Happiness and the Modern Woman
By: Kristia Cavere
Last month there were three independent studies released that, taken separately, would perhaps be seen as random blots of a Rorschach test. However, taken together as the sum of the findings of each, they clearly reveal a picture of the lack of happiness among American women. The results of all three analyses indicate that while we have become increasingly liberated and independent, we have simultaneously become unhappier.
A Pew Research Center survey on happiness found that men were shown to be happier than women. The second study found the happiness of women has steadily decreased since the 1960s. This trend was documented by economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers in their recent publication, â€œThe Paradox of Declining Female Happiness.â€ The greater discontent of women, when compared to men, is seen regardless of race or class. And, as Ms. Stevenson and Mr. Wolfers write, this phenomenon is not just isolated to America but is also present in western Europe where over the past three decades womenâ€™s happiness has declined.
The third analysis released in May was at the American Psychiatric Associationâ€™s annual meeting. Two studies were presented which stated that female veterans are much more likely to commit suicide as compared to women who have never served in our armed forces. The first, a 12-year study of female veterans, found that â€œwomen who have been in the military had a three-fold increased risk for suicide compared with non-military women.â€ The second analysis, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and the Prevention National Violent Death Reporting System, confirmed the findings of the first, stating, â€œWomen veterans are at about 79 percent greater risk of suicide than nonveteran women.â€
As with most studies, the three mentioned above presented the data but did not offer any explanations for the findings. It is very curious that as women have obtained control over the areas that feminists claim would bring contentment to womenâ€”education, easy divorce, readily available day care, reproductive control, and equal opportunity even in the most masculine of occupations such as the militaryâ€”happiness is evading an increasing number of them.
Feminists might attempt to claim that women are unhappy due to continued prejudice and discrimination of women based on a biased society and the male patriarchy. But there is another explanation, a simpler one based not on socialization but on science: the consciousness of modern, feminist-influenced women is in conflict with their biological drive for a husband, children, and a home. Aspirations for a career, independence, and individuality are in competition with a femaleâ€™s deep and permanent biological makeup.
The most revealing â€œlaboratoryâ€ study of social versus biological origins of female behavior occurred in the Kibbutz movement among Israelis. Beginning in the early part of the twentieth century, those in the Kibbutz sought to have a sexually egalitarian society. Children no longer lived with their parents but in childrenâ€™s houses with roommates of similar ages. There were communal kitchens, dining rooms, and laundries in which men and women equally partook in these domestic obligations. In all things, women were supposed to work equally side-by-side with men, and the females even wore menâ€™s clothes and shunned jewelry.
Two to three generations later, the positions of the women in the Kibbutz was the subject of two extensive studies, one by anthropologists Lionel Tiger and Joseph Shepher and the other by sociologist Melford Spiro. Both studies reported the same findings: life was very different from the founding generationâ€™s ideology of sexual androgyny. Occupational segregation emerged with men doing the high-status farming and women working as teachers, nurses, or doing laundry and cooking. Men held most of the positions of authority, and the higher the position the stronger this tendency. A one-third quota for women was established for governing bodies, but this quota was not met because there were not enough women who wanted to serve. The women of the second and third generation Kibbutz had an interest in fashion and jewelry, and felt such emptiness at not living with their children that the childrenâ€™s houses were eliminated. Sex-role distinctions became greater in the Kibbutz than they were on the outside.
The greater unhappiness of women began when they lost their respect for life, for men, for institutions such as marriage, and for themselves. From the 1970s forward inappropriate behavior became the norm with a disregard for children (both the born and unborn), propriety, and for all things that would stabilize society and bring personal growth by being more than just an individual. The main culprits are those who call themselves feminist.
Horace wrote that, â€œYou may drive out nature with a pitchfork, but she will still hurry back.â€ Feminism cannot banish biology. The traditional functions that females have filled, rather than being ones imposed upon them by a patriarchal world as feminists would have us believe, may instead be mother natureâ€™s way of selecting for women paths to happiness. Evolutionary selection based upon powerful female biological imperatives led women to create roles for themselves in society. Nature has already decided what will make women happiest and it is those functions, which have become associated with traditional roles, that, on average, optimizes womenâ€™s happiness and mutual participation in society. Until females begin to embrace their inherent biological programming, happiness will continue to evade the modern woman.