A story out today in the New York Times on rising divorce rates in rural America surprised me for its incredibly old-fashioned kernel of truth inside: women's economic empowerment leads to happier, more liberated living. From a woman who went to college and got a master's degree, on divorcing her high-school educated ex-husband:
“As we get more education we get more confidence and more income,” Ms. Vermeer said, “women are saying, ‘Look, she finally had the guts to stand up and walk out.’
I will never get tired of hearing statements like that. Compare it to leading Egyptian feminist Nawal El Saadawi's thoughts in an interview I did with her for The Nation:
Within a household, the individual woman must have power. It’s not easy—it means political rights, economic independence, knowledge. A lot of women are afraid of loneliness, so when they see a woman who can live alone, then they think, “Hmm, I can do that.” But you need an example, and that is why I am proud to say I have divorced three husbands.
Virginia Woolf, Simone de Beauvoir, Nawal El Saadawi, Mohamed Yunus, Nicholas Kristof (I hate to say it, but he's been a very vocal proponent of the economic empowerment of women) and their ilk still rule the day. As long as we're mired in capitalism, must we play the game? Hmm...