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November 07, 2014

Quote of the Day

One of the strangest themes in the conservative blogosphere is that it's not a big deal that young men aren't getting married, having children, and generally living the "Father Knows Best" traditional lifestyle. We can't help wondering how anyone reconciles that position with observations like this?

...one of the biggest, but largely unheralded, factors associated with 2014 voting patterns was marriage. Indeed, marital status proved to be more important than gender and age in predicting voting. The marriage gap in House voting stood at 31 points, compared to a gender gap of 20 points and an age gap of 27 points (between 18- to 29-year-olds and those 65 or older).

Given that young women already vote in larger numbers than young men, shouldn't we be concerned about the impact of young men NOT voting? The concern seems somewhat lopsided - we agonize about young women getting college degrees and putting off marriage, but there seems to be little support for encouraging young men to do what we so badly want young women to do: put marriage and family first.

Weird. And very unbalanced.

Posted by Cassandra at November 7, 2014 08:17 AM

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I will not believe men are without some semblance of perspicacity; that they are lacking, utterly, in discernment. I insist men are heliotropic beings, responding to light and warmth – and, subjectively, the lack of it. Make, culturally - for half a century, a travesty of the idea of marriage; inspire women to other pursuits, career paths, being the next Brown – Helen Gurley, or Tina; make men the bane of relations between the sexes and then be surprised when they appear reluctant to play head of household.

Civilization would depend upon the willingness of young women to bear children and the willingness of young men to transfer their resources and fidelity to women and children. We are now under deconstruction and demolition. Put marriage, all it has ever been traditionally, under the auspices of the gnostics, the State, and the distensions – engendered, cultivated, and nurtured by them and then be very very surprised that men have little interest in play-acting the fool.

Posted by: George Pal at November 7, 2014 01:54 PM

Make, culturally - for half a century, a travesty of the idea of marriage; inspire women to other pursuits, career paths...

Huh????

I was married in 1979 and I don't think my marriage is a travesty, or my brother's or anyone else's in our family.

My sons married 5-10 years ago and I'm pretty sure they don't consider marriage a travesty either. Both their wives work and have advanced degrees, and yet things work fine and everyone is happy.

My brother's wife has had a career since Day 1, yet they managed to raise two wonderful, intelligent, caring kids to adulthood. All with no drama. You make it sound like the end of days.

*sigh*

Whence comes all this hyperbole? I don't get it.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 7, 2014 02:33 PM

Sorry - had to run before I finished fulminating :p

Are you seriously arguing that marriage is a travesty if women are "allowed" to work or go to school? Or that women who go to school and work won't have children or be willing to work at their marriages?

If this is true, then why are women who do both these things the ones who are getting/staying married?

Something's not adding up here, George. Be that as it may, that's not even the question I asked. Your answer appears to be that unless men can control every aspect of married life, then it's a bad deal for them.

Maybe that's true, though that certainly hasn't been the case for any married guy I know and yet they appear to be pretty happy. My husband's free to leave any time he wants and he knows I wouldn't dream of asking for alimony. I don't need it, frankly.

I can support myself, yet I still value marriage and men.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 7, 2014 02:52 PM

If this is true, then why are women who do both these things the ones who are getting/staying married?

Allow me to explore an argument for a second.

Ambitious, hardworking, intelligent women (and men) retain a desire to marry because they are less susceptable to the cultural erosion of the institution of marriage.

But, as the institution is publicly denigrated (marriage as patricarchal oppression, career more important that family, till boredom do us part, etc.), it isn't surprising that the institution erodes from the bottom.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 7, 2014 04:04 PM

I think that may well be part of it, YAG. But I really don't think it's even close to being all of it, and a lot of what I hear from the right makes no more sense to me that the matching dreck from the left.

The theory I happen to favor goes more like this:

1. Intact families are increasingly rare. This impacts the next generation b/c kids have no or poor role models for healthy relationships.

2. There are too many single mothers raising children alone.

3. Boys are very likely more damaged by this, being naturally more in need of firm limits, than girls.

4. Boys are also suffering from what The Shrub called "the soft bigotry of low expectations". Big time. So they don't exert themselves the way they would if their fathers were around to kick them in the butt. And this isn't all the fault of feminism. BOTH parents have duties and responsibilities.

5. The expansion of non-wage benefits is pricing young men (and pretty much any job that requires no special skills) out of the market. Combine this with poor academics and you've got a recipe for unemployment/underemployment that's worse (again!) among young men.

6. To make matters REALLY worse, the one segment of society who *might* have offered a lot of what's missing - conservatives - seem bound and determined to defend any and all stupid life choices young men make (but never young women - mysteriously only boys appear to benefit from the 'hard wiring' school of ethics). This, in my view, is a tragedy and it's a lot closer to being a topic that I am really, really upset about than any other single topic I've ever written about.

We're failing them, in part because we're so hell bent on bashing the more objectionable parts of feminism that we overcompensate ourselves into utter intellectual and moral incoherence.

7. What do you get when you combine low societal expectations, not enough rules, general affluence/lack of consequences for screwing up/off, a crappy job market for unskilled, entry-level jobs, and young women who can support themselves (even if not well at times)?


Posted by: Cassandra at November 7, 2014 04:22 PM

One more rant :p

If I hear one more stupid, "that's just the way boys are" excuse, I'm going to go hermitile. Boys don't raise themselves, and young men (like young women) need responsible adults in their lives.

There is a part of the conservative/libertarian alliance that has constructed this elaborate, face-saving narrative that is every bit as pernicious as the narrative radical feminists are selling to girls.

Instead of making things better, we're fast becoming about half of the problem. When you look at every single institution where young men thrive, there's a single thing they share: high expectations coupled with a refusal to tolerate mediocrity.

I love boys. I raised 2 and never really regretted not having a daughter. I am really, really worried and angry about this. If we care (and we should) we'd better pull out of the circular firing squad and get our minds right on this.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 7, 2014 04:30 PM

Christ. I actually saw an article today (one of two spectacularly dumb offerings) asking the question: can character be taught?

Yes. It's called parenting.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 7, 2014 04:32 PM

You have made of my argument a travesty. And also reduced the counter to the big assumption – that experiences that constitute your individual life are representative of the greater condition. But let’s leave that aside as it has little bearing on my comment.

I am seriously arguing about marriage this: that a man and woman, made husband and wife, making children, and with them a family, make, anonymously, the most generous contribution to civilization and making the world a better place. I am seriously arguing that this view of marriage no longer survives as the ne plus ultra. I am seriously arguing that though successful marriages do in fact exist they must contend, every day, more and more, with the State insinuating itself where it has no business other than the recorder of record. I am seriously arguing that pop culture does everything it can to aid and abet the State in its deconstruction of marriage. I am seriously arguing that its (the State’s) insistence that SS marriage is equivalent to millennia old understandings of marriage is just such a deconstruction. I am seriously arguing that such a deconstruction harms civilization, harms young men, harms young women. I am seriously arguing that civilization, as we had always taken it, will not stand long by the mere application of making more women corporate power point presenters and young men rakes. I am seriously arguing, finally, that I have the taken the big picture and you have countered with a series of snaps. What do I win? ☺

Posted by: George Pal at November 7, 2014 04:45 PM

I got what George was getting at in his first comment: not that marriage *is* a travesty, but pop culture tties to express that marriage is for rubes. You get married, your days of doing what you want, when you want are over. You don't have to get married to have sex anymore, and you can sleep with a different person every night, if you want. Is that what I wanted out of life? No. And I didn't find "The One" until I was 41...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at November 7, 2014 06:35 PM

I'm not sure I agree that fathers are necessary because they impose standards and force boys to excel. Case in point: In Asian cultures, my understanding is it is the mother who is usually in complete charge of the children's education and upbringing, and who is unquestionably the harshest taskmaster and disciplinarian. (The father is often barely involved with the kids because he doesn't see it as his job.) See for example the figure of the kyoiku mama (I've even seen her called "mama-gon" or mother-monster), or Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Given that Asian countries routinely clean the U.S.'s clock when it comes to educational attainment, the system seems to be working for them.

