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Is there a midlife crisis for women? Apparently BusinessWeek thinks so…

April 1, 2009

Here is Yahoo’s title for what they feel derails all women in their midlife:

Career Women at Midlife: Sadder and Sicker

Oh goody, another woman is saying that the real reason women are unhappy is the feminism that drove them to work, thereby making them sadder and sicker by their midlife.  Michelle Conin points out the error of our working women ways by using a sappy illustration of a woman who was a marketing executive who got fired and found happiness after 3 months of crushing depression and therapy.  Yay, we can all look forward to getting fired, suffering extreme depression as a result (because, Michelle Conin makes sure to note that her sob story author was the main breadwinner), but we’re okay, we really are, don’t worry, we’re just sobbing in the corner, but we will be ready to come out soon.

God, it makes me sick to listen to one more woman label another woman better off because she lost her job.  Conin goes on to point out that Sob Story’s “muscian husband”:

For Caprino, the answer was in a fearless and searching reevaluation of her life. She watched. She listened. She slowed down. Eventually, she went back to school to score a therapist’s degree while her musician husband expanded his job portfolio.

So, apparently according to Conin, we need to just slow down and let our husbands do more work.  While I am not opposed at any time to my own partner doing more work, I won’t assume that will fix things for other women.  What crock of shit, really Michelle Conin, how can you stand behind this stuff when you are a professional woman yourself?  Are the answers all that easy?

Conin apparently believes that women are the problem here, that it is something that we, as women are not doing correctly, as opposed to large societal forces at work:

Women often end up feeling more inadequate by buying into the myth that work-life balance is actually achievable — if only you juggled better, faster, and prettier.

Yes, because I worry all the time about being prettier while I work.  It’s as though Conin forgot her brain when she wrote this piece.  She offers sugar-coated stories about how this Sob Story was supposedly better off after losing her job, but how about being bitter, broker, and still sad and sicker?  What’s Conin and Caprino’s point?  Blame the women again:

Caprino believes part of the reason for the “sicker, sadder”” syndrome is that women often take on the over-functioner role, being the person who cleans up for her cleaning lady, who is not familiar with the word no, and who triple checks in a corporate culture where most don’t even deign to double-check — and besides, minions are hired to do that anyway.

This is apparently a gender issue of being an overachiever?  Gosh, I never knew.  I will be certain to tell all those male workaholics and control freaks that all their drive was really due to a gender imbalance.  Please gentlemen, you are only doing this as a result of your genitalia, and we are only doing this because we have breasts.  It’s nobody’s fault, really.

What is Caprino’s solution, besides buying her new book?  well, ask the men for help, of course:

There’s also this: “Women could simply ask their husbands for more help,” says Caprino. Indeed, the rise in women’s labor force participation and earnings has not come with a concomitant rise in husbands doing more around the house. This holds true even for breadwinner wives, the 36%-and-growing cohort of women whose paychecks are fatter than their husbands, according to economist Heather Boushey. On the home front, the breadwinners still wind up doing 75% of the “domestic engineering.”

Domestic engineering?  Since when does it take a degree to mop a floor?  Is that what we are really arguing about, that women are sadder and sicker because their husbands don’t help with housework?  And this only applies to married women?

Michelle Conin offers this naive tribute to her concept of women at work and raising families:

In the meantime, there’s the quiet and oft-ignored fact: Under the current industrial-age career framework, you can’t have it all. At least not all at once.

It sounds to me like this is one woman who has no clue what she wants to begin with.  What is “it all” anyway?  Yikes, BusinessWeek, you have some work to do, because there isn’t a nuanced bit in this piece.    Perhaps, according to Caprino, I should just look for a husband who wants to take over housework.  There, that fixes it.  By the way, I will quit my job and let the men take over.  That way I won’t get sick and I won’t get sad again.  Don’t you feel better now?

I don’t see this as anything other than one preachy woman telling another that her slacker husband now has to “get a real job” while she goes back to school.  Caprino moved from one role telling people what to do to another role telling people what to do, but now she is her own boss and can’t get fired.  I don’t see the zebra changing stripes here, just complaining that it was all someone else’s fault to begin with.  I am sure it makes for stimulating reading and excellent therapy.

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