By many objective measures, the lives of women in the United States have improved over the past 35 years, yet we show that measures of subjective well-being indicate that women's happiness has declined both absolutely and relative to men. The paradox of women's declining relative well-being is found across various datasets, measures of subjective well-being, and is pervasive across demographic groups and industrialized countries. Relative declines in female happiness have eroded a gender gap in happiness in which women in the 1970s typically reported higher subjective well-being than did men. These declines have continued and a new gender gap is emerging -- one with higher subjective well-being for men.
No argument there. It is supported across the board, for example, Susan Etheridge for The New York Times reports:
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.
But all the achievements of the feminist era may have delivered women to greater unhappiness. In the 1960s, when Betty Friedan diagnosed her fellow wives and daughters as the victims of “the problem with no name,” American women reported themselves happier, on average, than did men. Today, that gender gap has reversed. Male happiness has inched up, and female happiness has dropped. In postfeminist America, men are happier than women. This is “The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness,” the subject of a provocative paper from the economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers.
Susan Etheridge herself warns that, ‘All this ambiguity lends itself to broad-brush readings.’ That’s true and everyone will have his or her explanation, along the lines of his or her particular beef about society. Here are a few possible explanations which have been advanced:
1. Women aren’t fulfilling their biological function these days, a corollary of Tim Worstall’s ‘can’t do everything at once’ take:
There are always opportunity costs … with more choices comes a problem: there are more things that we cannot do. One cannot be both a childless career woman and a stay at home mother. One cannot be a career woman with children and simultaneously be a career woman without. As the number of possible paths increases so must the number of paths not taken. And as we all know, the true cost of something is what you give up to get it.
So, taking any one path means forsaking all those other paths, those number of paths which have in recent decades been rising in numbers. Thus the paradox of choice, that more such can make us subjectively less happy. But if you ask people whether having fewer choices would make them happier, no one ever actually says that yes, it would.
This comes out below where women’s thirst for perfection is commented on.
2. One female explanation is:
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.
3. The lady also posits:
Decline of the two-parent family, for instance, is almost certainly depressing life satisfaction for the women stuck raising kids alone.
4. Another of hers:
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.
Warm, nurturing? The EU? Let’s move on.
5. Yet another:
They should also be able to agree that the steady advance of single motherhood threatens the interests and happiness of women.
That’s a whole topic in itself.
6. Meghan O'Rourke argues:
[The] drop in happiness is pegged to an anxiety caused by the plethora of choices available (Barry Schwarz's paradox of choice) and women's feeling that they have to perform well across more categories. This is not exactly the same as struggling to balance so-called work and life (i.e., children).
7. She quotes the study’s authors as saying:
Men's happiness has dropped, too, but not as much as women's. But … it's likely that women are measuring their happiness over time using a broader set of criteria. [It] may be, paradoxically, that the women's movement has decreased women's happiness at this moment in time, because "the increased opportunity to succeed in many dimensions may have led to an increased likelihood in believing that one's life is not measuring up."
8. I’d personally like to say that we shouldn’t forget that the recession, the age of materialism, avarice, crippling debt and disempowerment equally affect the genders and so, is a contributing factor.
Those are the explanations you’re likely to see in the media and yet there are others which many unsung writers and men themselves advance. These don’t see the light of day because those controlling the media don’t allow them to be published.
Having it all
It’s in the nature of a woman to seek perfection and an onwards and upwards path to improvement and better things, hence her attempts to change her man.
There’s the old joke about men being like computers – if she’d waited just a bit longer, she might have had a better model. If enough women feel this way, it becomes societally destabilizing.
Perhaps the modern western woman’s greatest source of unhappiness is her fear that she may be missing out on something, that she may have left some stone unturned, that if she follows Path A, Path B might have delivered her a better result.
The natural consequence of this is that she ends up in an anxious golden cage as she goes into her middle years and old age alone, even within a marriage, perhaps with her children as her comfort until they grow up and move out.
