Did Feminism Benefit Men more than Women?

Esther - posted on 10/19/2009 ( 7 moms have responded )

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Maureen Dowd wrote the following column:



Women are getting unhappier.



In the early ’70s, breaking out of the domestic cocoon, leaving their mothers’ circumscribed lives behind, young women felt exhilarated and bold. But the more women have achieved, the more they seem aggrieved.



Did the feminist revolution end up benefiting men more than women?



According to the General Social Survey, which has tracked Americans’ mood since 1972, and five other major studies around the world, women are getting gloomier and men are getting happier.



Before the ’70s, there was a gender gap in America in which women felt greater well-being. Now there’s a gender gap in which men feel better about their lives.



As Arianna Huffington points out in a blog post headlined “The Sad, Shocking Truth About How Women Are Feeling”: “It doesn’t matter what their marital status is, how much money they make, whether or not they have children, their ethnic background, or the country they live in. Women around the world are in a funk.”



(The one exception is black women in America, who are a bit happier than they were in 1972, but still not as happy as black men.)



Marcus Buckingham, a former Gallup researcher who has a new book out called “Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently,” says that men and women passed each other midpoint on the graph of life.



“Though women begin their lives more fulfilled than men, as they age, they gradually become less happy,” Buckingham writes in his new blog on The Huffington Post, pointing out that this darker view covers feelings about marriage, money and material goods. “Men, in contrast, get happier as they get older.”



Buckingham and other experts dispute the idea that the variance in happiness is caused by women carrying a bigger burden of work at home, the “second shift.” They say that while women still do more cooking, cleaning and child-caring, the trend lines are moving toward more parity, which should make them less stressed.



When women stepped into male-dominated realms, they put more demands — and stress — on themselves. If they once judged themselves on looks, kids, hubbies, gardens and dinner parties, now they judge themselves on looks, kids, hubbies, gardens, dinner parties — and grad school, work, office deadlines and meshing a two-career marriage.



“Choice is inherently stressful, and women are being driven to distraction,” Buckingham said.



One area of extreme distraction is kids. “Across the happiness data, the one thing in life that will make you less happy is having children,” said Betsey Stevenson, an assistant professor at Wharton who co-wrote a paper called “The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness.” “It’s true whether you’re wealthy or poor, if you have kids late or kids early. Yet I know very few people who would tell me they wish they hadn’t had kids or who would tell me they feel their kids were the destroyer of their happiness.”



The more important things that are crowded into their lives, the less attention women are able to give to each thing.



Add this to the fact that women are hormonally more complicated and biologically more vulnerable. Women are much harder on themselves than men.



They tend to attach to other people more strongly, beat themselves up more when they lose attachments, take things more personally at work and pop far more antidepressants.



“Women have lives that become increasingly empty,” Buckingham said. “They’re doing more and feeling less.”



Another daunting thing: America is more youth- and looks-obsessed than ever, with an array of expensive cosmetic procedures that allow women to be their own Frankenstein Barbies.



Buckingham says that greater prosperity has made men happier. And they are also relieved of bearing sole responsibility for their family finances, and no longer have the pressure of having women totally dependent on them.



Men also tend to fare better romantically as time wears on. There are more widows than widowers, and men have an easier time getting younger mates.



Stevenson looks on the bright side of the dark trend, suggesting that happiness is beside the point. We’re happy to have our newfound abundance of choices, she said, even if those choices end up making us unhappier.



A paradox, indeed



http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/opinio...





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What do you think?

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Sara - posted on 10/19/2009

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"Another daunting thing: America is more youth- and looks-obsessed than ever, with an array of expensive cosmetic procedures that allow women to be their own Frankenstein Barbies."



I think this has more to do with the happiness of women as they age than trying to say that is it feminsim that has made us unhappy. Men get better looking as they age, women just age (by societal standards). Ever read "The Change: Women, Ageing, and the Menopause" by Germaine Greer? She points out that as a culture that is youth obsessed, when a woman is past her "usefulness" as a bearer of children, she becomes disposable and invisible in society....isn't that depressing?

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Jodi - posted on 10/19/2009

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Quoting Laura:

I think...that when they were telling us that we could do ANYTHING, they forgot to tell us that we didn't have to do EVERYTHING!
 



They also forgot to tell a lot of men this too.  A BIG reason my first marriage broke down - the expectations of my ex-husband were unrealistic, and as a result he became extremely abusive.  In the end, I was the main breadwinner, main childcarer, but "I was the woman, I should be the one in the kitchen" - I was also primarily responsible for the house.  There is an example of how a man benefited more than the woman......except he is now a lonely divorced man blindly still looking for that woman who can do it all!!



I agree that we go into adulthood believing we can do everything, and then feel like failures when we realise we can't.  I am over that now.  I am quite happy to accept I can't do everything :)  But I have a wonderful hubby who contributes hugely to the household chores, and he is a great cook!!