I do think, however, the father is tremendously important, even vital, for several reasons:

First, simply having an extra parent in the home cuts down on the amount of work one parent has to do and increases the amount of time available to supervise and interact with the kids. It's a lot easier to keep tabs on how a kid is doing in school and who they're hanging out with afterward if you're not *also* working three jobs trying to support the family singlehandedly.

Second, children who grow up fatherless are likely to have huge amounts of damage related to their dad's absence that are going to affect every aspect of their lives. I've seen this in my own family -- my mom's dad walked out on the family when my mom and her two brothers were young and it caused huge amounts of psychological damage that profoundly affected them all and seriously warped their life trajectories. My oldest uncle was able to overcome this damage after several decades; my mother seemed like she'd overcome it for a while but ended up succumbing in the end, and my youngest uncle was never able to rise above it.

I don't know if you've ever read Jason DeParle's book The American Dream on welfare reform: one of the three women he followed through the whole welfare reform process was the "prison widow" Angie, whose boyfriend and "baby-daddy" Greg (I hate that term, but it's accurate) committed a murder and ended up being sent to prison for life. DeParle talks about the effect of Greg's absence on Angie's household, and describes it as so profound "it seemed like everything was about Greg. He hung over the house like a private gravity field." HIs oldest son especially was furious over his dad's absence and frequently acted out that anger by starting fights and gettiing in trouble.

Third, I think fathers are necessary to provide sons for role models of what it is to be a man. In other words, boys who don't have a father in the home to look up to are going to look for role models elsewhere and a lot of them may not be particularly good ones. Don't know if you're familiar with the work of self-defense guru Marc "Animal" MacYoung, but he said one thing about life in poverty I found very profound: that because of the absence of father figures in the home, you had warped, dysfunctional children of 17 and 18 trying to show younger kids what it was to "be a man."

My two cents. I also think a good father is absolutely *critical* for a young girl as well, but that's a different subject.

Posted by: colagirl at November 7, 2014 11:04 PM

Your marriage has held, Cassandra. My marriage did as well. However, I would be remiss if I did not say that the designed outcome is... less available these days.

For children, married parents are the best deal. For women, marriage is a good deal. For men, not so good. When women can get out of a marriage easier than breaking an apartment lease, pick up half or more of the assets, 90% of the children and over 90% of the alimony/child support, men suffer. The younger generation of men, having seen the outcome in so many cases, are less than eager to get shafted.

I have a nephew that is coming to live with me soon. He put his wife through college, and once she got her Ph.D in psychology she divorced him. He has to pay child support, isn't able to see his children (the government is keen about those payments, but doesn't care about the rest), so needs help while he puts his life back together. He hopes to go to college himself (which was the agreement between him and his wife, but that mattered as little to her as 'till death do us part'), and I'm in a college town.

My youngest child, my son, works and goes to college part time. He is tall, good looking, honest, caring, and utterly unable to play in the 'dating' games of today. Young women are encouraged to play around, have fun with the bad boys. They are told that the nice guys will still be there when they are ready to be serious. My son won't be there. If he cannot find a 'ugly duckling', a fellow introvert, he's not interested.

So, what am I to tell my nephew and my son? 'Nephew, go out and do it again'? He's already been burned once, and is dangerously close to being thrown in debtor's prison. 'Son, you'll suffer through the next ten years or so without companionship, but one of these females that won't give you the time of day will be interested in you when she's older, has a few children she wants help with and can't attract the bad boys any more'?

For guys, modern marriage is like playing Russian roulette with three bullets in the revolver. If you find someone who is honestly religious, one bullet gets removed. What's amazing is that so many men are still getting married, in spite of the odds.

Posted by: tweell at November 8, 2014 04:23 PM

Are you sure about the priority relationship here, Cass? The reason to encourage young men to focus their lives on marriage and family is so they'll vote the right way?

Posted by: Grim at November 8, 2014 09:10 PM

Are you sure about the priority relationship here, Cass? The reason to encourage young men to focus their lives on marriage and family is so they'll vote the right way?

Once again, you're putting words in my mouth. That's not what I was arguing, Grim.

My argument was that it makes very little sense to argue that single parent families make *women* more likely to vote for the Nanny State without also seriously contemplating the corresponding argument that single *men* are also more likely to vote for the Nanny state.

I'm pretty sure you can't point anywhere in this post to my arguing that we should care that young men should get married so they'll vote Republican. Here's what I actually wrote:

Given that young women already vote in larger numbers than young men, shouldn't we be concerned about the impact of young men NOT voting? The concern seems somewhat lopsided - we agonize about young women getting college degrees and putting off marriage, but there seems to be little support for encouraging young men to do what we so badly want young women to do: put marriage and family first.

While we can certainly address any other arguments you'd like to raise, I have little interest in defending arguments I haven't made and don't believe in.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 9, 2014 11:47 AM

For women, marriage is a good deal. For men, not so good. When women can get out of a marriage easier than breaking an apartment lease, pick up half or more of the assets, 90% of the children and over 90% of the alimony/child support, men suffer. The younger generation of men, having seen the outcome in so many cases, are less than eager to get shafted.

I don't believe this is true.

You argue (on the one hand) that the fact that my marriage and yours lasted - not to mention all the other marriages I mentioned! - is somehow immaterial because.... one anecdote?

How typical is your nephew's story? And why is that one story more relevant than the many other cases where marriages last?

Let's balance the argument a bit.

First of all, the majority of women who divorce are NOT better off financially after the divorce. So they're not, as you claim, "pick[ing] up half or more of the assets, 90% of the children and over 90% of the alimony/child support".

In fact, if a spouse gets half of the assets, it's because they live in a community property state. That means the man also got half the assets. I'm not really sure what other outcome one would expect in a marriage. How is the court supposed to divide property when the parties themselves cannot agree? I don't care for community property laws, but surely that outcome can't have come as a surprise to anyone who lives in such a state?

One more time, from the child support post in my sidebar, some facts:

In 2009, average child support received was about $300 per month. The median was about $147 per month. 23% of custodial parents received $417 or more. 29% of custodial parents received nothing.

Secondly, the law is facially neutral on the question of awarding both child support and custody when it comes to the sex of the parent.

If your nephew is paying both child support and alimony but has no visitation rights, he needs to go back to court. He needs to fight for the right to be a part of his children's lives.

Life is hard. When you get knocked down, you can choose to stay down or give up, or you can fight. That's what I'd tell your nephew. I know a great many women who were burned very badly by marriage, but I would never dream of telling them to give up on having a happy life and a family. I would never dream of telling them to give up on marriage as an institution, either. That way of thinking mystifies me, but I suppose giving up or refusing to fight for what you want are always options (albeit not smart ones, in my view).

Most of the women I know kept trying. It wasn't easy, but eventually they succeeded: they married again, and are now very happy. It's good advice.

People used to understand that there were no guarantees and that they'd have to fight for what they wanted out of life. I'm really confused by the modern idea that this ancient truth somehow constitutes "injustice"?

Posted by: Cassandra at November 9, 2014 12:09 PM

OK, George, let's take your arguments one by one:

I am seriously arguing about marriage this: that a man and woman, made husband and wife, making children, and with them a family, make, anonymously, the most generous contribution to civilization and making the world a better place.

Agreed.

