The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Staff Editorial: Happiness is not tied to gender

1019-snoweIt seems every time a new study comes out asserting some mediocre observation about our society, we tend to latch onto the results as evidence to justify and explain away all of our suspicions or fears about a particular subject or group.

“The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness,” a new study conducted by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers has made quite the splash on the op-ed pages of the Los Angeles Times, New York Times and countless feminist and anti-feminist Web sites.

Each person writing about the study’s claims, which generalize that women have become less happy and content since the breakthroughs of the first waves of feminism and after 1972, seems to have a different take.

While there are many practical nuances to the study, from sample size and the execution of the study, what the results assert is that even with the amount of progress women have fought for and won on a professional, personal and political level, they have not become any happier as a result of more equality.

This study definitely raises more questions than it answers. What exactly can we identify as reasons why women may be experiencing declining levels of happiness as time goes by? How does one even quantify happiness anyway?

What is alarming about the results of this study is that some would use it to falsely claim that modern women are unhappy because they have chosen professional success over marriage. The study does show that having husbands or children has no impact on the level of happiness women experience.

What is significant about this study is that it highlights an often forgotten or trivialized fact about modern day feminism, which is that although progress has been made, there is still a substantial amount that needs to be fought for.

But to assert that feminism is to blame for women’s unhappiness is blatantly delusional and entirely misinformed.

What has often been echoed about women’s rights actually being human rights has never been more accurate.

The current financial crisis and health care debate are illustrious of the fact that we as a country must actively work to make sure we properly educate and prepare young women and young men for the realities of life, starting from elementary school.

Studies about how happy any segment of the population may or may not be seem to be a superficial way of trying to examine what is really at the core of what the researchers aim to prove.  In an attempt to determine the “happiness level” what we really want to know is why people feel the way they do. It is easier for us to make sense of the world by pointing to tangible factors that can contribute either negatively or positively to someone’s life. But it is often not as simple as answering survey questions.

Here at CSUN the ratio of female to male students is on average 60 to 40. This trend is echoed across the country on college campuses.

More women are receiving higher levels of education despite the fact that the retention rate at work in certain professions is low and the glass ceilings they continue to encounter, and the fact that women continue to make less on the dollar than men for the same work.

Happiness is not tied to gender. In reality, happiness isn’t tied to any one thing, which is what makes it so elusive and fleeting. The best any of us can do, is attempt to define what happiness means for us as individuals, free of any labels or restrictions society wishes to impose upon us.

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