The Washington Post recently reported that fewer and fewer Americans are getting married. “Just 51 percent of all adults who are 18 and older are married, placing them on the brink of becoming a minority,” reported the Post. “That represents a steep drop from 57 percent who were married in 2000.”
Is the country better off for our lack of marriage? Clearly not. Our demographics are in decline. Many of our most talented folks are not generating talented offspring.
The better question, then, is why we’ve thrown away marriage in the first place. Looking at men’s perspective on marriage is useless here – men will generally pursue multiple women rather than monogamy if given the choice. Marriage is actually a matriarchal institution, imposed by women, for the benefit of women and children. Men benefit, too – but only after the fact.
So what happened to women? Why did they reject marriage?
Feminists celebrate the end of marriage as a wonderful way of liberating the female sex. What the feminists were truly seeking was not to liberate women from men, however – they were seeking to liberate women from children. Sex, said the feminists, was a biological urge. But children are a patriarchal colonization of the womb.
Hence the Sex in the City mentality. Women have been told they can have it all. They can wait past their childbearing prime to even look for a man; they can live with a multitude of men and still hope to settle down with Mr. Big. And, when they’re 40 or so, if they really want to, they can have an accessory baby, foist it off on the South American maid, and then head off to pilates to remain shapely and toned.
This, of course, is a fantasy. The women who live the Sex and the City reality are less happy than those who buy into those old truisms about love, marriage, and the baby carriage. Polls consistently show that married women with children are happier than their single counterparts. Married women live longer than single women. Single and divorced women are far more likely to be victims of crime than married women. Married women have more sex than single women. Women who have children earlier – between the ages of 27 and 36 – are happier than those who wait until later to do so.
Furthermore, women who do not seek out marriage and kids are less likely to achieve it. Finding Mr. Right generally requires not living with Mr. Wrong. Unmarried women sometimes wonder why the best men are all taken. Generally, it’s because the best men have the best women.
At the same time, raising good children generally requires a good father. Want a stressful childrearing experience? Try going it alone, braving the wilds of single motherhood. There’s a reason that single motherhood produces many of society’s greatest ills, from juvenile delinquency to adolescent ignorance.
So if the Sex and the City fails in practice, why do so many women buy into it? Two generations of leftist propaganda about biology doesn’t help. Since the 1960s, feminists have told women that they are biologically the same as men – they simply lack a few appendages here and there. They have the same desires, the same dreams, the same urges. This is nonsense. But it is psychologically tempting nonsense, since most people equate equality with sameness. In order for women to be truly equal to men, many women think, they must imitate them.
As a corollary to this argument, women have been told that childrearing is at best a distraction from their real work: career-building. Women can and should work – there is no doubt that they contribute mightily to American life. (As a man suffering through his wife’s medical schooling, I am a particularly enthusiastic advocate of women in the workplace.) But childrearing is closer to our raison d’etre than just one of many options. Work should not be a distraction from children.
America cannot afford a marriage-less future. Europe’s slow motion demographic suicide is a warning. If liberals really do care about the children, the best thing they can do is encourage women to get married and have them. If they don’t, they hurt the women who don’t bear them.
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