I am seriously arguing that this view of marriage no longer survives as the ne plus ultra.

It no longer exists as the best of its kind? I don't agree with that. Plenty of people still believe in marriage, and that argument is - I believe - still the best argument for marriage. So we'll have to agree to disagree on this one.

I am seriously arguing that though successful marriages do in fact exist they must contend, every day, more and more, with the State insinuating itself where it has no business other than the recorder of record.

How does The State insinuate itself into a marriage? Please explain this argument, and I'll be happy to respond. I don't think The State is responsible for ruining people's marriages. I do think the two people involve bear responsibility for the vows they take.

I've never been a big fan of blaming others for one's own failure to keep a promise.

I am seriously arguing that pop culture does everything it can to aid and abet the State in its deconstruction of marriage.

OK. And....????

I am seriously arguing that its (the State’s) insistence that SS marriage is equivalent to millennia old understandings of marriage is just such a deconstruction.

So gay marriage is causing hetero couples to divorce? Or gay marriage is causing hetero couples not to take marriage vows seriously?

I am seriously arguing that such a deconstruction harms civilization, harms young men, harms young women.

It's quite possible that this is so, but the statement is so vague that I'm not able to tell how you think the damage is being done (nor how this uniquely makes marriage a bad deal for men).

I am seriously arguing that civilization, as we had always taken it, will not stand long by the mere application of making more women corporate power point presenters and young men rakes.

Now we're back to my original question (which you ducked):

Are you seriously arguing that marriage is a travesty if women are "allowed" to work or go to school? Or that women who go to school and work won't have children or be willing to work at their marriages?

I was quite serious about this question, and would appreciate an answer. You can accuse me of making your argument a travesty, but I'm asking you to make your argument clear so we can discuss it.

Ducking questions meant to find what exactly what you are arguing doesn't help that discussion. What - specifically - are you arguing here?

Posted by: Cassandra at November 9, 2014 12:27 PM

George, I'm going to be clear about what I think you're suggesting.

It sounds very much to me as though you are saying that marriage cannot survive in a society where women are allowed/encouraged to go to college, get jobs, and support themselves. It sounds to me as though you are arguing that marriage isn't "worth it" for men unless women are financially dependent upon their husbands and divorce is not allowed.

If this is what you're arguing, I think we should discuss that assertion openly. If it's not what you are arguing, then I would like that to be out in the open too (and would like to know what you *are* arguing, so we can discuss that).

Posted by: Cassandra at November 9, 2014 12:34 PM

Whether women are free to roam about and go to college and work is irrelevant. What and how young men and women are taught and indoctrinated with is everything.

Anecdotal evidence of personal experiences is nothing against the backdrop of the growing numbers of children born out of wedlock, single parent households and the like. And most of these are not part of the educated elite.

Dumb ideas are sold by the carload, and marketed by the Mass Media. People buy into them because they are "empowering"; more like childish evasions of responsibility.

The real winners in all this are the "wolves", the playboy man-child, who eats, shoots, leaves. Interesting that the Playboy philosophy and "woman's liberation" have coincided in time. Mass marketing of a destructive idea? You make the call.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at November 9, 2014 02:35 PM

Cass:

What you said that sounded like that to me was the earlier bit:

"We can't help wondering how anyone reconciles that position with observations like this?"

...where "this" was a piece of evidence about how unmarried vote.

That sounds like the argument pointed toward right-wing bloggers is that their perspective must be wrong because of the voting patterns. The voting patterns, in other words, is being presented as proof that the non-urging-of-young-men-to-marry is the wrong policy.

Which is what would produce the strange priority arrangement: 'we should change our arguments to get young men to marry and have families because it will produce conservative voters.'

If that's not what you meant, I get it, but I wasn't putting words in your mouth -- that's what your words sounded like to me.

Posted by: Grim at November 9, 2014 05:01 PM

Why would I expect conservatives to reconcile their position with what I think (as opposed to what they've been arguing)?

Typically when someone points out an inconsistency, it's not between what one person believes and what another person believes, but rather between different (and contradictory) positions taken by the same person.

And I didn't say anything wrt to the priority of either belief. So to me, yes - it did sound as though you were ascribing a position to me: that I thought that voting Republican was somehow the most (or even one of the most) important reasons for getting married.

That doesn't seem to logically follow from anything in my very short post. Republicans can (and do) argue all the time that single women have replaced their husbands with the Nanny State, and that this is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) reasons behind the growth of government. Yet they don't spend much time at all contemplating the other half of that equation: that it takes two people to create that situation.

When confronted with that illogical position, typically they say something like, "Well, that's just the way men are", as though that were some kind of excuse.

I'm making the same argument I make all the time: that moral double standards do not make a convincing argument for traditional values. If it's bad for the country for women not to marry, then it's bad for the country for men not to marry.

If marriage is inextricably linked to civic engagement and the building of social capital, then we need to encourage marriage for both men and women. To chide women for not marrying but excuse men for not doing so is both intellectually and morally incoherent.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 10, 2014 08:04 AM

Don, while I mostly agree with you, I do wonder whether young people make the decisions they make for the reasons adults ascribe to them.

It seems to me that most people drift into single parenthood. I'm not sure they're making deliberate choices (except in the sense that failing to take precautions against becoming a single parent could be said to be a choice, as well as a metaphor for the general way they live their lives - without planning or thinking ahead). But I don't think young women set out to raise children alone, nor do I think young men set out to impregnate young women they're not willing to marry.

I see adults constructing narratives about why marriage is declining. Most of these narratives don't make a whole lot of sense to me. One of these narratives is that young men won't marry if they can get sex outside of marriage.

I don't think this is broadly true at all. Premarital sex has always been fairly common, and most young men weren't virgins when they married even in the past. Today, most men have already had sex with the woman they're marrying. So clearly, the availability of sex outside of marriage did not deter them from marrying.

And then there's the oft-cited stat about married people having sex more often than unmarrieds do. That suggests that if sex is important to men, they'll have more of it if they marry. Now maybe they don't want more sex with the same woman (though here I'd argue that most guys just aren't all that picky). But the data don't support the notion that being unmarried is any kind of sexapalooza.

I think people tend to marry or not for other reasons, and I agree with you that the way children are raised - what they are taught, mostly by their parents - is probably a much bigger factor. And that's kind of my point here: a frequent refrain here at VC in the comments is the "marriage is bad for men/profitable for women" mantra.

No matter how many times I point out that on average, women are clearly not profiting from divorce (at least financially) the meme lives on. And then there's the spectacular illogic of claiming that marriage is "good for women" in a climate where women file for divorce 60-70% of the time.

Apparently, marriage is so "good" for us that women are leaving in droves even when that means a substantial reduction in income and standard of living, post-divorce :p

It's almost enough to make a thoughtful person wonder why women seem to overwhelmingly prefer not being married (even when they have children) to being married? If marriage were really so good for women, wouldn't they fight to get and stay married?

It seems completely illogical to suggest (as I see argued all the time) that 60-70% of divorces are initiated by women to get an average child support award of $300 a month (a whopping $3600 a year!!!!) And remember: the average skews high. The median award is half that ($1800 a year). This means that fully half of single parents get $1800 or less a year in child support, regardless of the number of children in the home.

That's hardly a princely sum, is it? As for alimony, Census bureau figures show about less than 10% of divorced people receive alimony. Clearly something 90% of divorcees don't receive can't be the major force driving divorces.

