m.snowe’ll show you unhappy…
Sometimes m.snowe just wants to shake her head in shame when she reads stuff. And it seems like the NYT really enjoys giving her whiplash. We’re talking about this article, written by Mr. Ross Douthat (and m.snowe can only assume “Douthat” translates loosely into “man with no solid foundation for argument or even worthwhile sensationalist reporting”).
m.snowe has nothing against men writing about “feminist” topics–but she would at least appreciate some effort not to stereotype, and at least the vaguest of attempts at not being all chauvinist-piggy. m.snowe will address her issues in full, but let’ s start with one of the most glaring infractions, which she simply can’t let lie:
“Or perhaps the problem is political — maybe women prefer egalitarian, low-risk societies, and the cowboy capitalism of the Reagan era had an anxiety-inducing effect on the American female. But even in the warm, nurturing, egalitarian European Union, female happiness has fallen relative to men’s across the last three decades.”
Yes, Douthat is merely throwing out this reasoning as a suggestion–but his notion that it might actually be valid is what makes it so appalling and stereotypical. Women as this fuzzy, separate species are better attuned to “low-risk societies,” and can’t handle all that male-dominated “cowboyism.” Sorry, but is this article talking about cattle ranching, and not about women in leadership positions? Because last time we checked, Steve Jobs or his ilk aren’t going out and lassoing themselves a bull–they’re running corporations with the same know-how any woman can wield given the same chances. Not to get personal, but Douthat, did your mother not love you as much as you’d have liked as a child? Did you always wish for the warmer, more nurturing bosoms of European dowagers? Or maybe you’re just confused with the respect and impartiality that women have shown you in your life as opposed to the disrespectful treatment of some males in your circle? Are you so harsh on your own sex to suggest that men cannot be equally nurturing and warm? Oh, and women enjoy low-risk societies? Excuse m.snowe, but she’s fairly certain it was mostly the high-level men of the United States administrative branch (self-identified “cowboys”) who devised the whole “threat level” scale and spent years dithering about national security, and parlayed the universal need for a low-risk society to prop up their own political agendas. Fear mongering only works if people don’t like being afraid. Oh (Again), and women weren’t the only ones anxious about Reagan, that can be verified. m.snowe knows many red-blooded American males that break out into cold sweats when Reagan is invoked during a debate (and for good reason!).
But let’s to the opening paragraph–shall we?
“American women are wealthier, healthier and better educated than they were 30 years ago. They’re more likely to work outside the home, and more likely to earn salaries comparable to men’s when they do. They can leave abusive marriages and sue sexist employers. They enjoy unprecedented control over their own fertility. On some fronts — graduation rates, life expectancy and even job security — men look increasingly like the second sex.”
Basically, you ladies can do no wrong! Look at all this neato stuff you’ve achieved! Okay, so maybe you still don’t earn as much as men, but you’re plugging away. And you even get to taddle on your abusive boyfriend! Aren’t restraining orders a riot? Okay, so what could possibly be wrong with all these wonderful, liberating things? Wait for it…
“But all the achievements of the feminist era may have delivered women to greater unhappiness…In postfeminist America, men are happier than women.”
Pardon me, but it does not seem that all these wonderful and rightful semi-freedoms are the cause of women’s unhappiness, if there is such a collective thing that can be accurately gauged. Studies have shown that wealth and education are not telling factors in determining a person’s state of happiness. In fact, the amount of these things one has has virtually nothing to do with it–and people who are more successful with more money end up more stressed out across the board. Plus, happiness is relative to your peers–even if you and your peers are all millionaires, the person with the measly 2 million will be constantly jonesin’ for the 200 million-dollar person’s lifestyle. So, with this in mind, IF women were more unhappy, the reason might be that feminism has not done the job entirely–and true gender equality is still just out of reach (duh!). But what kind of editor would say that a totes liberation of women has resulted in an unhappy sex? And then what kind of person would go on to say that not only are women unhappy because they aren’t relegated to baking bread (sorry pastry chefs), but also that somehow their lack of satisfaction has also tipped the scales to make men more happy?
And then Douthat writes this:
“Again, maybe the happiness numbers are being tipped downward by a mounting female workload — the famous “second shift,” in which women continue to do the lion’s share of household chores even as they’re handed more and more workplace responsibility. It’s certainly possible — but as Wolfers and Stevenson point out, recent surveys actually show similar workload patterns for men and women over all.”
This is the internal dialogue Douthat had while making this claim (if m.snowe might be so bold as to read his mind): “Well, I have to mention the whole second-shift thing, but it would invalidate my claim about women being equal and yet not being as happy as men because they would in fact be doing twice the work….hmm….I’ll just stick in some offhand comment about a study on parity of “workload patterns,” oohh and even better, it will be a study conducted by women, so they don’t think I’m a total asshole. Done. Hey honey, what you fixin’ for dinner?”
m.snowe is sorry, but she has witnessed many many times over the second-shift phenomenon, and she can tell you–only in one situation was that second shift a male’s. Also, if you’re claiming that unwed or single motherhood is contributing to unhappiness, how could it NOT be that more women are doing the “second shift?”
And this comes to the most ridiculous part of the editorial: the proposed final solution:
“They should also be able to agree that the steady advance of single motherhood threatens the interests and happiness of women. Here the public-policy options are limited; some kind of social stigma is a necessity.”
A. Um, we understand that not all single motherhood is intentional or advantageous, but this smacks too much of “focus on the family” shit for this blogger’s eyes. Are we really saying that single-parenthood is the cause of women’s unhappiness? Didn’t we just impeach your argument a few paragraphs ago, Mr. Douthat?
B. Listen to my peer A. : “Contemporary America doesn’t seem to be willing to accept sexual stigma, period.” Are you f_ _king KIDDING me? Dude, try being a woman for a day. “Stigma” is about the only word that DOES apply to society’s reaction to sexually active women . (for more info, read this.)
Let’s not forget about this gem:
“In this sense, ours is a kinder, gentler, more forgiving country than it was 40 years ago. But for half the public, it’s an unhappier country as well.”
So, basically, not only is it horrible that women even tried to liberate themselves, it’s turned the country to an inconsolable sobbing mush. And here m.snowe was thinking we were celebrating a renewal of hope?