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"Being happy is not a feminist issue"

(217 Posts)
HerBeX Thu 25-Aug-11 09:46:40

This caught my eye on another thread, but I didn't want to de-rail and I thought it was interesting in the context of marriages, relationships etc.

My immediate response was "isn't it"?

On one level, of course it isn't, it's an overall human issue (but that's true of lots of feminist issues too).

But then I thought, well, there's this whole hetero-normative monogamy propaganda out there, women are constantly being told that the way to gain happiness is to bag a man and live with him until one of you dies and yet nearly half of all marriages now end in divorce, usually instigated by women, because clearly that hasn't made them happy - or maybe it made them happy for a while but no longer does?

Mumsnet is full of threads with unhappy women asking why they are unhappy and so far as I can see, it's generally bcause their DP's have an enormous sense of entitlement which neither partner has analysed or realised is there and so therefore can never be effectively addressed. And because men and women appear to expect very different things from marriage and partnership. And surely feminism arose from the big enlightenment question of how can people be happy. Feminism arose because lots of women realised that many of the causes of women's unhappiness, were structural rather than just individual.

All of which are feminist issues and possibly interesting enough to kick a few thoughts around?

Truckrelented Thu 25-Aug-11 09:58:38

I think women instigate divorce more because men believe they have more to lose, not seeing their children, paying maintenance, moving out the family home etc.

I think you read about women unhappy with their partners on here because this is Mumsnet and is 99% women (that's a guess)

I'm a member of another forum and unhappiness seems pretty unevenly split.

Answer: Don't believe marriage is for life.

Also the threads I read on here, If the man leaves he's a heartless bastard, if the women leaves she deserves to be happy. Why is this?

Disclaimer: I'm not an MRA, never met one, don't want to, and I'm very happy with my life, likhave no problems with women and see lots of my children.

motherinferior Thu 25-Aug-11 10:02:54

Perhaps it's more that 'being fulfilled is a feminist issue'? The two are, clearly, related.

MitchiestInge Thu 25-Aug-11 10:08:38

I thought it was one of those quite widely accepted things that marriage makes women miserable and men happier, with the converse being true - single men more miserable

do I mean converse?

HerBeX Thu 25-Aug-11 10:17:05

"I think women instigate divorce more because men believe they have more to lose, not seeing their children, paying maintenance, moving out the family home etc."

I completely disagree with this. Women know that they have masses to lose by divorce, being a single mother is a terrible stigma - just look at how all it takes is something like riots for all those mysogynist attitudes to jump back out from under the rocks they'd been under - they know that most divorced fathers don't pay maintenance anyway and where they do it's a pittance and they are going to have to juggle work and childcare without the backup of a partner who may be useless but is at least physically there. Along with the loss of status and income that being divorced means for women - on average, five years after divorce, men have more disposable income than they had when they were married, while women have less. Women have just as much to lose from divorce as men have, just as much reason to fear it and yet they still initiate more divorces than men do. I don't think it's because men fear it more, I think it's because they get more benefit from marriage and partnership than women do.

Yes fulfilment is the word that's usually used MI, rather than happiness. But what's the difference?

motherinferior Thu 25-Aug-11 10:19:52

For me, it is the connotations that are to do with work - paid, unpaid, domestic and emotional. But then I do come at this from a perspective of someone who cannot, for instance, imagine housework to be fulfilling. (Housework as opposed to childcare, or indeed cooking. I like cooking.)

edd1337 Thu 25-Aug-11 10:21:11

Being a single mother is quite the norm nowadays that doesn't really carry that much stigma. At least not as much as it used to. Can you blame the men who don't pay when the vindictive ex stops them from seeing the children? Not defending their actions here, just saying

SardineQueen Thu 25-Aug-11 10:22:29



Having children has cost me my mental health (temporarily I hope). So it has made me very "unhappy".

I was not aware that this was a possibility. Well I knew about PND, but that was it. Now I discover that longer term mental health issues are pretty common and women everywhere now are on ADs, 30 years ago they were on valium, 50 years ago they were drunk, 80 years ago they were on opium and all sorts.

This is most definitely a feminist issue.

SardineQueen Thu 25-Aug-11 10:25:05

edd do you believe that all the men who aren't paying (I don't have the figure at my fingertips but it is a huge proportion on men who contribute nothing) are doing that because their exes vindictively prevent them seeing their children?

edd1337 Thu 25-Aug-11 10:26:52

Don't believe that at all. Some men genuinly struggle to afford it, some are just selfish, there's lots of reasons. That's just one of them

Is being a single mother still a stigma? Surely my generation (I'm 32) don't see it that way? I've certainly never heard any of my peers condemn the mothers, but plenty happy to string the feckless fathers up. My view on single mothers is that they're kind of heroic. I thought that was now the more accepted viewpoint tbh.

