South Africa's largest online women's portal - women24.com - has polled 7396 women in the 2007 Female Nation Survey. This sample has been weighted against the Labour Force Survey to provide a representative sample of two million urban South African women, aged 15-65 earning R3000 or more per month.
The 2007 Female Nation Survey reveals that a superwoman culture is thriving in South Africa. Women are more likely to be self-employed, empowered, working in the community, functioning as primary caregivers and bringing home the bacon. And most South African women are happy with their lot - whether they are married, single, sexually active, sexually fulfilled, poor, wealthy . or not.
Mothers who are the main breadwinners in the family tend also to be the primary caregivers (87%) and of those who are divorced or separated, 85% are also the primary caregivers of the children.
Perhaps this explains why South Africa's superwoman doesn't have time for exercise - nearly half don't exercise at all (48%). In spite of this, though, superwoman's positive attitude persists with most women (87%) believing they are physically healthy. Are SA's female couch potatoes in denial because they are just as happy about their bodies as their competitive athlete counterparts? Not surprisingly, gym-going women are the most confident about their bodies and also score highest in rating their physical (97%) and mental health (75%) as being well but, in contrast, the women who attend classes or enjoy outdoor activities were least likely to be positive about their body image.
Thirteen percent of SA women have had an eating disorder and over half of these women are still unhappy with their bodies. Among ethnic groups, black women are the most likely to have had an eating disorder (20%) and coloured women are the least likely (8%). Of the active types, competitive athletes were the most likely to have had an eating disorder (16%) and gym-goers the least (11%).
And maybe some of our superwomen are also too tired for sex? Almost a sixth of women didn't have sex at all in the last year - and two thirds of those who say they "don't have sex" also don't masturbate either.
Money may buy happiness for some South African women. The moderately wealthy and the self-employed are the most satisfied at home and self-employed women most likely to be happy (90%) about their work - part-timers are least likely to be happy (40%). An astonishing 90% of women say they're happy (50%) or very happy (40%) with their lives at home and, again, the self-employed are more likely to be very happy (48%) than housewives or the employed. And yet less than half of women (49%) believe they have balance in their lives. Given that the higher income groups are somewhat more likely (58%) than average to feel they have balanced lives, perhaps money also buys balance?
Money stress figured highly for the superwoman; two-thirds of all women are stressed about their finances - even more breadwinners (75%) - and nearly two-thirds (64%) think their income isn't sufficient. Over three-quarters of women have personal debt and 70% of women believe they have not saved enough for retirement. Over a fifth of women hide their savings and half of all housewives have secret savings.
Risks, vices and the joys of sex
Almost half of women have never smoked and nearly a fifth of women say they've never touched a drop of alcohol - particularly Asian/Indian women (45%).
Of the potential alcoholics, over three-quarters of them are white (79%). Almost half of women victims of crime are binge-drinkers (46%). Women who have never drunk alcohol are more likely than heavy drinkers to feel unsafe at home and married women feel more unsafe at home than unmarried women.
Half of SA women never use a condom . with two-thirds of these believing it's highly unlikely they'll contract HIV/AIDS. Almost two-thirds of white women never use a condom. Thirty-eight percent of all women have had an unplanned pregnancy.
Over three-quarters of women say they enjoy sex most of (45%) or all of the time (33%). Apparently, having a child increases the joy of sex, particularly among women with children under a year old, because a whopping 90% of them said they enjoy it most of or all of the time.
Maturity also increases sexual enjoyment - 56% of 40-44 year-olds enjoy it all the time. While the trend is for gay women to have sex less regularly than straight women, an amazing 90% of them say they enjoy sex either most or all of the time. A quarter of those who are undecided about their sexual orientation don't have sex at all. Four percent of women fake orgasm all the time and, curiously, of these almost two-thirds say they enjoy sex all the time.
Not that liberated
Nearly half of women say they never masturbate (45%) and only 16% of straight women have a sex toy - compared with half of other sexual orientations.
Also half of women are against abortion on demand and more than half (55%) of women who haven't had children think abortion should never be permitted under any circumstances - even rape. Ironically, women who never use a condom were most likely to think abortion should never be permitted. Black and white women were the most conservative about abortion.
A huge 90% of students and 94% of school learners want affirmative action for women and nearly two-thirds of women are positive about South Africa's future (87% of black women are positive while less than half of white women share this sentiment (48%).
The 2007 Female Nation Survey reveals that superwoman is alive and well and living in South Africa but it has also thrown the spotlight on some anomalies.
women24.com editor-in-chief, Sam Wilson says: "South African women are an interesting bunch. It almost seems as if they've taken on the burden and financial responsibility of family and work life but remain quite sexually and politically conservative. It'll be interesting to see how this changes over the next five to ten years. The huge happiness quotient is great news, though. Yay us!"