Women. We can't win for losing, can we? This New York Times article by Kate Zernike had me shaking my head in wonderment. Go ahead, click over and read it. It's a very short one, really. I'll wait.
OK, you're back? Good. Are you as stymied as I was? I have to admit, I did laugh at the one elderly woman's comment to her husband that he'd already "had assisted living for 40 years."
The point is, it looks like men will be living longer now than before. We should all be thrilled about this. Hasn't it been on just about every married couple's mind at some point--the fact that statistically, he will be gone about 10 years before she? We (married women) are bombarded with dire warnings about providing for our futures and our almost certain long years of widowdom. So, when this news of increasing male longevity breaks, do we celebrate it? Are you kidding, women? Have you learned nothing in your time on earth? You will not be allowed contentment! Really, you should have learned this by now. I mean, you had childhood, adolescence, young adulthood and beyond to get the joke--why aren't you laughing yet? Oh, yeah, that's right--you're usually the punchline, from girl bullies to workplace inequality to the much-hyped "mommy wars" and beyond.
If you look hard enough in this article, the positives, the things of which we could be proud and by which we could be encouraged, are plentiful. Women develop strong friendships and social connections that help us in times when support is needed. We are vigilant about our health, and vocal with our doctors (this, I'd argue, has come about out of neccessity, and generations of being ignored and trivialized by the medical profession, but I certainly have my own bias in that area). More companies "cater to our interests," which they well should, since we do most of the spending and carry the most marketing clout. The message could be, we are strong, we are capable...and now our helpmates, our husbands, may be living on this earth with us longer. But, dang it, that would be a positive spin, and, well...we can't have that, can we?
No, instead we wives get to focus on how hard we work, how little our husbands actually do around the house no matter how equal our workloads outside the home are (and that they're not likely to improve much over the next 50 years in that area), and how little "good" our men do us--"It's not just the extra years; it's all those extra meals to prepare." I'm trying to figure out just who the target reader for this article is, because it's unflattering for men and downright depressing for women. Who does that leave?
One minor, but jarring, for me, detail was the bit about how fully ONE THIRD of married men do not leave their pensions to their wives, and that "that number used to be higher...until wives were required to sign off on the deal." This blows my mind. But I digress.
Finally, we get this cheery summation about how things may ultimately "even out" between the sexes:
"There is a lot of poverty among older single women, so if men live longer, that's good economically, for women and men," Ms. Hartmann said. "Men are generally happier when they're married. The women may not be happier, but at least they've got more money."
Wheee. Money can't buy happiness, but apparently, it compensates for it. This idea makes me want to just puke, because I happen to know just how much financial security that my mother and grandmother would happily sacrifice if the loves of their lives could be returned to them.
I am really interested in feedback about this, from men AND women. Oh, and Honey? Stay with me as long as you can, all right? It's worth the extra sandwiches and laundry. But at the same time...pitch in as much as you like.