Women Don’t Want to Get Married and Have Children Because It’s A Lot of Work: Who is Surprised?
I have been reading and hearing more stories about women who don’t want to get married and have kids, as if the general populous is surprised by this notion. Of course, my friends and mother, grandmother, etc. have said much the same thing for years, with the exception of my grandmother’s generation saying they did it once but wouldn’t do it again.
It comes as no surprise to any of us that marriage can be bad for women’s health, as can childbearing. One of the men who studied the effect of women’s health and bad marriages mentioned only that it’s too soon to tell women to dump their husbands or find better partners:
March 4, 2009 — Women in tense, strained marriages are more likely than men to suffer from mental problems like depression, but also dangerous physiological conditions, such as high blood pressure and obesity, a new study shows…
However, he adds, “it’s a little premature to say they would lower their risk of heart disease if they improved the tone and quality of their marriages, or dumped their husbands.”
What he didn’t seem to think of was just not getting married at all. Why get married, if it’s bad for women? Married men are healthier overall, but the same is not true for married women. So, it’s not really a wonder that women are opting out of marriage and kids for a myriad of reasons, not outside the realm of it’s healthier for them and means they will work less overall, earn more money, and enjoy better health.
My generation seems to think the marriage and kid bit is overrated and wouldn’t do it again. In fact, in my age group, the over 30 group, I have entered into a pact to never let my friends marry again if something happens to their current relationship. I have been made to promise that I will do anything to dissuade them from marrying again. Really, it’s no surprise. Women do more work when they get married, and I am not the only one noticing. Time Magazine just published an article on this issue in Taiwan:
In Taiwan, where most women have to front the cost of a high cost of living, entering into a marriage and having kids seems like a bad career move:
“Most women are afraid of losing their jobs” by taking time out to have a child, says Liu. He says Taiwan should follow the lead of European countries like Germany, where women are entitled to up to three years of maternity leave by law. Taiwan has been making progress in this area; in 2002, the government passed a law requiring companies to allow their employees two-year parental leaves without pay. This year, a policy came out that enables parents to take six months of parental leave while receiving 60% of their salary. But many say these changes only look good on paper, as most bosses discourage people from taking the time off.
Underneath these logistical issues, however, may be a fundamental shift in values. Two-thirds of working women in Taiwan are university-educated, and fewer of them are jumping into tying the knot early. “I’m not pursuing marriage,” says Hsu Yu-hua, a 30-something accountant in Taipei. “Not with today’s divorce rate [38% in Taiwan]. I’m financially independent, and it’s more convenient to be single.” Only a third of Taiwan’s women are married by age 30, in contrast to 20 years ago, when the average age for marriage for women was 26.
Perhaps what these commentators miss is the fact that get married just often translates into more work. Add kids into the mix, and women work harder than men in the office, in a marriage, and at home and with kids. Hmm, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that women might not want to take a salary hit for taking time off to get pregnant and birth a child, which is a huge physical hit, raise the child doing most of the work while heading to a job and proving that she can drop a baby without blinking and still “work as hard as the guys.” Options that seem better: not getting married or having kids and then there is no reason to prove anything in the job market.
A study done in the UK found men work 3 hours more in the office, but women put in far more hours when child care and domestic duties are added to their work world.:
Today’s European Union-funded report, which examined working practices across member states, says that the average man in full-time employment works about 55 hours a week.In the UK that figure includes about 3.6 hours commuting, and eight hours of domestic work such as cleaning, cooking and child care.By contrast, the average working week for a woman in full-time employment in the EU is 68 hours.
For British women that comprises 40 hours in the office, 3.3 hours commuting and 23 hours a week spent doing domestic work.
Hmm, is it any wonder that women aren’t just jumping to sign up for that? To add insult to injury, women aren’t equally represented in their work or legislatures in the UK:
… three quarters of the EU workforce is still managed by men and just nine per cent of full-time male workers are managed by women, says the report.
In the UK, women make up just under half the workforce, but they represent less than a third of legislators, managers and senior officials.
Hmm, same story here in the States too. According to the MLA, women work more and advance at a slower rate. I wrote about it a while ago: Women Work More, Advance Less: The True Tales of Women in Academia According to the MLA:
Here are the numbers crunched for you:
Women: work hours– 33.1, childcare–32 hours, average work week: 65.1 hours
Men: work hours–32.8, childcare–14 hours, average work week: 46.8
The MLA study says that childcare doesn’t necessarily factor in, because all women advance slowly.
I say the jobs probably aren’t worth the effort, and many women agree with me: men are more satisfied at work than women.
Another study shows that women just aren’t happy with the situation, particularly married women with children:
Study subjects kept diaries on how they spent a specific 24-hour period. Free time was measured as time not spent at paid work, household chores, child care, or personal tasks such as eating, grooming and sleeping. Participants were also asked how often they felt rushed during a typical day—never, sometimes or always.
Workload increased for women between 1975 and 1998, especially in comparison to men, the comparison showed.
In 1975, women and men had similar amounts of free time, but by 1998 a 30-minute per day gender gap had opened, with women having less leisure time than men.
“Women worked more hours in paid employment in 1998 than they did in 1975,” Sayer said. “The amount of time they spend in household labor declined during that period, but not enough to offset the increase in paid work hours.”
The odds of feeling sometimes or always rushed were more than twice as high for married women with children than it was for single, childless women. But men who were married and had children didn’t feel more rushed than single, childless men.
Men seem to relax more when they are married, and women seem to feel more rushed. Now this article was published under “Strange News” stories, and I have also found that men, in particular, took umbrage with the statement that they don’t work as much, a Glenn something or other, have to look him up, in particular.
Glenn Sacks, got him, who has his own website where he extols upon the virtues of men taking “dangerous and physically demanding jobs” as evidenced by a panel of men who conveniently left out childbearing when comparing the work men and women did (don’t get me started on the number of women and children who die in the U.S. with its caveman views on childbearing). Mr. Sacks even called out feminists by name while he states that men do more of the hard work, as in working in extreme heat, but neglects to mention the physical toll women bear just in the 40 weeks of pregnancy alone, not to mention the weeks when a woman is pregnant and miscarries. (For those of you who think manual labor is easier, I have some explicit photos of what happens to the vagina as a human head pushes through it. I can even add in the gut-wrenching photos, literally of the surgical operation used to cut a woman’s child from her body, lest anyone believe that there is an “easy” way to birth a child.) Thank heaven for this man who has determined that women’s work includes talking on the phone in the air conditioning:
Feminist surveys, such as the famous Second Shift by Arlie Hochschild, get “women do more” figures by a variety of disreputable gimmicks, recounted in great detail in Farrell’s Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’ Say. Remember, too, that all of these surveys (the serious ones and the feminist advocacy ones) count only hours. A man doing eight hours of dangerous construction work in the 100-degree heat is credited with no more than a woman who works in an air-conditioned office or who, in the comfort and safety of her own home (and without a supervisor breathing down her neck), cooks breakfast, takes the kids to school, packs her husband’s lunch and folds the laundry while chatting on the phone.
Oh, he is a prince, isn’t he? Glenn Sacks, you get the Asshole Award of the Week, just for being priceless, endearing, ignorant-yet verbal, you. Lucky woman who gets to spend time with this man will have her every move denigrated as he competes to say his work is harder.
After reading these quotes, is it any wonder women are turning down marriage?