"For better and for worse, in the long modern stretch from adolescence to the altar, young women have been cast out. The straight line from daughter-to-mother is now more like a cross-country obstacle course. To an extent unprecedented in history, a woman must carry her own economic weight, and then some, possibly throughout her entire life. According to the Census Bureau, over the last two decades of the past century, the number of women living alone mushroomed by more than 50 percent.

Reared with the notion that natural forces are only vaguely connected to life's satisfactions, and encouraged to believe there are no limitations to personal growth, today's worldly young woman may find herself detached from the protection and support of family, matrimony, and community. Without much of a choice, young women have been propelled into today's competitive, fast-paced world. Girls just wanna have fun? It's time to hit the pavement, find a job, pay the rent, and build a career. Then, maybe, you can have fun.

Long life expectancy and deferred marriage means that today's young women must not only support themselves for the first time but must also balance intimacy, career, and, eventually, family, in ways men never have. When mothering enters the equation, another consequence of "equality" appears to be legions of overburdened women saddled with the unrealistic demands of modern womanhood while their central and empowering reproductive role is denigrated.

Our modern shift to a unisex economy, in which nearly everyone works outside the home, is the most significant change in the sexual bargain since the deal was struck on the savanna hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of years ago. Today's maturing female, freed of family oversight, liberated from the threat of unplanned pregnancy and reared in a digitized universe of sexual androgyny, has been sprung from the women's circle. Out there on her own, she has been prepared by our culture to live in a community of perfect equals."

The problem with sexual equality, however, is that it can be a demotion for women. When our daughters step out of the protective family circle into the exterior world to support themselves and make it on their own, they find themselves struggling to succeed in the domain of creatures that have always been there. They find themselves in the world of men.