Things sure have changed for women over the past few decades. Now, more than ever, women are coming into their own and demanding a change in attitude—they are calling for respect and for an end to the “shame” certain statuses are supposed to imply. Women are taking charge, and it’s inspiring to see it happen.
One of the largest areas of change has been regarding a woman’s marital status and her right to her own body. Women were expected to have one mission in life: find a man, get married, make a family, and keep up the home. Just a few decades ago, getting pregnant out of wedlock was a source of enormous shame, and girls often went into hiding or ran away to avoid becoming a social outcast. Before Roe v. Wade, pregnant teenagers weren’t even allowed to remain in public school.
But these days, things are different. By law, pregnant women can’t be discriminated against—whether they are married or not—and getting pregnant out of wedlock isn’t such a taboo as it once was. Even married pregnant women don’t feel that they are confined to their homes. They continue to function in both the business and social worlds, usually taking some time for maternity leave and returning to work soon after. Think of socialite Lauren Santo Domingo (whose husband is record label exec Andres Santo Domingo), Jenna Hager Bush (husband Henry works for Henry Kravis’s KKR), and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.
Celebrity culture is perhaps the best demonstration of America’s change in heart regarding pregnant women. Celebrities continue to hit the red carpet while pregnant, and many big-name stars have gotten pregnant and given birth out of wedlock without major social repercussions. Consider these stars: Angelina Jolie, Natalie Portman, Kourtney Kardashian, Jessica Alba, and Halle Berry. Just a few years ago, this would have been unacceptable, but today it’s considered a normal part of our social culture.
It’s also more acceptable for a woman to choose not to get married or have children, which is a far cry from the “traditional” view of what a woman is supposed to do with her life. Now, it’s okay for women to have goals related to a career or something other than a family life. Now, instead of the norm being to settle down right away, it’s for women to continue their educations through college, start a career, and establish their own life before deciding whether or not to get married and have kids.