Relationships and Values

The Washington Post editorial board published a ridiculous editorial last week on the fate of marriage given that young women are much more liberal than young men, some of whom are distressingly right wing. The article implied that women should compromise their political beliefs to get married.

My initial reaction to this silly article is best summed up in a saying from second-wave feminism:

A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.

According to Wikipedia, Australian filmmaker, politician, and activist Irina Dunn said that.

My second reaction is to ask why are we still getting articles like this in 2023. This one’s not quite as bad as the one Newsweek did in the 1990s about women over 40 being more likely to be killed by terrorists than get married — which wasn’t remotely true as well as being stupid — but it’s pretty bad.

I mean, why all this emphasis on getting married?

The Post seems to think married people are happier, but their source for that data is from a right wing organization. There is some data that married men are happier, but ….

Based on my in-no-way-scientific observation of people, single women are as happy as anybody else, and the women I’ve known who were the unhappiest tended to be married women in complicated marriages.

I’ve been in a committed relationship for the past ten years (we’ve lived together for nine). Before that I was single for many years. I’ve never been married and never had a long ongoing relationship before this one. I was happy being single and I’m happy being in this particular relationship.

The things that make me unhappy have nothing to do with my relationships.

It should go without saying that my partner and I share similar political views. There is absolutely no way I could be seriously involved with a partner who didn’t share my politics. In fact, one of the reasons this relationship is successful is that we share deep values.

There’s an implication in this discussion that political views don’t matter, even though The Post also constantly writes about polarization. It’s as if politics is like rooting for a baseball team.

But politics, especially in these times, is a window into values. If my values incorporate feminism, antiracism, addressing climate change, doing something about wealth inequality, and related issues, how can I possibly get involved with someone who embraces authoritarianism and white supremacy?

In today’s politics, we’re not talking about who is more qualified or who has the better plan for solving problems; we’re talking about who is out to gut democracy and destroy our ability to live on the planet and who isn’t.

I gather another reason The Post wants women to sacrifice having a decent life by marrying authoritarian jerks is so they will have more babies. We’ve got 8 billion people on this planet and plenty of them are having babies. A drop in population might make life a little more complicated for awhile, but settling out at a smaller, more sustainable level of people would help quite a bit with climate change.

I mean, nobody needs to have babies unless they want to.

Other people have addressed this nonsensical editorial well. On Twitter, Moira Donegan observed:

My radical feminist opinion is that if men who are exclusively attracted to women are also incapable of viewing women as social equals deserving of rights and dignity, then they deserve the loneliness that will follow.

And Lyz Lenz, who has a book coming out about marriage and divorce, raised some very important issues about the danger to women in marrying right-wing men.

She says — speaking with the experience of having been married to such a man —

What women risk by being partnered with men who don’t share our political beliefs is more than just uncomfortable family dinners. We risk our lives.

For fifty years now, feminists have been making the point that there are many ways for women to live and the right wing — which is now in charge of the Republican Party — has been trying to undermine everything from laws against discrimination to availability of reproductive health care.

A reputable, supposedly neutral, newspaper should not be advocating for women to give up having the lives they want by marrying jerks. More importantly, it should not encourage people to think of their political attitudes as taking sides in some kind of game.

We are confronting truly dangerous challenges to our democracy and what it could be if the United States lived up to its ideals. No one should ever be encouraged to compromise those.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *