Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The Forces of History

Berenike sent me this Atlantic Monthly article, and I most definitely think it is worth a read. By the way, I wonder when people will stop using "All the Single Ladies" as a title for everything written about Single people.

Read the whole thing. It is long, so get a coffee.

The article is worth a read because it shows that the Dominant Narrative, which is not Catholicism, has woken up and noticed what forty years of the feminist revolution and much social engineering has wrought. Of course, the Dominant Narrative thinks this is mostly pretty good, especially the part about Single women having (doing) as much sex as they like and Single women embracing "biological parenthood." It ignores, of course, the mangled corpses of millions of aborted human fetuses and the natural wish of children to have and know their fathers.

Page 2 of the article does acknowledge the ill-effects the past forty years have had on men, economic and moral. Economically, men are often in a worse situation than women, and morally the ones who can get it are more interested in having sex than in having committed relationships until (page 3) they apparently hit "Marriage O'Clock" at the age of 35.

The article also talks about historical periods in which there have been literal man-shortages. I find it significant, however, that instead of talking about England, France or Germany after the First World War, the writer chooses (page 2) to look at atheist communist Russia after World War Two. The illegitimacy rate in Britain was at its LOWEST by the end of the 1950s whatever it was in Russia.

And it also looks at the American (but not just American) problem of the black, fatherless underclass. One of life's little ironies that makes me grind my teeth to stumps is that comparatively rich white and Asian kids in Canada, the USA, Britain, France and Germany think American black ghetto culture--the big stupid baseball caps, the falling down jeans, the horrible noises--so goldarned glamorous. Little European girls of eight do bump and grind routines to lyrics celebrating unfettered, uncommitted, blatantly misogynist or misandrist sex. How on earth did we get from dignified, well-dressed, church-going civil rights marchers to that?

I could go on and on, but instead I will cut to the chase. And the chase is that a healthy society is a society in which men and women co-operate and love each other. Loving each other means men and women respecting each other's differences and understanding what makes each other happy. It doesn't mean shaming them or ourselves into some brand new notion of what human beings SHOULD be like. It certainly doesn't mean saying that men are redundant. How can that POSSIBLY make men flourish?

Meanwhile, as the article points out, there have been times in history when there were not a lot of "marriageable men." In Britain, women's chances for marriage were blighted by war. Some Single women (like Rose Macaulay and sex-obsessed Diana Athill) made extramarital sexual arrangements in the wake of war, but others lived lives of impeccable respectability. Some of the post-WW2 Singles are still alive, and there is a set of very elderly and frail Edinburgh bluestockings that totter together determinedly to every arts event or lecture they can manage.

It is possible to face a husband-free existence with class and determination; women always have, and usually on much less money than today. But, for society at large, the destruction of marriage, which is the proper cradle of children and the protection of men and women from sexual decadence, is a seriously terrible thing.

What if the reason why American white people are comparatively more successful than American black people, or Europeans comparatively richer than Caribbean people, IS marriage? For me, racism is not noticing that some people flourish better than others. It is assuming that success is naturally determined by race. Europeans have not flourished because they are white; Europeans have flourished because the majority of European men have been proper husbands and fathers.

The Christian Single Life does not denigrate Married Life. The Best (and the tradition of the Church is that perpetual virginity is the highest state in life, barring martyrdom) must not be the enemy of the Good. So on this blog, even as I hope to convince Single women that their Singleness is not just a cross but an invitation to holiness, I am also very pro-marriage. Anyone who cares about their culture--or the flourishing of the human race--should care about marriage. Marriage is about the proper ordering of relations among men, women and children. It is not about sentiment, gifts and a champagne reception.

Meanwhile, we should all have a hard look at reality--and I mean reality. Recently a 15 year old child in Ontario, a child with loving parents and many friends, who identified publicly as "gay" and read with interest material by Dan Savage for gay teens, took his own life. He noted that being an openly homosexual teenager was not like it was on "Glee." Of course it is not like it is on "Glee!" What you can learn about real life from television is almost nothing.*

And thus the article to which I have linked is very interesting. If it is true that men get all anxious about marriage at 35, and if it is true that men prefer to marry women younger than themselves, and if it is true that the way to keep a husband happy is to look at him adoringly, then this is useful information. If you are (despite my protests) on a Catholic dating website, stop complaining about that men your age won't look at you and start catching the eye of men ten years older. And if you think you would rather die than acknowledge your husband as the head of the household, give your think a think.


*Note: I had a look at the poor child's blog, and it is seriously disturbing. It juxtaposes homoerotic images and gay porn with notes and photographs about suicide, photographs and notes about his self-harm, quotes from another gay teen about her own disappointing love life, and declarations that his friends aren't really his friends.

