You’ve come a long way, baby. This is what Celinda Lake and Kellyanne Conway argue in their new book, What Women Really Want: How American Women are Quietly Erasing Political, Racial, Class, and Religious Lines to Change the Way We Live.
The authors stress that “Women are the most powerful force reshaping the future of America.” Long gone is the stereotype of the woman as meek and mild, submissive to men in the workplace and in the home. Rather, the liberated women of today thrive on being independent and are paving a new future for themselves.
Lake, a Democratic political strategist, and Conway, a Republican pollster, show how far women have come since they were given the vote in 1920 and outline trends that are setting women apart. Evidence of women’s influence and emancipation includes:
- Since 1950, married households have declined from 80% to 50%. One-third of American women are single and more than 22 million live alone—an 87% increase in the past two decades.
- Today, 44% of all women of childbearing age are childless, many choosing instead to finish their education or pursue a career.
- Out-of-wedlock births grew from less than 90,000 per year in 1940 to more than 1.3 million per year in 1999. Single-mother households have been poor traditionally, but “the emerging population of single mothers-by-choice tends to be more financially secure.”
- Women own more than 26% of the country’s 20.8 million companies, generating nearly $2.3 trillion in revenue. Companies with a “higher representation of women in senior management positions financially outperform companies with proportionally fewer women at the top.”
- In the 2004 election, women outvoted men by 10 million, favoring John Kerry over George W. Bush by 3 points.
Although women are a force to be reckoned with their emancipation has not come without a price—something Lake and Conway fail to discuss. Women have rejected the quintessential essence of their being: Their ability to love and be loved. This has undermined the beauty of marriage and the happiness that comes with raising a child. Women may be more successful and influential than ever, but are they truly happier?
Moreover, the trend of more women choosing to raise children alone is not discussed in terms of the harmful effects this has on children. Overwhelming research has shown that children raised in a two-parent healthy marriage are less likely to engage in drugs, alcohol and violence, suffer from depression, commit suicide or drop out of school.
The rise of women as a voting bloc poses a potentially serious threat to conservatives. As Lake and Conway reveal, most professional women see big government as a positive good in helping them lead their independent lives separate from men. Women generally want more state assistance on issues such as health care, day care, education and the environment. The issue women tend to support the GOP on is national security.
Ultimately, Lake and Conway shed fascinating light on the modern woman and her rise to social and political power. Women are reshaping America’s future. But will we like what it looks like once we’re there?