Women in Positions of Power
The Feminization of the United States (Jewish Community)
It is now certain that this century will see the ascendancy of American women to positions of leadership in all aspects of American life. This is so because 62% of our 13 million college students are women. It follows, therefore, that two thirds of occupations requiring a college education will be held by women with the additional consequence that professors, lawyers, doctors, dentists, accountants and politicians of all parties and views will be female.
I called this process “the great revolution” in my 1998 book entitled Sex, Gender and Social Change. At that time the outlines of this immense change in American society were already very much visible. Today they are a major event in American history, precipitated and promoted first by Jewish women. It is undeniable that Jewish women were and are in the lead in this great social movement and that here again we recognize how we, the small 1.8% minority, make a 100% difference in American life. No wonder that so many Americans believe that we must be 30-40% of the U.S. population.
The liberation of women from near slavery in the centuries prior to 1920 began, of course, with the introduction of birth control into Boston and New York when Annie Besant and Charles Bradlaugh came from England in 1877 and founded Planned Parenthood, then called the Neo-Malthusian Movement.
Nevertheless, that and the effort of 19th century women to gain the vote were only forerunners of that enormous upheaval in the liberation of women which occurred after Betty Goldstein Friedan published The Feminine Mystique in 1963. The major message of that book is that the “perfect housewife” had a problem that had no name but consisted of the Freudian view that “women are animals, less than human, unable to think like men, born to breed and serve men”, etc.
Friedan blasted the housewife status and then founded the National Organization for Women and later the National Women's Political Caucus.
Friedan was a graduate of Smith College. She edited a newspaper there. She married Carl Friedman and persuaded him to drop the “m” from his name so it became Friedan.
Divorced, she raised three children who became most successful in their own right but by no means filled the revolutionary role their mother had assumed. One of Friedan’s successors, Germaine Greer, wrote in 2006, “Betty Friedan changed the course of human history almost single handedly.” Friedan believed that women get no respect unless they wield power and this is the legacy that she left when she died in 2006.
Friedan succeeded in gaining rights for lesbian women (this word is related to the life of the poetess Sappho, who was exiled from Athens and forced to live on the island of Lesbos with her female followers).
Most important, Friedan gave women the impetus to join together and demand and gain political power. This had led to the election of women to the position of governors and senators and representatives in Congress. There are now nine women governors, 16 female senators and 70 women representatives. One of these women is the first “speaker” of the House and therefore the second in line to gain the presidency if the President and Vice President were eliminated.
Two of the U.S. senators are Jewish women from California. The lady governor of Hawaii is also Jewish, as is one Supreme Court judge. There can be no doubt that these trends will continue as 52% of law students are women, 50% of medical students are women, and four of the eight Ivy League Universities have female presidents, of whom one is Jewish. Pharmacy and veterinary medicine are very much feminized as is college teaching, research in the sciences (Ph.D.’s) and all other aspects of American life. It is quite possible that we will have a lady president in ’09 and certain that we will have a woman president sometime thereafter.
The American family has became feminized as large numbers of families have a female head and others find that women are “the boss”. The story is told of the boy who came home from school and proudly told his father that he had been given a part in the school play. The father asked, “What part?” The boy said, “The part of a Jewish husband.” “Tell the teacher to give you a speaking part,” said the father.
Women are now more and more prominent in religion. Among Jews and Protestants there are female clergy and among us, women are routinely elected to the presidency of our congregations. Women are called to the Torah and read the Haftorah publicly.
Even in the military women have risen to the rank of general and two women have now occupied the position of Secretary of State. In short, the GREAT REVOLUTION has arrived. Nothing can now hold it up. Therefore I shall write a book this summer to be called The Feminization of the U.S.: The Ascendancy of Women in America.