Modern “Romance”

I’ll admit it, I never liked Sex and the City.  Its premise to me always seemed amazingly depressing, and the idea that women can take on men’s vices and then get old-fashioned fairy tale endings seemed counter-intuitive, if not outright delusional.  The Mr. Bigs of the world don’t date older average-looking, high-maintenance career women and marry them.  They may have sex with them, but no rings are exchanged.  Men who are Masters of the Universe marry supermodels whose skin is still dewy, whose boobs are still perky, and whose fertility is still in full bloom.  That may not be fair, it may not be romantic, but that’s the way it is.  Anyone female who survived high school and was honest with herself can give you a pretty accurate estimate of what her social value was and tell you which guys were “out of her reach” (as well as those she considered “below her touch”).  It’s the same after high school, with a fair number of other complicating factors thrown in the mix.

Last week The Weekly Standard ran an article by Charlotte Allen called “The New Dating Game: Back to the New Paleolithic Age” which discusses what passes for dating in the 21st century.  Hook-ups and shack-ups and sport fucking – that’s apparently where it’s at now, and women are seriously shooting themselves and their futures in the feet.  Forget HEA, forget romance.  Practically speaking, this kind of behavior will result in years of up-and-down narcissistic dating and eventually either loneliness or serious settling – as Lori Gottlieb examines in a controversial article she wrote in 2008 for The Atlantic, entitled “Marry Him!” – an article she expanded into an entire book.  Gottlieb explains that she thought she had plenty of time for career and dating and motherhood, but then her twenties, which had been dating-rich, turned into her thirties and her prospects became less and less palatable.  Determined to be a mother, despite Mr. Right’s tardiness, she had a baby thinking that taking the ticking biological clock out of the equation might do the trick.  It didn’t.  Her value on the dating market had fallen so precipitously that guys she would never have considered ten, maybe even five, years prior started to look good.  But they weren’t interested in her anymore.  Much of her sexual capital was spent, and she was never getting it back.

What no one – or correction, what few women – is saying or has said for decades is that men are attracted to women mostly on how they look and women are attracted to men mostly on what status they have or what confidence they exude.  Which means Carrie Bradshaw in real life would have had the best chance to hook a Mr. Big when she was in her early twenties, fresh and firm, and not nearly so well educated or experienced.  Physicality isn’t the only thing that men look for in a long-term partner, but it’s probably the most important one.  Especially for high status guys who do not have to compromise because of what they bring to the table.  Those same guys don’t want women with a long sexual history either.  Not to marry. Not to have children with.

Now, if you don’t want to marry and don’t care if you have children, the world is yours as a modern woman.  As long as you can finance it yourself, you can live life pretty much as you please.  But lots of women still want to get married.  Intelligent women, women with great careers, women who consider themselves liberated or feminist.  They still want that ring.  And to get that ring you have to have something to offer a man, something he values as a man.  Which is not necessarily what a woman sees as valuable.  Not at all, in fact.

For some time I’ve been browsing sites written by men about men and how they see the dating market.  I interloaned a copy of The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists by Neil Strauss.  I went though post after post on Roissy in DC, which The Weekly Standard references as a main site for guys who are focused on bettering their game so they can “pump and dump” the highest number of women possible.   The site is pure hedonistic nihilism, but it doesn’t flinch in saying exactly what men today want [Warning: do NOT go there if you can't handle a lot of female bashing; it's raw, it's angry, and it's deliberately offensive].  I checked out Manhood101.com and a number of other places in the blogosphere.  There are a lot of angry guys out there, and many of them appear to have cause.  But all of them pretty much agree that the women referenced in the article in The Atlantic – the party girls who seek out Tucker Max, the girls featured on hotchickswithdouchebags.com – as well as your average woman looking for love in bars or clubs or the places men go, can be brought to heel and to bed with Game – a series of psychological ploys that manipulate a woman’s desire for high status or dominant men.  They feel Game is the great leveler, the thing that will make regular Joes into Casanovas and give them the power in the relationship, specifically the power to pump and dump.

These women will not be walking down the aisle any time soon, though.  Because if, like Lori Gottlieb, they wait until their careers are established and their lives are in order, the best they will be able to do is settle.  It hardly sounds romantic.  No wonder we read romance novels.

- Rachel Potter

79 thoughts on “Modern “Romance”

  1. You summed up Game perfectly by describing it as “a series of psychological ploys that manipulate a woman’s desire for high status or dominant men”.

  2. OMG…

    I am not a feminist. I’m an equalist.
    I am well aware of the necessity of feminism some 100 years ago, and greatly thankful for the fact that because we have had feminists, I now have human and civil rights that a lot of women still today lack.
    Nevertheless, TODAY a lot of women calling themselves feminists are still harping about something that happened to Gloria Steinem some 50 years ago… or their mothers or grandmothers.
    A lot of feminists are also trying to push matriarchy and punishing men for not being women. It has gone so long that women calling themselves feminist seriously suggest laws that require extra gender taxes from men, so that women could get some gender benefits like free menstrual aids etc.

    I am not Christian, I am not Conservative and I am not a SAHM, and I have also met with women who call themselves feminists who look down on women who ARE Christian, Conservative SAHMs, simply because they are that, for no other reason. Isn’t the idea of Feminism to embrace the different faces of womanhood, and being a non-career woman who cannot think anything better than to find a husband and start breeding at the age of 15 one of them? What gives you the right to judge them as lesser beings than you are?

    BTW, I hate Sex and the City. Carrie is extremely egocentric, shallow, stupid and, frankly, not even pretty. Having passed 30, she had also passed her “best before” date. Let’s face it, the world is full of brainless and beautiful women around 20, who are more than happy to just sleep with Mr. Bigs of this world, so why would they even look at these girls’ older and uglier big sisters? Also, Carrie is notoriously promiscuous. She is upset with her boyfriend whom she claims to love, so she jumps in bed with a guy she just meets in a party? Heck, she jumps in bed with a guy who just wants her, even without being upset with her boyfriend. Then she thinks an apology makes everything right? WTF?!

