Thursday, March 17, 2011

Liberal woman celebrates the demise of the traditional family

Jill Filipovic has read a report on families put out by the Obama administration and feels there is reason to celebrate. The traditional family, she believes, is dead.

It's finally time to ring the death knell for traditional marriage. Last week, the Obama administration released a comprehensive report on the status of American women, the first of its kind since 1963...The report sheds light on the status of the American family – a social unit that has been remade by social liberalism.

Conservatives are right: traditional marriage is under attack ... [people are] marrying later, they're marrying less, and for reasons other than having children...

She's a feminist who is not entirely against marriage, just the traditional version of it:

We're still a long way from a gender-egalitarian marital utopia, but traditional marriage is blessedly deceased. With its demise has come a new marriage model that is by nearly every measure better for men, women and children, and is hopefully continuing to improve.

Marriage itself is far from dead. But the traditional conservative vision of it is, and thank goodness for that

Why would she be so vehemently opposed to the traditional family? She thinks that it is not based sufficiently on women's autonomy:

Family structures have changed. The definition of marriage has shifted. Gender equality is increasingly embraced. For people who support women's autonomy and believe that progress is valuable, this is a good thing. For those who cling to a separate-but-equal gender ideology... this is very, very ominous.

Let's say you want more autonomy for women. This means that:

a) You'll like the idea of family commitments being deferred. That means that women can continue to live the single girl lifestyle for longer and can focus on careers rather than family for longer.

b) You'll think that careers are more important than family. Therefore, the fact that men focus on breadwinning in the traditional family will seem unequal. So you'll want to see a role reversal in which men do more of the childcare and women more of the breadwinning.

c) You'll want to be self-defined rather than defined by your biological sex. So you won't like the gender roles in the traditional family. You'll see them as fetters. You'll celebrate role reversal for this reason too.

If you're a liberal, therefore, you'll think it progressive if people marry later and if the lines of gender are increasingly blurred within the family. You'll also think it more equal if women focus more on careers than motherhood.

There are numerous ways to criticise this liberal vision of the family:

a) If you were really to take autonomy seriously as the highest good, then why marry at all? Marriage takes sacrifices to work well. It inevitably means restricting your autonomous choice of what to do in favour of other goods (the goods of motherhood, fatherhood etc.)

b) If there is nothing to connect men to a distinctly masculine family role, and if the traditional male role of being a provider and protector is thought harmful to women, then there is less to motivate men to commit to family life.

c) If there are no distinct roles for men and women in the family, so that the roles are interchangeable, then the role of men is unnecessary - it is at best optional. Again, this contributes to unstable family commitments. A man who really believes his role to be optional will more readily walk away from family commitments. A woman who believes the male role to be unnecessary will more readily divorce her husband and/or accept single motherhood.

d) If family formation is deferred until the last moment then more people will find themselves unable to have the children they wish for and more people will find themselves unable to find a spouse. There will also be changes to the culture of relationships between young men and women. If marriage is delayed till our 30s, then women in their 20s will be more likely to select for player/alpha/thug types. Men will either adapt to this or opt out. Either way the family man culture will be weakened, making it more difficult for women to find suitable men to marry in their 30s.

As far as this last point goes, Jill Filipovic doesn't see any such problems. In fact, she paints a very rosy picture of delayed family commitments. She accepts the statistics that twice as many people are now ending up unmarried and childless. But she approves on the following basis:

Those numbers are no indication that marriage and child-rearing are pass̩ or under-valued Рquite the opposite. Marriage, more than ever, is something that more people feel the right to opt out of, which means that those of us who do marry are opting in, and doing so increasingly because we want to, not because of social obligations. If you believe that marriage can be a good thing for people who choose it, this should be welcome news. Children, too, should be welcome additions and not obligations. The fact that more women and families are delaying childbirth indicates that there's more planning involved, and that women and men are making commitments to familial stability and personal ability before deciding to have kids.

