especially so, since one has good reason to suspect that they are actually not scientific, and serve only to obscure and befuddle the real problems women must face in this society and the choices open to them.
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