I have blogged about this before–mainly because it keeps coming up–but I’ve just read a fascinating piece called “Blue Is the New Black” by NYT op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd in which she briefly explores her thesis that modern women are unhappy. (Photo: Adam Polselli)
Here’s a synopsis of her argument:
[T]he more women have achieved, the more they seem aggrieved. Did the feminist revolution end up benefiting men more than women?
According to the General Social Survey, which has tracked Americans’ mood since 1972, and five other major studies around the world, women are getting gloomier and men are getting happier.
Dowd outlines what modern women must juggle in their quest to be happy today:
When women stepped into male- dominated realms, they put more demands — and stress — on themselves. If they once judged themselves on looks, kids, hubbies, gardens and dinner parties, now they judge themselves on looks, kids, hubbies, gardens, dinner parties — and grad school, work, office deadlines and meshing a two-career marriage.
“Choice is inherently stressful,” Buckingham said in an interview. “And women are being driven to distraction.”
Finally, Dowd suggests that one major complicating factor is children:
One area of extreme distraction is kids. “Across the happiness data, the one thing in life that will make you less happy is having children,” said Betsey Stevenson, an assistant professor at Wharton who co-wrote a paper called “The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness.” “It’s true whether you’re wealthy or poor, if you have kids late or kids early. Yet I know very few people who would tell me they wish they hadn’t had kids or who would tell me they feel their kids were the destroyer of their happiness.”The more important things that are crowded into their lives, the less attention women are able to give to each thing.
I don’t know if you care about this piece. But it’s a hum-dinger. Maureen Dowd is a very influential cultural voice. She is a feminist. She is highly successful and driven, as evidenced by her weekly column for the Times. She is admitting, in public, that modern women are unhappy. This is essentially an admission–hold your breath here, deep breath–that feminism is not working. Coming from a feminist, that’s astonishing.
Dowd’s words about children are so telling. Women must work very hard to raise children well. This endeavor entails considerable sacrifice and hardship, especially relative to the kind of libertarian, narcissistic, no-commitment happiness that our culture so chases after. But the problem is this: raising kids is hard work, and unlike many men, they have a hard time leaving responsibility behind (evidence: “deadbeat dads”).
Modern women would hugely benefit from returning to traditional roles. Their current state of unhappiness, as Dowd characterizes it, is a direct result of the influence of feminism. God did not give us roles as a kind of sexual prison; He gave them to us for our good and flourishing. If we reject this plan, coded into both our design and the Word of God, then we will surely suffer.
Modern women are unhappy. Feminism is not working. It is the call of the church of Jesus Christ to image the kind of happy (though by no means easy) life of the biblical home. We do so not merely as a means of witness, in these strange days, but as a means of rescue.