There's a particular assumption at work here. Jill Filopovic thinks that liberalism gives everyone autonomous choice. Therefore, if the liberal family model leads to people not marrying and not having children it must be, she assumes, because they are choosing these outcomes.

She fails to recognise that there are many people who feel shattered by not being able to marry or have children. Over at The Spearhead there's a good post by Carey Roberts which includes the following quote by Anne Taylor Fleming:

I belong to the sisterhood of the infertile. I am a lonesome, babyless baby-boomer now completely consumed by the longing for a baby…I am tempted to roll down the window and shout, ‘Hey, hey, Gloria, Germaine, Kate. Tell us, how does it feel to have ended up without babies, children, flesh of your flesh. Was your ideology worth the empty womb?

Did Anne Taylor Fleming happily choose to end up childless? Obviously not. It was not an act of autonomous self-determination at all.

In the comments to the Carey Roberts piece there is this:

I don’t give a **** about the future of our society. As a 44 year old childless male with no real hope for companionship or children why should I. I’m betting we have enough cultural momentum to see me through to my death (about 30 years) and doing my own thing to make sure I can survive if I’m off on my bet about five years.

It's not an attitude I endorse, but it shows again the falsity of the assumption that people are freely and happily choosing to be unmarried and childless. This particular man feels so alienated by his condition that he has lost all interest in the future of his own society.

Finally, if Jill Filipovic were right, and lower marriage rates in advanced liberal societies meant that only people who really wanted to marry did so, then divorce rates should be lower in such societies. But that doesn't seem to be the case.

In Sweden, for example, the percentage of women marrying is very low (about 60%), but the divorce rate is consistently high (peaking at about 55%). This combination of a low marriage rate and a high divorce rate means that only about 1 in 3 Swedish women will have an enduring marriage. It's not exactly encouraging evidence for liberal marriage being superior to the traditional version.

Nor is it true that the blurring of gender lines strengthens the stability of marriage. Again, there is ample evidence of this in Sweden. Researchers have found that in Sweden the higher the percentage of income earned by the wife the greater the risk of divorce - to the point that the risk more than doubles if the wife earns most of the income (see slide 9).

The Swedish model is the liberal model. Only 60% of Swedish women marry; the mean age of first marriage for women is 31; the divorce rate for those marrying is high; the breakup rate for those cohabiting is even higher; and the effect is worse the more that men lose their provider role.

It's not exactly an inspiring model of family life. In fact, it seems to have a demoralising effect on some people. I can't see it holding for too long; it will either continue to "evolve" away from anything resembling marriage or else the traditional alternative will reassert itself more confidently.

35 comments:

  1. Great post Mark. This caught my eye:

    "This particular man feels so alienated by his condition that he has lost all interest in the future of his own society."

    For all this cultural Marxist celebration of the decline in marriage, they are certainly missing the forest for the trees.

    They have cultivated huge swathes of men that have far less investment in society than their fathers did. And quite a few, like the fellow quoted from the SH, have none.

    I could be wrong, but there is quite a problem with a society that fails to capture the productivity and investment of its most productive members. Particularly a left-wing one that requires the harvesting of the fruits of such productivity to prop up its spending schemes of redistribution amongst the less or non-productive population.

    Marriage very efficiently captures the voluntary investment of men in society, both financial through their labors, and socio-cultural through their investment in the well-being of their wives and particularly their children. Without marriage, all the State has is force: taxation and what I call "Chilimony", or child support-cum-alimony. Two guesses as to which one has higher yields, and the first one doesn't count.

    The coerced transfer of wealth from the Average Joe to women and the looting classes can only last so long when Joe is given very little reason to use his excess labor to produce that wealth in the first place.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well we've had society based on the family unit for the last 100,000 years or so. Been pretty successful so far. Not sure when we adopted the new model - sometime since the 70s I suppose. Let's see how it goes. Quite a risky experiment Jill -if we choose wrong then we are putting the whole Western tradition at risk. Because all that culture, tradition, mores etc can vanish in just one generation.