    Also, after years of hopping from bed to bed, what is the answer to all their questions, the epithome of happiness to each and every one of the SATC women? MARRIAGE!!!

    So, yes, I actually agree with Hilary Mantel. Let’s all have kids when we are under 20, so that we can do what we want with our lives after that :-D
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/women_shealth/7332066/Novelist-says-girls-are-ready-to-have-babies-at-14.html

  3. KarenS, could you please identify the “shortsighted” posters who have based their objections to feminism on information from their ministers and Fox News? It should be easy to do, as all the posts are date- and time-stamped.

    I’ve gone back and skimmed them all — 72 responses at the time I reviewed them — and there have been very few references to religion and none to Fox News (until yours). I’m a self-identified anti-feminist, and I’ve explained in an earlier post that I’m not a churchgoer. I also basically haven’t watched television since 1998, when Fox News had been on the air for merely two years.

    Conservatives have a much right to assess blame as anyone else; and in the case of liberalism and its subsets, as a conservative, I can tell you that a lot of “movements that want to improve the lives of people” use that as a smokescreen for an underlying agenda that’s far less positive — for example, I’ve run into countless “anti-racists” who are far more concerned with payback for whitey than they are with improving the lives of minorities.

    As for feminism, it’s not about “improving equality between the sexes” or else feminists would be clamoring for women to comprise half the workforce in dangerous jobs held almost exclusively by men, so that the workplace deaths would be 50% male and 50% female instead of the 93% male that it is now. You just don’t find feminists lobbying for more women crew members on the boats of The Deadliest Catch.

    I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve stated here that I support women’s rights, but not feminism. I don’t think feminism has much to do with women’s rights or equality. That’s all window dressing for the underlying but true double-motive of (1) hostility toward western religion (Christianity) and undermining its resulting traditions; and (2) getting back at men for millenia of patriarchy wherein they enjoyed power and ease while keeping their foot on women’s necks.

    So. Obviously, when you say “feminism” and when I say “feminism” we’re not talking about the same thing.

  4. Jenn, the cultural mindset I was speaking of doesn’t just “allow” women to have sex outside of marriage (sometimes resulting in pregnancy) but encourages it, and frequently for the reason you hinted at — because men get to do it.

    I can’t for the life of me see what’s good and valid about that reason. First, I don’t think male promiscuity is admirable at all and the boys I grew up with were not taught that it was. They may have indulged, but if they bragged about it, they did so only to each other; it wasn’t something they could proudly announce, like making the Honor Roll or winning an MVP award or becoming an Eagle Scout.

    Second, deploring sexual “segregation” for women when men are not so segregated is an indicates a breathtaking disregard for the reality of a fundamental difference between men and women. At the risk of sounding patronizing, men do not have wombs; men cannot get pregnant. Perhaps it seems unfair, but it is incumbent upon the one who possesses a womb to prevent pregnancy, if pregnancy is not wanted, and if that means curtailing, or even denying sexual indulgence when that would be best, so what? It’s not the end of the world, or the ruin of a woman’s life.

    But men get to do it? Men also get to die in 90+ percent of work related accidents. Life isn’t perfect for anyone, male or female, old or young, rich or poor….

    When you get down to it, two of the strongest motivations underlying feminism are quite indifferent to how women are and what’s best for them. The first is hostility to religion, particularly Christianity in the West. A lot of the efforts (particularly in academia and popular culture) of progressivism, of which feminism is a subset, is geared toward separating children from the religion-based standards of their parents, creating in them hostility or indifference toward it.

    The second is hostility to men (“patriarchy” being a code word for “men”) seen in divorce and child custody laws that favor the woman virtually automatically; rape being redefined to include consensual sex a woman “feels bad” about the next morning; and violence-against-women laws that classify a man raising his voice as “violence.” I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture.

  5. MarySk, I don’t have any theories about feminism. I’ve drawn conclusions and developed opinions based on my observations and ‘ve been quite specific about what they are.

    I don’t know how many single mothers don’ t get married because their aid would be cut. If you do, perhaps posting the figure would add more to the discussion than simply asking a rhetorical question. I do know that census data indicates that less than 1/3 of single mothers receive public assistance. Again, as reported by About.com (link in earlier post) —
    Among custodial single mothers:

    – 22% receive Medicaid
    – 23.5% receive food stamps
    – 12% receive some form of public housing or rent subsidy
    – 5% receive receive

    Most single mothers and their children do not live in poverty

    – 27% of custodial single mothers and their children live in poverty

    Most single mothers are employed

    – 79.5% of custodial single mothers are gainfully employed — 49.8% work full time, year round; 29.7% work part-time or part-year

    If the study you’re talking about is the one featured on Frontline, it indicates that the brain undergoes a burst of development between ages 11 and 13, and continues developing at a much slower pace thereafter.

    To imagine that teens are capable of learning in school, of driving, of holding a job and successfully practicing responsibility in many areas but suddenly become incapable of it where sex is concerned just doesn’t cut the mustard. They engage in risky sexual behavior because we live in a permissive society that encourages them to, and they get almost no encouragement not to.

    Your question about why women get pregnant when birth control is readily available is a good one. It isn’t because “groups” are maliciously keeping the information from them, and it isn’t because they’re teenagers with insufficient myelin. It’s a choice. Most single mothers aren’t teenagers, anyway.

    Per census data, the average age that women give birth for the first time is 25. Of the women who gave birth in 2006 in Arkansas, only 13.3% of them were teens, and Arkansas’s percentage is among the highest in the country. (These figures are for all mothers, so they include single and married ones.)

