September 27, 2012
To a Gloria Steinem feminist like Rosin, women are one side, men are the other, and you should always root for your team, especially when it comes to economic figures. She finds a town in Alabama where women’s median income is 140% of men’s. “After all these years,” Rosin writes, “we have located our feminist paradise in a small college town in the deep South.”
Here’s what happens where women win all the bread and men merely consume it. In another Alabama town, Rosin meets the “smokin’ hot” Shannon and Troy, the father of their child. In the last month he’s worked four days. She works full-time at Walmart, does most of the child care and earns extra cash as “an exotic dancer.” He stays home and smokes and drinks beer. Once he choked her till she passed out. Her income may be several times that of her mate’s, but this is neither feminist nor paradise.
In a strange chapter about the explosion of violent crime among women, Rosin keeps hinting that this is a sort of an advance — an implicit rebuke to “the notion of women as vulnerable.” Besides, she argues, maybe more female criminals means more women as corporate barracudas.
Yet a fancy degree and a high income are not the objects of existence. Happiness surveys going back four decades consistently show women growing less happy with their lives as the economic numbers continue to tick relentlessly higher. . . . Rosin is puzzled to discover that MBAs with rich husbands are increasingly opting to become stay-at-home moms. These fortunate few can do anything, and they choose to dial their lives back to a modified Eisenhower era.
That is a mystery.