    Sorry I forgot - the Western tradition means nothing to Jill - in fact she despises it. So no risk at all.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree with Podsnap, she's a wrecker who proposes no real alternative. I saw recently on The View the women enthusiastically talking about child rearing, whilst Barbara Walters, who argued the feminist traditional line of "put it off till you're financially stable enough", was almost shouted down. Things change.

    I'd like people to also recognise that the material concepts of risk and reward are not the only factors in marriage and life. If you believe in God you'll know that matters of the spirit matter too, and that can open the door to positive outcomes you might not expect.

    ReplyDelete
  4. If families who actually reproduce can inoculate their children against the lethal lies of Filipovic and her ilk, this noxious narcissism should eventually go away. I don't advocate social Darwinism as a social policy, but do believe that letting people do as they please will tend to eliminate those who choose or are naturally disposed to unfit behaviors. Half the couples I know who have followed the Filipovic path are sterile, and those with grown children are sterile in the second generation. In one of these the man used to boast that his daughters drove other women to the Planned Parenthood facility; nowadays he's coming to terms with the likelihood he'll never have grandchildren. Culture of Death is not just a slogan!

    ReplyDelete
  5. She's a Manhattan lawyer and also the person who runs the site "Feministe". Quite a radfem, really.

    Her views are also myopic. While it's true that many marriages in her social class are trending the way she describes, what she isn't dealing with at all is that, in the USA at least, marriage below her social class is frankly dying off, period, and being replaced with ... nothing. The working class have low marriage rates, and that is now spreading to the lower middle class. It seems inevitable that this will continue to consume the middle middle as well in the years ahead, leaving Filipovic's lawyers as the only social class that is still pursuing marriage at all (and not having many kids while they are at it, as well).

    The lack of a future time orientation is quite remarkable, really.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "The working class have low marriage rates, and that is now spreading to the lower middle class. It seems inevitable that this will continue to consume the middle middle as well in the years ahead, leaving Filipovic's lawyers as the only social class that is still pursuing marriage at all (and not having many kids while they are at it, as well)."

    That is the intention of the elites - the destruction of the working class and lower middle class followed by the destruction of the middle middle class. This will leave the elites wealthy and powerful and the lower social classes impoverished serfs.

    ReplyDelete
  7. As history is more ironic that insightful, the end of liberalism and the ascent of feminist supremacist ideology will come at the hands of those who have no stake in an order that oppresses them.

    We're close to that juncture, white feminists have succeeded in legally, politically and culturally dispossessing their male racial counterparts. As this regime intensifies its imposition on men over successive generations, there will be no mechanism for negotiation, dialog or treaty to undue this.

    A house divided, the bitter resentments deep inside young white men is frightening. It's a well concealed hate, lest you be charged. Like a nuclear mass approaching criticality, no warning will be given; just an eruption that will bring tremendous troubles.

    I work at a post secondary institution, and often survey students who are likely to speak freely about what they perceive the future holds for themselves.

    Not looking good, I think women would be shocked at how these men are interpreting the current cultural happenings - and what to do about it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. "She's a Manhattan lawyer and also the person who runs the site "Feministe". Quite a radfem, really."

    Thanks for the information.

    "Her views are also myopic. While it's true that many marriages in her social class are trending the way she describes, what she isn't dealing with at all is that, in the USA at least, marriage below her social class is frankly dying off, period, and being replaced with ... nothing."

    I'm not sure that in the entire working class and lower middle class marriage is being replaced with "nothing". Many of them simply don't have the money to marry and many of them may even be Christians who opted out of government sanctioned marriage because it is simply corrupted by the ideology of liberalism. I've contacted some and some of them are only have unions sanctioned by a Christian filled church. Period.

