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Maybe Ross Douthat Should Think More About What’s Wrong With Marriage

Marriage Equality Symbol

Marriage Equality Symbol

It appears that Conservatives are having a harder time actually articulating an actual argument against same-sex marriage that goes beyond flat out bigotry. For Ross Douthat, does try to link the growing acceptance between same-sex marriage and the lesser value that marriage is being assigned by the American people, his argument fails rather a lot because one is unrelated to the other.

Douthat, a conservative columnist for the New York Times, wrote:

A more honest, less triumphalist case for gay marriage would be willing to concede that, yes, there might be some social costs to redefining marriage. It would simply argue that those costs are too diffuse and hard to quantify to outweigh the immediate benefits of recognizing gay couples’ love and commitment.

Such honesty would make social liberals more magnanimous in what looks increasingly like victory, and less likely to hound and harass religious institutions that still want to elevate and defend the older marital ideal.

ThinkProgress notes that Douthat cannot “articulate any real consequences himself, so he’s just trying to guilt supporters of same-sex marriage to concede they exist.” They also note that “Douthat doesn’t want to admit that he can’t explain how letting more people marry will harm marriage, so he’s simply eschewing responsibility for defending his shallow arguments.”

What ThinkProgress misses is something at the heart of the decline in marriage over the years.

Marriage is declining for a number of intersecting reasons. One of these has to do with unrealistic expectations. You may or may not have noticed that Merida in “Brave” is the only Disney Princess who is told that she can make her own decision about whom she marries in the end, and does not get married in the end at all. All the other Disney Princesses get married to the “handsome prince” who comes along and “rescues” her and they live “happily ever after.”

Author Terry Pratchett noted upon several occasions that the only way to have a “happily ever after” is to lop the heads off the bride and groom after they say “I do.” In a sense, our society does not equip women or men for marriage because of the second reasons why marriage is suffering- the power of women.

Men have not been taught how to deal with the idea of women as equals. That is a generalization, I know. However, a lot of men find the idea of their wife earning more money than they do intimidating. Thus, men (in general) are more likely to divorce over income disparity if that income disparity is in the favor of the man’s wife. This also plays into another aspect of why marriage is having trouble- men are still taught that they must be the bread winners.

Rather than accepting the new paradigm for women, society as a whole resisted feminism with the likes of Rush Limbaugh bombastically pronouncing all feminists to be man-hating feminazis. While, yes, there are some 1970′s feminists who had little need or desire for male companionship, not all feminists are about that. The reality is that equality means equality. That means that not only should women be allowed to work outside the home, but men should be allowed to stay at home and raise the children. Men are still taught that they should have lots and lots of sex (while women are taught not to). Men are taught that in order to have self worth, they must be the primary breadwinner in the household. Men are still taught that to be a real man, he must act tough, and so forth. Simply put, men are not taught to be home builders, but rather are reduced and objectified as nothing more than a paycheck. Thus, men put less importance on marriage than women.

This is actually shown somewhat in the statistics about same-sex marriage. Lesbians are more likely than gay men to get married. That is not to say that gay men do not get married or that all lesbians do get married, but the statistics show that lesbians are more likely to get married than gay men. What is more, men are not taught how to clean or keep house as clearly or as strongly as women are. Men do not learn how to properly clean dishes, sinks, or do other household chores in part because society still has the expectation that women are going to be the ones doing this.

In fact, let us be honest here, these battles over marriage, homosexuality, transsexuality, and so forth all come down to something very simple- those fighting against equality are women and men who are afraid of the gender dynamic changing. Choice is frightening, and what we are doing is saying to these women like Phyllis Schlafly or Sarah Palin- it is alright for you to marry a man who is less than rugged and for you to be the primary bread winner. We should also be saying that it is alright for men to stay home and not be the primary bread winner.

Basically, we need to teach our sons that staying home and raising children is neither wrong or a signal of weakness. That being a stay-at-home father is just as rewarding as being a stay-at-home mother or just as rewarding as having a high paying job.



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