George Burns and Gracie Allen
Decline of Female Happiness: The Devaluation of the Female
These Are the 5 Best Countries for Women
Nordic nations are among the best places to be a woman, a survey finds. By Sintia Radu, Staff Writer Jan. 23, 2018, at 12:01 a.m.
Using measurements to rate life satisfaction; European researchers were able to obtain results of a satisfaction survey from 9,000 women on: human rights, gender equality, income equality, progress and safety. The Nordic nations continue to come in first with women and their overall satisfaction with life. In the 16-24-year-old groups, the top countries were: Denmark, German, Netherlands, Austria and Poland. In the 65-74-year-old group, the top countries were Denmark, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands and Finland. Although the US comes in at #8 in overall life satisfaction of the population in general, apparently not so much for women.
Historically, the role of women in society, most societies in the world, was that of mother, wife, grandmother, caretaker, cook, cleaner and bottlewasher. There was a mystical quality to women that men could never define and did not seek to do so. See the clip of George Burns and Gracie Allen. Once again, Gracie pursues her own particular pretzel logic and George simply shrugs philosophically and gets on with his day.
Once upon a time, women were in labor rooms without husbands, at the hairdressers with other women, trying on clothes with other women and shopping and cleaning with other women. Today, there are no ‘hairdressers’ anymore, there are Unisex hair salons, and Unisex toilets. Husbands and boyfriends absolutely clutter up space in Victoria Secret underwear shops ‘helping’ the women pick out lingerie. Keep the door closed when you are trying on a bra, ladies. Although I do think that dads in the delivery room is a good idea; gives them a little idea about how much work it is, but the other stuff. Humm.
Men love to classify, quantify, codify and create measurable units. The main thing that women do, have done and have done for centuries, is to provide the glue that is required to keep the family together and running smoothly. Because this quality cannot be measured the way a paycheck can be measured; people (men) tend to devalue its worth. As women move more and more into the workplace, they are being put into the position of being ‘measurable’ for worth in the same way that men have been. To the point at which the modern male has begun to ‘assert his right’ and demand that the wife go back to work, but that also she brings in ‘adequate’ compensation.
Since men are frequently so unable to either understand or appreciate the non-quantifiable aspects of their wives/mothers, unfortunately, like an old song, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.
The new age woman is overvalued for her looks and pocketbook; so, when her looks are fading, by God, she better start working on the pocketbook. The following article talks about dissatisfaction amongst modern women and the reasons for that. One very important point is birth control. Birth control is a boon to women to help them control the total number of children they choose to have.
However, the negative side of that coin is that modern men, well knowing about birth control, pressure women into having sex outside of marriage. Should a pregnancy occur (heavens!) it is usually considered the woman’s ‘fault’ because she was ‘supposed to handle this.’ Also, the advent of crime-free abortions has put pressure on relationships. There are probably no statistics out there to cover the number of boyfriends and husbands who have insisted that the woman have an abortion. Then, also the relationship breakups that occur in the aftermath of those decisions.
I will tell two stories, to finish my tale of two women I knew and what happened to them.
Birth control pills started really coming on the market in the 60’s and by the 70’s lots of women were taking them. Doctors and pharmaceutical companies kept playing with the dosages of the pills and correcting the levels and by the 80’s, everybody was on the pill. In the early 80’s, I had a female coworker in my office. She was very pretty, actually a former beauty queen and divorced.
She decided that she wanted to get married again and became very dissatisfied with the response of men that she dated. Mostly, the expectation that she ‘put out’. In keeping with her new plan, she decided to do things differently. “No ticky, no laundry.” She would accept dates and inform her shocked companions that she was looking to get married. There would be no ‘putting out’ until there was an engagement ring on her finger. We would be endlessly entertained by stories of men stomping away from her door, enraged at her cheek. Imagine accepting a dinner with no intention of proper payback. Indeed!!!! In the end, she did find a guy willing to play by her rules and they got hitched. Last I heard, they still were married with two kids. Harump!
The second story I have to tell is about a young lady, twenty-eight years of age, to whom I was giving some financial counseling. She was engaged to be married and was living with her fiancée. She came to me after the first wedding was called off and they started to have money problems.
The story was that she was living in Orange county, going to college, when she met him. They got together, he proposed, and she accepted. However; he lived in Los Angeles county. He talked her into moving in with him ‘because they were going to get married anyway.’ Seemed like a good idea until the wedding date approached. He began to demand that she pay half the rent since they were ‘sharing’ the apartment. She was still a college student, working as a waitress and commuting a long distance to school. He was well established in his career and made about four times her pay. He would not back down off his position.
This went on for about two months. I finally recommended that she contact her family in the mid-west and request an airplane ticket to fly home when school was finished. She did, and they sent her one.
As soon as she packed her bag to leave, the guy had a complete breakdown. As a sober alcoholic, he relapsed and drank. A very unhappy ending for everyone.
The lesson here is that the girl in this scenario was always worth way more to him and the relationship than half the rent. She wasn’t just a casual roommate. To try and attempt to put their relationship on a ‘business’ footing was ridiculous. Also, given their very unequal earning abilities, clearly unfair. Nothing short of losing her could get this guy to wake up and smell the coffee.