This is an incredibly sad story, and the boy was terribly bullied, and heads should roll. But what has gotten lost in the media circus is that he had a bottomless, irrational, unhealthy, impossible hunger to be loved and accepted by everybody.

Most people don't have this, thank goodness. Most of us understand that there will always be people who don't like us, who are mean to us (if they can be), and are uncomfortable with our hugs and neediness. I understand that there are men and even women who will always dislike me because I am a woman, Catholic, white, foreign, whatever.

If we belong to an ideological minority and we can't take the heat, we get out of the kitchen: I lasted only two years or so as an on-the-street, blatant-button-wearing pro-lifer. I couldn't take the verbal abuse, and I got seriously depressed. I did not stop being pro-life, of course, but I thought very prudently about how to express this controversial stance and to whom to reveal it.

Despite years of bullying, this poor child didn't know how to do that yet. He trusted to "Glee", and not to experience, when he sought love and acceptance through "Rainbow Club" posters. It is terrible that a mentally unstable 15 year old was allowed become his school's gay rights crusader.

As difficult and as unpleasant as it can be, we must stare reality in the face.


Alephine said...

Maybe I'm (deliberately?) missing the point, but when I read articles of the 'way we live now' sort like the Atlantic one, I get a mild feeling of unreality because they seem to take (real enough) trends/tendencies and make them out to be typical. When I look at my millennial (mostly non-Catholic) former classmates, I am struck by how many are following an utterly conventional path in life. College, work or graduate/professional school, marriage to another young professional in the late twenties and probably children a couple of years later.

Seraphic said...

A very good point. I must check and see where the writer lives. Not the midwestern USA, I'm guessing.

theobromophile said...

It's not the men ten years my senior who bother me (and I have no problem dating them!), it's the ones in their late forties and fifties, who are the peers of my parents.

Call me crazy, but I think that any man worth having is looking for his equal. I've had older men pay attention to me for my entire life, and am here to tell you that all attention from older men is NOT the same. There are men who are looking to exploit a young woman's perceived naivete, and those who are looking for a good person and happen to find it in young packaging. So, to get all maternal: beware, my little Singles, of older men.


What if the reason why American white people are comparatively more successful than American black people, or Europeans comparatively richer than Caribbean people, IS marriage?

It is. When you factor in fatherlessness, a lot of the differences between whites and blacks, including supposedly immutable characteristics like intelligence, disappear.

Fatherlessness will undo the gains of decades worth of litigation, civil rights marches, funding for inner-city schools, outreach efforts, and affirmative action.


A properly lived Single life entices men into matrimony - not necessarily with oneself, but at least with other women. To be extraordinarily blunt, a lot of young men say that they don't want to get married because why be stuck with only one woman in bed when you can sleep with slews of them now? But if we live our lives properly as Singles, then a man wouldn't think, "Oh, I don't want to marry X and give up sleeping with Y and Z", because Y and Z don't sleep with men outside of marriage.

Seraphic said...

Hey, they're MY little Singles. Only I can get away with my egregiously maternal tone on my blog.

Mara said...

theobromophile, you have a point about older men. My first boyfriend was ~10 years older than me when I started dating him (I was in my early 20s). It was with him that I committed the stupid sins that Auntie S refers to in a previous post.

Seraphic said...

I think it depends on the older man. I think they are poppets.

Tess said...

Dear Auntie Seraphic, it's Tess, your ND student-turned-DC journalist friend. I'm part of a club of conservative women journalists who meet monthly to discuss issues and affairs of the day, and for this month's meeting, our moderator chose this very same article. The meeting is at lunch tomorrow and I've printed your blog post to bring along in hopes of adding it to the discussion.

I have to add that as a young single woman, this article made me unaccountably depressed. As I read it with a highlighter and pen, I wrote notes in the margins, the majority of which said things like "This makes me want to bang my head against a wall." The general gist of the article seemed to be that there are no decent men left, that marriage is practically obsolete, and that as a 22-year-old woman I might as well resign myself to a fate of perpetual spinsterhood. Most of the other women in the group are older, married, and well-established in their journalistic careers, so I'm sure their perspectives will be quite different.

Is there anything you would suggest for me to bring up in the conversation tomorrow? I'd also be happy to report back to you on the discussion, if you're interested. Thanks for commenting on this article!

Seraphic said...

Dear Tess, I am interested, so do report back please!

Note that one of the commentators said that this article did not at all jive with what she saw around her. And this made me think, "Hey! Wait a minute! Is this just another article about New York?"

In short, just 'cause that Single women said so, and just 'cause that's what her environment looks like, doesn't mean that's so, or that all environments look like that.