One point where I feel like the feminist messages of the seventies were fairly effective was in convincing people that men are also responsible for housework and child-rearing -- that it's not automatically the woman's job. There's still a long way to go, but I have the impression that, for men and women of my generation and later, expectations on this front changed noticeably compared to the previous generations.
This is true for child-rearing in particular. Not so long ago, pushing a baby-buggy was equivalent to wearing a dress. I have a vague memory of this being a popular comedy situation, to show the poor man having to take care of his child for an afternoon. The director would even have the poor sap wear a frilly apron over his dapper suit, to emphasize the absurdity of the situation. He's a man and he's trying to take care of a baby -- hahaha!! Now you see men walking down the street carrying babies in pouches or pushing them in strollers, and it doesn't cross anyone's mind to see that as strange.
The "Free to Be..." album I discussed the other day had a track about how it's OK for a boy to want a doll because he might want to learn to nurture babies too. (Aside: this track, like the one about boys crying, seemed to portray bullying as inevitable, but basically said the boy shouldn't be bullied for wanting a doll.) Then there was another track that struck me as almost controversial: "Housework".
"Housework" is a poem that says, essentially, that those smiling ladies you see doing housework in TV commercials for detergents -- they're only smiling because they're actresses. Really, nobody likes doing housework, and that's why the mom and dad should share the housework load.
My modern-sensitivity-and-awareness brain immediately makes the connection between that statement and the central tension of feminism: For every role/trait that is seen as feminine and bad, some women will argue "Stop seeing this bad thing as feminine!" and others will argue "Stop seeing this feminine thing as bad!" And often both positions have merit.
It makes me wonder OK, is the above dissing SAHMs? And hence feeding the supposed enmity between career women and SAHMs that is so overhyped?
Then I wonder: Am I just being hypersensitive about this, from reading too much feminist Mormon housewives? I mean, is it really insensitive and un-PC to say that even homemakers don't like housework? Plus, I know that many SAHMs would totally agree with the moral of the poem: that the housework is not just one person's responsibility...