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Declaring The "Undeclared" War

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Declaring the "Undeclared" War

Susan Faludi speaks of war. She speaks of the victims being chained against achieving dreams of freedom. She speaks of a silent war that brews beneath the surface of society; that slowly erodes the will to overcome. In her excerpt "The Undeclared War on Women", Faludi declares the thus far "undeclared"; that women have strived for equality, but have only achieved it at a meager level as a result of lacking support. She refers to society's lack of encouragement, and often counterproductive responses as "backlash." Women are not unhappy because they want more than equality; they are unhappy because society has ways of making them regret even asking for it by giving little government support (e.g. child care, rape laws, financial aid for education, etc.), failing to enforce equal rights laws and creating a media institution that shows their "independent" status as the reason for emotional instability and a weaker family environment. The vicious combination of deteriorating self-confidence and challenging their maternal abilities manifest an on-going battle to reinforce the proverbial glass ceiling women face today.

Such accusations from society are ludicrous; millions of women maintain a balance between work and nurturing their family, but they do so with difficulty. However, with birth rates only increasing annually, it is difficult to prove that working women are not doing their part as mothers. Unfortunately, women have hardly advanced in their fight for equality since "Backlash" was published. Though federal law now requires that all women receive at least eight weeks of maternity leave , mothers are still plagued by the problems of child care affordability. The article points out that the availability of affordable child care for the average working in women is fairly scarce. In 1993, it cost an average of $215-$329 a month to put one preschool-age child into child care. With the need for more child care facilities rising, sanitation and training requirements are becoming more and more lax, yet the cost does not improve despite deteriorating standards.

The Stepford Wives, a film first released in 1975 and later remade for theatrical release in 2004, shows the repression of powerful, aspiring females in full glory. This is something of a metaphoric amplification of how men attempt to prevent women from rising to or above their level. In the film, husbands and their successful, but high-strung wives relocate to a small town called Stepford, where the wives bear striking resemblance to 1950s ideal housewife. Later, it is discovered that the wives are transformed to be the "perfect women". Though intended to be a comical exaggeration of the "undeclared war on women", it hardly makes light of the situation. In reality, males are not nearly as organized in the on-going battle against women. Husbands may not turn their wives into submissive, homemaker robots, but society can certainly see examples of women being held back from absolute equality. As Faludi puts it, "the lack of orchestration, the absence of a single string-puller, only makes it harder to see-and perhaps more effective"

The United States government also fails to protect women from domestic violence in their own homes. Faludi cited that, in 1991, it was still legal in several states for men to rape their wives. In June, 1993, marital rape became a crime in all fifty states. However, thirty-three states offer exemptions from prosecution in cases where the wife may be unable to say yes or no to sexual advances (e.g. physical/mental disabilities, asleep, unconscious, etc.) While it appears to the naked eye that this grievance did improve, it most certainly did not. Despite the fact that laws are also in place to prevent the sexual assault of the disabled, they are apparently null and void when in the privacy of one's home. Additionally, the statistic included in the article about the percentage of women murdered by their husbands or boyfriends (33% at the time of publication) has shown no change in 2004.

Another guilty party in the effort to maintain women to lower status is American pop culture, which predominantly portrays women as being nothing more than sex objects. This is only relevant in that it illustrates how "backlash" does not only apply on a government level, but also in entertainment. The younger generations (children through 18 years old, mostly) are far more influenced by pop culture than they are by the government. The messages conveyed by the industry

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