    That girls who sleep with their boyfriends aren’t thinking about gender identity doesn’t really address my position; the fact is, you don’t have to think about feminism to be affected by its influence, which is pervasive in the West.

    You ask, “How you can just dismiss the impact of economics on the effects of poverty and single parenthood is just beyond me.” If you will look back at what I actually said, I didn’t “dismiss the impact” of economics; I simply did not address it because, as I explained, I don’t believe it’s the primary, or determining, issue.

    The economy is cyclical. There have been bad economic times before but they didn’t cause the huge percentage of single parent families we see today.

    • Connie Chastain: I don’t know how many single mothers don’ t get married because their aid would be cut. If you do, perhaps posting the figure would add more to the discussion than simply asking a rhetorical question. I do know that census data indicates that less than 1/3 of single mothers receive public assistance. Again, as reported by About.com (link in earlier post)

      Statistics cannot tell the story of each woman or her reasons for doing what she did. Not receiving assistance was ONE of the reasons I gave for SOME women not getting married. I imagine the MAIN reason women don’t get married is the men don’t want to marry them, a story as old as time or women decide they don’t want to marry the man.

      Connie Chastain: To imagine that teens are capable of learning in school, of driving, of holding a job and successfully practicing responsibility in many areas but suddenly become incapable of it where sex is concerned just doesn’t cut the mustard. They engage in risky sexual behavior because we live in a permissive society that encourages them to, and they get almost no encouragement not to.

      Teens also have higher insurance rates for a reason…they are more likely to get into accidents. Some teens are responsible, some are not. The risk to teens is not just for pregnancy and not just for women. Having unprotected sex can be a matter of life or death. With that message CLEARLY out there, why do teens continue to engage in risky behavior? Both sexes should be responsible for birth control. Why do teenage boys drag race their cars or dive off bridges? At that age, kids do not think bad things can happen to them. They think they are immortal. They ARE impulsive and unless you (collective you) acknowledge that and are more vigilant about their safety, then we are putting them more at risk by demanding behavior they might not yet be capable of giving. My kids know they have to call me when they are out and let me know they arrived safely. If they don’t, I take their keys away. If you think teens are fully responsible, then you must not be around them very much. My house is the hangout house and I have dealt with more teen problems from kids who aren’t mine than my own. Even when we are vigilant and raise our children with sound values, they still make mistakes. Take Bristol Palin for example.

      We are not going to return to the halcyon 50s. It is not going to happen. So instead of blaming women for societies ills (especially since most policy decisions are still made by men), why don’t we try and put the anger aside and help one another. The single biggest influence on children when they are young are their parent(s). Make sure you instill a strong foundation during this time. As they enter the teenage years, their peers’ influence grows. Make sure you know you kids’ friends and know where your kids are and what they are doing as much as possible.

      Egalitarian marriages are more likely to be successful than unequal ones. We have not even touched on single motherhood by race. People tend to marry within their own class or education level. One problem effecting black women is the lack of marriageable males within their own race. Biracial marriages are becoming more common, but people still tend to marry like. Black women attend college at higher rates than black males. It is therefore not surprising that black women fail to marry at higher rates than white females. Encouraging and helping more black males attend college would help this situation. Most college educated people meet their mates in that setting. College graduates are more likely to marry. Less educated women tend to divorce at higher rates than educated women. (http://www.jacksonvilledivorcelawyerblog.com/2010/02/college_education_leads_to_happier_longer_marriages_for_florida_women.html). So government policies that make it easier for our citizens to attend college would be beneficial to society as a whole.

  6. I believe what has annoyed most of us favoring feminism over this discussion is the short-sightedness of posters who believe what either their minister or Fox News tells them. It is a concerted effort on the conservative side to undo progress. Some folks just relish the 1950s a little too much. It was a great time to be a WASP-white anglo-saxon protestant male but an unequal time for anyone else–even WASP females didn’t have it so good either.

    1st – I don’t watch TV, so no FOX News in my house. 2nd – I keep waiting to hear a really great “Abortion is murder” homily from my priest, but a lot of what comes from the pulpit is watered-down exhortations like “Love your neighbor.” and “Help the poor.” It’s been that way for a good long time now, and I don’t think it’s helping church attendance any either.

    I definitively reject modern feminism (second wave feminism and beyond) and refuse your attempt to shame me with the “Bernadette Arnold” label, KarenS. I graduated high school in 1989, over 20 years ago, and even then I had no problems getting into a good college, getting scholarships for good grades, finding employment, finding housing, or getting health care. I’ve never seen myself as a victim of The Patriarchy and have never bumped my head up against the glass ceiling. Let me reiterate: I have never experienced real sexism. Ever. I’m not saying it wasn’t ever there, but by 1989 when I turned 18, it wasn’t a barrier for me AT ALL in accomplishing my goals. 20 years later feminists are still droning on about inequality and raising consciousness and male advantage, when in fact boys and men haven’t had the advantage for decades. More girls go to college now than boys. Employment opportunities are skewed towards women, child support laws drain men out of a lot more money than it takes to support their children and judges de facto place kids with mothers over fathers even when both are quality parents and both want custody.

    Modern feminism isn’t about equality, it’s about female supremacy. It’s about constantly demanding more opportunities for women, and ignoring the fact that most of the dangerous and physically challenging jobs are still done by men. Why aren’t feminists demanding more women get killed in combat or get hurt in industrial accidents? Because feminists would just as soon men keep those opportunities. Why don’t they care about male reproductive rights – the rights they have to their unborn children? Because that’s not on the equality agenda.

    But that is not my main beef. My main problem with feminism is that it is destroying the primary building block of civilization – the family. Look back at 1965. How many moms and dads lived together with their biological children? How many do today? And I’m not talking about how many intact families you know. This site has an educated, literate, middle class audience, and for the large part marriage is still intact for the middle class. But it isn’t for the working class. Marriage is going the way of the dodo bird for them, and children will pay for the fact that their parents don’t live together and care for each other anymore. They will pay economically, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And then we will all pay when they grow old enough to start voting, legislating, and making policy.

