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“The Marriage Con”: The Stabilizing Force In Society For “The Socialization” Of Men

The talk of marriage these last few weeks—whether about same sex marriage, young marriage or, most hilariously, Ivy League marriage—reminds me of a fight I had with a high school boyfriend. We had just gotten back together after a brief break up, during which time we both saw other people. He felt very strongly that I had done something wrong by dating someone else. He, of course, was in the clear.

When I pointed out the double standard, he explained his position thusly: If both women and men went around hooking up and having sex, society would be besieged by sexually transmitted diseases. It was up to women to be monogamous and sexually conservative in order to ensure that this wouldn’t happen. (Apparently men are incapable of such a feat.) The health of society, he argued, was dependent on women’s sexual decisions and relationship trends. No readers, I did not date Ross Douthat.

His teen boy logic—as baffling as it was—is actually not far off from conservative culture’s last grasp at saving marriage as they imagine it. And the core of these death throe attempts to hold onto a version of marriage that never really existed is the idea of women—chaste women—as a stabilizing force in society.

Take Focus on the Family’s “talking points” on marriage. Under the headline, “Marriage is Essential to a Thriving Society,” the organizations says straight marriage is necessary because it “socializes men.”

A society’s most serious problem is the unattached male, and marriage links men to women who help channel male sexuality and aggression in socially productive ways. Marriage and parenthood socialize men to care for and respect their wives, other women and children.

See, ladies? We need to be married so that men won’t go raping and pillaging. And let’s not even get into how single moms are told they’re a scourge on society—as if their relationship choices (or non-choices) determine the wellness of the country.

But marriage isn’t just for men’s and society’s benefit of course—if women don’t want to be sad and alone, we’ll hurry up and get a husband as soon as humanly possible. After all, there’s nothing more important a woman can do than be a good traditional wife. Even if you are a literal rocket scientist, the lede of your life will be about your commitment to your husband or your beef stroganoff recipe.

If traditional marriage benefited everyone—not just men and their pesky unsocialized ways—there wouldn’t need to be quite so much cajoling women about how fabulous it all is. (I will never forget the laugh I had when David Brooks assured women that “power is in the kitchen.”) 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.

Conservatives need to understand that what they’re pushing for is an impossible sell: Women’s subservience to the domestic as a cultural grounding force, while men get to work and explore and create? No thank you. We don’t want the good of society on our relationships’ shoulders.

There will always be wistful, wishful-thinking articles hoping to turn the tide on women’s sexuality and partnerships. But there will also always be more women thinking, “good riddance.”

 

By: Jessica Valenti, The Nation, April 12, 2013

April 14, 2013 Posted by | Marriage | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Michele Bachmann: ‘Anti-Vaccine Wingnut’?

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) earned glowing reviews for her performance in Monday’s CNN/Tea Party presidential debate. Her perceived finest moment: Hammering Texas Gov. Rick Perry over his (quickly  overruled) 2007 executive order mandating that “innocent little  12-year-old girls” in Texas get vaccinated against the sexually transmitted infection HPV. Bachmann didn’t fare as well, however, in her  post-debate media blitz, ill-advisedly repeating the cautionary tale of a mother who claimed her daughter “suffered from  mental retardation” because of the HPV vaccine. Has Bachmann “jumped the shark” (as Rush Limbaugh suggests) by attacking vaccines instead of just Perry?

Bachmann is sabotaging herself: Bachmann’s odd assertion sounds a lot like the “thoroughly debunked” claim that childhood vaccines cause autism, says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway. And as with the autism “nonsense,” there is no evidence that the HPV vaccine has ever caused anything like “mental retardation.” Bachmann really blew it here, quickly fleeing the debate’s winner’s circle for the fringe camp of “anti-vaccine wingnuts like Jenny McCarthy.”

This is just Bachmann being Bachmann: “News flash: Vaccine luddism is rather widespread,” says Dave Weigel at Slate. And the fact that it’s Bachmann who’s tapped into it is “totally unsurprising,” given her penchant for “endorsing or ‘just asking questions’ about dark theories that she’s overheard.” Really, such claims are just par for the course with Bachmann.

Whatever her reasons, this will cost Bachmann: “I liked Michele Bachmann. A lot,” says Lori Ziganto at RedState. That ends now. I don’t care if she’s “actually cuckoo pants or if she’s just lying and using children and the fears of their parents to score political points,” but this “tall tale” about a 12-year-old absurdly “catching” mental retardation — something you’re born with — tells me all I need to know: Bachmann’s “not very bright” and she’s a “Jenny McCarthyist.” Let’s not forget: “Vaccinations save lives.”

By: The Week, Opinion Brief, September 14, 2011

September 15, 2011 Posted by | Conservatives, Elections, GOP, Health Care, Ideologues, Ideology, Media, Politics, Public Health, Republicans, Right Wing, Tea Party, Voters | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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