In an article in the Wall Street Journal on Friday called, Who Wears the Pants, Megan Basham dismisses the criticism of late (by women, of course) that says that a woman should work outside the home and have income (ideally higher than her partner's) in order to have power in their relationship. Ms. Basham's argument is based on a new study by the Pew Research Center that shows that women, regardless of their income level, wield most of the decision-making power in the home.
Of the 1,260 men and women whom Pew pollsters surveyed over the summer, 43% responded that the woman makes most of the major decisions for the family, with 31% saying that the couple makes most decisions together.
For marketers, and most women I know, this isn't new information. Most advertising is targeted toward women for just this reason. And, if anything, it's targeted to women who spend more time in the home rather than less.
Here's my question: does making decisions always equal power? And is it that women get to make decisions or that they have to make decisions because men care less than women do about decisions related to the home and their personal/family lives? And when a man might prefer to do something different than his wife suggests, does he just acquiesce because it's easier rather than because he's been convinced? Is it really "sweeter" that he wants her to be happy, as Ms. Basham suggests, or does his calculation go further? If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy, right?
It was reassuring for me - a woman who wields the majority of the "power" in her home but does not always feel so powerful - to read that older couples make more decisions together than younger couples do. I struggle with not wanting to wield so much "power" but not always being able to give it up in a healthy, appropriate, and loving-my-partner way, which can sometimes render us both without "power" or the ability to make decisions...sometimes about very simple things.
So tell me, what makes you feel powerful? Oh yeah, and when are women going to stop hating on other women?