In households all over the country, men continue to underestimate and undervalue their wives and girlfriends. Women, feeling the disrespect and disregard, are using their new-found earning power to exercise greater options and leave the relationships. Who wins in these situations? There are a lot of egotistical, lonely men out there who are functionally incapable of acknowledging or appreciating any woman over the age of thirty. Too, there are many bitter divorced women who end up convinced that their only value to the man was sex and the size of their paycheck. No one is happy or satisfied and the children of these unhappy breakups will not fair any better. Kids continually take sides on the part of the ‘right’ parent and despise the ‘wrong’ parent.
I lost touch with the young lady from Orange County and don’t know how their relationship ended. However, married or not, I have seen the aftermath of so many similar breakups and divorces to predict the ending.
So, to all the bean counter-men and to all the women who allow themselves to be pigeon-holed into a ‘numbers’ category; know that entire generations of people in this culture and in others have depended on the invisible hands of moms and grandmoms to keep the gears turning. Unfortunately, their efforts defy efforts to quantify and classify. The greatest thing that can be said it the feeling in the room when they are no longer there. Empty.
The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness – Betsey Stevenson
Click to access Stevenson_ParadoxDecliningFemaleHappiness_Dec08.pdf
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. This draft: October 16, 2008
By many measures the progress of women over recent decades has been extraordinary: the gender wage gap has partly closed; educational attainment has risen and is now surpassing that of men; women have gained an unprecedented level of control over fertility; technological change in the form of new domestic appliances has freed women from domestic drudgery; and women’s freedoms within both the family and market sphere have expanded. Blau’s 1998 assessment of objective measures of female well‐being since 1970 finds that women made enormous gains. Labor force outcomes have improved, as women’s real wages have risen for all but the least educated women,women’s wages relative to those of men have increased for women of all races and education levels, and female labor force participation has risen to record levels both absolutely and relative to that of men (Blau and Kahn 2007). In turn, better market outcomes for women have likely improved their bargaining position in the home by raising their opportunities outside of marriage. Yet we document in this paper that measures of women’s subjective well‐being have fallen both absolutely and relatively to that of men. While the expansion in women’s opportunities has been extensively studied, the concurrent decline in subjective well‐being has largely gone unnoted.
One exception to this is Blanchflower and Oswald (2004), who study trends in happiness in the United States and Britain noting that while women report being happier than men, the trend in white women’s happiness in the United States has been negative.
We will show in this paper that women’s happiness has fallen both absolutely and relative to men’s in a pervasive way among groups and that this has occurred through much of the industrialized world. Social changes that have occurred over the past four decades have increased the opportunities available to women and a standard economic framework would suggest that these expanded opportunities for women would have increased their welfare. However, others have noted that with the expansion of opportunities have come costs and that men may have been the beneficiaries of the women’s movement. In particular, many sociologists have argued that women’s increased opportunities for market work have led to an increase in the total amount of work that women do.
Arlie Hochschild’s The Second Shift argued that women’s movement into the paid labor force was not accompanied by a shift away from household production and they were thus now working a “second shift”. However, time use surveys do not bear this out. Aguiar and Hurst (2007) document relatively equal declines in total work hours since 1965 for both men and women, with the increase in hours of market work by women offset by large declines in their non‐market work. Similarly, men are now working fewer hours in the market and more hours in home production. Women, she argued, have maintained the emotional responsibility for home and family: a point that is perhaps best exemplified by the familiar refrains of a man “helping” around the house or being a good dad when “babysitting” the kids.
A recent paper by Alan Krueger (2007) sheds some light on this issue by examining the degree of pleasantness and unpleasantness in daily activities. Assuming that one’s enjoyment of activities has been unchanged, he finds that women’s new mix of daily activities leaves them hedonically unchanged. However, men have had a net increase in the pleasantness of activities in their day. Thus, according to Krueger’s estimates, between 1966 and 2005 men became better off relative to women. Social and legal changes have given individuals more autonomy over individual and family decision making, including rights over marriage, children born out of wedlock, the use of birth control, abortion, and divorce (Stevenson and Wolfers, 2007). Once again, men may have been able to disproportionately benefit from these increased opportunities: Akerlof, Yellen, and Katz (1996) argue that sexual freedom offered by the birth control pill resulted in women being pressured into having sex outside of marriage and no bargaining power to force a shotgun marriage in the face of an unwanted pregnancy.
During this period there have also been large changes in family life. Divorce rates doubled between the mid‐1960s and the mid‐1970s, and while they have been falling since the late 1970s, the stock of divorced people has continued to grow (Stevenson and Wolfers, 2008). In addition to divorce, there has been an increase in the rate of children born out of wedlock that was concentrated in the 1960s and early 1990s. As a result of increases in both divorce and out‐of‐ wedlock childbearing by age 15 about half of all children in the US are no longer living with both biological parents (Elwood and Jencks 2001).
What final conclusions can be made from this large grouping of facts. Women in Nordic countries seem to be very content with their lives, young and old. Women in America are not. Reason? Probably the basis of another blog. In less than 50 years we are a society with fewer children, fewer odious household tasks, more freedoms for men in terms of having to shoulder the entire burden of household expenses themselves. Yet, divorce is up and fewer people are happily married or even happy. European countries have gone through the same basic social changes we have in the US but seem to be handling it better. It’s a puzzle. I would love comments from readers on this one.