|Independence more important to women than men|
|Written by Kristen Wegrzyn, Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Thursday, 24 February 2011 23:01|
There was a time in history in which being single was rare and single women especially were labeled by psychiatrists as sexually warped and lacking feminine instinct, according to social historian Stephanie Coontz in her article “Aren’t You Glad You Weren’t Single Fifty Years Ago?”
Coontz helped develop the “Single in America: Match.com 2001” survey that studied facets of single life and found a number of longtime believed myths about singles to be untrue, proving that things have significantly changed from the past, one of which being that 77 percent of women were more likely to say they need personal space, whereas only 58 percent of men said they need personal space.
Across every age group, men were also less likely than women to want regular nights out with their friends, want their own bank account or want to take a trip on their own.
“Well, I certainly think that society is changing, but the findings were very interesting,” said Georganne Rundblad, professor of sociology and anthropology at Illinois Wesleyan University, whose research interests include gender and women’s studies.
Single in America found that, unlike the common belief that men do not want committed, long-term relationships, men and women are both equally eager to fall in love, commit and start a family.
Rundblad said that the results were surprising in a good way.
“I mean I always hope that my male students are becoming more enlightened. I hope that all my students are, but men in particular because for men in society’s course, it is hard to give up the privileges that they get,” she said.
“But it seems that, especially with the younger generation, they are giving up those privileges more rapidly than I would have anticipated and recognizing and acknowledging and grasping some of the benefits that come along with the roles that they’re now finding themselves into,” she added.
Coontz’s article explained that women felt more anxiety in the past about being single and that surveys in the 1950s and early ‘60s showed that single women regarded marriage as the best option for being self-fulfilled and happy. This is most likely due to the difficulties that single women experienced, like only having low-paying jobs open to them, and having doctors refuse to prescribe them contraceptives.
“Maybe the feminist movement has finally made a dent,” Rundblad said.
“I was really encouraged when I read and glanced at the results of this study. So things are looking up, I hope,” she added.
Oren Whightsel, affiliated faculty member of women and gender studies at ISU, said he took a more skeptical approach to the results.
“I really think that gender and sex and other things are socially constructed, so therefore I kind of divorce the ... perceptions that these are kind of a natural kind of occurrence that we’re programmed to act like men, to act like women. So when I hear of this survey, the first thing I notice is how heteronormative it is,” Whightsel explained.