At the very outset let me make it very clear that all my articles are aimed at modern, educated urban women. I believe only those women have access to a computer and the Internet. Unfortunately, as you rightly quoted they too are so immersed in their culture that they do not recognize these oppressions.
Let me also mention here that I do not need to know about the statistics that you have provided in your article published on this site. I have been there. I grew up in a lower middle class family. A woman of the 70's in India - I have seen it all. I have worked in offices at a time when parents preferred teaching career for their girls, including my father. I accepted things as challenges in my life. Now I have put everything behind me and do not want to talk about it. To cite an example; I was born an eighth daughter to my parents that in itself was a considerably big crime at the face of the universe. I strongly believe everytime one is faced with difficulties he comes out stronger. This is nature's way of teaching us.
I fully agree that the situation of a woman has improved to some extent. I also agree that a woman only makes 60 cents as against a dollar for a man. The bottom line is not to sit back and mourn for what we are deprived of but how we can make the best of what we have. That is the first step towards getting what we want. I have worked in the US for 9 years as a video rental sales person starting at a measly $3.25 an hour. Considering the situation and circumstances, it best suited me. Till such time in this job I was able to spend full time with my teenage kids in a country where they were exposed to conflicting cultural values, I had no problems. It did not bother me that my father had slogged to send me to college. We women should realize the fact that nothing is going to come to us on a silver platter. We have to strain to get our rights.
I very much agree the aim should be directed at changing the social norms, but who will change these norms? The men of our society some of whom are responsible for the situation in the first place! And personal ambition uniqueness of women - if not this then what else will change the norms? An individual woman constructs the women community and not vice versa. A group cannot do anything unless it starts at the root level of individuality. Sexism will continue to prevail till such time we will continue to take it. Upbringing of a woman, let me quote from my earlier article, "she never taught me to stand up for myself, to fight for my rights, not to take blame for something I didn't do. She did not teach me to be treated equal. I understand the basic difference in a man's and a woman's physical creation. Considering the times I was in, my mother was convinced that the only way to keep harmony and peace in my life was to be treated the way a woman was being treated." However, we have to lift ourselves above the norms and the upbringing.
Parents readily reject not because they think that their girls cannot excel in the fields of politics or law but because they want a successful career for their girls and not a lifetime of struggle. It is only mature thinking and accepting facts. Things are changing - women are succeeding in politics. It's a long way to go I fully agree. Till such time things do not change reasonably, parents cannot push their daughters into the uncertainty.
As you write, "A battered housewife, especially immigrant housewives (such is the case with many Indian immigrants in the US)2 simply cannot leave their husbands or the exploiter to find their own avenues", does it imply that the poor women simply should continue to suffer at the mercy of the husbands or the exploiters?
Woman is not poor. Some men for their own personal motives have tried to make her a poor woman over the centuries. It is only physically that a woman is a weaker sex. In emotional and mental strength she far supersedes a man. It is time we women think - we are not poor women left at the mercy of the provider. Therefore, there is a need for a woman to go to college and make her self-dependent. We cannot just continue to sit with "They simply do not possess the equal opportunities to venture in the world and find their own ways of income, security and other needs that are fulfilled in an institution of marriage." It is surprising that a statement like this should come from you. A young man who considers himself liberated and revolutionary in the twenty first century? If men like you would continue to think like this, then we can wait for the rest of the century to change things for women.
Women cannot just sit and wait for someone to provide equal opportunities to able to venture into the world. It is important we start thinking differently and shed the fears that have been imbibed in us for the centuries.
There are women out there who are doing great. Not because they are waiting for the society to change and open more avenues for them but because they have taken charge of the situation and taken control of their lives. In the US we find innumerous south Asian women working at the grocery stores. In India they work in factories and construction. These women believe in making the best of what they have. It is their first step towards independence, freedom and also towards making a change in their lives and the lives of other women.