As Meghan O'Rourke said about this ‘having it all’ attitude of the western woman:
I've always hated the phrase "having it all" for its tyrannical insistence on impossible perfection. Does this mean it's finally time to put that phrase to rest in the cemetery of bad language?
The evidence is quite strong that it is a female thing – look at the divorce statistics and who instigates them. I've been round the web and the various figures range form 65-80%. If we settle on 70%, that seems a fairly accurate number.
Women in the 60s saw the chance of becoming equal, of striding the stage alongside men and while that’s a noble motive, it’s not without its cost, as Tim Worstall wrote above.
One lady warns:
Then I meet women in their 40s who are devastated because they spent two decades working on a PhD or becoming a partner in a law firm, and they missed out on having a family. Thanks to the feminist movement, they discounted their biological clocks. They’ve missed the opportunity and they’re bereft.
A mother comments
If you are a true feminist you seem to be driven by your career and proving that you can do anything a man can and should get equal pay and treatment, so why put kids in the middle of that?
Another consequence of this behaviour is that it casts men in the role of mere ancillary adjuncts to a woman’s life, not as an equal partner and men do see that.
Whether they like it or not, women’s attitudes to men have changed in proportion to the degree that the educational institutions, the law, the press and government interference in human relations has also reached an all time high.
As Patricia Sexton pointed out in "The Feminized Male" (1969):
In the last generation we have built a society that is severely inhospitable to men and boys. When one considers the four- to fivefold increase in youth crime, drug use, emotional illness, educational failure during the same period, it's clear whose interests have been served and whose injured.
It’s not just women themselves – it’s the combination of women, government and key positions in society, e.g. the family law courts which have caused this to be exacerbated. There were definite wrongs to be righted in the 50s and 60s but the agenda was hijacked in the second wave, by the so-called ‘leadership’ of the movement.
Minette Marrin wrote:
…when I recently wanted to write a book called The Misandrist, my publisher told me the title would be incomprehensible. This is odd, because there is misandry all around us, even if it is a feeling that dares not speak its name.
There is a terrible danger that these attitudes are going to alienate men from women even more tragically than nature did in the first place ... Of course it is not difficult to understand misandry. But it would be a tragic mistake to be as unjust to men as they have traditionally been to us. Yet that is what women seem constantly tempted to do.
F.L. Morton & Rainer Knopff, in The Charter Revolution & The Court Party (p.75), state:
Contemporary (or second wave) feminism has aptly been described as "Marxism without economics", since feminists replace class with gender as the key social construct. Of course, what society constructs can be deconstructed.
This is the feminist project: to abolish gender difference by transforming its institutional source — the patriarchal family. Certain streams of the Gay Rights movement have taken this analysis one step further.
The problem is not just sexism but heterosexism, and the solution is to dismantle not just the patriarchal family but the heterosexual family as such.
Melissa Scowcroft asks the question - who is responsible for the breakdown of society?
So, who or what is culpable? Well, feminism, of course - specifically ideological feminists, who, with their "relentless hostility towards men as a class of enemy aliens," have brainwashed the populace into the belief that "the only good man is either a corpse or a woman." The result, Nathanson and Young contend, is a level of anti-male sentiment that justifies comparison to Jewish persecution.
Christina Hoff-Sommers argues, in Who Stole Feminism: How Women Have Betrayed Women, that feminist misandry leads directly to misogyny by what she calls "establishment feminists" against (the majority of) women who love men.
Judith Levine, in My Enemy, My Love commented:
Man-hating is an emotional problem inasmuch as it creates pain and hostility between women and men. But it is not an individual neurosis à la 'Women Who Hate Men and the Men Who...' Man-hating is a collective, cultural problem — or to refrain from diagnosing it at all, a cultural phenomenon — and men, as the object of man-hating, are part of it too.
The essential problem for women is that they have been poisoned by the misandrists who appeared to be their champions but in fact led to their downfall, many of these champions as mad as hatters.
The mind of a feminist
Commenting on Virginia Woolf, Cassandra posted:
Theodore Dalrymple decries the icon of women's literature Three Guineas as the locus classicus of self-pity and victimhood and suggests an alternative title: "How to be Privileged and Yet Feel Extremely Aggrieved".
