In How not to F### them up there is a really good section on material depression with an extract from W R Gove in Sex differences in the epidemiology of mental disorder: evidence and explanations so I thought would share this extract as I think it is so true. One thing to keep in mind this book was written in 1979!!!! How much has changed in our lives and how little!!!
Gove lists six reasons why the social role of modern woman should make them more depressed than men:
First, full time housewife have only one potential area for gratification – the home – compared with men who have their job as well. If a man is unhappy in one area, he can turn to the other area as an alternative source of gratification. This is not an option for a housewife.
Second, for most full time housewives their primary focus is childcare and homemaking but these activities do not require a great deal of skill and are of low status. Women with high educational qualifications and intellectual abilities would find such unprestigious and undemanding work frustrating.
Third, the lack of structure and invisibility of the housewife role makes it easy to let things slide into a brooding, ruminative state which then feeds on itself. There is no workplace to distract the mother from her problems and the work is held to be inherently depressing.
Fourth, for those women who do work, it is usually ill paid and of low status, seen as secondary to that of the man. Coupled with the arduous childcare and housework, these mothers end up working longer hours than their man and yet are accorded less reward then he is.
Fifth, the female role is unclear and contingent compared to that of males. It leaves women feeling uncertain and lacking in control.
Sixth, in the past families were larger and women were responsible for childcare for most of their adults lives. Housework required considerable more skill and the housewife was seen as being an integral part of a family enterprise. With the advent of small families, modern equipment and industrial employment, the homemaking role lost respect.
Of course I don’t agree with everything that he wrote but I do agree with some of it and I think it is scary that he wrote this in 1979! I do agree with the lack of respect that housewives (such an old fashioned term) get. Being a mum is the freaking hardest thing I’ve ever done and man is it unappreciated in the wider world. Being a mum itself is super rewarding watching the kiddies grow and develop is amazing and I feel so lucky that I can be at home and be a part of everything but that doesn’t change the way the world reacts to mums.