    There is a male backlash coming for the unfairness feminism has wrought. Whether it’s men refusing to marry, men demanding that accusations of domestic violence and rape be proven before an automatic jail sentence is given, or men just dropping out of employment and off the tax roles and letting women pay for all the expensive entitlement programs they demand themselves. It’s coming. Because the way it is now is not equal – for men. And they are bigger than women, physically stronger than women, and, unlike the unborn, can do something about the injustice.

    If women want things to be better for their daughters, they should get married and stay married. A girl is both safer and more likely to thrive if her father is in the house with her and a presence in her life. It’s that simple.

    • AAR Rachel: Modern feminism isn’t about equality, it’s about female supremacy. It’s about constantly demanding more opportunities for women, and ignoring the fact that most of the dangerous and physically challenging jobs are still done by men. Why aren’t feminists demanding more women get killed in combat or get hurt in industrial accidents? Because feminists would just as soon men keep those opportunities. Why don’t they care about male reproductive rights – the rights they have to their unborn children? Because that’s not on the equality agenda.

      My hope would that we attempt to increase safety standards in certain dangerous industries so that no one, male or female, is hurt. I have no problem with women serving in combat units or registering for the draft (and I have two daughters). I would hope that we would elect government officials who are diplomatic and discerning so that none of our children are forced to go to war unless ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY! If that happens, I will volunteer for the military myself. As to reproductive rights, I am sorry…but that situation is inherently unequal. Men do not have to risk their health or perhaps their lives to carry a baby 9 months. If we ever get to the point where all pregnancies are gestated via test tubes, then I will be first in line for men’s reproductive rights.

      AAR Rachel: If women want things to be better for their daughters, they should get married and stay married. A girl is both safer and more likely to thrive if her father is in the house with her and a presence in her life. It’s that simple.

      Let me ask you this question. Who are the daughters safer FROM? Who is more likely to do her violence? Is it the Granny down the street? This is tantamount to telling a woman that it is her fault she was raped because she wore skimpy clothing. That men must be some lower life forms who cannot control their urges. Your emphasis here is not on the people who would hurt the daughters, but on their mother for not having a father in the house to protect them. How can men be the victims here when they tend to be the perpetrators? Yes, there are some violent women in the world, but they are minuscule compared to violent men in our society.

      I respect your right to believe whatever you wish, but I think that sometimes hindsight is seen through rose colored glasses. Women in the 50s and 60s were raped, just as they are now. Women in the 50s and 60s were beaten and abused, just as they are now. There are a number of myths that have sprung up concerning today’s families. I am including a link. Happy reading.
      http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1272/is_n2631_v126/ai_20077695/

  7. Came across a book that I feel may be pertinent to our discussion. It was recently released. The main points of the book is that economic inequality, not overall wealth or cultural differences fosters social breakdown by boosting insecurity and anxiety that leads to divisive prejudice between the classes, rampant consumerism and mental and physical suffering. It says inequality causes shorter, unhealthier and unhappier lives, increases the rate of teenage pregnancy, violence, obesity, imprisonment and addiction. It destroys relationships between individuals born in the same society but into different classes.

    The conservative movement needs to stop blaming feminism, liberalism, socialism and atheism for the problems in our society as they are not the cause. It’s always easy to point the finger at movements that want to improve the lives of people.

    I believe what has annoyed most of us favoring feminism over this discussion is the short-sightedness of posters who believe what either their minister or Fox News tells them. It is a concerted effort on the conservative side to undo progress. Some folks just relish the 1950s a little too much. It was a great time to be a WASP-white anglo-saxon protestant male but an unequal time for anyone else–even WASP females didn’t have it so good either.

    The funny thing about the distortion of the truth is that if you say something enough times it becomes the truth. Whether it’s true or not doesn’t matter. What’s important is whether people believe it to be true.

    One of the goals of feminism is to improve equality between the sexes which ultimately improves economic equality. Trying to create a level playing field is a good thing for women and ultimately their families. However, this isn’t in the best interests of some institutions so with all their capital they can throw a lot of money at discrediting progressive movements that are trying to improve people’s lives.

    Women who defame feminism are Bernadette Arnolds in my book. You think nothing of betraying your fellow sisters because you have so little regard for yourself. Most of you think the ideal society is one where women have no rights and are beholden to the men who control them. Bernadette is seriously out of touch.

  8. Mary, I have not derided (i.e., mocked, scorned, ridiculed) single mothers or women. To deplore the negative effects of widespread single parenthood on mothers and their children, and on the culture at large, is not deriding or dehumanizing them. To say that a strong and stable culture depends on strong, stable families is not condemnation of anyone — only that which undermines the strength and stability of both.

    One might as well claim that anyone who deplores the negative aspects of cancer is deriding, mocking and ridiculing cancer patients.

    I have frequently encountered among the champions of feminism the attempt to deflect criticism of it by equating it with women, and then claiming criticism of feminism is criticism of women. It isn’t. Similarly, I’ve encountered many progressives who habitually interpret conservative criticism of a situation or circumstance as condemnation of people in or affected by the circumstance. Thus, for example, if a conservative points out the failure of the Great Society, progressives are apt to interpret that as condemnation of those victimized by the Great Society.

    That seems to be what you’re attempting with your post; however, I reject the notion that disapproval of policy, philosophy, circumstance, or even behavior, is the same as condemnation of people.

    You say, “My sources say that the number of single parent homes is now 9 million…” What is your source? I do not see where you have cited one.