Current Postmoderns must have taken several leaves out of the Woolf book, as she is no doubt the uncrowned queen of the ludicrous equation and false analogy; of logic so bent it could put the kitchen plumbing to shame.
Unrestrained emotions and high strung aesthetics notwithstanding, Woolf leaves our contemporary Pomos far behind in the use of false analogies and the inability to distinguish metaphor from literal truth.
She ... collapse[s] all relevant moral distinctions, a technique vital to all schools of resentment ...
Here is another prime example of the feminist mindset and these people have not yet died out. A Feminist Companion to Shakespeare by Dympna Callaghan:
The question is not whether Shakespeare studies needs feminism, but whether feminism needs Shakespeare. This is the explicitly political approach taken by all-women team of contributors to A Feminist Companion to Shakespeare.
Choice magazine, who should have known better, called it a ‘classic of Feminist Shakespeare criticism’.
These attitudes have alienated men. Women can rail against this all they like but the simple truth is that there is not only deep anger at the way the government has ridden in on the feminists coat tails and stacked society against the man but it has created a deep and abiding mistrust between men and women.
Juliet Pain [whose blog is now stopped] wrote:
Relationships forged out of this obligatory and mutual distrust are so often going nowhere, right from the start.
Two prime culprits are the statutes which now legally prevent couples coming to an agreement on the distribution of property and the implementers of those statues - the warlock-hunting CSA [take your pick of links].
Prenuptials notwithstanding, gentleman and lady agreements notwithstanding, the state now says to the woman – whatever you and he agreed is of no consequence. If he was fool enough to offer you something, not only do you get that but we’ll also now look at the carving up of his remaining property and the CSA will help you maximize that.
Again, whether women agree that this is the state of affairs or not, that is inconsequential. The relevant thing is that MEN BELIEVE IT IS SO.
There was a local case in this area some time back where a man who ran a business employing a large number of staff separated from his wife, who then invoked the state to get some of the supposed ‘millions’ for herself. He sold off the entire business and tried to place his loyal staff in other positions, sold off all his assets and lived in a modest dwelling, retired from his working life, made her a one-off payment of a couple of hundred thousand, telling her to take it or leave it and after considerable litigation, he was shown to be on firm legal ground and that’s what she ended up with.
The consequence of the whole viperous and acrimonious atmosphere prevailing today is that men will not come near a western woman, knowing full well what is in store. Couple that with the new promiscuity where women sleep with anyone these days, [they call this ‘empowerment’ and ‘choice’], then what are the incentives for any young man to marry, to take his responsibilities?
He has the nooky on tap with any ‘enlightened’ female, the only thing he really wants, without any of the pesky downside. Young women are abetting this, giving it all away, getting pregnant and claiming benefits.
Thus we have a society of single people developing, especially single mothers. 51% of U.S. women live alone and I don't know for the UK. So there's something very, very wrong, isn't there?
Adding fuel to this is the ‘career woman’ mentioned above, in control of her destiny, living alone with her children and bringing a man in as and when necessary.
This does not lead to ultimate happiness, much as Gloria Steinem might mockingly say:
A woman without a man is a like a fish without a bicycle.
Women are now beginning to wake up that they can’t demand it all and then expect men to go along with that. Misandry leads to misogyny and indifferent to a man’s needs leads to misogyny as well. What do women really want – to have a society where there is no recognizable male-female connect beyond the act?
If you haven't experienced it yet, then you're missing the finest experience money can't buy - the ongoing [and that's the key] chemistry in a loving union between one man and one woman.
Contrast that with Alison Jagger, in Political Philosophies of Women's Liberation: Feminism and Philosophy (Totowa, NJ: Littlefield, Adams & Co. 1977), who wrote:
"The end of the biological family will also eliminate the need for sexual repression. Male homosexuality, lesbianism, and extramarital sexual intercourse will no longer be viewed in the liberal way as alternative options... the very 'institution of sexual intercourse' where male and female each play a well-defined role will disappear. Humanity could finally revert to its natural polymorphously perverse sexuality".