Finally, the ratio of women/men seeking divorces has remained constant for about 150 years. That suggests something more fundamental is at work. Hence my questions to George. The fact that women are voting with their feet ought to inspire some careful thought about the supposed value proposition.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 10, 2014 08:52 AM

Cass,

Michelangelo Signorile, a prominent gay activist, urges people in same-sex relationships to “demand the right to marry not as a "way of adhering to society’s moral codes but rather to debunk a myth and radically alter an archaic institution”. They should “fight for same-sex marriage and its benefits and then, once granted, redefine the institution of marriage completely, because the most subversive action lesbians and gay men can undertake … is to transform the notion of ‘family’ entirely”.

Paula Ettelbrick is former legal director of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and now executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. Ettelbrick stated,
“Being queer is more than setting up house, sleeping with a person of the same gender, and seeking state approval for doing so. … Being queer means pushing the parameters of sex, sexuality, and family, and in the process, transforming the very fabric of society. … We must keep our eyes on the goal …of radically reordering society’s views of reality."

Masha Gessen
“It’s a no-brainer that (homosexual activists) should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist. …(F)ighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there — because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie. The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change. And again, I don’t think it should exist.

These sentiments and goals differ from the State’s only in their bluntness.

You are aware of Charles Murray’s LOSING GROUND: AMERICAN SOCIAL POLICY, 1950–1980, yes? Assuming you credit Mr Murray as having taken the measure of the measurables with some accuracy, do you believe the 'lost ground' of the nature: 'shit happens'; government incompetence in insinuating itself into people’s lives by social engineering; or government treachery in same?

BTW – Charles Murray supports gay 'marriage' - a demonstration of having the ability to take the measure of things and an inability to connect more than two dots.

“Are you seriously arguing that marriage is a travesty if women are "allowed" to work or go to school? Or that women who go to school and work won't have children or be willing to work at their marriages... I was quite serious about this question, and would appreciate an answer.

Here’s my answer: Women may do as they like. So may men. If what they like is harmful personally, I ask only that I not be forced to contribute to real, putative, or deleterious remedies (perhaps I should be more forceful – demand – not ask). If what they like is harmful to the society, culture, at large, I ask only to be allowed to point it out – as a matter of fact. Seriously, if there are more than a handful of women, relatively speaking, who can win on that trifecta - school, work, family – then more power to them, but the exceptional woman is not the rule (nor the man – I hasten to add).

Posted by: George Pal at November 10, 2014 11:11 AM

I wonder if it could be that marriage had to hold a certain level of attraction for women when they couldn't prevent pregnancy and had little chance of earning a good living, and now has to hold a higher level of attraction now that neither of those conditions applies.

I also wonder whether Tolstoy had it backwards after all. The happy marriages I'm familiar with encompass a wide range of approaches, from male-earner to female-earner to double-earner to child-heavy to childless to heterosexual to homosexual to religious to secular to conservative to liberal. The unhappy marriages all seem to involve the conviction of one or both partners that they have the right to keep the other in a box, and expecting society to help keep the box lid shut tight.

On our walk this morning, I was musing over how much I cared about the views of my marriage that may be held by the government, the Church, the neighborhood, our families, our friends, Hollywood, the Internet, either political party, or academia. The truth is, only two people get a vote, and they both live under my roof. We stay together because that's what both of us are determined to do. We don't need or want a lot of help from anyone else, and I guess we don't encourage a lot of input. The bond between is not quite unconditional, but nearly so, and it stays that way because the two of us make it that way. If we need something more from each other, we find a way to ask for it and work it out; we don't just assume that one or the other of us owes it as part of a structured, bifurcated role.

Posted by: Texan99 at November 10, 2014 11:38 AM

George, if you are asking only to be allowed to comment on other people's values, choices, etc., then I don't think I disagree with you.

I will say that being "allowed" to comment and having the right to do so without other people doing the same are two very different things. But I don't believe you're asking for the latter (to be the only one allowed to comment). So we have no disagreement there.

And I don't have any quarrel with not wanting to have to pay for the consequences of other people's bad decisions because I share that desire.

But I still would like to know whether you believe that men won't consider marriage to be "worth it" unless they can limit the choices women are allowed? FWIW, this is an idea I have often times entertained. What I *feel* about such a position is something you can probably easily imagine.

But in the long run, as a matter of real world behavior, my opinion doesn't really matter any more than the opinions of men who believe women ought to want what they think women should want :p We don't get to tell other people what they should value.

Another thought I've had many a time is that conservatives do argue (a lot) that men won't marry unless we vastly restrict their options. It's basically an argument for social coercion. As a practical matter, I have trouble seeing being "out of your mind horny" as a sound basis for choosing a life partner. Perhaps a system in which that life partner can't support herself and can't leave the marriage no matter how bad things get is the only way to "force" women to choose marriage.

And perhaps a system in which men can only have sex inside of marriage and in which their children will literally starve if they don't work hard is the only way to "force" men to choose marriage.

But if either/both of those theories are true, we're saying that people must be forced to live as we want them to live. I don't see you supporting that (this would be inconsistent with previous statements you've made on the subject) but I'm not convinced whether government "caused" people to prefer to make their own decisions or whether people have gradually decided they prefer to make their own decisions and as a result, government changed to accommodate that desire.

What's the solution? I don't see a governmental one that either conservatives or liberals would accept.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 10, 2014 11:47 AM

The happy marriages I'm familiar with encompass a wide range of approaches, from male-earner to female-earner to double-earner to child-heavy to childless to heterosexual to homosexual to religious to secular to conservative to liberal. The unhappy marriages all seem to involve the conviction of one or both partners that they have the right to keep the other in a box, and expecting society to help keep the box lid shut tight.

That's an interesting way of looking at this.

The happy marriages I've seen share these characteristics:

1. Realistic expectations. IOW, no one can "make" you happy except you. Happiness is a personal decision and a personal responsibility, not a right.

2. An ability to compromise and respect the other person's point of view (whether you can understand it or not). After 35 years, there are still things I don't understand about my husband (and vice versa). But I have never believed it was his duty to be more like me. Rather, it's both of our jobs to try to understand each other and ensure that we both get value from the relationship (however we measure it).

Expecting to control the other person violates #2 big time.

3. They put the marriage first: before their personal desires, before their careers, before other friendships, before children or the Internet or TV or sports or shopping or Facebook.

4. Reciprocity: both partners actively put time and effort into maintaining their relationship, and they maintain balance over time. This one is pretty crucial, I think. It's not that everything's 50-50 every day. Sometimes it may be 90/10. But over time, if it's always 90/10, the marriage won't last.

If you don't have faith that what you put into your marriage will be reciprocated, the marriage won't last.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 10, 2014 12:03 PM

”But I still would like to know whether you believe that men won't consider marriage to be "worth it" unless they can limit the choices women are allowed?

I reiterate (from my initial comment) “I will not believe men are without some semblance of perspicacity; that they are lacking, utterly, in discernment. I insist men are heliotropic beings, responding to light and warmth – and, subjectively, the lack of it.”

I add, it’s not limiting the choices women are allowed. Of all the married men I know, friends and acquaintances, I had never come across the 'patriarch'. I am left with the notion that that strain of man had gone the way of the dodo. I believe men would think marriage, even serious relationships with women outside of marriage, "worth it" if they (men) were not subject to the routine vilification as troglodytes, the bane of sexual relationships, their every 'move' sexually felonious, and that ultimately, in the end, men are just insensible, i.e., “they just don’t get it” – and never will. I will not believe that so many men, suddenly, at this point in time, had, all of a sudden, soured on marriage – without believing someone had first wantonly and considerably acidulated the institution.

What's the solution?

That reality’s heretics – the gnostics - be, as in the good ole days, subject to autos-da-fé.

Posted by: George Pal at November 10, 2014 01:27 PM

First, my nephew has gone heavily into debt fighting for his parental rights. Every time he took his ex to court it cost ~$5k. The judge would listen, then tell his ex to allow his visitation. She'd agree, then would deny as usual the next weekend, alleging child abuse. He won every time, but four times later couldn't borrow any more money. Enforcement? Ha. If he's late with the child support check, now that's a totally different scenario.

