This Is A Trap: Why Heterosexual Marriage Is Not Beneficial For Women

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This Is A Trap: Why Heterosexual Marriage Is Not Beneficial For Women
This Is A Trap: Why Heterosexual Marriage Is Not Beneficial For Women

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Last weekend Behavioral professor at the London School of Economics Paul Dolan, speaking at the festival, said that the happiest subgroup of the population are unmarried women without children. “Married people are happier than other subgroups of the population, but only if they are asked about happiness when their spouse is present in the room. When only they are in the room, they admit that they are damn unhappy,”the expert says. According to him, men benefit from marriage much more than women. “We have data from long-term follow-up of the same research participants. But I'm doing science a disservice by simply saying, if you're a man, you should probably get married; if you are a woman, don't worry about it,”concludes Dolan.

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Alexandra Savina

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The behaviorist's words may sound harsh, but research suggests heterosexual marriage may not be the best business for women. Even if we put aside the question of happiness (after all, this feeling is subjective and is not determined by a stamp in the passport), it is worth thinking about why scientists think so.

Let's start with how the family life of a heterosexual couple is traditionally built. In the patriarchal model of the family, a man is a breadwinner, and a woman is obliged to take care of the house and children and do household chores. Today, there are significantly fewer housewives than in the recent past, but the responsibility to work in the "second shift" still more often falls on women. According to the UN, they still spend at least two and a half times more time on unpaid work than men. The figures differ depending on the financial situation: in more developed economies, unpaid work for women takes 4 hours and 20 minutes a day, while for men it takes 2 hours 16 minutes a day. In poorer countries, women take almost the same amount of unpaid work - four and a half hours a day, but less for men - 1 hour and 20 minutes a day. Unpaid employment itself can be very different - from cleaning, ironing and having to cook for the whole family to caring for children or elderly relatives.

It is important to understand that "invisible" work is not limited to hours spent directly at work. Often, women also become leaders or managers of household affairs. This is a common scheme: a man “helps” with household issues, and the responsibility of keeping track of deadlines, planning things and prioritizing (for example, figuring out what needs to be done faster - buy new clothes for children, do a general cleaning or take care of minor repairs) falls on a woman. Do not forget about emotional service: in the traditional paradigm, it is a woman who should anticipate the emotions of her partner, since discussing feelings and relationships is not a “man's” occupation.

Family life negatively affects

for the academic career of women, but not men - for the latter, on the contrary, she becomes a booster

It is logical that the need to always keep household chores in mind and plan the routine of family life also leaves an imprint on a career path. For example, the difference in wages between men and women for equal work, which persists even in countries where gender inequality is actively combated, is also partly due to family circumstances. In English, for example, there are concepts like "motherhood penalty" and "fatherhood bonus". Research shows that after the birth of a child, the wage gap between men and women increases sharply, despite formal measures such as the opportunity for both parents, and not just the mother, to go on maternity leave. At the same time, the income of women without children continues to grow steadily.

Scientists who study the pay gap between men and women tend to compare their earnings on an equal footing. But work done by economists at Princeton University, the University of Copenhagen and the London School of Economics shows that women can change career paths after (and because of) having children. “In practice, working on an equal footing with men is not an option for most women, as they need to take care of children and therefore choose other professions and a different regime,” says Henrik Kleven, one of the study's authors.

It is not surprising that there is a whole range of professions that are considered to be "female" - because of the flexible schedule, which is conveniently combined with the mode of operation of a kindergarten, school or child's hobby groups. Sociologists Elena Zdravomyslova and Anna Temkina talk about "moral economics" - informal norms that push women to make one or another choice. For the sake of the family and the role of the "keeper of the hearth", a woman can sacrifice her career ambitions.

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Mary Ann Mason, professor at the University of California at Berkeley and co-author of Do Babies Matter? Gender and Family in the Ivory Tower”, studied for many years why so few women in academia get to the top of the“ivory tower,”that is, leading roles at the university. According to her, family life negatively affects the academic career of women, but not men - for the latter, on the contrary, it becomes a booster. “Why is a career in science so hard for mothers? Largely because this is a tough career path that does not provide an opportunity to take time out and puts a lot of pressure on graduate students at the beginning of the path. Most graduate degrees and lifetime contracts with universities are concluded in a critical decade between thirty and forty, as we call it among ourselves, a decade or two. In the same decade, women have children - if they decide to do so at all. It is no coincidence that there are so few mothers among women who have won lifelong contracts with universities. They believe they have to wait for a lifetime contract (on average forty years) before starting a family,”says Mason.