Pity we can't get a photo of Alison - she's awfully shy about it.
Is that what women are striving for? Let me ask you girls - do you really want a SNAG or would you prefer a man? If you can't handle a man, perhaps you should ask yourself why.
The system is set up now where there is a strong pressure on people not to marry, for fear of what will happen.
People will not commit. Full stop. Period.
If a man marries, she only has to claim ‘mental cruelty’ and she has a nice little nest egg to take with her to the next man or into her new single life with the kids.
It appears that some in the judiciary wish to address this matter but here’s how they go about it:
Robert Verkaik, Legal Affairs Correspondent for the Independent, wrote an article entitled: Divorce laws 'are destroying marriage'.
Also note the companion article: Making divorce humane. Humane, tolerant, all the things that the modern woman and progressive man would subscribe to, right?
So this is going to be all about protecting the insitution of marriage, right?
Not a bit of it. It’s about removing the ‘fault’ clause of what Verkaik calls ‘quicky divorces’. He quotes Lord Justice Wall, whom he calls ‘one of Britain's foremost family law judges’:
"I do believe strongly in the institution of marriage as the best way to bring up children and that's one of the reasons why I would like to end the quick and easy divorces based on the fault system.”
What this piece of duplicitous legerdemain fails to mention is that Wall is by no means concerned with ending ‘quick and easy divorces’ but with actually accelerating them by imposing NO criteria whatsoever.
Fathers groups know all about this man and his solutions, so how does Verkaik respond to their calling Wall out?
“Nicholas Wall's judgments often attract the unwanted attention of fathers' groups whose members have posted his name on the internet and sent him hate mail.”
Is that a reasoned, unbiased summation of what fathers groups are about? Fathers groups came about for precisely the same reason that feminism came about – there was a societal problem which needed addressing and as fathers are swimming against the tide now, just as the women were, in the late 50s, thus both pressure groups were formed.
You can’t have it both ways. There IS a problem in the way men are being treated in family matters. If there wasn’t, there would simply be no movement. Verkaik is no better nor worse than the rest of them but he is typical.
The western governments, with their mindless ‘positive discrimination’, have created a situation where a divorce where both parties once came to a mutual agreement about property and custody either by themselves or as the result of arbitration is now no longer possible. So if he agrees to let her have the second home and a certain amount of support if she’ll then get off his back and if they agree and go through with this, she can still invoke the law to demand the statutory rights on top of that.
The system is slanted towards the woman who usually retains custody. CSAs around the western world are at one in this highway robbery and whether you ladies reading this hotly dispute it or not, that’s irrelevant. - this is what divorced fathers believe, THIS IS WHAT DIVORCED FATHERS BELIEVE, other young men see it too and wouldn’t get caught in marriage with a western woman for anything.
For example, whom do pre-nups benefit?
If you say they are to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of property ‘when’ the marriage falters, then what the hell is the point of marrying? Nice way to go into it, isn’t it, planning the carve-up before you both start?
One woman notes:
The ease with which people can get divorced these days doesn’t take into account the toll on children. That’s all part of the unfinished business of feminism.
One lady commenter at Yahoo wrote:
More couples are getting divorced because women no longer see the importance of a dad/husband in the family's life. They think they can and should do it all on their own and no one should tell them otherwise. This leads to higher rates of sexual activity among teenage girls who do not have a father figure that is prominent in their lives.
I have no personal axe to grind in this post. Our agreements were made before the government waded in and [so far] all parties are happy. Unless the government makes its legislation retrospective by some decades, then not a lot will change.
I’ve also had 12 years out of the country with women who were sane, women who preferred to concentrate on being women, allowing me to concentrate on trying to be a man for them. I have no complaints and judging from the correspondence back and forth, there don’t seem too many complaints from that direction.
I fully subscribe to Sackerson’s maxim above.
So this post is not personal. It is the result of watching and listening to people, with dismay, observing the unfolding scenario in the west [and sadly, now beginning in Russia] which human beings, male and female, seem incapable of influencing for the better.
What can be done?
Part 2 of 2 is here.