Sunday, January 25, 2009
The Marriage Strike among men
By Wendy McElroy
Why do fewer people marry?
According to a 1999 National Vital Statistics Report from the CDC, 7.4 per 1,000 Americans married in 1998. From 1990 to 1995, the marriage rate dropped from 9.8 to 7.6. Different sources render other statistics but the trend remains sharply downward.
There is never a single or comprehensive explanation for complex phenomena that are rooted deeply in human psychology. Non-marriage is a particularly difficult issue to address because, as a recent paper from Rutgers University entitled "Why Men Won't Commit" explains, official sources are scarce. "The federal government issues thousands of reports on nearly every dimension of American life. ... But it provides no annual index or report on the state of marriage." Much of the discussion of the motives surrounding non-marriage must be anecdotal, therefore, relying on statistics to provide framework and perspective.
In examining reasons for the current decline of marriage, one question usually receives short shrift. Why are men reluctant to marry?
The Rutgers report — admittedly based on a small sample — found ten prevalent reasons. The first three:
— They can get sex without marriage;
— They can enjoy "a wife" through cohabitation; and,
— They want to avoid divorce and its financial risks.
As a critic of anti-male bias in the family courts, the reasons I hear most frequently from non-marrying men are fear of financial devastation in divorce and of losing meaningful contact with children afterward. (Such feedback is anecdotal evidence but, when you hear the same response over a period of years from several hundred different sources, it becomes prudent to listen.)
In a similar vein, the Rutgers report finds: "Many men also fear the financial consequences of divorce. They say that their financial assets are better protected if they cohabit rather than marry. They fear that an ex-wife will 'take you for all you’ve got' and that 'men have more to lose financially than women' from a divorce."
Increasingly, men are stating their reasons for not marrying on the Internet. In an article entitled "The Marriage Strike," Matthew Weeks expresses a sentiment common to such sites, "If we accept the old feminist argument that marriage is slavery for women, then it is undeniable that — given the current state of the nation's family courts — divorce is slavery for men."
Weeks provides the math. One in two marriages will fail with the wife being twice as likely to initiate the proceedings on grounds of "general discontent" — the minimum requirement of no-fault divorce. The odds of the woman receiving custody of children are overwhelming, with many fathers effectively being denied visitation. The wife usually keeps the "family" assets and, perhaps, receives alimony as well as child support. Many men confront continuing poverty to pay for the former marriage.
Weeks concludes: "Over five million divorced men in America are currently experiencing the situation I just outlined. Without a doubt, their stories and experiences are heard by unmarried men. Can anyone truly blame the men for having apprehension?"
He uses what has become a new term — at least in the mouths of men: "the marriage strike." Most of the men who go "on strike" undoubtedly do so quietly but others are making a loud political statement. For example, the Joint Parenting Association declares, "An international 'marriage strike' by men is set to continue indefinitely until Family Law is reformed to recognize that fathers love their children too."
The apprehension of men — along with other significant factors — is dramatically changing the face of marriage and the family. The best statistics we have indicate that, from 1960 to 2000:
— The number of marriages per 1,000 unmarried women age 15-plus has declined from 73.5 to 46.5.
— The number of divorces per 1,000 married women age 15-plus has risen from 9.2 to 18.9.
One impact: The presence of single women has increased remarkably — women who must choose either to remain childless or to raise children by themselves.
— The number of births per 1,000 women age 15-44 has declined from 118.0 to 67.5.
— The percentage of live births to unmarried women rose from 5.3 to 33.2.
— The percentage of children under 18 living with a single parent rose from 9 to 27.
Some point to the steep rise in cohabitation as causing the devastation of marriage and families. The number of unmarried adults cohabiting with the opposite sex has soared from 439,000 in 1960 to 4,736,000 in 2000. But blaming cohabitation misses the point. Why do people choose that alternative?
A significant number of men are loudly stating their reasons: anti-male bias in the current marriage law and in the family courts. Solving this piece of the "marriage crisis" is not difficult. Allow people to draw up their own private marriage contracts, without government law acting as a third party; have unbiased family courts adjudicate breaches of contracts.
If men participated equally in forging the terms of the most important commitment in their lives, perhaps they would cease to view marriage as a form of indentured servitude and divorce as slavery.
Wendy McElroy is the editor of ifeminists.com and a research fellow for The Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif. She is the author and editor of many books and articles, including the new book, Liberty for Women: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st Century (Ivan R. Dee/Independent Institute, 2002). She lives with her husband in Canada.
Below are some extracts from AskMen.com. I believe they represent our damaged social fabric and resentment that men have toward women and vice versa. I believe that aspects within "chivalry" are actually natural courtship behaviors of males and indeed as courtship behavior wanes so to does marriage.
