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VARIOUS TEXTS: ON GENDER ROLES

With More Equity, More Sweat

By Richard Morin and Megan Rosenfeld
Washington Post, March 22, 1998

Men and women have declared a cease-fire in the war that raged between the sexes through much of the last half of this century. In its place, they face common new enemies - the stress, lack of time and financial pressure of modern life.
A new national survey has found that after nearly a generation of sharing the workplace and renegotiating domestic duties, most men and women agree that increased gender equity has enriched both sexes. But both also believe that the strains of this relatively new world have made building successful marriages, raising children and leading satisfying lives ever more difficult.
The problem that now unites them, as warehouse operations manager James Lindow, 35, of Green Bay, Wis., put it, is "the lack of time you spend with your life."
Large majorities of more than 4,000 men and women questioned in a series of surveys last fall placed high importance on having a successful marriage and family. At the same time, equally large majorities of working men and women said they felt bad about leaving their children in the care of others, and wished they could devote more time to their families and themselves. Surprisingly, although men and women agreed they should have equal work opportunities, and men said they approved of women working outside the home, large majorities of both said it would be better if women could instead stay home and just take care of the house and children.
Majorities of men and women believe there still are more advantages to being a man rather than a woman, and that most men don't understand the problems women face. And the survey shows that in some areas, the reality of daily existence for two-career families still has not caught up with changed attitudes.
Most men in the polls said they were happy to share child care and domestic chores with wives who work outside the home. Yet household duties remain sharply divided along gender lines. Working mothers still do twice as much housework as their husbands, and more than half of all women questioned expressed at least some dissatisfaction with the amount of help their husbands provide around the house.
"I think men are beginning to get it, at least some are, some of the time," said survey respondent Traci Hughes-Velez, 34, of Brooklyn, N.Y., director of compensation for a major corporation. "But there are times they don't. My husband just doesn't seem to get it when I tell him that I feel I'm always on duty. When we're at home, I'm the one who always has an eye out for our son, making sure he's eating on time, things like that."
The survey shows that real differences in perspective and perception remain between the sexes. Men are more likely to support increases in defense spending; women more favorably disposed toward health care for uninsured children. Women are more likely than men to be religious and to value close friendships; men are more likely than women to want successful careers and wealth, and more likely to value an "active sex life."
But rather than emphasizing their differences and blaming many of life's problems on each other, men and women share a sense of conflict and confusion about how to make it all work under today's pressures. To a large extent, the politics of resentment have become the politics of fatigue.
566 words

Assignments:
1a. What negative phenomena do today's people suffer from?
  b. Why are above phenomena related to one another?
2. Why are many families left in a dilemma?
3. What does the text say about the equal share of household chores between men and women?
4. Have men and women eventually found a common solution as to how to cope with both family life and career?
5. Do you think there are differences between Americans and Germans as to how women's lib has developed in both countries?



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