The marriage-go-round

Marriage is sure getting conservatives excited lately.
On the one hand, we have Megan McArdle insisting that gay marriage is going to kill off the sexual revolution, because once gay people get tied up in wedding vows, they’ll hate people who have promiscuous sex just as much as she does. On the other, insistence that getting married and staying married is what makes rich people richer than poor people.
Since I made those last two posts, we’ve had more:
First (not a direct link) we have Princeton grad Susan Patton, who wrote a letter to the school magazine urging female Princetonian students to get married while they’re in college. The pool of available men will never be higher, and if the women wait, they’ll be out among men who aren’t as smart as they are—and they’ll never, ever want to date a man who’s not their mental equal. Or younger than them, which is why they have to move fast: Every year, another senior class full of guys moves out and younger men move in.
Patton subsequently explained that young women get lots of career advice, but no advice on the personal side of life, which is kind of funny. It implies Patton has never in her life seen a woman’s magazine or any of the five bazillion dating books on the stand. And of course, giving “life advice” doesn’t excuse giving bad life advice (critiques here and here if anyone wants more).
I’d say this was a generational thing (Patton’s around my age) but I can’t think of many women my age who graduated an A-list college and had these views. This is more like some of our mothers—like my med-school bound friend whose mother still wanted her to marry a doctor (back in the day, this was considered a very desirable match). Seriously, women going to Princeton are probably career oriented and ambitious—this makes it sound like their primary goal should be a “mrs” degree, as it used to be called.
And then we have Megan McArdle again, who despite marrying at 37, insists you should marry “as early as possible but no earlier” (WTF?) Because the longer you wait, the harder it is to find someone, and if you don’t want to settle, well, you have to accept the risk of dying alone (McArdle, apparently, is a special case). I don’t think I’ve seen this much emphasis on the danger of a Man Shortage since Newsweek’s “single women in their 30s are more likely to die from terrorism than get married” flap.
•Meanwhile, David Brooks embraces the “gay marriage is the end of sexual freedom” in what he fondly imagines is a witty, ironic column arguing that in fighting for the right to marry, gays are giving up their sexual freedom!
Matt Taibbi dissects Brooks very well at the link, so I’ll just make a couple of extra points. First, this shows the recurring right-wing delusion that supporting the rights of gays isn’t about equality or love, it’s about liberals believing that if it feels good, do it! Which it doesn’t: There’s a long list of things you shouldn’t do even if it does feel good (cheat on your partner, trade promotions for sex, have sex with small children, have sex with someone too drunk to know what they’re doing, etc.), and I apply those standards to gays and straights (and bi’s and asexuals alike). Supporting the rights of gays isn’t about libertinage, it’s about fairness (not that I object to libertinage between consenting adults, but you get the point).
Second, this conforms to Brooks’ repeated columns that the real moral problem is among the common rabble having too much sex and children out of wedlock (use my search feature for past takes on Brooks if you want samples). When he writes “People are much more at liberty these days to follow their desires, unhampered by social convention, religious and ethnic traditions and legal restraints.” he’s talking about sex, not about the massive fraud and bad decisions by banks and Wall Street after they got deregulated.
More in part two.


Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

6 responses to “The marriage-go-round

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