    My source is the U.S. Census Bureau, as reported on About.com:

    http://singleparents.about.com/od/legalissues/p/portrait.htm#

    ———

    According to Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2007, released by the U.S. Census Bureau in November, 2009, there are approximately 13.7 million single parents in the United States today…

    Approximately 84% of custodial parents are mothers…

    ———-

    By my calculation, 13.7 million x 84% = 11.5 million.

    I did not address the effects of the economy on single parenthood because I don’t believe that’s the primary, or determining, issue. I have nowhere claimed that feminism is on the minds of single mothers. You certainly don’t have to be a champion of feminism to be victimized by it — that is, to be victimized by the negative aspects of a culture under feminist and/or progressive influence.

    I also did not claim WorldNetDaily as an unbiased source. However, a source does not have to be unbiased in order to be correct. If you can find some error in Vox Day’s conclusions about the Barda study, I’ll be happy to look at it.

    The WND article is quite specific about what it addresses — a comparison of the divorce rates of Christians and atheists, not simply that of people in conservative states. I don’t know of any study or survey that categorizes divorced individuals in conservative states by their religious affiliation (or lack thereof). If you know of such, I’ll be glad to look at it, too.

    I certainly have no objection to helping single parents and children; I don’t think you can find anything in any of my posts here that indicates I do. However, I’m not going to applaud a cultural mindset that encourages circumstances which result in more women ending up as single moms whose children are greatly more at risk from social pathologies, and then claims it’s okay — or which claims criticism of the mindset is condemnation of single moms.

    Nor do I blame feminism for all of society’s woes — only those it is responsible for or contributes to.

    • Connie Chastain: I did not address the effects of the economy on single parenthood because I don’t believe that’s the primary, or determining, issue. I have nowhere claimed that feminism is on the minds of single mothers. You certainly don’t have to be a champion of feminism to be victimized by it — that is, to be victimized by the negative aspects of a culture under feminist and/or progressive influence.

      No you haven’t addressed the economics because that would blow your whole “feminism is responsible for the ills of society” theory out of the water. How many single mothers are single because to get married would cut off their aid? How many boys don’t marry the girls they impregnate because they don’t have a job that pays enough to support them? Why is a 17-21 year old girl pregnant in the first place when there is plenty of contraception available? Because there are some groups out there that do not want teens to know anything about sex education. I just read a study by a neuro-scientist that stated teenager’s brains are not fully developed. That they do not have the adult level of myelin coating that is necessary to connect the rest of their brain to the frontal lobes allowing them to fully deliberate before making decisions. Therefore, they tend to make impulsive decisions and both sexes are driven by hormones at this age. As long as there are girls who want someone to love and boys who tell them, “if you really love me baby, you’ll go to bed with me,” we are going to end up with unintended pregnancies. I seriously doubt that girl was thinking about gender identity politics when she slept with her boyfriend.

      What EXACTLY are these feminists advocating that you blame for the destruction of the family? Do you think most women WANT to be single mothers? I think if you interviewed them, most would tell you they dreamed that they would get married to the love of their life and raise their children in a two parent home. How has feminism sifted its way down to the teenage girl that CAUSES her to CHOOSE single parenthood?

      Statistics are all well and good, but until you can show causation, you are just tilting at windmills. One of the things that made the middle class so strong in the 50s was the existence of the G.I. Bill. Returning servicemen were able to further their education and command higher wages because their education was paid for. Financial aid policies at the federal level have hacked away at that aid and rising tuition costs have made it difficult for families to afford to send their kids to college. How you can just dismiss the impact of economics on the effects of poverty and single parenthood is just beyond me.

    • Connie Chastain: However, I’m not going to applaud a cultural mindset that encourages circumstances which result in more women ending up as single moms whose children are greatly more at risk from social pathologies, and then claims it’s okay — or which claims criticism of the mindset is condemnation of single moms.

      Nor do I blame feminism for all of society’s woes — only those it is responsible for or contributes to.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but my impression is that “the cultural mindset” is “promiscuity” that allows women to have sex outside of marriage that results in pregnancy.

      I assume this means going back to the previous cultural mindset that segregated women into mothers/whores. (Men are obviously never going to be so segregated.)

      How does this improve society?

      Why not improve access to birth control, which is obviously one of the prevailing methods being utilized by secular countries with negative birth rates. I doubt that European women aren’t having sex, they’re just using birth control.

      But in America, I find that many Conservative Christians actually WANT pregnancy to be a side effect of kids having sex because it’s supposedly a deterrent…based on the stats, this is obviously NOT TRUE.

      Personally, I think that the sexual revolution was important to women. I know this is something that a lot of romance readers are still not comfortable with. They want their men slutty and their women virginal. If it’s in keeping with a specific time period, I can live with this, but if it’s a contemporary, I’m not reading it. I’ll read a book where, due to religion both the man and the woman are virginal, but not the secular books that never use religion as a reason, but rather the ridiculous notion that the woman has never been attracted to a man before the hero. Sorry, but that’s a fantasy I just can’t buy because it’s a reality that is insulting to women’s sexual identity as people.

      MarySk: tatistics are all well and good, but until you can show causation, you are just tilting at windmills. One of the things that made the middle class so strong in the 50s was the existence of the G.I. Bill. Returning servicemen were able to further their education and command higher wages because their education was paid for. Financial aid policies at the federal level have hacked away at that aid and rising tuition costs have made it difficult for families to afford to send their kids to college. How you can just dismiss the impact of economics on the effects of poverty and single parenthood is just beyond me.

      I agree with you. However, I get the feeling that a lot of folks, when fantasizing about the world before feminism, are fantasizing about a world where women keep their legs closed and don’t have sex because the consequences, unwanted pregnancy, proved disastrous. An unwed mother was ostracized. I just read a biography on Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Carly Simon. Carole was forced to marry at around 17 because she got pregnant and Joni hid her pregnancy as long as possible and then gave her child up for adoption. This was reality at this time.