Second, logic has very little to do with divorce. Yes, the man is generally doing better five years afterwards, and the woman isn't. Short term, the woman gets the house, a vehicle and child support, and can go have fun with exciting men instead of that boring provider guy. The ability to think long-term is not as common as you may think. My wife and I watched our oldest daughter destroy her marriage because her husband didn't 'do it' for her any more. She then played around, and is currently with 'thug, jr.', a much younger guy who plays around on her and uses her as a home base. There's considerably more story there, but not going to tell right now.

Women will overwhelmingly go for the safest option, the guaranteed minimum. The government payments for single mothers for their children qualify in spades for that. Is it a decent life? Not really, but those government handouts are guaranteed. The black community has been devastated by this program with 80% of children born out of wedlock, and it is doing the same to the white lower class, working it's way up. The UMC and wealthy are the only ones to not be hurt here.

Posted by: tweell at November 10, 2014 01:48 PM

I believe men would think marriage, even serious relationships with women outside of marriage, "worth it" if they (men) were not subject to the routine vilification as troglodytes, the bane of sexual relationships, their every 'move' sexually felonious, and that ultimately, in the end, men are just insensible, i.e., “they just don’t get it” – and never will.

I don't even know what to say to this, George.
Are you seriously arguing that many (or even most) women believe (must less say) any of these things?

Or are you suggesting that men have become so exquisitely oversensitive that they cannot handle the very same criticisms women have heard from [some, not all] men for millennia?

If so, then I have to agree with you: people who are that focused on what [some] other people think of them, to the point that they pre-judge fully half of humanity are in no way ready for marriage. They're simply too fragile to live in the world at all.

I don't agree that men are that fragile.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 10, 2014 02:01 PM

”Are you seriously arguing that many (or even most) women believe (must less say) any of these things?”

I’m seriously arguing that the culture relentlessly engages in that narrative, and the cultural transmitters transmit it, and the cultural demolishers and dissemblers find it useful. Whether it is true or not is of no consequence – the 'big lie' in the furtherance of fundamental transformations is useful even beyond useful idiots. Further, the institutions - universities – routinely convey the message and the State makes itself complicit with VAWA laws - as though violence were not a sufficient cause of consternation but against women – OMG!

”focused on what [some] other people think of them, to the point that they pre-judge fully half of humanity”

I insist, no matter how many headlocks, armlocks, or wedgies you are intent on administering, it’s not pre-judging half of humanity (women) I’m engaging in. I am wed to post-judging the culture and the government and the zeitgeist, and the madness.

I’m in no mood for a dissertation – not that if I were in the mood I’d be up to it but:
Feminism for Bros:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVHYvUpeqKI&list=UU8h-zImKfDO1ssJ7ocOuFMw

It NOT 'can' I – it’s 'may' I – knucklheads. May I upchuck?

Posted by: George Pal at November 10, 2014 02:58 PM

The "culture" says all kinds of unkind things about me every day, but I don't let it get in the way of being happy with my excellent husband. Why would I blame him for the crazy stuff that emanates from Hollywood or the Internet? That's why I married him instead of one of those guys; among other things, he's capable of thinking for himself. Isn't that the whole point of courtship, to weed out the people whose views make it clear they'd never be happy married to you, and vice versa?

I read about how women are harridans, hypercritical, etc., and just shake my head. If that's what a guy thought of me, I guess he'd be dumb to marry me. If that's what a guy thinks of most women, he's probably better off without marriage.

Posted by: Texan99 at November 10, 2014 03:53 PM

Yes, the culture says much about women that is inelegant at best and offensive at worse but does cultural rudeness extend to 'right think’ political correctness, social dismissal, legal sanctions? We are well beyond Hollywood and the Internet. Have women, by dint of their sex, been assumed to be sex felons. Does it fall on them that they ought take it as given, by dint of their sex, that they are responsible for ‘rape culture'. What would be the equivalent, for women, of 5 Ways To Teach Men Not to Rape? 5 Ways To Teach Women Not To Be Sluts Just Asking For It?

I dare anyone – double-dog dare them. Make of 5 Ways To Teach Women Not To Be Sluts Just Asking For It a teaching moment. Have young women entering university subjected to the mini course during first week orientation. Ever hear screeching cats?

Posted by: George Pal at November 10, 2014 05:04 PM

I guess my point is that, no matter how mean the culture is to me, that doesn't affect my view of my husband or my wish to stay married to him. If I'm mad at the culture, I try to change the culture. I don't give up on my marriage or resent my husband. He's not part of the culture that's villainizing me.

Posted by: Texan99 at November 10, 2014 06:56 PM

If all it takes for large numbers of men to decide that marriage "isn't worth it" is for some part(s) of "the culture" (in other words, that amorphous thing composed of "other people's diverse opinions") to say things that make a guy feel bad...

Yikes.

I'm with Tex. "The culture" says bad things about women all the time. "They" also say bad things about men. That has always been the case. Get over it. There is no natural right not to be criticized.

The thing is, no one marries "the culture". You marry *this* man or *that* woman, not "all men", "all women", or even whatever minority happens to be saying things you don't like at the moment.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 10, 2014 08:50 PM

I don't know very many happily unmarried men.

Posted by: spd rdr at November 11, 2014 09:32 AM

+1 to spd.

Posted by: Grim at November 11, 2014 09:53 AM

Texan 99 and Cass,

How is it the two of you can’t/won’t venture beyond what is said to what is being done. I take it as no personal affront that Adam and Steve want to share bodily fluids as 'husband' and 'wife'. I take it as an affront to reality. If I am outraged on the behalf of reality I believe it incumbent on me not to get 'over it'. There’s more here at stake than my feelings. If either of you believe you are secure in that neither of you have married the “culture” you have not been paying attention. You may have no interest in the culture but the culture has an interest in you.

I am happy, I am, swear to God, for all the happy marriages in the world. Will marriage proper continue? Of course it will. Will the assault on marriage continue? It does – unabated. But Gresham’s Law may pertain to more than money – the bad drives out good, the bad diminishes the good, the rotten apple spoils the barrel, salt the ground salt the bounty. Actions have consequences. That such as contraception and abortion had not done away with children is no solace. That the assault on marriage will not do in the bedrock of civilization is no solace. The damage done in both cases will be great, the unforeseen consequences greater. And I’ll not get 'over it'.

Posted by: George Pal at November 11, 2014 10:35 AM

One of the weirder things about being a military wife for 30 years is that you spend extended periods of time essentially living like a single parent/single person.

In my case, fully 4 of those 30 years were spent alone - four 12-month hitches along with so many shorter ones that I've never even tried to count them.

I moved into the first house we bought at the age of 23 with two small children under the age of 4. Alone. I closed on the mortgage alone, and moved in alone, and unpacked alone. My husband was in Oklahoma for 4 months.

The upside of all this is that I know I could find a way to be happy if I were not married. But I would not be as happy or as deeply contented as I am simply knowing that I have a partner in life who will walk along with me down that winding path into old age and eventually the end of life.

Last year I watched my parents struggle with two bad falls, two hip surgeries, and two long hospital stays and long rehabs. That misfortune, difficult as it was, was a reminder of how very blessed they have been to have each other. Even with the inconveniences and irritations and even sometimes the terror and the heartbreaks that come with letting another human being get that close or mean that much to you.

