This morning I was on Fox and Friends battling with some guy named Peter who is proudly “Anti-Feminist.” He has said publicly that women get pregnant on purpose in order to “commit financial abortion,” whatever that means (I guess a woman “decides” to get pregnant, as if contraception is her responsibility alone).
But today he was on the show to blame women for men’s lack of desire to be married. Never mind the fact that his erroneous assertion that “men don’t want to get married” is his alone. No research supports his theory, just some anecdotal evidence, but he offers no empirical data. Let’s remember too that he wants to sell a book, so it behooves him to be salacious and controversial. AskMen.com surveyed 20,000 men, finding that 95 percent of them do have marriage in their future plans. So, some men do want to get married at some point.
In Peter’s view, men are perfect beings, of course, and the drop in marriage rates must be due to nefarious women who are trapping men into something they could not possibly want. This implies that men have no agency over their lives; it’s we who are the sirens luring them to their doom. He also asserts something so laughable, I’m finding it hard to even type it… but he says, “it’s women who have most of the power in relationships.” That’s his opinion, but empirical research shows otherwise.
Keith Sanford, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University has done extensive research on relationship power struggles, concluding that shared power and control is what’s really going on in most relationships, especially when it comes to decision making. Furthermore, in his book Gender and Power, professor of sociology R.W. Connell takes apart the myth that men are equally disenfranchised and equally oppressed. Instead he finds a great deal of evidence that this whole concept of men lacking social power in relationships is “demonstrably false” and that men are greatly advantaged socially, and that the power shift is wholly on the side of men, especially hetrosexual men.
Women are also opting out of marriage. A recent Pew study found that 25 percent of millennials (mostly women) never want to get married, and if we look at the declining marriage rates, they most likely will not. For a younger population, there is a reason for not tying the knot. Researcher J.J. Arnett has found that a substantial number of 20-somethings do not yet consider themselves to be adult, and one of the traits they associate with becoming an adult is “being married,” so, as a result, they are delaying marriage until much later. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median marriage age in the U.S. has risen by more than four years since 1970, and in Europe by more than five years since 1980.
For people who eschew marriage, studies show they feel they can’t afford to settle down. Another Pew study found that one of the main criteria people have for saying they’re ready for marriage is being financially stable, but many of those surveyed said they didn’t feel financially stable. Hence, were not looking for marriage.
My main thesis as to why this book, and the assertion that women are ruining marriage, is ridiculous is this: Women who are working and making their own money no longer need to get married to get out of their parents’ houses anymore. They can live with a man without being married to him; also, there is no real social pressure to have children (and this is for both sexes). Affordable housing is dwindling, it’s harder to buy property, therefore, according to J.J. Arnett, many 20- and 30-somethings are moving back home. Not the best scenario for matrimony or having a family.
Which is another important point. Most urban couples feel that having children is no longer a reason to be married, and many are deciding that parenthood is not for them. The number of couples who wish to remain child-free has drastically risen and is now about 19 percent of the American population, as opposed to the 1950s when it was closer to one percent.
Finally, last year several studies were published that showed that the “50 percent of marriages end in divorce” statistic is a myth, and especially if you get married later in life, which many do, that marriage is more likely to last, making the real divorce rate 30 percent.
I will concede this. There was one area where Peter and I agreed. Alimony. If women want real equality they will walk away from asking for alimony. Having a man who you are no longer in a relationship with giving you a monthly check to pay your bills, when labor statistics show men’s salaries have been cut by a fifth, seems incredibly selfish and archaic, and dare I say, “anti-feminist.”