Why aren't women happy? We have shoes, fancy meals, lots of clothes, and even girlfriends to share it all with, SATC-style. But we're just not content, or so says the Times of London.
It's no surprise that a column titled "The Trouble With Women" would end up being sexist, obnoxious, and brimming with stereotypes. But the paper's latest installment, penned by 50-year-old lawyer Chris and published yesterday, is particularly infuriating. Observe:
I have been with my wife for 10 happy years, but the one issue that endures is that she is never satisfied. There are moments of happiness (for example, at our marriage, at the birth of our children, when she laughs with her girlfriends). But contentment? Longer, more stable periods of positivity? Never. Purchasing shoes and clothes has not made her content (except for that initial 24-hour thrill), nor haircuts (despite heavy investment therein), nor meals (regardless of cost), nor any gift (especially if it was spontaneous). And definitely not other people's driving. But that's another story.
Chris's main thesis is that women are picky and temperamental ("like cats") while men are content (like dogs, natch). This, according to Chris, is caused by the constant demand for perfection that is placed upon women. We're conditioned to want everything to be just right from our shoes to our hair to our makeup. Women, he thinks, just need to chill and realize nothing will ever be perfect.
However, Chris doesn't even seem to realize that he is misplacing his own expectations. He assumes his wife is searching for happiness in haircuts and food, but he doesn't even stop to think that maybe the problem has something to do with her "content" but clearly out-of-touch husband. I can't pretend to know the intimate details of their marriage, but something about the way he writes about his wife irks me. She seems shallow, materialistic, difficult and downright dumb. She may be all these things, or - and this seems more likely somehow - she may be simply an unhappy person, who unfortunately married someone who does not understand the nuances of depression.
Chris is right about one thing: seeking perfection is a negative state. But to assume that we're all seeking some ideal of physical and material perfection entirely misses the point. There is more pressure placed upon women to look a certain way, but this pressure is only one symptom of a much larger disease. One of the more difficult things about Chris's piece is how, like Fox News during the 2008 election, he cries loudly about sexism while partaking in the very same mode of thought that he pretends to denounce. Furthermore, I'd argue that this type of restless discontent is not specific to women, but has taken root in all corners of society. Chris calls it a search for perfection, I would deem it a quest for "enough." Women aren't discontent because we want perfect hair, we're unhappy because there is no such thing as good enough (much less "perfect"). And as "content"-but-complaining Chris shows, he isn't happy either - and it's because his wife is somehow not happy (read: pleasing) enough.
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