Friday, December 2, 2016

The American Woman Today-- What do You Think?


We recently inherited a 1960 set of Encyclopedias from my in-laws. It has been fascinating to skim through these books and get a snap shot of what the world was like during that time and what people were thinking about.  Many things haven't changed (like an elephant is still an elephant, right?) but there were other entries that were obviously dated. For example, there were several pages under "fallout shelter" about how to create your own shelter in your home with detailed instructions about what to do in case of a nuclear attack! It was also very interesting to read though the entry on "family" in this Encyclopedia. Here is the first paragraph, 
"Family is the oldest human institution. In many ways it is the most important. It is society's most basic unit. Entire civilizations have survived or disappeared depending on whether family life was strong or weak. Families have existed since earliest times and will undoubtedly exist as long as man lives on earth. 
Families make up the basis of every society because they serve three vital human needs found everywhere. First, the family is the means for producing children and continuing the human race. Second, the family provides for protection and early training of infants. Human infants are perhaps the most helpless of all living creatures... Third, the family sets up a division of labor so that each member contributes something.... 
...Marriage is the beginning of family life. When a man and a woman marry, they make a legal contract to live together as husband and wife. They also accept the legal responsibility to support and care for any children they may have. 
... Most people belong to two families during their lives, the first as children and the second as parents. We are born in to the first family and we establish the second one."

It seems almost incredible in our day in age to think that this was published as the DEFINITION of what a family is. I feel like this definition says so plainly and concisely the truth (and what I was trying to explain in my Cultivating a Heart Open to Life series). It a little sad that today many people are choosing to live in ways that are in incompatible with the perpetuation of human life and, as the definition, stated that is often what makes or breaks an entire society.

Another interesting aspect of these Encyclopedias is that they came with three "year books", one for 1968, 1969, and 1970. There was one article in the 1969 Year Book that interested me particularly. It was entitled The American Woman Today written by the famous anthropologist Margaret Mead. It is a fascinating glimpse into what was perceived as the problems, challenges, and opportunities facing American women in the 1960's. There were a few parts that I thought were really interesting. For example she wrote about why, even though American women are often "the envy of women throughout the world", they are not the happiest women in the world.  She wrote: