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Post-Feminism Discontent
Mom with a View

Post-Feminism Discontent

A new study shows that just maybe marriages with more rigidly defined roles lead to happier women.


A new study is fanning the flames of post-feminism discontent. Exploring marital happiness among women, the sociologists at the University of Virginia reached a number of interesting conclusions. One striking discovery was that women who strongly identify as progressive (i.e. agree most with feminist ideals) have a harder time being happy than their peers.

Although none of the conclusions drawn from this information are verifiable, members of the media seem to engage in verbal contortions just to prove this in no way invalidates the messages or goals of the feminist movement.

It just couldn't be that traditional marriages, marriages with more rigidly defined roles, marriages based on religious principles, lead to happier women. Or could it?

Daily our newspapers are filled with stories of bright, well-educated young women leaving high-powered careers to go home and care for their children, oblivious to the contempt of their "feminist" sisters.

In a recent (3/10/06) Wall Street Journal piece, Karlyn Bowman couldn't help but note that "a large proportion of women and men continue to have what academics scornfully refer to as 'traditional gender ideologies.' In a Radcliffe/Fleet Boston study, 97% of 21-to-29-year-old women said they expected their partner to work outside the home. Of their male counterparts, only 69% gave that response. The persistence of traditional attitudes explains why chores aren't a big source of familiar disputes and also why sex segregation in chores (women do laundry, men take out the trash) remains robust."

If they can afford it, many women prefer to be the ones raising their children, perhaps working part-time. Studies of dating practices of even college attendees illustrate young women's desires to be pampered and treated, to play the more 'old-fashioned' female role.

"If he expects me to pay, the relationship is over," explains one eager coed. "I want to be taken care of," echoes another.

We just can't fight the hard-wiring. We can't fight the way the Almighty established His world.

Not only were women created to play a specific role in the marriage, we want to play defined part. We want to help our husbands when they need our help, gently (or not so gently) nudge them to prevent them from making serious mistakes, look after the home and feel looked after in turn. This doesn't mean our lives revolve around seeing our faces in the dishes. The fifties gave the stay-at-home wife and mom a bad name. It's time to reclaim it with pride and respect.

Women want to, in quaint terms, keep the home fires burning. Not without assistance (the study also determined that women were happier when men were perceived to contribute to the work at home!) but in recognition that this is our most valuable endeavor.

Madison Avenue is famous for ad campaigns promising NEW products, the assumption being that new is always better. Some of us are learning, sometimes the hard way, to value the OLD ways of our tradition.

March 18, 2006

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Visitor Comments: 20

(19) Ilana, June 18, 2006 12:00 AM


Have you ever watched a group of men or little boys together? Do you notice how much they talk about what they did at work, what expensive toy, car, vacation, etc. they just got, what great investment they just made etc.? Male society likes to brag. Bragging makes them feel special. Now if they didn't feel so special about all the extra commandments they are supposed to keep do your really think they would get up early in the morning to go pray, learn at night when they're tired, cover their head, and the list goes on. The Torah is so careful with one's feelings do you think there would be an offensive prayer to half the population unless it served a really good purpose? By saying thank G-d for not creating me a woman they get to feel special although we women know the truth that we have it much better than they do and we live a spiritual life much more easily. Now as far as being untraditional and outspoken I can tell you from personal experience that although I do have a loving marriage thank G-d I still have to work harder on it than other people I know because my husband is used to me being in charge and being the tough one so he is not overly sensitive and sometimes I have to really spell it out or actually come to tears to effect a change in our marriage.

(18) Marion Lipshutz, April 10, 2006 12:00 AM

How Silly

Dear Ms. Braverman:

Of course progressive, feminist women sometimes express more discontent than more traditional women do.

We embrace complexity and think for ourselves. We have a critical perspective on societal injustices, and we expect to do our modest share in seeking peace and pursuing justice; consistent with timeless Jewish values.

If women and men are overworked and stressed out, it is NOT because of feminism. To the contrary, it is because we live in a country where far too many of our leaders embrace draconian social policies that make it necessary for two-career families to stretch their resources to the limits.

The answer is not in "more rigid roles" for anyone.

The answer is to pursue greater economic and social justicefor everyone.

(17) Rivki, April 6, 2006 12:00 AM

"for having made me according to his will"

According to Artscroll: "That a man blesses G-d for not having created him as a woman does not imply that women are inferior to men...rather, a man blesses G-d for giving him the privelege of performing the relatively few mitzvos from which a woman is exempt. Man needs these mitzovs to fulfil his mission while women do not, but man is grateful for the additional challenge and the opportunity to serve G-d in additional ways." Incidentally, it is commonly stated that woman are on a higher plane spiritually than men, which is one reason why women do not need as many "physical" mitzvos, i.e. tefillin, tallis, etc.

It's a common misconception that the woman's traditional role is somehow inferior. But it's just that - a misconception.

(16) Anonymous, April 4, 2006 12:00 AM

Nice sentiments Daniela

but if Jewish wives really were valued for what they did at home, then there would be very little meaning in a man's daily prayer thanking Hashem for not having made him a woman. There must be greater value in mens' higher levels of ritual obligation and traditional roles - otherwise there would be nothing to be so thankful for!

Susan, July 23, 2013 6:20 AM

We are valued.

The reason they thank HaShem for not being a woman is because they know we have it tougher - specifically, childbirth. It's an acknowledgment of the hardships - &, I suspect, yet another reminder for them to be good to us, because we deserve it! :-)

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