    By the way I'm glad my choice of seeking a mate while young will work out in the long run as a wise choice. My plan is to find a good Christian man of the same heritage as my mother between 18 and 30, marry him somewhere in mid 20's, have 2-4 children by him, conceive a child through a fertility clinic with a sperm donor from the same heritage as my father and have a part-time job while my husband will have a full-time job. Splendid.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sorry I meant "I've contacted some of them and they said they are only having unions sanctioned by a Christ filled church loyal to the word of God. Period."

    ReplyDelete
  10. Elizabeth, we're all aware of your plan so you don't have to keep telling us. ;).

    Many of the working class live in defacto relationships and many are partnered up, so "replaced by nothing" isn't an accurate statment.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The Pill has turned ordinary women into sluts and ordinary men into lechers, as evidenced by their "repartnering" (ie adultery).

    A great pity.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Half the couples I know who have followed the Filipovic path are sterile, and those with grown children are sterile in the second generation. In one of these the man used to boast that his daughters drove other women to the Planned Parenthood facility; nowadays he's coming to terms with the likelihood he'll never have grandchildren. Culture of Death is not just a slogan!

    A First Class Moral Idiot.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Many of the working class live in defacto relationships and many are partnered up, so "replaced by nothing" isn't an accurate statment.

    The working class have unmarriage, which is far less stable than marriage. They have more than one child to more than one unwife/unhusband. Their "family" trees are a disaster. And the kids are mostly fatherless, b/c in that class these days, the fathers aren't interested in their kids. The mothers are all on welfare.

    Does anyone *really* think this is sustainable?

    ReplyDelete
  14. A politician once said "If you subsidise a behaviour, you will get more of it". In the West, we subsidise bastardy. Why are we then surprised when we get more of it?
    Of course, the flow on effects of fatherless families amounts to rather more in dollar terms than the flat amount paid to unwed mothers. But these can be hidden and therefore need not be addressed.
    Elizabeth, I may have said this before: Your plan to conceive and bear a child that is not your husband's is akin to adultery.
    And take this from me. Some of the love a mother has for her child is based on the fact that they are her husband's and share his DNA, not solely her own.
    Luzu

    ReplyDelete
  15. She describes the former "evil" 1950s-style "traditional family", in which the men had a great deal more power than today, then says, the "new marriage model is by nearly every measure better for men, women and children" (emphasis added).

    Axiomatically if men have lost a lot of power, the "new marriage model" is not better for them than the old one.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Johnycomelately

    My understanding is that the Soviets went down this merry path and had to reverse marriage laws to prevent stagnation and collapse.

    How odd that the commies had more foresight than the liberals.

    ReplyDelete
  17. "She describes the former "evil" 1950s-style "traditional family"

    It's amazing how many boomer liberals and liberals of generations under the boomers refer to the "conservative utopia of the 1950's" when if anything it's the liberals who are obsessed with this time period and the 60's with it's "civil rights movement, Peace and Love revolution" and I rarely hear, read or see any conservative refering about the "1950's". I do see some reactionaries and traditional conservatives talking about time periods where liberalism may have increased exponentially or where the roots of our problems may have originated in mass such as the Enlightment period with the French revolution and things alike.

    "the "new marriage model is by nearly every measure better for men, women and children" (emphasis added)."

    This is ironic in itself since liberalism cares more about the individual and its rights than the community and the society. In the end the "new marriage model" is not an improvement but it's opposite.

    ReplyDelete
  18. … traditional marriage is blessedly deceased. With its demise has come a new marriage model that is by nearly every measure better for men

    < choke! > < spurt! > < cough! >

    Better for men? Huh? Why are they opting out then? What an idiot. Do these people even proof-read their work? This is just mindless repetition of ideological memes, totally disconnected from reality. Totally. And she's a 'Manhattan lawyer' apparently, heavens help us.

