How The Feminist Movement Caused A Ripple Of Disconnect For Women

The rise of women in a patriarchal system has had some damaging after affects on the way women identify themselves and how they fit into this world.
The Ripple of Disconnect caused as a result of the Feminist Movement
Photo by Maryia Plashchynskaya Pexels

There are many positive outcomes the feminist movement has brought for women in terms of rights and opportunities. However, there are many areas that have not been acknowledged in which the feminist movement has had less than flattering consequences.

The pressures females face from the expectations to be a feminist as well as stepping up to being in the working world have caused a disconnect from their place in this world. A woman's sense of belonging, and the intense pressure of having to do it all and on her own, the understanding of their worth, and their new way of relating to men, have all contributed to the disconnect within themselves. 

A brief look at the Feminist Movement 

By definition to be a feminist is to be an advocate for women's rights and equality. In a nutshell, the movement in North America can be looked at as having two different waves or periods of high momentum. 

The first wave took place took place around the turn of the 20th century and focused primarily on attaining the right to vote for women, as well as having equal opportunity to education and property rights. During the second world war, women stepped into the workforce only to be ousted again when the men returned home. Surprisingly this didn't cause a resurgence of feminism. The second wave didn't arise until the movement of civil rights in the 1960s caused it to resurface with a vengeance. This time they were focused on justice, fighting towards equal pay and job opportunities. Discussions on the use and availability of contraceptives, rape, and gender discrimination were hot topics at this time. 

The feminist movement was the rise of women's voices in the attainment of equal rights and opportunities while still living within the definition of and the confinement created within a patriarchal society. A social system where Men hold the primary power over political leadership and are the authority on morals and social standards. Perhaps it was the system itself that needed shifting.

That being said the Feminist Movement has brought a lot of good to the table for women today. Women fought hard to attain the same rights as men. They brought women into the roles we historically saw for men.  There was a breakthrough in our view of gender and the roles associated with them. They fought for equal pay, for the vote, to have a voice, to basically become equated with the patriarchs in a patriarchal world. I love to imagine what the world would look like if we had the vision of fighting for an egalitarian society rather than females fighting to exist in a Male ruled system, but I digress.

Perhaps the Feminist Movement was a baby step (albeit a long one that is still being fought) towards an egalitarian society. Perhaps the next one forming to fight towards this ideal is the gender battles being fought to break down this whole binary gender-based way of organizing the world. Whatever it is, it is a process and an evolutionary one at that. 

The Feminist Movement has raised women to have voices and the importance of speaking up. Where the Feminist Movement perhaps was misguided was lacking the foresight to predict the chasm it would cause in our individual identities and how it dismissed the voices of women who were fulfilled by being mothers and wives and quite content with working in domestics.  

The Feminist Movement has created a disconnect in the lives of women today.

Here are the ways the feminist movement ended up affecting women in ways that no one has really bothered to acknowledge.

1. Disconnect between women on account of different philosophies

The stigmatism behind the women fighting for equal rights as being tough, strong, feisty, sometimes even angry women is still present today. There is still unspoken (or I have found it spoken passive-aggressively too) judgment between women who choose to stay home and raise their children and those who enter the workforce. 

Betty Friedan's book The Feminine Mystique, published in1963 stated;

“We have gone on too long blaming or pitying the mothers who devour their children, who sow the seeds of progressive dehumanization because they have never grown to full humanity themselves. If the mother is at fault, why isn't it time to break the pattern by urging all these Sleeping Beauties to grow up and live their own lives? There never will be enough Prince Charmings or enough therapists to break that pattern now. It is society's job, and finally that of each woman alone. For it is not the strength of the mothers that is at fault but their weakness, their passive childlike dependency, and immaturity that is mistaken for "femininity." 

Her book stirred up many feelings within women looking for more than just domesticity. Many women were clearly unhappy being confined to this definition of being a woman as the reaction to her book clearly proves. But can you imagine how the women who loved raising their families, who were filled up by the field of work within the home felt about this? The external pressures placed on the women who were happy must have been great indeed. Not only were they written here as being weak and suppressed for being happy in that situation, but they were also deemed as being ignorant of their own happiness.

The stigmatism behind the women fighting for equal rights as being tough, strong, feisty, sometimes even angry women vs. women who value domestic ideals is still present today. There is still unspoken (or I have found it also to be spoken but passive-aggressively) judgment between women who choose to stay home and raise their children and those who enter the workforce. This disconnect between women who work and women who do not are still very real and prevalent.

Many of us are pretending to hold it all together. To "fake it until we make it" in this "I must do it all" world view. We are scared to scream to the powers that be that I refuse to be superwoman and fight for this simply unattainable goal of being an ideal mother, partner, and a corporate ladder climber or successful career woman. It simply isn't humane to ask that of us. We are scared because if we admit this we are admitting defeat. 

2. Disconnect in women and their sense of Community

Women are given the individual choice of staying at home, entering the workforce, choosing to have children or choosing not to, opting for child care and being a working mom, or working from home while raising children. The very nature of these decisions being made by women independently feeds into the increased feelings of isolation or having to do it all on your own. 