Yes, my marriage has worked out. It has not been without its own share of difficulties and sacrifices. I believe we have earned what we have many times over. Getting married back in 1979 was a huge personal risk for me. I gave up college, gave up the ability to earn enough to support myself, gave up so many of the dreams I had for myself. Gave up putting down roots in a community, gave up long-term friendships, gave up raising my children in one place, gave up control over where I lived. That last one is pretty basic, and bothered me more and more with each passing year.

There is so much poison on the Internet. I have at times let it affect me, to the point where I had to walk away and rebuild my faith in people bit by bit. At times, some of the comments here at VC have damaged that faith. Usually it's the corrosive anger directed at women ("Oh, not you Cass - you're different. I didn't mean *you*. But women.... women are screwed up.").

And you know what? I am different. And so is Tex, and Elise, and Miss Ladybug, and DL Sly, and colagirl. I can't think of too many things we all see exactly the same way and our lives are very different. But we're all women.

I suppose one has to decide which voices to pay attention to in life. Which ones will matter most to you. Which stories shape your world view? When bad things happen, or good people voluntarily allow bad ones to hurt them, will you let that warp your entire world view? Will you take refuge in silly generalizations like, "Women only like bad boys" (ignoring all the women who choose good men) or "Women want the sure thing" (ignoring all the Biblical Ruths who take risks and give up all control over their lives to follow a man) or "Women are never happy" (ignoring all the women who take responsibility for their own happiness) or "Women are irrational" (ignoring the ones who don't act that way)? or "Women complain about everything" (ignoring both the many women who don't complain and the large number of men complaining on the Internet 24/7/365)?

Will you be one of those people who rail on and on about stupid, irrational women who choose the wrong men (but when a man chooses the wrong woman, that's not stupid or irrational)?

Life is full of risks. Men risk (and give) much in marriage. So do women. We can withdraw and be "safe" or we can engage and champion the things we claim to believe in. Men are supposed to be risk takers (this is what I'm told every day - women are risk averse and want someone to take care of them, men are bold and daring). I think both sexes are blind to the risks the other one faces.

It's all about us.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 11, 2014 10:50 AM

But, once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each other to see the other whole and against a wide sky!
-Letter to Emanuel von Bodman, August 17, 1901


Posted by: Drive-by Rainer Maria Rilke at November 11, 2014 12:16 PM

I had never seen that quote. It's beautiful.

I was thinking the other day about how often the image of a spark is used to describe the tension between men and women. We strike against each other and rub each other the wrong way and that contact can be violent, painful, and even frightening at times. But properly handled, it can also create a steady flame that warms us and lights our way.

Or causes nasty burns :p


Posted by: Cassandra at November 11, 2014 02:03 PM

GP, you're worried about bad examples being set, I suppose. I can understand that. Maybe the difference between us is in what we think the bad examples are.

I probably embody many of the terrible things you think have happened to women, or to the culture of women, just as you appear to embody the aspects of the culture that I am inexpressibly relieved to see in the rearview mirror. Not that I object to your living that way, but I'm awfully glad of a husband who sees things differently.

I don't believe the culture would suffer if many or even most women followed my example. I certainly don't think people will suffer simply from being exposed to the dangerous knowledge that I live the way I do. By the same token, I reckon they can bear up under the strain of knowing that gay people can live together happily.

Posted by: Texan99 at November 11, 2014 04:10 PM

Whew, talk about Mars and Venus.

Not being married (but yes, would very much want to be), my position on this matter is very suspect, but it is mine nonetheless.

@colagirl: Actually, while the mother (more properly, the matriarch, as opposed to Wife No. 6) is very powerful in a traditional Asian family, the father also very much remains a real figure. Generally, the mother may lay down the law, but when it comes to enforcement, the father's the one with the rattan cane (or belt, as the case may be).

Cassandra, I think you're right; conservative men (and perhaps men in general) *should* be encouraged to marry wherever and as soon as possible. Of course, telling that to the 30 million men in China who have *nobody* to marry (except each other) due to some truly monumental stupidity shown by Chinese autocrats /might/ get you biffed on the head. But hey, that's in China.

I think that George's point (which to some degree, I kinda sympathise with) is that while individual men and women - maybe even many, many such individual men and women - find true fulfillment in marriage and are able to work out their differences (even have knock-down fights but make up afterwards), such men and women are fighting the tide. Should the others be blamed for giving up? Perhaps not; they should rather be given encouragement to persevere.

To my mind (and you married folk can start laughing right about now at how naive I am), the ideal marriage sort of looks like this: the man goes out and fights the good fight and brings home the bacon, while the woman does the *really* hard part - make sure there's a home to come back to in the first place. Christians might add that the wife subordinates herself to her husband as the Church subordinates herself to Christ, while the husband cherishes and loves his wife, not only with his death, but with his life (just as Christ did).

Now, the problem is this: Hollywood culture mocks this ideal/traditional look of marriage. Indeed, it mocks the very institution of marriage. In real life, marriages break down - it's a sad fact, but it happens. But in Hollywood, this is not seen to be sad or a problem! There are stars and celebrities on their 6th or 10th marriage!

Furthermore, when women make the choice (which some do, presumably) to be stay-at-home mums, they get mocked! People are told that they need to be financially independent before they start thinking of marriage - and men especially are told to sow their wild oats first. Another monumental act of betrayal, if you ask me.

But look, Cassandra. I think a large part of the issue is that Western people are being infantilised far too long. Kids aren't allowed to go out and play anymore. There are a million and one regulations, and if you spank your kids, Child Services will come and take them away. As a result, many are unable to take to parenting (for which marriage should be a prerequisite) - whereas in the past, with familes of 18 kids or so, by the time you hit 15, you've had *plenty* of experience taking care of your younger siblings.

In addition, like it or not, *true or not*, whatever other things they may or may not see that are contrary, men are being bombarded by the following messages:

- By virtue of being men, they are automatically suspect of being potential molesters, sexual harrasers, rapists and paedophiles
- By virtue of being men, they will generally get the shaft when it comes to alimony payments
- By virtue of being men, they will *also* generally get the shaft when it comes to child custody and visitation rights
- Most divorces are initiated by the women
- God help you if your divorce judge is a woman, and even if it's a man
- Money will buy you everything, including sex and companionship
- Men have no biological time bomb, while women do, so why marry early when you can instead concentrate on your career, build up a nest egg and then use a matchmaking website.

Again, *true or not*, that's what they're hearing. In forums, on divorce websites, in the news, everywhere.

The solution, of course, is to counterbalance the nonsense being pumped out. But it is admittedly an uphill battle, because women are hearing the same messages. In the past, marriage *was* the norm; it's what you were /expected/ to do, and if you didn't (and weren't in a monastery or nunnery), what's the matter with you. Today, the entire culture seems hell-bent on telling men that marriage is useless and even hazardous to them. A fiscal conservative may very well look at the numbers and agree.

Which is a shame, because conservative/libertarian men and women making lots and lots of conservative/libertarian babies is critical to maintaining Western civilisation today.

Posted by: Gregory Kong at November 13, 2014 11:51 AM

Should the others be blamed for giving up? Perhaps not; they should rather be given encouragement to persevere.

I don't think I was arguing that unmarried men should be blamed. What I was saying is that too many conservatives blame unmarried women but make endless excuses for unmarried men. My personal preference would be for the culture to encourage marriage for both sexes.

But blaming one sex and not the other doesn't make sense since it takes two to tango (or not tango) :p

...when women make the choice (which some do, presumably) to be stay-at-home mums, they get mocked! People are told that they need to be financially independent before they start thinking of marriage - and men especially are told to sow their wild oats first. Another monumental act of betrayal, if you ask me.

