Saturday, October 24, 2009
The more things change.....
I just saw this Joanne Lipman column in the New York Times, about the lack of progress in women's happiness since the 1980s. Here is a sample:
Even the positive numbers we’ve heard about during the recession are misleading — the ones that seem to indicate that women have suffered fewer job losses than men. The reason? Women are still concentrated in lower-paying fields, rather than the high-paying industries like finance and real estate that were hardest hit....
...I don’t think it’s a coincidence that exactly at this moment [9-11], women began losing ground — and not just in measurable ways, like how many women make partner or get jobs as chief executives. I’m referring to how we are perceived. The conversation online about women, as about so many other topics, degenerated from silly and snarky to just plain ugly — and it seeped into the mainstream. Recently, before a TV appearance, I did an Internet search on one of the interviewers so I could learn more about her — and got a full page of results about her breasts...
I would have like some more specifics and concrete suggestions about how to change all this, like exactly why 9-11 changed things. If you ask me, Lipman is one of the privileged 1% and not very representative of the women I know. Her point about perception being the problem is right on, though.
The Wall Street Journal recently ran a column about how couples who both do more housework have sex more often. The writer (a woman) took it as a given that the wives were doing almost twice as much housework as the husbands and that women worked only 19 hours a week outside the home. Not sure where she got her sample. The comments on the WSJ website were pretty revealing as well, with lots of references to men "helping" with the housework, as if it were the wife's natural duty and he was putting himself out purely to please her. Sort of like some of my friends who used to say their husbands were "babysitting" while they went to book club meetings. Excuse me? (I used to say.) Do you babysit when he works late or stops off for a beer? Is he not the kids' other parent?
I am very uncomfortable with the kind of feminism that argues that women are in some way "better" than men, because it is the kind of thinking that feeds into the notion that we should each stay in our own sphere. Anybody who has followed the careers of Hillary Clinton or Tzipi Livni -- not to mention Margaret Thatcher and Madeleine Albright -- should be disabused of the illusion that a woman-led world would be more peaceful than the present state of affairs. How about this: We let each individual person spend his or her time doing what they love and excel at? Then we might see a better world and lot less wasted effort.
Oh, and our sex lives would probably be pretty awesome as well.
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