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Marriage: The decision of women alone?

By Bernard Chapin
web posted January 29, 2007

It's 2007 A.D. and most of us are aware that a major part of the population no longer believes that marriage should be confined to the practice of one sex marrying the other. In fact, it may soon become a fundamental right of citizenship for any person within the diversity spectrum to receive the state's imprimatur after pairing off with whoever or whatever they want. So, imagine my surprise, given the nature of our society, to discover an article in The New York Times which seemed to indicate that the decision to get married was one made entirely by women. Its title is "51% of Women Are Now Living Without Spouse," and was the Times most popular article for a brief period. [1] In its paragraphs, the reporters refuse to examine the attitudes of men alongside those of women which results in it providing a false description of reality. This is intentional, of course, as it furthers the paper's implicit goal of pursuing female empowerment at all costs.

That the story was placed in the "National" section is rather odd as there really is nothing newsworthy about it. For many years we have known that the marriage is rate is declining so its central theme—that more women live without a husband today than ever before—is perfectly obvious. There's nothing novel here, but its purpose is not to inform but to persuade. The angle allows the paper to imply that fewer women are married to men and that they are better off because of it. Please take note of the biased word selection in these sentences:

"At one end of the age spectrum, women are marrying later or living with unmarried partners more often and for longer periods. At the other end, women are living longer as widows and, after a divorce, are more likely than men to delay remarriage, sometimes delighting [my emphasis] in their newfound freedom."

"Delighting" is a most unusual, and clearly conscious, choice. The reporters have to be this heavy-handed as joy is the plotted message so it is immaterial that rates of depression are increasing dramatically as is the fact that women are twice as likely to suffer from it than men. A more accurate word would have been "lamenting" or "despairing," but that would have imploded the reporters' pre-determined conclusions.

Like with many other journalistic endeavors, random persons are selected to bolster the story's veracity, yet the sample demographics are totally skewed. All of the seven voices from the street are female, and, predictably, they are uniformly enthusiastic about their unmanned state. Not a one expresses the slightest trepidation or regret about their situation or the future which made these columns read like a fable. The opinions of normal men were excluded entirely. Thus, we learn nothing about marital relationships as they are symbiotic in nature. The truth can never be known regarding marriage if one only analyzes the opinions of one sex. [2]

"Several factors are driving the statistical shift" is mentioned, but none of these include male choice. Perhaps the authors believe that men have no choice and that we will pant like jackals at whatever soft and relatively hairless specimens are put before us. Either way, the very real possibility of fewer women living with husbands due to fewer men wanting to marry them is never examined. I am certain, as are others, that such a conclusion is far closer to the truth than thisValentine to the sistahood. Although, even as a love note, the piece fails to fulfill its objective. One woman's views are slightly comical: "‘Marriage kind of aged me because there weren't options…There was only one way to go. Now I have choices. One night I slept on the other side of the bed, and I thought, I like this side.'" [Well, you could always…no, why bother.] Another woman was a fount of unwitting hilarity due to the way she was photographed. Emily Zuzik is going sans mate and living the high life—which would have been more believable had she not been shot alone on the couch stroking her cat. Actually, it's tough to write satire that good. Such a camera angle would be more appropriate for The Onion than the self-titled paper of record. Another source was highly compromised. "Professor Coontz" is mentioned three times in the report due to her writing a book called Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage. What the reporters neglect to mention is that she is a radical activist who is on the advisory board of a publication called Against the Current which is published by the "independent socialist organization," Solidarity. A plank in their mission statement reads:

"We fight for women's liberation, and for women's equality today.  The oppression of women within the family and in society divides the working class, keeps women's wages low and burdens women unequally in the task of social reproduction."

"Within the family" sort of stands out here, might she have a hidden agenda? Rather than Professor Coontz, perhaps a better moniker would be Ms. "Oppressed Proletarian spying on capitalists and just faking the life of a wealthy, privileged academic."

This piece, like so much else appearing in The New York Times, belongs in the Op-Ed section because it is nothing more than advocacy journalism. The attempt to cajole women into abandoning marriage for the cat-life will fail, however. Most of their target audience is far too lucid to confuse the Taj Mahal with Treblinka. Western marriage offers women a maddening array of legal, social, and personal entitlements. That so many radical feminists and their fellow traveling journalists miss this point is a testament to their being deluded by their own propaganda. ESR


[1] On their website it is listed as "Most Popular" as of 7 am Central Time on January 17, 2007. The way they determine popularity is to gauge what article gets emailed out the most by their readers.

[2] Okay, if it's a gay marriage then consulting only one sex would be satisfactory.

Bernard Chapin is a writer living in Chicago. He is the author of Escape from Gangsta Island, and is currently at work on a book concerning women. He can be contacted at veritaseducation@gmail.com.

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