    ReplyDelete
  19. She describes the former "evil" 1950s-style "traditional family", in which the men had a great deal more power than today, then says, the "new marriage model is by nearly every measure better for men, women and children" (emphasis added).

    Axiomatically if men have lost a lot of power, the "new marriage model" is not better for them than the old one.


    It's very odd, I agree.

    I think what they tend to say is that men are happier, having more sex, and closer to their kids, hence it is better for men, even if they have less power in the relationship.

    This seems dubious to me, as I have known quite a few unhappy or, rather, "numbed"/beaten-down married men,

    ReplyDelete
  20. What a perverse worldview this woman has. She wants two mutually exclusive things.

    I haven't been married as long as a lot of people, but I do have a good understanding that if you want a good marriage, you can't have the goal of autonomy. You give up your autonomy when you're married. Autonomy and marriage are two mutually exclusive things. The Bible talks about two becoming one, right?

    A person who wants to get married yet remain autonomous is not only sabotaging the marriage from the get-go, but they're setting themselves up to completely miss the incredible richness of a good marriage. So sad.

    ReplyDelete
  21. The Swedish model is the liberal model. Only 60% of Swedish women marry; the mean age of first marriage for women is 31; the divorce rate for those marrying is high; the breakup rate for those cohabiting is even higher; and the effect is worse the more that men lose their provider role.

    Another aspect of the Swedish model and the desired liberal model is childcare. Full-time, government-subsidized child care nearly from birth. Including before and after school care for school age children. To prevent any interference with mom's autonomy and career, her children are to be whisked away more or less at birth returning only to sleep under her roof. What, then, is the point of having children at all? All that's needed is a pill to remove the biological urge to do so.

    The liberal model will not work at all until children are decanted rather than born. Even then, it will work badly, since the people who are attracted to the (paying) job of raising them will be a bunch of child-molesters and control freaks, just like public school-teachers.

    ReplyDelete
  22. @Louise
    "The working class have unmarriage, which is far less stable than marriage. They have more than one child to more than one unwife/unhusband. Their "family" trees are a disaster. And the kids are mostly fatherless, b/c in that class these days, the fathers aren't interested in their kids. The mothers are all on welfare.

    Does anyone *really* think this is sustainable?"

    Of course it is sustainable, just not in the way to maintain civilization. All over the world there are societies with this model. Travel to sub Saharan Africa, Papua etc. to see how well it is working.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Louise,

    That's really more of a welfare class model than a working class model and there are some differences between the two.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Yes, Jesse, it is more of a welfare class model, and I had originally (in a comment which was chewed up by technology) made that distinction. Although I think it's fair to say that both the middle and working classes easily end up on the wlefare model wherever they go for unmarriage, rather than marriage, the latter being more stable.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Of course it is sustainable, just not in the way to maintain civilization. All over the world there are societies with this model. Travel to sub Saharan Africa, Papua etc. to see how well it is working.

    Good point Anonymous, but I had civilisation in mind, I just didn't say so explicitly.

    Does anyone know of any civilisation which descended into barbarism/savagery without bloodshed? I'd be interested to know.

    ReplyDelete
  26. SAMI Lukis is desperate to have a baby and is willing to use a sperm donor in her quest to become a mum

    The TV and radio personality, who turns 41 next month, said her biological clock was "about to explode" and she would rather be a single parent than not have a baby at all.

    She said, however, that given her time again she would not have wasted so many years on relationships that she didn't think were leading to children.

    Sydney IVF medical director Dr Mark Bowman said an increasing number of single women in their late 30s and early 40s were using sperm donors to become mothers.Dr Bowman said two years ago he rarely had single women as patients but now he sees two to three a week.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Michael, I saw that story. Sami Lukis is a very beautiful woman, but she's followed the dismal pattern of deferring family commitments and shacking up instead with unsuitable men until it's all too late.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Mark, thought you would like to see this news article on the pretty-looking high-profile Australian TV celebrity Sami Lukis, who is now 41 and desperate for children. She admits she wasted her time on relationships that never would have lasted - we need to spread this gospel more.

    http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/celebrity/why-i-need-a-erm-donor-to-become-a-mum/story-e6frfmqi-1226024448424

    ReplyDelete
  29. Does anybody out there have a rational, realistic, go-on-the-offense plan of action that will roll back this progressive insanity and ultimately crush it? The only thing I hear on this and related blogs is wait-and-see speculation and wishful thinking.

