I agree with Paula and Peggy. I think the "feminist movement" has had a lot of positives, but we shouldn't overlook the negative influences. As for women HAVING to work, there are some that have to. And others who "have" to only becuase of consumerism......also, I think this has a lot to do with men, which may have to do with feminism. Let me explain (I'll try and be coherent!). Most men of working mothers see them as a role model, and also assume simply, due to society, that women work. They think that a two-income household is a necessity. While many men may believe a woman should take off some time after having a baby, I don't think many think a woman NEEDS to stay home with a child older than 2, and certainly not once they are school aged. I should say that I am talking about men of my generation (I'm 26) and younger. I feel that this attitude is in part due to the feminist movement, and part due to consumerism and capitalism. Most men (and I suppose women, too) feel that they can't live on one income.....how will they afford that new car? The large house? Vacations? Etc. My dh is a teacher. We struggle with money (I stay at home). He tells me that if he had a different profession, made more money, he wouldn't mind being the breadwinner (he is very good about me staying home, but the stress does get to him, especially when the bills come!). I point out to him that we could have more money.......we don't really NEED to eat out alot, we don't NEED cable tv and two cell phones, and as much as I love the new house we're getting, we could've bought a cheaper one. So yes, we struggle......but it is by choice. I pointed this out to him, today, in fact!
He agreed with me, but said "well, I'm used to a certain lifestyle, like my parents have".......I then had to point out that his parents were NOT ALWAYS WELL OFF!!! In fact, they only became well off (huge house, new cars, lots of vacations, etc) 5 years ago....maybe a few more. I've talked to his mom about this. I think my generation has unrealistic expectations.....I know that dh's students (he teaches middle school) talk about the cars their parents are saving for them (new suv's), and the girls get their nails done, expensive hair cuts, etc........it seems as if our culture now assumes that everyone has a right to what most people have to earn. Does that make sense? Yes, a teacher should earn a higher salary....BUT, not everyone is going to be rich.....not everyone is automatically entitiled to a mansion and new cars, you have to work for it......and it takes a while. So, while I've mostly been ranting about money issues, I find them ingrained in this debate......I do think that most women do need to work, and not because they are personally selfish, but because their lifestyle demands it.....and they have this lifestyle because they think that's what they need.....society has become so much more focused on extrinsic values and rewards than intrinsic. After working a 40hour week, people feel they deserve that snowmobile....it shows how had they worked! Saving that money for the future, so you can retire earlier or so the wife can stay home for longer just doesn't hold the same allure.