Since the middle of this century, women around the world have been seeking greater independence and recognition. No longer content with their traditional roles as housewives and mothers, women have joined together to create the so-called “women’s liberation movement”. While the forces behind this international movement vary from culture to culture and from individual to individual, the basic causes in the United States can be traced to three events: the development of effective birth-control methods, the invention of labor-saving devices for the home, and the advent of World War II.
The first cause of the liberation of women was the development of effective birth-control methods, freeing women from the endless cycle of childbearing and rearing. As a result of having a choice as to when and whether to bear children, women acquired the freedom and the time to pursue interests outside of the home. Because of the development of birth control, women could delay having children or avoid having them altogether; consequently, women had the opportunity to acquire an education and/or pursue a career.
Another event was the development of mechanized labor-saving devices for the home, resulting in more leisure time and freedom for women. For example, fifty years ago, a housewife spent an average of twelve to fourteen hours per day doing housework. Due to the invention of machines such as vacuum cleaners, washing machines and dishwashers, a housewife can now take care of her daily housework in about five hours.
The final event that, at least in the United States, gave impetus to the liberation of women was World War II. During the war, most men were serving in the military. Consequently, women had to fill the vacancies in the labor force. Women by the thousands went to work in factories and then took over businesses for their absent husbands. This was a great change for the majority of American women, for they discovered...