      But of course, another reality was that it was actually possible to be relatively poor, but for a single earner in the family to get some remedial job that would allow everyone to have a roof over their heads and food on the table. That’s just not possible now in many, many places.

      I make great money, but I can’t afford to buy a house in Oakland, CA. Instead, I rent an apartment that costs nearly 1/2 my take home pay. It’s a one bedroom in a nice part of town.

      Economics goes hand-in-hand with so much of what we’re discussing. The Scandinavians are having plenty of sex (lots of venereal diseases in those countries!) but they aren’t having kids until they want to. Once a choice is made to have a child, the state is able to step up and give the parents of said child a minimum of a year’s paid maternity/paternity leave.

      When I lived in Korea, I met Swedes who were traveling around the world with their small child because they were on paid leave. That just seemed awesome to me. (I just celebrated my 5th year at the same company and still get 2-weeks paid vacation a year, with 3 months maternity leave if i were to get pregnant, only 1 month of which is paid…and that’s generous compared to many.)

      I’m proud to be a feminist. Hillary Clinton’s campaign showed me that feminists are still desperately needed to combat the blatant misogyny that pervades our culture. (And a lot of the world, American men aren’t any worse, and are actually quite a bit better, than many of their counterparts.)

  9. Hmm.. My post disappeared? So here’s another try.

    You live and learn (I hope this isn’t veering to far off topic):
    I did some more reading about the birt rate vs. socio-economic level of countries and came accross a couple of interesting wikipedia articles.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fertility_rate:

    “Developed countries usually have a much lower fertility rate due to greater wealth, education, and urbanization. Mortality rates are low, birth control is understood and easily accessible, and costs are often deemed very high because of education, clothing, feeding, and social amenities. Further, longer periods of time spent getting higher education often mean women have children later in life. The result is the demographic-economic paradox. Female labor participation rate also has substantial negative impact on fertility. However, this effect is neutralized among Nordic or liberalist countries.

    The fertility rate of the total U.S. population is at around the replacement level of about 2.1 children per woman. However, the fertility of the population of the United States is below replacement among those native born, and above replacement among immigrant families, most of whom come to the U.S. from countries with higher fertility than that of the U.S.[citation needed] However, the fertility rates of immigrants to the U.S. has been found to decrease sharply in the second generation, correlating with improved education and income.”

    And http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographic-economic_paradox

    The demographic-economic paradox is the inverse correlation found between wealth and fertility within and between nations. The higher the degree of education and GDP per capita of a human population, subpopulation or social stratum, the fewer children are born in any industrialized country.

    The term “paradox” comes from the notion that greater means would necessitate the production of more offspring as suggested by the influential Thomas Malthus.[2] Roughly speaking, nations or subpopulations with higher GDP per capita are observed to have fewer children, even though a richer population can support more children. Malthus held that in order to prevent widespread suffering, from famine for example, what he called “moral restraint” (which included abstinence) was required. The demographic-economic paradox suggests that reproductive restraint arises naturally as a consequence of economic progress.

    It is hypothesized that the observed trend has come about as a response to increased life expectancy, reduced childhood mortality, improved female literacy and independence, and urbanization that all result from increased GDP per capita,[3] consistent with the demographic transition model.

    Current information suggests that the demographic-economic paradox only holds up to a point though. Recent data suggests that once a country reaches a certain level of human development and economic prosperity the fertility rate stabilizes and then recovers slightly to replacement rates”

    (Granted, these are wikipedia articles and as such not very scientific in their approach, but they seemed to cover the basics pretty well.)

    So in the end I guess you could argue that feminism has had a hand in lower birth rates? But so have a lot of other -isms that have made our quality of life better.

    It is interesting though that in addition to developed countries many former Soviet Union countries have a remarcably low birth rate as well. I wonder why this is?

  10. Duh, sorry about the bad layout in my previous post. I guess stuff like spacing etc. don’t translate well here from a word document copy-paste. ;)

  11. This has turned into an interesting discussion. Many posters have already said (and done it much better than I could) what I’d like to say about this, so I’ll try to keep this simple and to the point. I’m a Finn, and therefore the references to Socialist Europeans hit home for me.
    As a native of such a “Socialist European Country” I’d like to point out a few things. First, Socialism itself hasn’t been around very long, only about a century, depending on what you consider the term to be comprised of. And like Christianity (or feminism for that matter) what is meant by the terms has clearly changed through times and geographical regions. (I’m quite certain that we have pretty different meanings or at least implications to the term socialism, for example. It isn’t considered the same as communism at all here. We know it isn’t perfect. But it’s what works for us. There’re about 5 million of us and we’re a culturally very homogenic group of people, so what works for us might not work for you. At least not without some serious tweaking. ;) ) Semantics? Maybe, but it seems like too often we’re getting pulled into arguments simply because the words we use have such different meanings for different people.
    In Finland’s case both socialism and feminism have played important roles in our country’s history. Both were influential in the political processes that lead to our independence from Russia in 1917. (Which was followed by a civil war between the red (communists/socialists) and the white (nationalists) with women fighting on both sides but especially on the worker’s (red) side. The white won and it took a world war (WW II) to unite the country again against a common enemy – the Soviet Union.)
    But back to the discussion. In the world scale both terms (socialism and feminism) went through a change after the WW II. Both became highly charged. Socialism by being often so closely linked to communism in the cold war, and feminism by declaring [everything that’s] “personal is political”. I guess this is the timeframe, after the global “baby boom”, Connie is referring to specifically when she wrote:
    “The high standard of living for Socialist European countries is only part of the picture. They have only been socialist for a very short period of their history, which comprises centuries of Christian tradition; and in just that short period — since WWII, basically — socialism and feminism have had the effect of reducing the birthrate of native Europeans below the replacement level. ”
    I must say I don’t agree with this chain of thought. In fact to me the process seems to be the exact opposite: It is because of the high standard of living, the high level of education and the following low child mortality rate that our birthrate is dropping. Thanks to family planning and contraceptives people are often waiting for the “right moment” to have children. People are having fewer children, because most of them survive their childhood. Children are no longer seen as the necessary addition to the workforce they were back in the days when most of the people were farmers and such and therefore having lots of children isn’t as high a priority it used to be. In essence, people in well developed countries feel they can afford to have fewer children. Is that a good thing? I guess the answer would depend on which you value more, the individual’s right to the way of life they deem as “good” or the society’s need to remain at a certain level of reproduction.
    Unless of course Connie meant that it’s socialism and feminism specifically that have resulted in the high level of living we have here. That I might have to agree with. ;) But even then I’d like to point out to you that this process of lower birthrates seems to be connected to the country’s overall standard of living rather than to the religion or specific political factions. Look at the situation in Italy for example.
    “They are slowly non-reproducing themselves out of existence. If that isn’t destructiveness, I don’t know what is. Some governments in Europe are so concerned they’ve begun to offer incentives for having kids.”
    This is a very real concern – hence the incentives to have children. But no society in all of history has ever been able to remain in a static state in this sense. If it’s not a low birthrate, it’s high infant mortality, or earthquakes or diseases or war or any number of other things. Cultures are always changing. And aren’t the highest growing groups in the US also descendants of recent immigrants?
    I consider myself a feminist. But I feel that as things have gotten better during the past decades the issues some feminists choose to fight over have sometimes become counterproductive. It doesn’t mitigate the overall successes though.

