Angry Women — A Crisis of Capitalism
I didn't believe it. It started off as a simple observation. It's the type of observation you can quickly rubbish off and delete. But then it pops again, and you delete it again. Then it pops again and again, and you start researching.
Women are angrier than ever before. Yes, it can be argued that they have always been angry but the anger was suppressed and now it can be expressed, but there is more to it. This is not just about oppressed women in the religious pariah states in the Southern Hemisphere. Women are also angry in the northern hemisphere. The “Karen” trope, the “Soccer Mom” trope, the “Facebook mom” trope, and the generic “angry white women” trope is figurative of this anger. The “angry black woman” trope is also a figurative symbol of this anger. Women are angry.
There are many reasons why women are angry. Patriarchy is still lingering around. Gender-based violence, sexual assault, and outright rape are prevalent. I am here to argue that one major contributor to the anger is the economic system that they are living in.
Don't even mention the Menses!
The menses are often used as a card stacking mechanism to refute the validity of the fact that women are angry. Once the validity of the anger is declined and reduced to the menstrual phenomenon, the real cause of the anger is never investigated or talked about. Patriarchy has used this technique throughout history to normalize and trivialize women's anger and refuse to genuinely address the reasons why women are way angrier than men.
Even if we agree that the menses contribute to the anger, they can only explain 25% of the anger whereas there are way too many women who are always angry, all the time. Every day surely can't be “that time of the month”.
But Patriarchy is Receding ..?
Patriarchy as a self-perpetuating system of power has been the main source of anger for women for time immemorial. In the recent past, patriarchy has been on the decline, receding fast and society has been transformed by economic progress.
Since patriarchy has been receding, we should obviously see more women being happy, women should be happier than ever before. The reality speaks otherwise. In real life, not on Instagram pictures, women are angry. Patriarchy is of course still a factor in this, because it is still present. However, patriarchy alone cannot fully explain the phenomena of angry women.
There is Another Culprit — Its Capitalism
The agreed realism is that capitalism freed women. It empowered them. They now have financial security and independence from the old patriarchal system where they were economically chained to their husbands.
Whilst it is true that capitalism has freed women, it cannot be ignored that the same capitalistic economic system is a key factor in the frustrations faced by women.
Economically and materially, women are better off than ever, but it's like they made a deal with the devil. To get that economic empowerment they had to give their all. What exactly did they have to give? A lot.
Capitalism has a habit of Sacrificing Anything Available
Under Mercantile Capitalism, cheap and sometimes forced labor was prevalent in the production and transportation of goods. The Atlantic Triangle Trade was indeed profitable.
Under Industrial Capitalism the system did not spare children. The ruthless pursuit of profit, driven by greed, made use of Child Labor in factories. Even today, child labor is being used in some pockets of Africa, South East Asia, and Latin America. This is all done in the pursuit of profit maximization.
Sweatshops and labor camps in China, prisoners being used to package goods in China, and underpaid and overworked people in China provide a backbone for the world to enjoy cheap goods and maximum profit for the owners.
Under Money Manager Capitalism, hedge funds, investment banks, and their friends make billions from moving money around in financial markets, taking all sorts of risky gambles that can be bailed out by central banks and government treasuries at the expense of the rest of the populace.
There is a claim that these are all minor faults and aberrations of a good system. They can be dismissed as anecdotal evidence and footnotes. What I am trying to point out is how the idea of sacrificing anything and everything to the altar of profit is systematic and inherent in any form of capitalism.
Two Jobs — At Home and At Work
Most women are effectively working two jobs. This is a reality many are unwilling to accept as true yet it is a fact, a lived reality. Capitalism is a stubborn system where anything and everything can be sacrificed on the altar of profits. Nothing is ever sacred enough to be sacrificed. The family unit can be sacrificed.
The idea of sacrificing women on the altar of profit is not really a surprise. There are no sacred cows. Anything goes.
