Saturday, June 30, 2007

Plus ca Change

In 1971, 4% of married Canadian women had university degrees. For married men, the figure was 10%.

In 2001, 24% of Canadian wives and 19% of husbands had university degrees.

When the Globe & Mail reported that recently, they thought the interesting thing about the data was that couples are now more likely to have similar educational backgrounds than they were 30 years ago.

But that isn't what is staggeringly interesting about the data. That the incidence of men getting degrees has nearly doubled is pretty good. But six times as many women getting degrees: Holy smokes! And the fact that 30 years ago, men were twice as likely to have a degree as women, whereas now, women are better educated than men: Double holy smokes!

It's not the absolute numbers that are so flabbergasting, but the amazingly short span of time in which this change occurred. It makes me think that we must be on the cusp of some big changes for women and women's equality. So why are so many young women today mired in attitudes from the 1950s?

Here are some of the headlines from today's Globe & Mail Style section:

* War Zone Beauty Tips: Conflict isn't pretty, but you can be
* Low-cut Cook Wear Catches On
* Plane Clothes: What, have you given up on yourself? As the travel season takes off, Leanne Delap prescribes an antidote to the indignities of flying. Get dressed up!
* Here's to Tying One On: Don't leave home without a scarf this summer

This isn't about looking nice: it's about society inflicting norms on women. For example, I'm all for women shaving their legs if they want to, but when they're forced to, we're a little bit too much like the Taliban.

Back in the days when a woman's wealth was based on the income of her husband, you could see why it was so important that women had to doll themselves up. But nowadays, when women have their own careers, it seems bizarre that the female standard is still to be objects of sexual attraction. In fact, in a world where women don't need men to support them, it should be more like the animal world, and men should be dolling themselves up to attract women.


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