Men and Women
Progress in the United Kingdom?
During a chat with a group of 17-year-old girls recently, our conversation turned to their dreams for the future. One girl, Patty, wants to be a lawyer. Another, Justine, has her heart set on becoming a doctor.
But it seems there's one aspiration that's proving surprisingly popular -- and it doesn't involve years of dedicated study, either.
Yes -- feminists look away now -- most of the girls I talked to are intent on marrying a rich man. . .
As a teacher, perhaps I should have argued with these teenagers and told them their happiness depended on financial independence and high-flying careers. A few years ago I would have done, but not any more.
So what's changed? Well, four years ago my daughter Nancy was born and I became a harassed working mother. It was my implacable belief that a career was the path to female fulfilment that kept me working after her birth.
Back then, I honestly believed that women who didn't work were boring little drones who had given up all vestige of personality.
How wrong I was!
Exit question: if, as a rule, men and women want different things out of life, and if one of the the central questions of liberal eduction is how to live, how should we address the differences between men and women in our schools? A start would be recognizing at least the possibility that the reason why just about every society in history has had gender roles is because men and women like to differentiate themselves from each other.
Has the idea of the equality of men and women been rendered secure enough in modern America to allow us to discuss the both the ways in which men and women are equal and the ways in which men and women are not the same, and don't want to be the same?