When capitalism could not get any more sons for its factories and offices, it demanded that the family should give up the daughters. The capitalistic big leap forward wanted more labor. It had to get it. At any cost. Even if that destroys the traditional family unit in the process.
Women were brought into the labor force to carry out productive work. Capitalism did not want to increase the hourly wages of men. Instead of paying the husband a wage enough to take care of the family whilst the wife performs the job at home, capitalism so it fit to find substitute labor to augment labor from men and increase the labor force. The extra labor meant that wage increases lagged behind increases in everything in the last 60 years. Now wages are so low that one salary of an average worker cannot take care of a family. You now need both the husband and the wife to go out to work, in order to make ends meet.
When women entered the productive labor force, the work at home did not magically disappear. It was still there, waiting for them to pick it up after work. Capitalism bravely attempted to solve this problem by the invention of washing machines and dryers, dishwashers and eating out (solving the cooking dinner problem) among other home inventions. But the main part of the problem was left untouched: raising a child. A child cannot be raised by machines. The answer in the form of daycare is not a cheap option. Daycare expenses and education, in general, have skyrocketed immensely and are a huge burden on the family finances.
A reduction in the size of the family somewhat eased the burden but not by much, as the costs are still too high for the average worker.
The average working woman can barely afford a domestic worker, nanny, babysitter, daycare expenses et cetera. What capitalism gives at work in the form of a salary, the same capitalism takes at home in the form of paying for domestic worker services, paying babysitters, paying for after-care, and paying for any help needed at home.
The average woman is left with very little after paying out everything and it is frustrating. This is not a personal finance problem. Women are tired of getting the “live within your means” advice. The problem is systematic. It is a crisis of capitalism.
In response, working women have delayed having babies because capitalism penalizes their careers when they do so as they lag behind others. Some have taken the oath not to have babies at all (good riddance, it solves half of the home problems related to raising kids). And capitalism supports this. A few years back Silicon Valley companies began offering an egg-freezing employee benefit to women. Beautiful capitalism. Totally concerned about profits now rather than the ability of the nation to reproduce.
The source of the anger of the modern woman is a direct result of an extremely capitalistic economic system. This system makes them work two jobs; the job at home and the job at work. We as men can deny that there is not much work being done at home. But most women feel and know that they are effectively working two jobs.
This thing of working two jobs is a primary source of frustration. It leaves them tired all the time. Working women (which is now most women these days) feel that they are continuously overworked. They feel and know that they don't have enough time in the day to perform all the functions they are supposed to. They are in a constant battle against time. They have followed the “learn-to-multitask” propaganda “to-the-book” but they still don't have enough time.
Time-Poverty is a lived reality for women. It doesn't matter where they are, in the global north or in the global south. Women are constantly lacking enough rest. This is a crisis of capitalism that has sacrificed them on the altar of profit.
Silly praises such as calling them Super Moms are not going to make them feel better. A heavily commercialized Mothers Day is not enough to take away the pain, frustration, and raw anger.
Women have been conditioned to accept this state of affairs via subtle gaslighting. Sometimes women don't even know why they are angry. They feel the anger. The anger is now systematic and growing and it is a direct result of the economic system.
Unpaid Work and Underpaid Work
Occupying two jobs is tiring but bearable when you are paid commensurately. Two jobs can be very frustrating when one of them is unpaid and the other one is underpaid.
Students who often find themselves in this scenario explain the story very well. Oftentimes a student finds an unpaid internship for the work part that is in line with his or her studies but still has to work for another underpaid job in order to raise money for school fees and subsistence. Think of an unpaid law intern, having to work at KFC on the night shift for a paltry wage. These students all agree that the situation is frustrating and untenable.
This happens to women all the time. The work at home is unpaid whilst the work at work is underpaid, in the sense that they are not being paid the same salary as a male carrying out the same job. Even if the salary is actually high, knowing that Mr. X is getting paid more creates frustration.