    I realize that most of the people here are smart, thoughtful, and mean well, but damn it, it's getting awfully late in the day to stop the online debating societies and actually start to DO SOMETHING!

    ReplyDelete
  30. You can start Anonymous by taking a name so we know who we're talking to.

    ReplyDelete
  31. On the point about the "debating society" if you can't debate your points you're useless politically in the wider world, so I wouldn't underestimate that one.

    ReplyDelete
  32. to stop the online debating societies and actually start to DO SOMETHING

    Anon,

    The political debates are important. We don't yet have as much support as we need, so we need to extend our influence when it comes to political discussion on the internet.

    But I do understand that you want to do something practical. So do I. That's why I'm also making an effort to organise locally (see Eltham Traditionalists). It's a project that's looking promising but it needs more time.

    I don't think there's any one plan that's suddenly going to rescue the situation. What we need are people who will contribute in some way over a longer period of time (a decade or more).

    In the meantime, I think you'll find that larger numbers of young men are going to lose an orthodox commitment to liberalism in coming years. It's happening already and it's beginning to change politics.

    Official policy at the top level might not be changing yet but politics is beginning to open up at the ground level.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Mark said,

    "Official policy at the top level might not be changing yet but politics is beginning to open up at the ground level."

    This is true, there is growing desire for change and a general recognition that there is a disconnect at the top end of town.

    I'm active at the university campus, in the army reserve, church, and the Liberal party. The soldiers in the army reserve are already generally won over to these arguments. The issue for them then becomes directing their attitudes towards constructive ends, such as voting behavior or influencing social norms, rather than becoming despondent or possibly acting in an impulsive manner and running foul of the law. Church I'm finding a hard sell because where I am the people are true believers and emphasise the importance of salvation and the soul over national or others characteristics, however they do emphasis traditional gender roles and recognise the weaknesses of individualism. The Liberal party is generally apprehensive on many of these issues and definitely needs some more work. University is where I'm having the greatest impact, and my ability to debate there is useful.

    These are all in a sense grassroots areas but they form a platform for general social consensus and political activity.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Well, that was refreshing! Thank you for not jumping on me too strenuously for my prior Anonymous post.

    It is very late in the day to try to save our Republic. At its core, the left consists of total lawlessness and immorality; there is no way to reason with their pursuit of raw power, and any attempt to compromise simply means that the rest of us lose again, only at a slower pace. We have very few options open. Therefore, I propose the following constructive (albeit generic) plan of action:

    1) Organized civil disobedience, e.g., at a community local level, withhold payment into an escrow account of taxes going to schools, but ensure that you have conservative legal counsel in place (preferably pro bono) before you start.
    2) Nullification at any and all governmental levels up to and including the state; e.g., ignore any court order from any judge who interprets a “living Constitution”. Note that progressives have already successfully done this, e.g., open immigration or sanctuary cities.
    3) Secession, especially at the state level. The end result?.. consider proposals already being made at such blogs as View from the Right: An expanded proposal to divide America into two countries.

    These three actions are inherently tied together; they support each other such that where one leaves off another begins. The whole point of this program?... No more playing defense. We need a vast organized right-wing conspiracy, a strategy and tactics of offense, and we need it now.

    ReplyDelete
  35. My plan is to divorce the left from the general public. They are a relatively small number and in many instances they prevail because people are too shy to stand up to them. Why? Because they don't know the valid arguments to use.

    ReplyDelete

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.