Shouldn't we be happier?(12 Posts)
Article in the Guardian here
With all the changes being made under feminism shouldn't we be happier than the second waver's?
That article makes me really cross. No, I don't think there is a 'narcissism epidemic' affecting women. I think women report being less happy than they did in the 70s because they are more aware that they might ask for a fair deal and they're not getting it.
It's not rocket science.
I think you find the answer in the very first paragraph, which is as far as I have got:
"They [women] have considerably more personal freedom; and opportunities for education and employment have been transformed. As a result they have much greater financial independence, which has given them more power to shape their lives".
All that is true until children come along, whereupon women find themselves juggling career and children in a way which men do not.
Also, do women have more personal freedom than in the 1970s? Ideals of beauty are more restrictive, there is porn culture, isn't that all just restrictive in a different way all the while being packaged as liberated and empowered?
Have opportunities for education and employment been transformed? Higher education was free, or at least you got grants in the 1970s. Employment is still dependent on affordable childcare, which is probably better than the 1970s, but still more than many can afford, and the workplace has not changed that much to incorporate family friendly working, there is still a glass ceiling and a pay gap. We are in the middle of a long recession, and women were the biggest losers in recent cuts.
I think it proves that tackling inequality at the level of ideology alone leads to a disconnect between what people believe and the actual facts. You can change the way people think and behave but nothing about the structural underpinnings have changed. I think the pressures upon women to be successful in all areas of their lives shaped according to some media marketed, profit driven and porn saturated culture is making women unhappy.
If you break down the age groups they studied it interesting, young women- expectations about fame and fortune, porn culture and the tendency towards instant gratification over long term fulfilment. Middle ages- neurosis about social status played out through such things as handbags and music lessons for our little darlings. Older women- loneliness, isolation and devalued because they no longer count despite having years of wisdom and experience. I couldn't find anything in the article to disagree with.
I think a lot of it is to do with the fact that while women's roles have changed men's haven't. Its great that women can work but not so great when you are still expected to come home and make a dinner, ferry your kids around, when its you whose expected to work around sick kids etc. And then on top of that you have a society that likes to blame everything from obesity to crime on the fact you want to work.
I am happier than a lot of my friends as I haven't felt the need to get on with my career and spent a lot of the time enjoying my children growing up. Without the pressure of doing well at several things I am very contented. The I want it all and I want it now that I see in a lot of younger women is out there.
I think raising the social value and acknowledging the economic value that "mothers" create in raising the next generation would be a step in the right direction.
So it's our own fault if we are not happy, if we do happen to want both family and career? While it is totally reasonable for men to expect both and nobody is telling them that they "can't have it all".
I wonder what the purpose is of having it all and what precisely constitutes having it all. What is it and if we have it, do we even know we have it? There is no denying that "work" as constituted under capitalism can give some women tremendous self satisfaction and be very rewarding financially too. But I think in part how people FEEL about self realisation is coloured by how we value working for money over working in the home. We measure our value on a MAN made ruler!
"We measure our value on a MAN made ruler!"
Amen to that !!
I'm with Mini on this. Perhaps I picked up different things from the article than others did. I agree that the headlong march to ever more consumerism hasn't made us all more happy. Marketing effectively has the job of convincing you to buy something you don't need so don't want. Most of the time, it does that by creating some form of fear of inadequacy, which their product or service will "cure."
Because there has always been the expectation that women must be attractive (depending on the fashion of the time,) they have been the ideal targets for the fear and consume cycle. So many "fears" have now been created in order to sell products and services (e.g. eyebrow shaping, breast augmentation, hair removal, cellulite reduction, etc.) that women and girls feel ever increasing pressure to conform to an ideal that is increasingly time-consuming and expensive as well as impossible to achieve.
Alongside this, as dublinrose pointed out, women are still expected to take on the lion's share of domestic work and childcare, as well as paid work. Add to that the general pressures of living in a 24/7 society for everyone, it doesn't leave alot of time for r & r.
So, we're not as happy (collectively) as we were back then. Well gosh, who'd have thunk it?
In response to the OP: why should women be happy?
Despite huge progress in the 20th century for women, we still have a pay gap; popular culture that values youth and 'beauty' in women more than anything else; significant numbers of women who are subjected to domestic violence, sexual assault/rape; difficulties finding work that allows us to combine family life and a satisfying and well remunerated employment. And globally women have an appalling time.
Feminism still has some way to go. However, clearly it's not that simple - class, ethnicity etc. also has a lot to do with opportunity, quality of life, and therefore happiness, regardless of gender.
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