At least, if you think about this triumphal article
, you could get that impression. James Lileks
has been thinking about it, and is familiar with some of the milieus mentioned in the piece. The first invitation to eye-rolling is that the range of ages
begins at 15 years, which one would expect to skew the average. I'm no statistician, but that seem kind of dishonest. Not that many 15-year-old girls, except in polygamist cults, get married. Many in that age group among African Americans get pregnant out of wedlock, but that doesn't seem as "freeing" a decision as the Times
reporters would have it.
The only people I can think of who think a decline in married women is a good thing are feminists, but they tend to believe a lot of screwy things.
I especially dislike the kind of "reporting" that singles out a few examples and proceeds as if these few cases represent the whole. Lileks knows the "the vibrant Adams Morgan neighborhood" of Washington and furnishes a photo. Funny, it doesn't look all that vibrant. In fact, it looks kind of shabby.
I think what bothers Lileks and Medved, and anybody else who understands that reporting is supposed to mean the same thing as propaganda, is the positive light in which this statistic portrayed, as if it were some milestone on the road to enlightenment. It quotes a number of academics who are, if their comments are an indication, are the kind who are likely to read a lot of nonsense into such indicia, as well as a few who see single life as a change from a life being a wife and mother, which the reporters imply is a synonym to "slavery." Sure, divorce is an answer for really dysfunctional marriages, but it's not a good thing for society or the family when it plunges a woman and her children into poverty, as it often does. I have several aunts who have remained widows after their husbands died. They don't seem all that relieved or happy about doing so. One of them raised three children after losing her husband and seems to have gotten along fine, but I'm not sure she would advocate it for others. The others were somewhat elderly themselves, and the prospect of dating and getting used to a new husband probably wasn't all that appealing. My brother lost his wife to kidney disease a few years ago and he remarried about 6 months later. I doubt that he would be as happy now had he remained single, but I'm not sure what feminist doctrine is for what a man without a woman is.
I've never really thought of families in this balance-sheet way before. I think of happy families as something to be sought for, but more as a team endeavor than as a zero-sum game. How many children look at their parents and pick their sexuality based on who seems to be getting the better end of the marriage contract? Maybe, in this day and age they're encouraged to think that way by therapists, but to me it sounds like a Sophie's choice kind of calculus, not a progessive one.