Great article in today’s Globe by Margaret Wente, discussing the hows and whys of beautiful single women who would like to get married but can’t find a man. She cites Kay Hymowitz, author of Marriage and Caste in America, a smart book, which identifies how marriage is a great protector against poverty (to do the book no justice at all in one sentence). Says Hymowitz:
It is marriage and children that turn boys into men… Now that the single young man can put off family into the hazily distant future, he can – and will – try to stay a child-man…
In other words, why grow up, when you can get sex whenever you want and spend 25 hours a week playing with your Xbox 360?
Indeed. When sex has no ramifications at all and is a separate game entirely from pregnancy and children… Why grow up? It’s just one more reason why the friendly feministas who love abortion are, in a sense, preventing women from reaching their goals and facilitating more Xbox time for aging male adolescents. It’s not very pro-woman in my mind.
Some women don’t want to wed, and sleeping around may suit them fine. But those who do ought to know that sex without consequences is a poor way to get there.
Véronique adds: Reminds me of a conversation I had with a young man about 12 years ago. I was 22, in my second year of law school and expecting my second child. He was asking me so many questions about the reasons why I “kept” my babies. I felt like an exhibit at the anthropology museum.
At some point, I asked: “You have sex with your girlfriend, don’t you?” He answered: “Yes, of course.” I asked again: “Haven’t you thought about these things?” “About what things?” “Well, what will you do if she gets pregnant?” “Well, I’m too young to be a father!” I replied, “Well, I’m too young to be a mother, but here I am. You didn’t answer my question: What will you do if your girlfriend gets pregnant?” “Well, she would get an abortion.” I asked: “What if she couldn’t? I always thought abortion would be an option until I got pregnant. I knew immediately that I would never be able to go through with it. I think that some women are unable to even contemplate getting abortions. What will you do if your girlfriend is one of them?” “Then it would be her choice. If I choose not to be a father and offer to pay for the abortion, she’s responsible for her choice if she doesn’t want to go through with it.”
Today’s knight in shining armor offers to pay for the abortion. How did our expectations get so low?
Rebecca adds: I agree with both of you, but would add that it’s marriage and family that makes kids of any age into adults. (Well, ideally. We all know people who manage to be astonishingly adolescent despite spouses and children.) The perpetual adolescents of Friends, Sex and the City etc., generally concerned themselves with the anxieties an earlier generation consigned to high school years: Does he like me? What should I wear? Will he dump me? Should I ask him out? And so on, despite steaming merrily into their 30s and 40s.
Growing up is hard. Marriage and parenthood are hard. (For that matter, running a marathon or finishing a degree are hard. Not many major accomplishments are easy.) In a culture that values immediate gratification, and defines happiness as pleasure, rather than anything more substantial, we have essentially stopped asking people to live adult lives, which often requires foregoing transient pleasure in the short term (uncommitted sex, 40 hours a week of Xbox) for the sake of longer term happiness (building a solid family, being able to support that family.)
Hymowitz is always worth reading. Another author on the same topic is David Blankenhorn, who pointed out that if in the 1990s, fatherlessness led to a “feminization of poverty,” this only came about because of a corresponding masculinization of irresponsibility.
Andrea adds again: What a fine Valentine’s Day discussion this is: The “feminization of poverty” versus the “masculinization of irresponsibility.” Love it. But perhaps not first date material for the unsuspecting male. (Wait until the second.)