I agree with all of this. A lot of what turns young people off conservatism is the completely asymmetrical focus on telling young women how to live their lives while giving young men a complete pass. That doesn't exactly project moral integrity. No one - male or female - likes being told what to do. When it becomes obvious that the supposed moral standard being advocated is one male conservatives don't hold themselves to and don't expect of young men, no one in their right mind is going to pay attention.

I think a large part of the issue is that Western people are being infantilised far too long. Kids aren't allowed to go out and play anymore. There are a million and one regulations, and if you spank your kids, Child Services will come and take them away. As a result, many are unable to take to parenting (for which marriage should be a prerequisite) - whereas in the past, with familes of 18 kids or so, by the time you hit 15, you've had *plenty* of experience taking care of your younger siblings.

Good point! Parenting requires self sacrifice and the ability to set an example. But too many adults today... aren't adults.

men are being bombarded by the following messages...

Yes, they are. Mostly from a small but very vocal group liberals. And I agree that's wrong and offputting. What I don't see much recognition of among conservatives is that women hear some pretty awful things from a small but very loud group of voices on the right and there's really almost zero self-awareness about this.

When I see popular conservative bloggers fulminating about "sluts" and "whores" while acting and talking like the worst kind of man themselves, I can't help but roll my eyes. How do we help our cause by being needlessly (and hypocritically) insulting to women?

Answer: we don't, and we're making the same mistakes we chide the Left for.

How do we support marriage and parenting when we tell men they shouldn't even consider marrying?

Answer: we don't. We're openly undercutting our own positions and doing even more damage to the institution of marriage. We're cutting off our own noses to spite our faces and we end up looking like we don't really support traditional values at all. We're not even willing to fight for them.

Anyway, thanks for your comments!

Posted by: Cassandra at November 13, 2014 10:06 PM

The Daily Caller can have good stuff for a conservative to read to stay informed. But they far too often have stories of a prurient interest, as if they assume all their readers are frat boys. Case in point: http://dailycaller.com/2014/11/13/this-years-victorias-secret-holiday-commercials-are-the-best-ones-yet-video/. And that is tame compared to other "news stories" I've seen there in the past.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at November 14, 2014 12:32 AM

@Cassandra: My efforts at blogging are, at best, sporadic. However, I agree that we should not hold women up to one standard and men to yet another. I certainly don't see why if I expect my future wife (whosoever she may be) to have kept her pants on prior to marriage, I should not also be expected to have kept *my* pants on also. Which, as an aside, I have.

I would say, though, that perhaps I, too, have blinkers on. I generally spend more time around Christian sites, and in those sites, we *are* told to, in effect, man up.

Posted by: Gregory Kong at November 14, 2014 02:34 AM

Gregory:

I don't read many blogs at all any more - I'm far more likely to read op-eds and articles than blog posts. But I do enjoy your comments here very much, even when we don't see things exactly the same way. Perhaps especially then!

I do see Christian sites exhorting men to 'man up'. They're one of the very few venues out there to actually be consistent - they urge women to "woman up" too. I happen to think we all need to person up. That's part of being an adult. So I see what you're talking about there.

I stopped reading all but a very few blogs a long time ago because I was tired of getting angry at the ridiculous things I was reading. I got tired of the fulmination about kicking all the dirty, traitorous RINOs out of the party (!) or alternating religious content with content I'm pretty sure they wouldn't bring to Bible study, or running adverts with nekkid and nearly nekkid women in their sidebars (juxtaposed with anguished cris de coeur: "Why, oh why can't today's young women keep their legs crossed and be more modest and refined - yanno, like dear old Mom???"). The wag in me kept imagining "dear old Mom" (or maybe one of their daughters?), sans shirt or undergarments, winking at me fetchingly from the sidebar :p

Why, indeed? What you reward, you get more of.

My favorite example is the day I surfed in to a very popular conservative site only to see an article comparing the average cost of procuring a hooker in several major US cities.

[thud]

It's hard (pun fully intended) to take people like that seriously. There seems to be no professed belief they don't gladly violate on a daily basis. There are also plenty of sites where there's just a steady diet of Page Six-esque content. That bothers me less because generally you don't see the mixed messages there. I know those sites aren't designed for me, and they're so obvious that they're easy to avoid.

The ones that sucker you in manage to post interesting commentary interspersed with Tourette's-like outbursts whenever (I'm guessing) the old Id slips the leash or a nearly nekkid lady squirrel dashes by. The aging frat boy shtick isn't what I'd call brand-enhancing :p

An old fashioned lady expects an old fashioned man, but these folks seem to want it both ways: to have all the lovely freedom they rail against while expecting those horrid, loose women who ruined Western Civilization to behave themselves (but not just yet, dear Lord - not yet!).

And then they wonder why women roll their eyes and dismiss them?

Posted by: Cassandra at November 14, 2014 07:17 AM

The Victorian novel I've been Gutenberg-proofing lately (from which I quoted briefly at Grim's place) is a nice refuge. The plot, as in many such novels, turns on the tribulations of a young man seeking to marry a young woman in dire straits. Since he doesn't have a home or a steady income yet, he can't just rescue her and carry her off. He has to involve various friends and family members, none of whom spare him from straight talk about what it means to set up a household and be a husband. In the meantime, he's casually helping a friend court another young woman by various subterfuges, and is brought up short by his aunt, who wants to know what assurances he can give her that he knows his friend well enough to judge whether he's grownup enough to settle down. Anyone can be captivated by a pretty girl, but does he understand what it means to make an adult commitment?

The novel chooses to focus on the characters who think this way, but there are always those in the background who buy into the quite prevalent fashion of permanent bachelor-children, only interested in the excitement of the chase and conquest. It's not new. Hardly any temptations are ever really new. If you pay attention to the clamor of the part of the hedonistic part of the culture that lacks principles, you'll be led astray--but there's never going to be a world in which no one sets you any bad examples.

And while we're on the subject of bad examples, a lot more conservatives might try paying attention to the message they send when they hold women, especially homemaking women, in casual contempt for the narrowness of their views, their annoying habit of limiting their husbands' carousing, the puniness of their contributions to the economy, and their demand for financial security in exchange for the expectation that they'll completely give up establishing any independent earning power. If I hear one more guy complain about a wife who divorces him and takes half of "his" stuff I may throw up. A real conservative would say "with all my worldly goods I thee endow," and mean it. When you're a head of household, your earnings aren't "yours" any more.

Posted by: Texan99 at November 14, 2014 08:55 AM

Until quite recently, most of our good furniture consisted of pieces I bought in junk/antique shops and painstakingly refinished or repaired. We also inherited quite a few family items from both sides of the family, pretty much all of which I have also reupholstered myself at least once, refinished, etc.

So if we'd ever gotten divorced, I would have given up half of the things I personally labored . Which makes perfect sense to me because in marriage there is no MINE - just OURS.

Similarly, during the long years when I did not earn a wage, I did manage our money, do all the shopping, pay the bills, keep up our home (inside and out), etc. Over the years, I've painted, landscaped, built furniture, etc. So I think I'm entitled to half of what WE (not my husband alone) own jointly.

So like you, I find the constant "She took half MY stuff" to be clueless, childish, and tiresome. Jeez - do these people seriously feel entitled to the lion's share of "ours"? In a similar vein, complaining about having to support your own children is not behavior I expect from a grown man. So many people don't seem to grasp the concept that they have a duty to keep a roof over their own children's heads and put food into their mouths and clothes on their backs (whether or not they're being "compensated" by sex from the mother of their children). They're separate duties owed to different persons.

And there seems to be no recognition whatsoever that they'd have to pay through the nose for child care if they had custody. Because ain't no way they would be staying home with the kiddies. If the custodial mother works (most do), she has to pay for child care too. This is so obvious it's amazing it has to be pointed out, and it wouldn't need pointing out of some of these guys had ever paid attention to what it takes to care for children. Fairies don't show up in the middle of the night and do the work - I know: I was a stay at home wife and mother for years, and I wasn't sitting on my tuckus watching soap operas. I didn't have time.