Other evidence suggests that lesbians earn more than heterosexual women (which, of course, does not eliminate discrimination, including in the workplace). A 2015 meta-analysis, for example, notes that, on average, lesbians earn 9% more than heterosexual women. Of course, this loud statement must be made with reservations: according to some studies, lesbians get 25% less, according to others - 54% more, and any "average temperature in the hospital" will be very conditional. Another work (albeit ten years ago) claims that gays earn less than heterosexual men, and although lesbians earn more heterosexual women, they still earn less than men in general. Mary Virginia Lee Budgett, one of the authors of the study, explains the significant difference (discrimination against gays and, at the same time, the better financial situation of lesbians) by the fact that lesbians are compared to heterosexual women who earn less than other groups in the population. Gays are compared to heterosexual men - the group of the population with, on the contrary, the highest salary. At the same time, Budgett adds that lesbians are more likely to refuse to follow gender norms and stereotypes - and can choose "male" (that is, higher paid) professions.

In addition to the financial side of marriage, scientists are also thinking about how it affects other aspects of the life of the spouses. For example, there is evidence that marriage is beneficial for men: the health status of married people is better than that of those who have never been married, divorced and widowers. Married men also live longer than single men, and the longer the marriage, the better the prognosis compared to those who have not stamped their passports.Scientists explain the positive health effects of marriage (and long-term partnerships in general) for different reasons - for example, partners can learn good habits from each other or help each other in difficult times and stressful circumstances. The overall budget also affects: it is likely that general income allows partners to better monitor their health. However, a long-term study published in 2015 found that marriage only had such a beneficial effect on men - less for women. That is, in marriage, in this regard, women acquire fewer men.

Among the interviewed heterosexual men, sex most often ended in orgasm in 95%. For heterosexual women, the numbers are sharply lower: 65% of respondents said about frequent orgasms

At the same time, marriage can also mean additional risks to a woman's health. For example, in recent years, experts have been talking a lot about the feminization of HIV in Russia - that is, there are more and more women among people with HIV-positive status. It is not uncommon for heterosexual women to get HIV from a regular partner or husband, without even knowing that they may face a diagnosis. Experts note that it is not uncommon for men to infect regular partners with HIV after unprotected sex with sex workers. Social attitudes also make women more vulnerable to HIV. “Women are afraid to invite their partner to take an HIV test together, so that they would not be considered overly suspicious. They are afraid to offer a partner to use a condom, so that they are not considered excessively promiscuous or highly experienced. They are afraid to take an HIV test themselves, especially in small towns: what if they see their friends, neighbors, colleagues? " - notes the project coordinator of NP "E.V.A." Svetlana Gavrilova.

The data on heterosexual sex are also disappointing: according to last year's American study, heterosexual women have fewer orgasms. More than 50 thousand people took part in the large-scale work - scientists found out how often they reach orgasm and what factors help them to achieve the desired result for sure. It turned out that among the interviewed heterosexual men, sex most often ended in orgasm in 95%. For people with a different orientation, the situation was worse: among gays, orgasms were often found among 89% of respondents, among bisexual men - among 88% of respondents, and among lesbians - among 86% of respondents. For bisexual and heterosexual women, the numbers are sharply lower: 66 and 65% of respondents reported frequent orgasms, respectively. In marriage, heterosexual women are no better off. In a small study last year, 1683 newly married couples took part: 87% of husbands and only 49% of wives admitted that they regularly reach orgasm. At the same time, it turned out that 43% of the interviewed husbands misunderstand how often their partners reach orgasm.

Of course, there can be a variety of reasons for such a gap in numbers (and orgasm is not the only measure of pleasant sex), but you should not discount traditional ideas about the process. Penetration is still often considered the only "real" and "good" way to get an orgasm, although it is not suitable and pleasant for everyone and not always. The authors of a study on sexuality and orgasms note that women are more likely to reach orgasm if sex is accompanied by deep kissing, and besides (or instead of) vaginal stimulation, there is stimulation of the genitals with hands and / or oral sex - that is, much of what does not fit into popular beliefs about "normal" sex.

Of course, no one is saying that marriage in general and heterosexual marriage in particular necessarily implies health problems, low wages, and poor sex. Any such conversation that tries to define marriage as something unambiguously good or, conversely, bad, is certainly doomed to failure.Nevertheless, for all the conventionality of these conclusions, they emphasize how vulnerable a woman is to gender stereotypes and how strongly they are rooted in the world around them, including in the family model. In society, you can still often find the idea that marriage and children are the main task of a woman. But such conversations often ignore how much marriage and children can change a woman's life - and that often wives and mothers are forced to forget about themselves and change their own plans and life goals in order to care for others. Whether to have children and a family (and what kind) is a private affair of every woman. The main thing is just not to forget about yourself and not to ignore your own needs.

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