Everytime I begin to think that things are changing, that people are growing, that our society is more open, that sexism is slowly crawling towards death, I am slapped in the face with the harsh reality that our country, people, and many men SUCK. First it was the election of Bush and now some "journalist" working for Forbes has written an editorial empirically claiming "Don't Marry Career Women."
I'm not even going to fully debate this Neanderthal because 1) I don't have time to argue against every single sentence of a 10 paragraph diatribe 2) you all know how I feel 3) even most people will see the blatant idiocy if this guy's arguments. Instead, I'll just pick out a couple of the gems, along with some pointed observations:
Why? Because if many social scientists are to be believed, you run a higher risk of having a rocky marriage. While everyone knows that marriage can be stressful, recent studies have found professional women are more likely to get divorced, more likely to cheat and less likely to have children. And, if they do have kids, they are more likely to be unhappy about it. A recent study in Social Forces, a research journal, found that women--even those with a "feminist" outlook--are happier when their husband is the primary breadwinner.
What?! What?! I especially love how "less likely to have children" is thrown in there with other life negative moments, like cheating and divorce. You know, the fact that my womb hasn't produce any children is EXACTLY the same thing as me choosing to betray the trust of my partner or for the family I created with my partner to completely disintegrate before my eyes, often with financial, emotional, and physiological consequence. In fact, in the dictionary it says "not having children" is a synonym to "divorce."
My other favorite part in this paragraph is the quotations around the word "feminist." I'm confused? Did he do this because feminism is a "concept"? Or are some women only saying they are feminist? I'm not sure the point. I mean, certainly he's not trying to imply through punctuation that feminism is some sort of abstract idea that is so outside of the cultural norm that said normal people laugh when they use to term and ALWAYS use air quotes. For example:
Claire: who's that girl over there Bobby? The childless one?
Bobby: Oh, I used to date her but she came out with the truth that she was a career girl. I knew that meant we could never get married, so I ended it.
Claire: Oh, so you mean she's a (moves both sets of index and second fingers together in air in an up and down movement) "feminist".
Bobby: That's a good one. (echoing Claire's movements) A "feminist"! hahahahahahahahahaahahahahaha
Why? Well, despite the fact that the link between work, women and divorce rates is complex and controversial, much of the reasoning is based on a lot of economic theory and a bit of common sense. In classic economics, a marriage is, at least in part, an exercise in labor specialization. Traditionally, men have tended to do "market" or paid work outside the home, and women have tended to do "nonmarket" or household work, including raising children. All of the work must get done by somebody, and this pairing, regardless of who is in the home and who is outside the home, accomplishes that goal. Nobel laureate Gary S. Becker argued that when the labor specialization in a marriage decreases--if, for example, both spouses have careers--the overall value of the marriage is lower for both partners because less of the total needed work is getting done, making life harder for both partners and divorce more likely. And, indeed, empirical studies have concluded just that.
I think that "classic economics" is the key point here. Perhaps if we as a society provided for children regardless of the marital/working/income status of the parents, women wouldn't be so torn between their career choice and their forced status as caregiver. Perhaps if we as a culture valued the "traditional" work of women more, shock, even paying them for it, they might be more satisfied as caregivers. Or maybe, I know this is radical, men could stay home and the women could have careers! Why is it just accepted that the balance is out of order because women go to work? Yes, it is hard when both people have careers. Yes, maybe there is a logic to the division of labor. But why is that men get to keep their careers and women end up with divorce and children they were told they are supposed to have? Men have been the "breadwinners" since the dawn of basic trade. It's our fucking turn! Here's your apron. Over there's the dishes. Don't forget to wear a smile! See, "classic economic" balance restored! Wasn't that easy?
In 2004, John H. Johnson examined data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation and concluded that gender has a significant influence on the relationship between work hours and increases in the probability of divorce. Women's work hours consistently increase divorce, whereas increases in men's work hours often have no statistical effect. "I also find that the incidence in divorce is far higher in couples where both spouses are working than in couples where only one spouse is employed," Johnson says.
I love how if it's "statistical" people assume that means its some sort of absolute truth. There are so many other factors involved in a situation than revealed in studies like this. Does statistics take into account the fact that an increase in women's work hours consistently increases divorce because women are also expected to take care of the home. When women work more, men, who are accustomed to a power relationship where they are taken care of, cry like little babies. But, because women have for centuries been conditioned to accept the longer work hours of men (and since less men handle the cooking, cleaning, etc.) there is little changed in the relationship. Yes, the woman gets less attention, but she still has the same amount of work as before. Not so when wifey isn't home to wipe husband's lazy bum. Oh yeah and one final thing--when only one spouse is working, let's say the man, the wife becomes financially dependent upon her husband. This means that she is less likely to divorce her husband because of the inability to support herself or her children. See, statistic explained.
The other reason a career can hurt a marriage will be obvious to anyone who has seen his or her mate run off with a co-worker: When your spouse works outside the home, chances increase that he or she will meet someone more likeable than you. "The work environment provides a host of potential partners," researcher Adrian J. Blow reported in The Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, "and individuals frequently find themselves spending a great deal of time with these individuals."
There's more: According to a wide-ranging review of the published literature, highly educated people are more likely to have had extramarital sex (those with graduate degrees are 1.75 times more likely to have cheated than those with high school diplomas.) Additionally, individuals who earn more than $30,000 a year are more likely to cheat.
Oh yippee!!! I was wrong--there is equality now! Women can run off with their younger, skinnier secretaries just like men have been for... well, ever. Oh and they can also get the same higher education once refused them, where amongst other things, they learn the sexual mores their male counterparts have been privy to all along.
See, things aren't that bad, girls. Who knew we had it so good?
And if the cheating leads to divorce, you're really in trouble. Divorce has been positively correlated with higher rates of alcoholism, clinical depression and suicide. Other studies have associated divorce with increased rates of cancer, stroke, and sexually transmitted disease. Plus, divorce is financially devastating. According to one recent study on "Marriage and Divorce's Impact on Wealth," published in The Journal of Sociology, divorced people see their overall net worth drop an average of 77%.
The moral of this story? If you marry a girl like me, you'll end up a poor, drunk, suicidal vagrant with herpes. Husband, you'd better watch out.