Why do many women feel stressed in modern life? Perhaps it is because many of their historical responsibilities have been optimized away.
The modern woman is under intense pressure. Pressure to forge a career in the historically male-dominated world of work, pressure to start a family, the longing to see dreams fulfilled, the risk of marrying a man who will not respect her, the stress of bearing and raising children, the desire to nest and cultivate a warm home... the list goes on. But perhaps the most difficult aspect is this - these things not only exert pressure on her, they are a threat to each other. There is a tension that exists between them. For example, "Too much focus on the family front, and my career might not go anywhere." I have often marveled at how easy it must be to fall into all-or-nothing thinking with such conflicting desires, and I have wondered why these pressures seem so prevalent in modern life. But my wife raised a thoughtful question about this recently. She said, "What if the reason that so many woman feel pressure in modern life is because many of their historical responsibilities have been optimized away?" The things that the average woman used to do - milking the cows, meal preparation, washing clothes, making clothes, raising children... these things were very important historically, because they were difficult tasks, extremely time-consuming, and if a family member did not do them... they were not going to get done. But now, money buys everything. The average person has enough money to buy milk, eat meals at restaurants when time is short, pay for a washing machine, purchase clothing (for the price of a meal, no less), and even send kids to day-care (although I'm not sure that's a good idea). All you need is money. For this reason, the historical roles of women have lost much of their dignity in the modern eye. These used to be specialized roles, given to the woman not because they were not important, but because they were important, and she was the most qualified person for the job. What were once mission-critical tasks, essential to the survival of the family and the species, are now simply things that can be outsourced. It is no wonder that many women find "growing up" stressful. These historical shifts have exerted pressure on them to redefine their role in society and in the family, and discover what that will look like in their life. So today, let us remember to celebrate the vital role that women have played in their respective chapters of history, and may we support and affirm the women in our life as they seek to balance these pressures and continue to play an irreplaceable role in society.