She begins by noting that conservatives have defended marriage by arguing that it helps to channel male aggression and sexuality in socially productive ways and that it has emotional benefits for women.
She doesn't bother to rebut these claims. She just states that:
The truth is that this desperate nostalgia for traditional marriage and antiquated gender roles will never be stronger than women’s will to be free from constraining norms.
That's the liberal autonomy theory again. Jessica Valenti has decided that the primary good in life is to be autonomous (to be self-determining). She therefore doesn't like traditional marriage as it includes gender roles which are, to a certain extent anyway, not self-determined but predetermined.
Jessica Valenti has elsewhere said that:
My parents have a wonderful marriage, but they have been together since my mother was 12, married when they were just teenagers and are barely ever separated. They even work together. As a result, I have always thought of marriage as involving the loss of a certain amount of autonomy.
Note how the autonomy principle trumps everything else. It doesn't matter if the decline of marriage sends young men off the rails; it doesn't matter if the decline of marriage leaves many women lonely and sad; nor does it matter if her parents enjoyed a wonderful marriage based on a strong sense of fidelity.
The fact remains that traditional marriage has the potential to curb her autonomy; therefore she rejects it as antiquated.
This story has another interesting angle, though. Back in 2009 Jessica Valenti met the man of her dreams and got married. When trying to justify how she reconciled her anti-marriage feminism and her personal decision to marry she said:
“You come to a point where you give up on holding yourself to a perfect feminist ideal — it just feels stifling."
Is that not some kind of unprincipled exception? The reality is that most people do not always and every time put autonomy first. There are other great goods in life that also deserve a look in. One of them is the desire to marry and form a family. This necessarily is a "constraining norm". It means that we commit ourselves to one other person to the exclusion of others. It means that we accept parental responsibilities that can be onerous at times. But we do it for the sake of a greater good.
|Jessica Valenti's wedding - yet politically she is against marriage|
Jessica Valenti can't bring herself to admit this, as it would put a dent in her belief in autonomy as the overriding good in life, and so she justifies her marriage by saying that she was tired of always holding herself to an ideal.