May 5 2014
Is Marriage Subversive?
In an article over at The Federalist, Stella Morabito proposes that marriage has become the “bogeyman” for progressives. She says it’s worth asking why.
I already know one big reason why—that single women, especially single women with children, are likely to become dependent on government. Ipso facto, they will vote for Democrats who promise to “help” them through more government programs.
Morabito’s article is well worth reading, even if you’ve already given a lot of thought to why the “Life of Julia,” the Obama campaign infomercial about a woman who lives her entire life on cradle to grave government handouts and seems to have nobody in her life, is so depressing.
Headlined “How Personal Relationships Threaten the Power of the State,” the article starts with an anti-marriage article in Slate headlined “Just Say No: For White, Working Class Women, It Makes Sense to Stay Single Mothers.” The authors are Naomi Cahn and June Carbone.
In the article, Lily, who is pregnant, has a job, but her boyfriend Carl is unemployed and aimless. Lily worries about what it would be like to bring up a child with Carl. Slate cites statistics (which Morabito challenges) and trends to bolster its advice to Lily: Just Say No.
One of the threats to being married is that when the couple divorces (an outcome Slate sees as inevitable), a court would likely issue an order that both parents remain involved in the life of the child. Yuck—Lily won’t be able to get rid of Carl even if she divorces him.
How wacky is this? First, our friend “Carl” is a schlub (that’s why Lily blows him off), certainly not an “elite.” But the fundamental point here is that children and family, you see, are chopped liver in this deal. Marriage here is all about who gets what. Essentially, this means Lily is supposed to deprive her children of a relationship with their father because . . . ? Why? The deck is stacked against her? He doesn’t “deserve” or presumably doesn’t even want a relationship with his kids? Lily should have an exclusive “right” to custody?
The upshot of all of this is to seal off the doors for Lily’s children in having a relationship with their father. It also serves to reinforce a jaded outlook in women like Lily so that the doors are sealed against any hopes they might harbor to cultivate strong – i.e., mutually respectful and loving — relationships with potential fathers for their children.
Ultimately, the Cahn-Carbone argument is about separation and isolation. It serves primarily to separate people and separate families. And it’s another example of how children are the pawns and political footballs in just about every so-called “progressive” agenda. Ironically, the argument also seems to cultivate a view of children born of casual sex as less deserving of intact families than children born to “elites.” They are barely an afterthought in this picture, in which men are a hindrance to be avoided.
Strangely, Carbonne and Cahn seem to see marriage as promoting inequality. Morabito says that literature expressing this idea of the family is “mushrooming.” A forthcoming book, for example, portrays the family as “a barbaric, pre-modern holdover institution, perpetuating irrational relations and inherited forms of inequality.”
What this literature is really selling, Morabito argues, is isolation. Within this isolation is personal powerlessness:
Ultimately, personal relationships are the source of all real power. Connection with others is the font of knowledge and wealth for human beings. Whoever controls personal relationships pretty much controls everything.
By enabling a culture of excess in which self-absorption and self-indulgence reign supreme, power elites seem invested in guaranteeing our problems will be self-reinforcing and self-perpetuating. Their bait — sloth, sex, and nonstop mind-numbing entertainment – is a feel-good trap. Nothing substantial can be built on what they offer, least of all solid relationships.
It is only through relationships with others that people become fully human. Morabito’s article is really a fuller, more philosophical statement of what I put forth in the third paragraph of this blog: We can have our most intimate relationships with our fellow human beings or with the state. Seen in this light, marriage is subversive.