Homework for kids. This is a full-time job. Somebody has to talk about the quantity and complexity of homework kids have these days. If you ever get to sit with kids to help them through their homework, you can almost swear this is homeschooling. You feel you are essentially teaching your own kid at home and they are attending school to socialize. The homework is just too much.
It has increased over the years. Teachers at school spend more time planning and doing a bunch of administrative work. Curriculums have been bloated as the school system tries to catch up with the ever-evolving real world where petabytes of new information are being generated every day and new fields of learning are emerging every decade. Public schools are failing. The school system is overwhelmed. Responsibilities are being pushed back to the parents. Helping the kids with homework is not a small task. It is work. It's teaching work. You can see why some parents often become impatient.
Being Gaslighted with Capitalist Realism
Capitalist Realism is the mental acceptance that capitalism is the only viable economic system, and thinking of any other system is an abomination. This leads to a situation whereby no other alternatives are sought out. The concept was expressed by Mark Fisher (2009). Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which the victim is made to doubt her own understanding of reality.
Angry women are a victim of capitalism. The notion of being a victim is vehemently denied by society (which also includes women). Capitalistic Realism is then a form of gaslighting. It is like when an abuser says there is no other way, this is the only way. This is the way things are supposed to be.
The capitalist system does not value the work performed at home. Women who complain about this are gaslighted into accepting that state of affairs as the only viable reality.
They Individualize the Problem
The angry women problem is clearly systematic. But the capitalistic system individualizes this problem. It is reduced to a personal problem whereby women have to deal with their anger and go under anger management courses and therapy sessions.
Those who cannot take it anymore and fall into substance abuse are identified as drug addicts who need to be separated from their families and all. Flight attendants and retail workers are forced to constantly smile at narcissistic demanding strangers they don't give a fuck about, in order to comply with the “customer-is-king” capitalistic doctrine. Is there no alternative that encourages people to be genuinely nice to each other without being compelled? Being forced to constantly smile at mean people, who look down upon you is depressing. When you go home after the charade is over, you are free, but you can easily be depressed after hours of the charade that you had to perform.
Mental illness takes its toll on human society, especially women. This is why the Mental Health Crisis is real. It is not a sidenote but a crisis of capitalism. The individualization of these problems simply looks at the surface instead of digging into the root causes of these problems and seeing why so many people have these mental health issues.
Endless Consumption Driven by Advertising
The first thing that capitalism wants from women is their labor in producing goods and rendering services. But it doesn't stop there. The system also wants them (women) to perpetually increase the consumption of goods and services. It stimulates the desire (branded as a need) to consume more via advertising. Advertising has evolved over the years with technology to now include the industry of influencers who are solely meant to influence consumption patterns.
How much consumption is enough or sufficient? It's never enough. It's never sufficient. Growth (economic growth, sales revenue growth, bottom line growth, user numbers growth, et cetera) has to come from somewhere.
Women, being at the epicenter of consumption are the target. The excessive barrage of messaging urging them to spend, spend, and spend monies that they don't really have on things they don't really need leads them to a nearly constant state of anger punctuated by bouts of excitement when that good/service has been obtained. Once attained, a drug like high is also attained, but it decays quickly since a satisfied need/want does not motivate for long…and they go again, on yet another cycle of chasing the next high. The chase itself is angering.
Notice that there is a nearly constant state of anger because the chase is perpetual and the temporary highs don't last long enough (they make another iPhone, version 10.2 making your version 10.1 look like it's from pre-historic times).
This is a silent crisis, eating people in their daily lives. Because it operates on the individual level, it is not observed as a systemic and systematic problem, yet it is systemic. It is a direct result of an economic system that attaches value to hubris and encourages waste whilst penalizing anything that cannot be attached to a price tag and sold in a market.
There is no End-Game waiting to happen
The anger problem cannot be resolved. It is a new equilibrium. Something had to give and boy! gave it did, indeed.
There is no endgame waiting to happen. The anger and the mental health crisis are essentially the endgames. It is the sacrifice society makes. Society has sacrificed its women on the altar of capitalism and that is it. We live with it. It is what it is.