  12. Wow,

    I have to say, reading the initial post on this thread made me feel as if I had entered a major time warp.

    “Men don’t marry sluts.” (please define, how many men can I sleep with if I don’t want to be classified a slut and thus not marriageable? 1, 2, 5, 7, 77?)
    Of course, I’ve got a girlfriend who’s number is over 100, happily married to a younger man whose number is likely under 10…obviously a statistical anomaly.

    “Women — get married young or be single FOREVER.” Most of my girlfriends have married in their 30s…and had kids in their 30s…I live in San Francisco where this is a bit more common. My only girlfriends who have married as virgins also married men who were virgins.

    “Successful men only want young, beautiful women.” What a sad pronouncement against men. Not to say that men don’t want hot, young women…I’m a woman and I’d love a hot, young, man, but I’m not gorgeous yet I’ve managed to date a number of attractive, eligible men well into my 30s…

    As far as young girls giving boys blow jobs to lots of different guys in high school this does make me a bit uncomfortable. Not because I’m opposed to blow jobs or sexy texts, I just question what these girls are getting out of it. I’d rather give these girls vibrators so they can learn about their own bodies and what turns them on. Then they can try to find a guy who can beat the vibrator. :)

    I wish women didn’t feel so threatened by personal decisions made by other women. My cousin home schools her three kids, one friend works part-time and has a nanny part-time for her two kids, two other girlfriends work full-time and use after-school care until 5pm, another one has decided not to have kids. I’m not married and do not have kids. All of us have made different choices in our lives. All of our choices are equally valuable.

    What bugs me is that some women want to remove any of these choices from other women, or make some of these women feel bad for the choices they’ve made. Many of my liberal feminist friends role their eyes at my conservative christian cousin for home schooling her children, while my christian conservative relatives can’t comprehend that I wouldn’t want to change my last name the second I married and be known not just as Mrs. Williams, but as Mrs. Brian Williams. (Which makes me shudder and sounds like a fate worse than death for me.)

    The point of feminism is that women are given a choice. My girlfriend and I just returned from a one-week vacation to Prague. On a whim, we rented a car and drove to Venice. Not too long ago, there’s just no way we would have been allowed to do this. I lived alone in Korea for a year and taught English while in my mid-twenties. I am so very thankful that I have not had my choices curtailed because of some supposed ideal of what women and men should do.

  13. KarenS, I’m not a churchgoer, although I respect the Christian religious tradition of the West. My views of feminism have been shaped by the writings of feminists and my observation of feminism and its effects on culture and society, not on what you rather prejudicially describe as the ranting of pastors. In fact, neither of my previous posts made any reference to religion whatever, so your attack on religion in a post to me is mystifying and smacks of bigotry.

    You said I haven’t identified the destructive changes feminism has made on our culture, but I made a post addressed to MarySk that identifies quite a few of them, with links to substantiating data, all of them secular.

    To judge anything — feminism, religion, anything — solely by its negatives is a mistake (which is why I’ve stated –for the third time, now — that it is feminism that I’m opposed to, not women’s rights, which I support and believe are beneficial). I think it is deceptive to look only at the negatives of religion and proclaim it “not a force for good in the world.” An honest assessment will also consider the good religion does, and judge the whole.

    If you’re going to talk about priests burning witches, you’re going to have to recognize religious, particularly Christian, charities that build and run hospitals and provide medical care, and feed millions around the world. I can’t imagine how that could be considered not a force for good.

    The high standard of living for Socialist European countries is only part of the picture. They have only been socialist for a very short period of their history, which comprises centuries of Christian tradition; and in just that short period — since WWII, basically — socialism and feminism have had the effect of reducing the birthrate of native Europeans below the replacement level. They are slowly non-reproducing themselves out of existence. If that isn’t destructiveness, I don’t know what is. Some governments in Europe are so concerned they’ve begun to offer incentives for having kids.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4768644.stm
    http://articles.sfgate.com/2008-08-10/news/17121159_1_birth-rates-low-birth-ibm-france

    The population of those countries may appear stable because Muslim immigration is high, and Muslims have a high birthrate, but the articles above indicate immigration ultimately won’t solve the problem.

