Women’s Liberation = Unhappiness?

First, apologies for our lack of posting over the last month. The end of the semester was crazier than usual and the blog got lost in the shuffle, but we’re back. We will likely have a lighter posting scheduled over the summer, but promise to try not to disappear for almost a month again.

The New York Times one of the frequent targets of my ire as regular readers of this blog know) published an op-ed piece today titled “Liberated and Unhappy,” in which NYT columinist Russ Douthat argues that the “achievements of the feminist era may have delivered women to greater unhappiness.” While he does avoid drawing conclusions, ultimately he seems to agree that if women are unhappier now than they were in the 1950s, it is indeed due to feminism.

Personally, I think that is the wrong conclusion and would argue that IF women are indeed unhappier now than they were before (and that’s a big if as self-reporting is always suspect and it’s very possible that women in the 1950s studies said they were happy because they felt they were expected to be), that it’s due to too little feminism rather than too much — while things have changed in regard to women’s workforce participation, things at home still far too often to women. It’s hard to be happy when your liberation is only halfway completed. What do you all think?

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2 Comments

  1. Sandy Price
    Posted May 26, 2009 at 5:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thank you for raising this issue. Like Douthat, I, too, believe there have been some unhappy outcomes for women. But I believe the negatives are the result piecemeal reforms. Solving certain problems but not others. I believe that we’ve placed legal bandaides on the most aggregious and obvious aspects of gender discrimination, but we haven’t done enough to change the cultural lense that gave rise to those bad practices in the first instance. While the entire issue is complicated by the very real differences between male and female, nevertheless, our culture favors males in subtle ways that are nearly subconscious and impact gender roles, opportunities and – yes – happiness levels. As faculty for a nonprofit management course, I recommend the following study to my students because it highlights the conscious willingness of male leadership to promote women through the ranks, alongside the blatant reality that they have NOT so promoted women, despite an available and talented pool. This leads one to ponder the unconscious obstacles to true gender equity. http://www.ujc.org/local_includes/downloads/5011.pdf

  2. UMKC Women's Center
    Posted May 26, 2009 at 8:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks for the comment! There have been lots of reactions to the column on feminist blogs today. If you’re interested:
    http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2009/05/mini-brooks-minds-happiness-gap.html

    http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/yes_this_was_published_in_a_major_newspaper_in_the_year_2009/

    http://jezebel.com/5270541/feminism-makes-women-unhappy-and-other-tall-tales

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