"Gender: To Be Determined" is collaborative, interactive blog brought to you by University of Denver students in Lindsey Feitz's "Introduction to Gender and Women's Studies" class.

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Women and Independence

Women have historically been dependent on other people, especially on men. Women in the past did not have the ability to attain a career or have a life outside of the home. But there have been many woman who have worked very hard to be equal to men. Now that women do have the opportunity to be independent and have the choice to be the bread winner or to be the homemaker, some women do take advantage and become very independent, but some women are still very dependent on men.

I am going to use my mom as an example of a women who is dependent on a man. When she was eighteen, my mom married her first husband and was living with his family, she decided to not pursue a higher education, but to rely on her husband to support her. She then decided he was a little crazy, so she was going to leave him. After she left him she had to move back in with her mother, since she was unable to support herself at the time. She then married my father and was still very young and was able to support herself with the job she was working at the time, but with his income they were able to go out and have nice things as well. She was smart and did not have a child with a man until she was married. It could be good for a women not to have a child with a man before she is married to him, becuase when a couple has a child they become dependent on eachother. My parents had me about five years after they were married, then they decided to break up and my mom married my step dad. I think she became very comfortable with him becuase of his income, but when they began to have problems in their marriage, she realized that leaving him was not an option because she would not be able to support her self with out his income. I also do think that her dependence on her husband increased when she had my younger brother, also when she started making less then half of what she had been at her job.

A prime example of a women's dependence on men is in the 1950's when women had to be married and did not have the ability to support themselves. In the article by Stephanie Coontz, "What We Really Miss About the 1950's" she explains some reasons why women were dependent on their husbands. Coontz explains, "...while job segregation for working men and women seems to have peaked. These demographic changes increased the dependence of women on marriage..." In the example of my mother being dependent on her husband, one of the reasons was becuase she was making almost half of her wages at her job and she had children to care for. In my mom's case, she could not support herself with her own income so she had to stay in her marriage just like some of the unhappy married women in the 1950's. My mom's situation was different from the mothers that had to stay home in the 1950's becuase these women did not have a choice becuase of the descrimination of women in the workplace.

It is different now becuase most women have the ability to choose to work, stay home, or to go to college, so they have the ability to support themselves depending on their choices. Women can now also live without a husband and support themselves. Although some women live without a husband and are still dependent, since they recieve welfare from the state. In the article "What Do Low-Income Single Mothers Say about Marriage" Kathryn Edin explains,"If they are to marry, they want to get something out of it. If they cannot enjoy economic stability and gain upward mobility from marriage, they see little reason to risk the loss of control and other costs they fear marriage might extract from them." Edin is explaining that some women are still currently dependent on marriage becuase they just want to get somthing out of it like money. Usually if a mother is on welfare and then gets married she has to depend more on her husbands income then the welfare. My mother on the other hand is dependent on her husband, but she did not marry him only becuase he has money like some lower income women, she married him becuase she loves him.

I am not saying that marriage is bad or that depending on others is horrible, BUT I think that when a person is independent there are more positives then negitives. This is becuase an idependent person has the ability to leave a relationship if it is not working out becuase that person can support themselves with a job. In my mother's case she could not up and leave when she was having problems with her husband because she did not have enough money to support herself. So my mother urges me to do my own things and make opportunities for myself that she did not have, like going to college and pursuing the career I want in my life. For women to have this opportunity to be independent and support themselves was what feminists have fought for, so that women can be equal to men.

If you are to think about what it would be like if women did not have equal rights to men, some of the rights that are taken for granted might be: the right to vote, go to school, hold a job, or wear pants (to just name a few). Women now a days might appriciate the opportunities women now have and might realize they might have taken some of them for granted. I am not saying that women have every single equal right to men because there are still some problems women are still dealing with. BUT I am saying that women should take advantage of the fact that they can attain an education and have a career that will enable them to support themselves. I know that personaly I do not want to be entierly supported by a man becuase I want to take advantage of what I can do and be the best I can be in my career and in my life. I also want to be able to support myself in any situation, especially if I want to get out of a relationship I do not want money to stop me from leaving.


  1. First off I really liked your blog and how you incorporated the articles that we have read in class. I think that it is a shame that so many women depend on others. In so many of my classes I hear girls talking about how they will just marry a rich man and not have to work or worry about getting a good job. I think this is sad because so many women before us fought so hard so that we could have equal rights and not have to depend on men. I know that with myself I want to be fully independent and not have to rely on others. I think that so many women now days take what they have for granted and all of the opportunities that we have so we can be independent. I wonder though if the girls who want to marry a rich man feel that they have no other options or if they are taking the "easy" way out.

  2. When I was a kid I wanted nothing more than to just get married and be a housewife. As I got older I started to see that being independent was better for me and would actually allow me to do the things I loved to do. I ended up loving school and even working and I don't think I will ever be just a housewife. I think that you make a great point that women should go out and be independent. I think that everyone should at least have the opportunity to go to school and get a job. Especially when feminists had to fight so hard for women to have the right to.

  3. I agree that some women see the old-fashioned submissive, homemaker role as safe and expected, which is why they settle into that role even when they have the option to strive for higher societal and economic status. I feel like this is a big reason why women don't work and demand the equality they could have. Sometimes the safe thing is the most comforting thing; we all know how hard it is to defile limitations set before us and step outside the norm. Most people go with the majority in order to not be perceived as the odd one out. Do you think that there's anything that women (in situations similar to your mom's) could do to free themselves of the homemaker role and to become more independent, even if they're still a part of the typical family set up?

  4. Thank you gals for your comments! I am glad you enjoyed my blog! I do agree with you Kenzie when you say that it is the most easy to do the safe or comforting thing and to not be the odd one out. But if no one is or ever was the odd one out then things likle the Civil Rights movement and womens rights in America would probley not exist becuase no one ever stood out to be the odd one. But not everyone is made to be that one person who speeks out becuase some people are leaders while others are followers. So that is a reason why I think people (women) vshould be independent and do what they want with their life.

    But also a good question about women freeing themselves from the homemaker role. So i don't have an exact answer, but in my mom's case she got laid off from her job like 5ish years ago and that is why she was so dependent on my step dad. In that time she wasnt working she went back to school and graduated with a certificate in xray. Which isnt horrible, Im not sure if she would be able to support herself with it but i do think it was a pretty idependent thing to do. Becuase in her case she had three kids at home at the time, with the youngest in 7th grade, so it was hard for her but she did very well! So I think that school could be a choice for women in that case, so they can attain a job that isnt just a dead end job you know. Otherwise I think it would be very difficult to get out of the homemaker role , unless the women really wanted to.