I don't know very many women who don't waffle or feel forced to act against what they feel is right because of the external societal pressures and the opinions of others even within their own families telling them what they should and shouldn't do. The women next door may be living according to a completely different philosophy to your family, as is their right. Long gone are the days when the one vehicle family had was used by the father as he went of to work and the mother congregating at the local park to gather her tribe of helping mothers. Therefore our sense of community has also suffered. For many, it feels as if there is no community among us to support one another and build us up because the uncertainty of it all creates the need to defend the decision they have personally made. This also contributes to the disconnect among women in general. 

3. Increased pressure for dual-income households

One effect of women entering the workforce that no one even looks at is the rise in the cost of housing. Housing prices today are based on two sources of income. If we want to afford a good home to raise our family the women must find a way to help support the income. If the value for the family is for the mother to stay at home and raise the children she has to be creative in how to find a source of income within these four walls. This creates yet another pressure for women to be at work and earn an income.

Our society deems our worth based on money. Money is the currency in which all things are valued. In order to raise a family, you need shelter, food, good access to education, etc. In order to earn income, you must contribute to society by entering the workforce. Women who stay at home to raise a family are not given a salary, this is still an area that is not considered "work" or a "job". It is still considered a responsibility. Just as a responsible citizen should collect their dog poop or dispose of their cigarettes in proper receptacles. Parents are responsible for raising their children, and they should be. But shouldn't it also be recognized as a huge contribution to our society as well?

So many women today get involved in trying to earn an income from home to try and get the best of both worlds. This is why multi-level marketing home businesses are on the rise. Many women are stuck trying to find the best balance for their family's needs. If they do not find work this puts immense pressure on our partners to bring in a pretty substantial income in order to afford a decent home. 

However, this can lead to them feeling they have to do it all, be it all, and do it all on their own. Those who wish to are called to create a perfect picture of domesticity, feel pressure to be a mother, a good housekeeper, and continue acing all the traditional roles we had before, as well as finding the time to commit to running a business from home. Others feel they have to abandon the role of a stay-at-home mom in order to help our men out and this creates an internal disconnect in themselves. 

4. The Feminist movement created Internal Disconnect within women themselves

These external pressures are becoming internalized and creating a disconnect within ourselves. Our sense of belonging, our sense of worth, our understanding of our roles were all placed under scrutiny with the Feminist Movement and women are still looking for concrete answers to this. The very definition of what it means to be a female appears to be completely up for grabs. To be a woman is now a spectrum of many things, which is both liberating and daunting at the same time. Many things we traditionally associated with being female have been demoralized. 

We have been fighting so hard to be women in a man's world, we have lost touch with our feminine sides. If you think differently pay attention to the connotations that arise in your mind when you say the word "girly" or "femininity". I bet not all the associations that came to mind are that flattering. There's a reason why "You're such a girl" has become more like an insult than a compliment. Yet phrases such as "Girl boss" and "Girl Power" are trending.  Because so many of us now hide our feminine ways and feel uncertain about where we belong in this world many of us have lost our authenticity. 

There are such beauty and history in the feminine way of being, and there is clearly a calling to it. Social media alone shows the cry for the return of femininity in the rise of women's circles and various women communities. In building up the courage to speak authentically and own your vulnerabilities. 

“Who knows what women can be when they are finally free to become themselves?"

― Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique

Here is something Betty Friedan only touched on but I'm sure was glossed over when first it was first published.

“The only way for a woman, as for a man, to find herself, to know herself as a person, is by creative work of her own.”

― Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique

5. It has changed how women relate to men causing a disconnect with dynamics in their relationships 

Our whole way of connecting and interacting with men has been thrown on its head. Chivalry and courtship died with the Feminist movement, along with the idea that masculinity is being something to be desired. Masculine traits are now to be honed by women, we are after all trying to be equal in their world by emulating the things we originally associated with being male. The questions women have about their place in the world also caused a chain reaction to pose questions as to what is it then to be Male? And how do we now relate to one another? 

Just as women were dipping their toes into offices, Men were being begrudgingly nudged into the area of domestics.  We have forgotten how to relate to one another in the process of all this change. Romance is no longer deemed important, it too died with Chivalry. How we talked to one another, where we connect with one another on a daily basis was all now shifting. 

Consequently, our men are just as disconnected within themselves over the same questions as we are as women and it just isn't talked about even among themselves. There isn't the value of marriage as there once was. All of these ways in which we engaged and interacted with men began changing, although not solely, but in part related back to the ripple effect created by the Feminist Movement.

All in all, Perhaps the feminist movement was a baby step (albeit a long one) towards a more egalitarian society. Perhaps the next movement stemming from it is the gender battles being fought towards breaking down this whole binary gender-based way of organizing the world. It is a process and an evolutionary one at that. The problems of women trying to be equal within a patriarchal system have had its positive and negative effects on today's world and these ripples of disconnect it created within women are very real and still problematic for us today.

Mother of four. Nature lover, Gardener, crafter, and certified soul coach.

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