So. This guy wants to know why women are so unhappy, why they're getting unhappier over time, and why they get less happy as they get older.
He presents the quandary: "Wherever researchers have been able to collect reliable data on happiness, the finding is always the same: greater educational, political, and employment opportunities have corresponded to decreases in life happiness for women, as compared to men."
He promises to tell us next week why this is. I'm worried about what the above statement portends. But I've actually got an answer of my own worked up, one that explains both the "decrease over time" and the "decrease with age" phenomenon. It's one that goes back to a grad school seminar on, believe it or not, revolts and revolutions in early modern Europe. In that seminar, we were introduced to some historian's theory of the "J-curve." I have only the haziest recollections, so someone else can fill me in, for certain. But here's what I remember. According to this historian, revolutions don't happen when things have been bad for a long, long time. By that time, people are used to it. Rather, they happen when there have been consistent improvements followed by a change for the worse, or expectations of improvements that suddenly fail to materialize. Imagine an upside-down letter J. Get it?
Now, imagine that women's** expectations of the limitless possibilities for their lives are thrown into contrast (a contrast that gets sharper as women age) with the realization that, in spite of (or perhaps because of?) all this, we're still expected to spend enormous amounts of our energy trying to be something we’re not: pretty, thin, young, compliant, non-swearing, perfectly-groomed, dependent, dumb, nurturing, self-sacrificing, quiet-voiced, unconditionally adoring, nonthreatening, patient, or simply never, ever angry. In other words: “feminine.” And the older we get, the more we realize that the house always wins in the end.
Yeah. I suppose that could make a woman a bit unhappy.
UPDATE: Rootlesscosmo provides a link in the comments to a site that exposes how the "problem" of women's unhappiness (often implicitly blamed on feminism) is based on dubious statistics, but keeps getting recycled every few years anyway. Kind of reminds me of that whole "you'll never get married after 35" thing. I'm now convinced that the premises upon which the question is based are specious, but still stand by my answer to this non-question -- if that's not too illogical.
**In light of the content of this post, I am bitterly amused that Blogger does not recognize the word "women's."