Time Review: The State of the American Woman

In American Dream Series, Life!, Misc, Uncategorized, Work Series on October 28, 2009 at 10:12 am
Time Cover


This Article Was: Insightful, puzzling, frustrating, doe-eyed, poll driven

In today’s society, are women forced to sacrifice happiness for power and respect? According to the recent Time’s article, since the magazine’s spring of 1972 research on the status of women “in the throes of women’s lib”, women have made amazing strives in the workplace, home and society in general. However, these advancements seem to have put a strain on their overall happiness, which the article points out: “no tidy theory explains the trend.”

According to Justin Wolfers, a co-author of The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness (touché): “We looked across all sectors—young vs. old, kids or no kids, married or not married, education, no education, working or not working—and it stayed the same,’ he says of the data…’but there are a few ways to look at it’” The article goes on to suggest that maybe these results have happened because women have become more honest about “what ails them.” Another suggestion is: “they [women] are now free to wrestle with the same pressures and conflicts that once accounted for greater male unhappiness.”

In addition, this article goes on to cover even more facets and complexities of this issue well. But what does it all mean, really?

When I studied abroad in South Africa a little more than a year ago, I remember a conversation I had with my host mom, whom I lived with in the Lang Township, in Cape Town. We were talking about women, and responsibilities, and I made the comment: “African women are expected to do everything these days! They have to buy the food, cook the food, feed the children, take care of the house, work, and lead the household. It seems so difficult.” “It is Ebony,” my host mom responded—she was a mother and a granny, who raised not only her children, but her children’s children as well—“it is expected of us to do everything, and we do it because we have to”. Now looking back on this conversation, I have realized that its not just women from Southern Africa who feel the strain, who was the group I was thinking of when I made the comment, but women all over. With the shift in status and power come responsibilities, but it does not necessarily equalize them…

So just because I am able to get a job and compete with men, in a way that I have never been able to before, I still may feel a need to eventually keep a home and domesticate myself in some way (learn how to cook, take care of kids, etc), while still being a member of the workforce. In some ways, the burden has become heavier to bear.

When I graduated from college in May, I started having thoughts on my future…crazy thoughts.

Hmm, when am I going to have kids?
When shall I get married?
I want to be a Foreign Service officer…can I have a family, and still be a competitor for better opportunities?

I am sure there have been women before me who have accomplished these goals, but if I were to ask them how it was, I doubt they would tell me it was easy accomplishing them. Or maybe they would…either way this article had me reflecting on my life in all kinds of ways…

I thought the article was extremely insightful, and made me think about how the journey of women has and will affect my ascent into womanhood. For the most part the information resonated with me…but one thing I disliked about it is the author tried to suggest that the increase of women who are single mothers:

Children living with a single mother:
1972: 13%
2008: 23%

Was a sign of increase of independence of women and the confidence in being the head of a household. I am not a statistician or a sociologist but that is a bit irresponsible. I know she is considering the fact that women are now adopting and birthing children on their own, but not all of them are doing this by choice…

In conclusion, it’s a good read…

A Time Special Report:
What Women Want Now


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