"men are pathetic pigs, using women for sex, and dumping them. still a rare breed of man exsist, and i'm glad for the the man i have.
most men are just playing women these days, and it's sick."
Ryan R. says:
I'm back to add my 2 cents again. Modern women see men as expendable. We are expected to court women and prove devotion and for what? They still procure our money and resources in or out of marriage. There is no need to retain a man or marriage. Male resource provision is transfered to women in courtship, marriage and divorce. There is no distinction between the three anymore. What man now a days is motivated to do anything but the bear minimum. There is no hope or reward of honor and commitment from women. Men bear all the cost and risk. Women are a liability and a risk to us. They can take all our things away and our dear children. They can jail us without due process of law by word alone through VAWA and in Canada obtain all rights to a man's property when doing so. Who wants that???
"I understand what Chivalry used to be and that it still lives with some people but Chivalry was killed by women who wanted the double standard when they started burning their bra's and wanting to be independent career people. Men are Hunter/Gatherer/Protector-Providers and somewhere women decided that they didn't wanted some of that anymore but we still need to pay for everything and open the door for them only when they feel like they wanted to be treated like a princess. But when they feel like GI Jane we are supposed to read their minds to know what they want. Yea, how selfish and insensitive is that. Sorry its 50/50 until they want their men to be men again. I'm taking this generation off. Lets call it mens generation vacation."
"Well I think that men get the message that they are not needed. I mean just watch the commercials now a days. I mean I watched a movie about a family and their dog and when the dog got neutered the guys buddy said "you know we all have to loose our balls sometime" I don't think that women realize that in real life men don't submit to emasculation and are increasingly withdrawing from women. The only form of control we have left is to just not have any commitment to women much less get married. I mean come on it's a trap. Men deeply love women and secretly want to provide and protect them. No matter how independent women get they still want us to provide and protect them. It is a double standard, fend for yourself I think. There is no honor in being a man now a days and men know this."
"niceguy you are a total tool. Go ahead open doors for women. Your being humiliated by women and don't even know it. Eternal Bachelor has it right. Your one of those men who get married and screwed to end up with your children, your house, your money taken from you and relegated to an empty apartment paying alimony to support a woman who left you. Many men just kill themselves and others. You can't even afford to buy another women. Get it straight jack chivalry is dead and feminists killed it. Women are on their own from here and booty calls are the norm. F(^*% marriage."
"thats not being nice 'niceguy'. i can see where eternal bachelor is coming from though. despite the feminist movement asking for equal gender rights, they pick the best parts of equality and turn a blind eye to the rest. if women want to be treated equally and not wish to be demeaned, then they need to take in all forms of equality. meh, just my two cents"
"Are you guys serious? I don't treat women any more better than anyone else don't be pulled into it. Why should I have to do everything for a woman like pull the chair for her or hold the door for her? New flash women aren't better or more precious than us men! The truth is many women bang jerk badboy types but want a so called "gentleman" when they want to settle down and have a lifestyle provided for them."
"no, chivalry isn't dead at least in the heart of every hot blooded real woman. want proof? look at the phenomenon of "Twilight". it is mostly young girls that are evidently enamoured by the character of Edward, the vampire boy. examine his characteristics as a vampire, and you will see he IS a knight fighting with his very life to protect and save his beloved Bella. if young teen girls in the XXI century are in love with Edward, given the family backgrounds the majority surely comes from, with working moms and absent dads, where is this craving for chivalry coming from? maybe it's biological. observe yeh the animal kingdom as a whole. blame the big bang. chivalry is only dormant, because people have become selfish, self centered, confused, and know nothing about higher codes of..."
"Listen cut and dry, women gave all this courtship thing up when they told us they didn't need us for squat. No roses, no door opening, no paying for meals, no proving myself to these independent women. All my guys friends are this way to and now we kick back and let em have their own life. We meet on equal terms. You have a job why do you want me to prove anything to you. We meet, text back and forth and meet up for sex. Women do their own thing now and we do ours. "I don't need no man" guess what "we don't need you" makes the booty call easy now a days, no commitment, no marriage, no baby, no getting robbed by a woman no way. I seen what happens.....naaw naaaw naaaw that baby don't look like me...lol..."
From the above I get the message that men want to do these things but feel resentful and in some of the comments the anger surfaces so much that it is palatable. It seems like they want to make the extra effort of chivalrous behavior. I think as women have pulled away from us, men don't feel as equals and are withdrawing as well. This is very sad to me. Something is terribly wrong here and quite frankly I'm worried. No one seems to be talking about this but to me this issue is an epidemic! I believe as feminist theory believes that gender is a social construct this is just resistance from men before we submit to some sort of matriarchal female dominated society. I don't believe this is true but rather have reached some sort of optional evolutionary but mainly ideologically induced paradox in which both sexes are not only having a hard time adapting but it is driving us apart from both ends. More importantly the human male is going his own way. He is increasingly becoming a vagabond, a drifter coming in and out of miscellaneous women's lives. He is learning however to self actualize and to empower himself within this new norm. Yet he is increasingly becoming aware of his subjugation to resource provision out side of a pair bond and as such harnessing his anger and resentment the best he knows how.