 

Lindsay - posted on 10/19/2009

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Quoting Laura:

I think...that when they were telling us that we could do ANYTHING, they forgot to tell us that we didn't have to do EVERYTHING!

I am blessed with a man who helps with everything...he truly believes that the house is half his work...if I don't get something done, he does it, we're a team.

I know too many women who think they can (and should) do it all.



That statement says exactly how I feel.



 



I have a very good friend that is extremely book smart but let's just say that she is a little lacking in common sense. ( I do love her dearly though!) She excelled in school and graduated with her masters with a 4.0. She's a sex therapist and has a big long list of goals. I can remember when Madeline was just born and she was telling me all about her "plan". She was going to become a sex therapist (which she has), get married, have 5 kids, continue to work, fix dinner each night from scratch, keep an immaculate house, and so on and so on. She's a very determined person and doesn't know how to settle down and just enjoy the moment for what it is. She doesn't celebrate accomplishments because she's setting her mind for what's next on the list. I hate that she may never enjoy herself because in her strive for perfection that is set so high, if/when she does get there, she'll be too tired to realize it.



 



As women in general, I think we have so many opportunities that we often feel the pressure to not settle and strive for better. While that is a good quality to have, we maybe miss the small things that make life worth living.

Jocelyn - posted on 10/19/2009

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Quoting Mary:

I think a huge factor that this article failed to touch on is expectations.

We are raising our girls today to believe that they CAN do and have it all...career, romance, children, etc. They enter adulthood with such high expectations for what their future will hold...and when it doesn't all live up to their dreams, many spend the rest of their lives feeling somehow betrayed by how difficult it is to juggle all those things, and feeling like a failure if they couldn't carry it ALL off well.



Wonderfully said; I think you hit the nail on the head here.



My life certainly isn't living up to what I [was lead to] believed my life would be like.  And that does seem to put a bit of a damper on things.



But it seems to me to be a catch 22; I'm not going to tell my daughter that she can only do certian things with her life.  Guess I'll just help set her up for disapointment!

Isobel - posted on 10/19/2009

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I think...that when they were telling us that we could do ANYTHING, they forgot to tell us that we didn't have to do EVERYTHING!

I am blessed with a man who helps with everything...he truly believes that the house is half his work...if I don't get something done, he does it, we're a team.

I know too many women who think they can (and should) do it all.

Natalie - posted on 10/19/2009

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I was going to say basically the same thing as Sara. I'll add that I do think that women are sharing financial burdens now, but that men still feel emasculated by doing "women's work" so that burden has not been shared as equally. Also, we're mad about getting paid less to do the same job as men. This means that generally, more is expected of a working woman than a working man. It doesn't matter if she's an executive, a woman with a messy home is not good enough, even though a man making more than her in the same job can have a raunchy bachelor's pad or a sweet wife at home to do the chores and still be considered a successful person. (A lot of the time,) It seems like women are set up to fail, while men are set up to succeed.

Mary - posted on 10/19/2009

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I think a huge factor that this article failed to touch on is expectations.



We are raising our girls today to believe that they CAN do and have it all...career, romance, children, etc. They enter adulthood with such high expectations for what their future will hold...and when it doesn't all live up to their dreams, many spend the rest of their lives feeling somehow betrayed by how difficult it is to juggle all those things, and feeling like a failure if they couldn't carry it ALL off well.



I look at my own life, in comparison to my mother's, and really, it's not too hard to see where she may have been "happier" at this stage in her life. When I was the same age as my daughter, my mother was 26, newly pregnant with my sister, and "taking a break" from nursing to be a SAHM. This was the norm in 1971. My father was then, and throughout their marriage, not only the breadwinner, but the one who managed their finances, and took on all the burden of worrying and planning their financial future. My mother did not return to work (8 hrs/week) until my sister was 2. Both sets of my grandparents lived locally, and neither grandmother worked...they were always willing and available to take my sister and I whenever needed.



I had Molly at the age of 38. Three weeks prior to delivery, my husband was laid off from his mediocre job. Because I had been financially responsible prior to our marriage, I was still able to stay home for 13 weeks. I returned to my job, working 3 NIGHTS a week as an L&D nurse. My husband has found employment, but it is nowhere near enough for me to reduce my hours. My daughter is not in daycare...we rotate our schedules around each other, and utilize my parents about 8 hrs a week to avoid this. What this typically translates into is ME loosing out on sleep to make this work. I pay all the bills, do the bulk of the shopping, dog care and other "mommy" type things (clothes, dr appts, pictures, etc). Some of that is my choice, and some of it is because he is simply not capable. My parents so help...but I have to arrange this around their many social obligations, and extensive travel plans. For example, I will have to use a few vacation days when they go away for 3 weeks in Feb, or simply go 24 hours without sleep.



Understand, I am NOT complaining...Molly is my fondest dream come true!!! BUT...is my life harder than my mother's? Do I carry more responsibility for my family? Well, yes, probably so.

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