As for being happy...Well, it's not just a feminist issue. People who aren't feminists, and would never call themselves such, still struggle with feeling overwhelmed, or powerless, or trapped by circumstance. And you can be single and miserable, or happily married but miserable in your career for example.

HerBeX Thu 25-Aug-11 10:30:19

edd most women who don't allow their exes to see their children, do so because the exes are fucking their children around, letting them down and using them as ammunition in their continuing battle with their mother.

And yes, I do blame men who don't pay even where their exes won't let them see their children - it's forcing their children to pay for the fact that they are angry with their exes. No decent parent would do that to their kids. 60% of lone parents do not receive maintenance, that's not because they're all withholding access and the ones who do, are a tiny minority which the media love to go on aobut because it feeds into the image of vicious lone parent.

As for your absurd assertion that there's no stigma to being a single mother nowadays, you obviously haven't read the papers, listened to the radio or watched the TV recently. It's open season on lone parents in the wake of the riots and you yourself have just repeated that misogynist myth of the harpy ex wife who don't let their blameless exes see their children.

HerBeX Thu 25-Aug-11 10:31:45

Please don't anyone tell me there's no stigma to being a lone parent anymore.

Have you lot not seen the telly recently?

Have you not heard the shit people are coming out with about how all the riots are the fault of single parents?

No stigma? Really? I've certainly felt the stigma recently. sad

edd1337 Thu 25-Aug-11 10:32:43

And if the man does pay, the woman usually spends it on herself. Yep, totally fair

Bonsoir Thu 25-Aug-11 10:32:45

HerBex - I do not dispute your assertion that men's enormous sense of entitlement is at the root of many a marital dispute. But I think that many women have a similarly inflated sense of entitlement that also contributes to marital discord and breakdown.

HerBeX Thu 25-Aug-11 10:37:14

"And if the man does pay, the woman usually spends it on herself. Yep, totally fair"

OK I'm not going to engage with you again edd, you're using this thread in order to repeat misogynist hate-speak about single mothers and that's boring.

To get back to the subject, Bonsoir, what is women's sense of entitlement, how does it differ from men's, where does it come from and how does it make women unhappy? Also, how does this sense of entitlement link into feminism?

MitchiestInge Thu 25-Aug-11 10:40:32

did I imagine all those studies about how marriage makes women more miserable and men happier?

<also ignores edd> Perhaps women have been conditioned to feel entitlement over their children in some cases because it's the only thing they are allowed to have power over? <musing out loud> I'm not saying that's the case in all circumstances, but isn't it human nature to use whatever you have in order to survive?

I genuinely didn't think that the single mother stigma still existed HerBeX. When I've heard it shouted, it's always by the same people that blame forriners for taking all the jobs. So I tend to ignore them, and assumed so did everyone else.

Did those stuies ever come to any conclusions as to why that was? Surely a happy marriage is beneficial to both partners.

SardineQueen Thu 25-Aug-11 10:45:19

Yes those people are the government though chickens so it's not like it's some minor tiny fringe of loons that we can ignore. They hold the public purse strings and form policy.

Bennifer Thu 25-Aug-11 10:46:35


"did I imagine all those studies about how marriage makes women more miserable and men happier?"

I think you may have done. The following happiness league table gets bandied about here a lot (or something along these lines)...

Married Men
Single Women
Married Women
Single Men

... and I've not seen the evidence for it. The evidence I've seen is that marriage makes both men and women happier

MitchiestInge Thu 25-Aug-11 10:46:48

I don't remember but happy that wasn't imagining own visibility on here chickens

ninjasquirrel Thu 25-Aug-11 10:47:04

MitchiestInge - nope, I've seen that too but now can't find it on Google.

I think 'being happy' depends on different elements, some of which are feminist issues and some not. This list is from some research I saw referenced recently:
- social identity - feeling valued by those close to you and respected to some extent by wider society
- love and friendship
- having some control over your own life, being able to take decisions
- feeling secure and not worried about the future
- being able to spend time doing activities you enjoy

Oh, ok. I didn't realise government officials were blaming single parents for the riots. I genuinely thought society had moved past making such scapegoats. I admit that I'm not a single parent, though, so am only viewing things from the sidelines.

HerBeX Thu 25-Aug-11 10:48:09

Oh god they own the press and the tv schedules as well.

Even on radio 4 there's all this shit atm about single parents being to blame for the riots - and this was before anyone actually knew who these rioters were. The people who hate single mothers were absolutely delighted to have an opportunity to spout their hatred again, the riots are like a christmas present to them.

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