My Blog__ Unhappy? Really?

May 28, 2009 | By

About a week ago, Double X posted an article about a recent study (National Bureau of Economics) that focusing on the fact that women are currently unhappier than they have been in almost 35 years. According to the author of the Doublex piece, Megan O'Rourke, two economists at U Penn conducted an extensive study and determined that women's "subjective well-being" has declined dramatically in relation to men. O'Rourke notes that "happiness is notoriously difficult to study...but the findings are nontheless noteworthy." According to the study, perhaps the way that we merit success in this society has something to do with it, you know, the "broader sense of criteria" that women are constantly measuring up to. The study even suggests that the women's movement has perhaps caused a decrease in the today woman because "the increased opportunity to suceed in many dimensions may have led to an increased likelihood in believing that one's life is not measuring up." Rourke believes that Barry Schwaltz's paradox of choice model might explain why this decline of happiness is somewhat gender equal, but still begs the question, after all this progression why are women so unhappy?

I don't know about you, but I think voice and expression have a lot to do with this. Now that women have "progressed" to a certain economic, social and political place that surpasses that of our second-wave mothers, we have been taught different rules when it comes to talking about our feelings in relation to our professional lives. Forty-odd years ago, the opportunity for a woman to shout her concerns and hear another woman's voice shout back wouldn't have existed. Now, we have multiple mediums to "talk it out": blogs, forums, comments, conscious-raising groups, etc. The social space that is designed for discussion (and often open, detailed ball-busting discussion) is ready and available (to a certain demographic, I'm not forgetting my privileged 1st world position) and with these spaces come new rules. No longer do we have to keep all hush-hush about our roaring sexual appetites in fear that some doctor will put a leach on our vag to "cure" so-called nymphomania. No longer do we have to suppress things that once were considered out of our gender. So, I guess my argument is that perhaps this "unhappiness" of women is not what has transformed, but instead the cultural go-ahead to talk about it. And this connects to why men are not so stoked either, again, as the monolithic rules of masculinity and femininity are bending in all directions, re-shaping, re-forming, we equate new attributes to these definitions. Simply put, it's not totally pussy to admit you are bummed out. Hell, my friend Chad made a name for himself by vocalizing his depression. We now are able to talk about oppression, anger or whatever we may be feeling, so that is what we are doing: letting the shit pour out full force. Is this any better?

Anyways, what do you all think? You feeling happy or just kind of confused?

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