It's really kind of surreal.

I totally agree that children need their fathers and that custody arrangements should - wherever possible - ensure that fathers can be a constant and guiding and active presence in the lives of children. At the same time, I'm very much aware - because I worked in a family law practice for a while, and because I know people in this situation - that there are fathers who view divorce as some sort of pissing contest where they "win" by besting their ex in court, but often don't even want what they're fighting for.

Example from my extended family. Dad with 3 children doesn't pay his child support, insists on visitation but then parks his children with his girlfriend while he's out carousing and goofing off with friends. Mom frequently sees him out and about during visitation weekends, sans kids. And she sees the kids out with the girlfriend, who has absolutely NO biological relationship to these kids and isn't anything approaching a mother figure to them. She's just as along and "stuck" as Mom was during the marriage.

There are horror stories everywhere you look, and I've never quite been sure why people expect courts to "fix" any of this? If you marry someone who is a sociopath or control freak or is dishonest/immature/irresponsible, whence comes the expectation that government can make that right?

These situations are tragic - and I say that in all seriousness. And many of the stories related here are heart wrenching.

But I know of so many situations where things were equally unfair to the woman - where the father lies and hides money and doesn't show up for visitation (hurting the children and completely disrupting the mother's schedule after she has rearranged it to facilitate one more disappointment for the children). And the courts can't fix those situations either.

Bad people are.... well... bad. You can blame the system, or you can blame human nature. Personally I've never seen how any system can fix this kind of mess. The problem occurred back during the mate selection process, or possibly during the marriage when the relationship was allowed by one or both parties to deteriorate. And good people are taken in by bad ones all the time.

It was true in Charles Dickens' time (classic literature is full of such tales) and it's true now.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 14, 2014 09:44 AM

My late uncle was the one who took us aside (my then-fiancee and I) and tried to talk us out of marriage with stories of divorce and the disruption and pain it causes. We were not persuaded, and at least so far it's worked out.

On the other hand, I'm not sure 'half my stuff' means 'half the stuff.' I could easily walk through this house and identify whole rooms that are full of her stuff, to which I would have no proper marital entitlement. It would be an affront to take half of her artistic tools and supplies, for example, even though a substantial amount of "our" money has gone to purchase them. If I were to try to lay claim to half of that, she might well be justly offended.

But our society seems rather confused about property ownership, just now.

Posted by: Grim at November 14, 2014 10:35 AM

If we had ever gotten divorced, I would have assumed that anything that came from my husband's family should go to him, so I agree with you.

It has just struck me as very odd when I hear men complaining about having to split the marital property. They seem to expect "their half" to be more than half :p And quite a few seem to believe they shouldn't have to support their own kids. There's no recognition that the children have any right to expect both their parents to take care of them - as though they are mentally divorcing their kids when the marriage ends.

It's very strange to me.

Another thing that has always puzzled me is not understanding that being a custodial parent impacts one's earning ability and disposable income. If you take two parents, both earning the exact same salary, and one has custody and one doesn't....

Think about it. One has child care expenses. The other doesn't. One has to rent/own/maintain a big enough house or apartment for children. The other doesn't. One needs to live in a good school district (which adds to home prices/rent). One doesn't. One has to buy clothes for the kids. And pay for food. And utilities. And medical/dental expenses.

The other doesn't. Whose income will go farther?

What's "fair" in this situation? Do fathers really want to punish their children economically because their mother left? It often seems so to me from the arguments I read.

Obviously, this doesn't apply to fathers who want to be the full time custodial parent. And if they are the FT custodial parent, Mom owes *them* child support for all the reasons stated above!

That kind of situation isn't very common, but I'm not convinced it's not because.... MISANDRY! Typically courts look at who provided the bulk of the child care before the divorce and seek to maintain that status quo afterwards. This is neither sexist nor illogical.

There have always been benefits and drawbacks to being male, and others to being female. Most of them are more situational than gender-related (a man in the similar situation will have most of the same problems as a woman in that situation and vice versa). It's just that more women than men find themselves in certain situations (and vice versa).

Posted by: Cassandra at November 14, 2014 10:55 AM

@Cassandra: Well, as to the very narrow, very specific issue of women paying alimony, anecdotal evidence (which isn't really evidence unless there's a mountain of it all nicely statistically analysed) from divorce lawyers who deal with it suggests that women HATE paying up even more than men do (which, to me, is frankly incredible in the original sense of the word).

But it's hard for me, you see, because the general idea of 'divorce' I have in my head is the type of divorce that comes about because of 'irreconcilable differences' or 'no-fault' or '(s)he doesn't understand me, boo-hoo)'. I recognise that there are cheating husbands/wives (and they absolutely should be held to account and their wages garnished, small govt and libertarian principles be damned), and there are also physically/emotionally abusive husbands/wives (who also absolutely should be held to account and so forth).

I will *never* consider divorce as acceptable outside of these two areas, though, and so whoever initiates it for any other reason should, I think, walk away with only what he or she brought in prior (and contributed to during). And in the cases of non-amicable divorces, there's not much point in talking about principles, I know, because emotion and pride and all other sorts of human imperfections are already deeply rooted, and yeah, it's a turf war.

My modest proposal would be that the kids should go to the godparents, so that they're not in the line of fire, at the very least. Heaven forbid that they're divorced too...

Posted by: Gregory Kong at November 14, 2014 11:31 AM

All immature people hate paying their obligations. I wish half the human race could be said to be immune from it, but that's the breaks.

Posted by: Texan99 at November 14, 2014 02:15 PM

But it's hard for me, you see, because the general idea of 'divorce' I have in my head is the type of divorce that comes about because of 'irreconcilable differences' or 'no-fault' or '(s)he doesn't understand me, boo-hoo)'. I recognise that there are cheating husbands/wives (and they absolutely should be held to account and their wages garnished, small govt and libertarian principles be damned), and there are also physically/emotionally abusive husbands/wives (who also absolutely should be held to account and so forth).

I should like to comment on this. My wife was married previously to marrying me, and she had one of those "no-fault" divorces. And far from how you portray it, her case was indeed very different. Her ex-husband did not beat her, or mistreat her, or indeed even cheat on her. He just refused to hold a job. And he lied about it. He would quit a job, and not inform her of the fact until weeks later. He wouldn't lie about it, he'd just not bring it up. And after like the third or fourth job, when she asked him flat out if he had quit his recent job, he conceded that he had and that she had been dropping him off a "work" and he would just sit around until she picked him up in the afternoon.

So she kicked him out. And even in doing so, I hardly think you could call her cruel. She gave him the combined bank account, kept all of the debt, and all of his stuff (clothes, personal items, etc). In exchange, she got a no-contest, no-fault divorce from him. He's married now, with a kid, and doing fine. They're even friends. But clearly they were incompatible. By your standard, sir, she should have stuck with him and "rode it out." And I can understand that opinion, but clearly, I disagree with it. We've been married 18 years now, and I don't see any possibility of divorce in our future.

I'm certainly not berating you, I just wanted to make you aware that sometimes "no-fault" does not mean "I'm just tired of you".

Posted by: MikeD at November 14, 2014 02:20 PM

@MikeD: That is your right, and I will defend to the death your right to disagree with me. And I can see why such an exasperating man would grate on anybody. And also, there will always be extenuating circumstances that I am unaware of, so I refrain from commenting on any individual case unless I know more details.

Nevertheless, I hold on still to my opinion. I trust that it is also my right to do so.

Posted by: Gregory Kong at November 15, 2014 04:08 AM