I wish all Americans could hear the women who call my radio show who tell of how they were raised to believe this feminist promise, and therefore pursued often successful careers while delaying marriage. And now at 35, 40, 45 years of age, they wonder why that career is so unfulfilling and now yearn for a man and family they put off having.
For most women -- of course, not all -- careers are not nearly as fulfilling as are a good marriage and family. The astronaut who destroyed her career -- perhaps the most prestigious career in America for either a man or a woman -- out of romantic jealousy is an extreme but instructive example.
Unless one believes that women and men are the same and therefore the same things bring them happiness, the feminist emphasis on career has been an obstacle to many women's happiness. As a rule, women derive most of their happiness from relationships, not from work. Men need both to be happy far more than women do. Men's very identity is predicated on their answer to the question, "What do you do?" Whether fair or not -- to either sex -- virtually no woman's identity is dependent on what she does for a living. That is why, while both sexes suffer financially from the loss of a job, when men lose their jobs, they often also lose their self-worth as a man. The greater importance of work to men is also manifested in their willingness to work many more hours than woman.
To make things even worse for many women, not only are most women not finding their careers nearly as fulfilling as they had been led to expect, they rarely find the demands of home life lessened much. Now many women experience double the pressure -- having to succeed in jobs outside of the home and, as much as ever, inside the home. The feminist promise that everything in their marriage will be 50-50 -- each partner will do half the outside work, half the housework, and half the child rearing -- has rarely panned out. Most men will work their tails off outside the home, but won't inside the home. Consequently, many working women either experience increased tension with their husband or increased pressure to succeed both outside the home and inside the home as mother, homemaker, and wife.
Failed expectations are not the only reason many more women are depressed. But it is a big one. And there are more.
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