Females in this new paradigm indeed are nothing to dedicate or commit oneself to. Nothing to court in the truest of intentions of commitment but an exchange a brief payment if you will for the opportunity for sex and that is all. Marriage and especially children are a liability to him through the bonds of alimony and child support without the benefit of a wife and child to love. He is necessary yet unnecessary due to this systemic transference of his labor. He is caught in limbo with no where to go on each side. This is something he struggles to deal with as he does indeed want to reproduce, he does indeed want love, commitment, a wife, child and family. Motivation to produce and be of value as a long term mate are waining. A lower incentive has been created and the male male competitive echelon is waining. Indeed dedicated courtship behavior is waining. Incentive has been destroyed and indeed the formation of a model of incentive toward as little dedication as possible for reproductive access to the female has been created. Again he is going his own way as the female no longer needs him indeed he no longer wants to need her and is trying to find himself in this new model.
This idea is supported by a growing element of men who identify as MGTOW or Men Going Their Own Way. I was surprised at the results that the google predictive analysis populated by only typing in as much as "men going" which the google database immediately and predictively turned up 52,600,000 results for Men Going Their Own Way along with other telling predictive analytic results based off human inputs.
Looking at the cumulative results one can see that typing only "men going" brought up> =their own way+extinct+divorce
were in the top results of what everyone knows is googles world class and stellar predictive analytic algorithms. It is alarming that the verb men "going" predicts the prepositional response =their own way+extinct+divorce It goes to illustrate the magnitude of the issues facing us in our culture.
I've looked into the "men going extinct" and found it benign feminist propaganda that has been used within feminist circles and surprisingly quite widely disseminated into popular culture as what I believe is some sort of psyops element of their agenda. It was also published in the New York Times Columnist Maureen Dowd's recent book Are Men Necessary?
This propaganda was so widely disseminated as evidenced by the google predictive analysis database algorithms but also Forbes Magazine, a primarily financial and business journal, felt it necessary to interrupt our daily commute with a page or more of top MIT science studies to reassure us men that we are ok and not going extinct. http://www.forbes.com/2005/08/31/male-sex-chromosome-cz_rl_0831male.html
This incident has illustrated the forces we are up against and the extremely well developed social and communications infrastructure these women have created! I find it imperative that people of the Men's Rights Movement make extra effort to link up to other elements of our growing movement and create links of communication everywhere we can and that includes posting links to my blog here, and the websites and blogs of others, emailing information, phone calls by Skype VOIP and all other forms of communication, publishing and public relations. Leaders are emerging already like Dr. Warren Farrell, Glenn Sacks and others. We are growing and forming by the day but we need everyones help!
But also importantly attention must be given to this Men Going Their Own Way with 52,600,000 results. I've written this blog based off my own experiences and observations of my culture and and while exploring these feelings I REALIZED I AM NOT ALONE: http://menforjustice.net/cms/
I have seen what appears to be a slight radical resistance force in this developing element and hope it does not become a central hub to develop the Men's Movements reactionary intelligent response. However Given the 52,600,000 link ups returned by google I believe it is possible through this comglomerate to build a communications and intelligence infrastructure that is instrumental to the Men's Movement or at very least as a hub to link up with other elements. Leadership and supporting elements must be developed and I at some point plan to illustrate the schematic design of what needs to be built. The wheels are already turning and it is our job to take part in any way we can and know how. During my experience in my Women's Studies class I had no where to go, and no one to talk to but feminist forums. We had nothing in 2000. We are growing and forming ranks. I feel justice and the voice of men will finally come in response to feminism. My direct experience with feminism has made me passionate and I will never give up, I will never stop fighting.
One must understand the importance of these findings as the google algorithms are unbiased and not subject to subjective feelings and observations of myself or human beings. Imagine sitting is a room in the future and asking the collective intelligent consciousness that is the internet "Computer, tell me of men, where are they going and it replies with pure, unbiased non subjective logical reply and in a clear voice "Their own way,,,extinct,,,divorce followed by stark silence as the inquiring human ponders the gravity of such a response. Working in the computer industry myself and understanding how predictive analysis and search engine algorithms work I am very concerned by these findings. This is the future and this is our current reality, this is alarming to me as i realize how epidemic our social issues are as a society.