    The percentage of religious identification reflected in US prison populations roughly parallels that of the general population. http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2010/tables/10s0075.pdf

    Many people in the USA who identify their religion as Christian are referring to a cultural or societal circumstance more than personal religious belief. A survey by Christianity Today a few years ago found that there are significant differences in the way Christian identification is expressed in the individual’s life.
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2007/fall/1.19.html?start=4

    MarySk, according to census figures, the population in 1970 was 203+ million, and today is 308+ million. That’s an increase of 105 million, not even a doubling of the population, more like a 65% increase, while the number of single mother households from 3 million in 1970 to 11 million today is almost a quadrupling, so the population increase represents a rather small chunk of the increase in single-mother households.

    Surveys that concluded conservative Christians have a higher divorce rate, including Barda’s 1999 study, are flawed.
    http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=56685

    • Connie Chastain: MarySk, according to census figures, the population in 1970 was 203+ million, and today is 308+ million. That’s an increase of 105 million, not even a doubling of the population, more like a 65% increase, while the number of single mother households from 3 million in 1970 to 11 million today is almost a quadrupling, so the population increase represents a rather small chunk of the increase in single-mother households.

      Surveys that concluded conservative Christians have a higher divorce rate, including Barda’s 1999 study, are flawed.
      http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=56685

      My sources say that the number of single parent homes is now 9 million, not 11 as you state (those pesky statistics again). However, you fail to address the effects of the economy on single parenthood. Also, you cannot POSSIBLY cite World Net Daily as an unbiased source. How do you account for the higher divorce rates in conservative states?

      Feminism has become the scapegoat for conservatives who don’t want to pull their heads out of the capitalistic sand. Let’s not try to help these single parents and their children by formulating a humane health and workplace policy…let’s blame it on the women! Well, we have been blamed for everything else, why not this. I have been involved in the schools for almost 20 years and I see the following over and over. If a single mother’s child is doing poorly in school, she is not doing enough for the child at home. If a single father’s child is doing poorly in school, he is forgiven because “at least he is THERE.” Both of those parents need to be involved, but both of those parents could also use a little help. If we could wave a magic wand and have all children grow up in two parent families that love and care for one another and have the means to survive economically, that would be wonderful. But that is not reality and we deal with what we have. By simplistically blaming feminism of all societies woes, the blame is taken off our failed economic policies and placed on the backs of women already bearing a heavy burden. By blaming women, they convince themselves that they are absolved of any responsibility because “people reap what they sow.” They are just whores and sluts. False outrage is allowed to overwhelm conscience.

      As I said, I have volunteered in schools for nearly 20 years and run programs for at-risk children. I’ve met these single mothers you deride and I can tell you, the last thing on their mind is feminism. They are too busy worrying about putting food on the table and clothes on their children’s back. But by blaming them, it is possible to dehumanize them and separate yourself from their economic plight.

  14. I think it is always unwise to attribute correlation with causation without looking at all factors. The number of single parent households has increased since 1970, but so has the population: from 200 million to 315 million (2010 estimate). A big chunk of the increase can be attributed to population growth. Over two million of those single parent homes are headed up by fathers. We have also not examined the correlation between poverty and single parenthood. Southern states have much higher levels of poverty, single motherhood and divorce than in other areas of the country. Our welfare laws tend to favor single parent households (this could be overcome with an increase of the minimum wage to a living wage and universal health care). Southern states also tend to be much more conservative, religious and less likely to hold feminist notions. If feminism were the causal factor for single parenthood and divorce, then why do more liberal states have much lower rates of divorce, single parenthood and poverty? The fact is that divorce rates are significantly higher among conservative Christians (those least likely to be feminists) than other faith groups, agnostics and atheists. I would contend that economic factors are more closely related to family dynamics than feminist ideals.

    In Canada, where I am sure there are a few feminists lurking about, single parenthood has remained fairly constant over the years. But then, they have national healthcare and a much larger social safety net in terms of services. How much of that stability can be attributed to keeping poverty rates down?
    http://www.economicexpert.com/a/Single:parent.htm

    To all of the conservatives out there that want more stability in families, they need to get on board and advocate for national health care and for increasing minimum wage to a living level.

    Connie said: “And before the kneejerk “deadbeat dad” reaction sets in….almost 3/4ths of all divorces in the USA are initiated by women, many for no substantial reason but because she’s “unhappy” or “unfulfilled” or because she just doesn’t like him anymore or she found someone she likes better.”

    I live in Alabama and in my neck of the woods we have a saying: “If Mama ain’t happy, NOBODY’S happy!” When one of the parents in a household (especially the one who spends the most time with the children) is unhappy, stress levels in the children increase dramatically. When children are under stress, their brains produce higher levels of cortisol whose production inhibits higher order thinking skills and makes learning in school much more difficult. So staying in an unhappy situation is not always best for the children.

    This liberal, feminist from the south has been happily married for 26 years and raised 3 children, all who are happy, successful and productive. My husband and I have shared power and parenting (he started his own business from home so he could be more involved in their day to day lives). I thank God everyday that I married such a strong person who is not intimidated by his strong willed wife.

  15. AAR Sandy~ I am truly happy you haven’t known any women who look down their noses at SAH moms. Unfortunately, I haven’t been so blessed. I think the best put-down I received was a woman at a party whose response to finding out I stayed at home with my kids was, “Oh I’m sure that’s fine for *you* but I would hate not doing anything productive with my life.” I had to laugh. I’m a college grad and worked for the EPA in Genetic Toxicology until I had my first child at 30, yet more than once I’ve had people assume I don’t work because I can’t get a decent job. ;-)

    And talk about “sweeping judgments” about how I live my life, the most offensive remarks I’ve received from total strangers have been about having more than two children. When my kids were younger (I have five) I was stopped at the mall more than once and read the riot act about how irresponsible I was, in front of my children. This sort of thing happened frequently enough to me and my friends that we came up with a list of witty rejoinders.

    Peace.

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