Women, work, and happiness

Yesterday I posted on the divide in life expectations created among women by marriage, divorce, and unwed motherhood.  Now, here is the flip side of the coin:  those women who are able to pursue their ambitions in the workplace, but feel pressured and unhappy precisely because they have a husband and children, and only so many hours in the day to satisfy all the demands upon them.

This interesting but ultimately wrong-headed post by Black Five maintains that “feminists” have insisted women are exactly like men, and should take to the workplace in that spirit.  Well, I’ll freely admit my ignorance of feminism as a coherent ideology, primarily because I am, in anthropological jargon, “a guy.”  But what little has come my way of feminist arguments has been concerned almost entirely with abortion.  Far below that in importance, I have read various condemnations of marriage, the family, and pretty much everything about our way of life because it is tainted by the “patriarchy” – which, I take it, has nothing to do with the first chapters of the bible.

Has feminism addressed the home versus workplace decisions every woman must make?  I have no idea.  But someone should.

I am the oldest of three siblings.  My mother worked until I was born, and returned to the workforce after my youngest sister was past minding.  She has a degree in mathematics, is as smart as any dozen men put together, but believed, like most of her generation, that her main calling in life was to be a wife and mother.  That left something out, I suspect.

My wife has worked all her life.  She has raised three children, and put up with the likes of me, but she came from a generation that believed there should be no difference between men and women.  I believed that too, and no feminists had to persuade me.  My wife has been a success at work, and remains the pillar on which the three kids and the clueless husband (not to mention the equally clueless dog) lean on for support.  I suspect that crams in too much responsibility, too many demands on a single life.

I have a young daughter, and I ask myself what advice I should give.  Go out, compete, knock the socks off those other guys in the workplace?  Stay home, enjoy your children, then go out and make the best of it?  What is the vision of the good life, for American women?


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