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October 17, 2009

New Tomdispatch


Are Women Getting Sadder?
Or Are We All Just Getting a Lot More Gullible?

By Barbara Ehrenreich

Feminism made women miserable. This, anyway, seems to be the most popular takeaway from "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness," a recent study by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers which purports to show that women have become steadily unhappier since 1972. Maureen Dowd and Arianna Huffington greeted the news with somber perplexity, but the more common response has been a triumphant: I told you so.

On Slate's DoubleX website, a columnist concluded from the study that "the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s gave us a steady stream of women's complaints disguised as manifestos… and a brand of female sexual power so promiscuous that it celebrates everything from prostitution to nipple piercing as a feminist act -- in other words, whine, womyn, and thongs." Or as Phyllis Schlafly put it, more soberly: "[T]he feminist movement taught women to see themselves as victims of an oppressive patriarchy in which their true worth will never be recognized and any success is beyond their reach... [S]elf-imposed victimhood is not a recipe for happiness."

But it's a little too soon to blame Gloria Steinem for our dependence on SSRIs. For all the high-level head-scratching induced by the Stevenson and Wolfers study, hardly anyone has pointed out (1) that there are some issues with happiness studies in general, (2) that there are some reasons to doubt this study in particular, or (3) that, even if you take this study at face value, it has nothing at all to say about the impact of feminism on anyone's mood.

The rest.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at October 17, 2009 03:01 PM

Maybe everybody is unhappier, men and children included. Although I don't personally feel unhappy.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at October 17, 2009 03:56 PM

Humanity, just like everything else has a negative pole and a positive pole. "Feminism" for women and the associated movement of "Emasculation" for men (the two poles of the same movement) both entailed each sex feeling "jealous" of the opposite and trying to get all the secret benefits they get at your expense. In other words, it's all perfectly ridiculous. Be what you are, not what some intellectual says you should be.

So ladies, your two choices are to celebrate our unity through our differences, or go cook me a f'in pie. Or bake it, or whatever it is.

Posted by: tim at October 17, 2009 04:13 PM

I suspect that there are numerous other options available to women, tim.

Posted by: Duncan at October 17, 2009 07:49 PM

Thanks, tim. About time a man stepped up and told women what to do.

Posted by: Save the Oocytes at October 18, 2009 12:27 AM