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Women Don’t Have to Get the Blues

Maureen Dowd is pushing the hypothesis that modern women are increasingly miserable. But it's not necessarily so.

by
Michele Catalano

Bio

September 30, 2009 - 12:00 am
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Maureen Dowd thinks women are, in general, unhappy.  In her op-ed piece which has been wending its way around the Internet recently (“Blue is the New Black”), she writes:

But the more women have achieved, the more they seem aggrieved. Did the feminist revolution end up benefiting men more than women?

According to the General Social Survey, which has tracked Americans’ mood since 1972, and five other major studies around the world, women are getting gloomier and men are getting happier.

She then goes on to quote Arianna Huffington, who claims that women around the world are in a funk, and says:

When women stepped into male-dominated realms, they put more demands — and stress — on themselves. If they once judged themselves on looks, kids, hubbies, gardens and dinner parties, now they judge themselves on looks, kids, hubbies, gardens, dinner parties — and grad school, work, office deadlines and meshing a two-career marriage.

Well, there’s the problem. This isn’t a woman problem, per se. We are not talking about a societal problem; we are talking about a self-worth problem that some women have given themselves. This is what happens when you try to define yourself by something that you are not. You are not your job, your kids, your husband. You should not be defined by any of those things. Any woman who identifies herself as a mother, wife, or lawyer puts herself in a position to be unhappy because she is not living for herself. I’m not saying women should lead utterly self-centered lives. I am saying that we should define ourselves as more than the things we do that involve other people.

Those things come with built-in expectations. Are you a good mother? A good wife? A great lawyer? We don’t want to just tell the world that we’re mothers; we want to compare ourselves to other mothers and wives and people in our chosen field. We want to say we’re successful at those things and that we’re fulfilled and happy. It’s a never-ending battle to meet that pinnacle of perfection that we set up for ourselves and each other.

We are not our jobs. We are not our children or our dinner parties.

In order to find happiness, a woman needs to define herself as a singular person, not someone who is part of a package deal. Women need to ask themselves the following questions. What do I do aside from parenting, work, going to school, and being a partner? Do I have a hobby? Do I try to do anything that brings happiness to just myself or am I spending every waking hour of my life making other people happy?

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