Kate Bolick created a bit of a buzz with her recent article “All the Single Ladies” published in Atlantic Magazine. Through this long and data-filled narrative, Ms. Bolick argues the modern feminist case against traditional marriage and family roles and justification for the sexual “revolution.” Ms. Bolick is a talented writer and thinker and interweaves her personal narrative through her polemic against traditional female roles. In fact, the candor of her narrative keeps the reader turning the pages. But through her candor, Ms. Bolick raises serious doubt about just how good this “modern” feminist ethics has been for women.
Ms. Bolick embodies the modern feminist
lie life – pursuing self and professional fulfillment at the expense of marriage and family. She is talented, successful, attractive. She’s reached the top of the professional and social fields in New York City. By any “modern” feminist standard, Ms. Bolick is accomplished. She has more former boyfriends than she can recall.
But no love. No family. No children. At no point does she attempt to persuade that her choices brought happiness or fulfillment. Doubt, not happiness, pervade her writing.
In reviewing this illuminating essay, Maggie Gallagher observes,
Who exactly are the new enemies of Eros?
Sex has been divorced from meaning. Men are not being raised to be good family men, and women are not being raised to appreciate good family men. And men are failing to become the kind of men women want. Porn is available for all as a substitute for life.
So Kate, facing a future without children or marriage, wants to celebrate singleness and to kill her youthful idealization.
“Everywhere I turn, I see couples upending existing norms and power structures,” she says, citing a friend who fell in love with her dog walker, a man 12 years younger, with whom she stayed for three years “and are best friends today.”
Well, everywhere I turn in Kate’s essay I see women doing the best they can to celebrate the best they feel they can get, and it’s unbearably sad.
The truth is celebrating singleness—i.e., celebrating “not doing something”—makes no sense. Loving is better than not loving. Choosing to love and commit to a husband or a child is a much higher ideal than choosing not to; that’s why it needs to be celebrated and idealized.
Of course, not everyone marries or becomes a mother, and of course every human life has other possibilities for meaning, and other forms of love to give.
But all of these other loves—the aunt, the grandparent, the best friend—came into being because somewhere some woman gave herself to the independence-shattering act of making a family.
See Maggie Gallagher The New Singleness
Mona Charen commented:
There is a great deal of interesting data in this piece. According to the Pew Research Center, 44 percent of Millennials and 43 percent of Gen Xers think marriage is becoming obsolete. As of 2010, women held 51.4 percent of all managerial and professional positions, compared with 26 percent in 1980. Women account for the lion’s share of bachelors and masters degrees, and make up a majority of the work force. Three quarters of the jobs lost during the recession were lost by men. “One recent study found a 40 percent increase in the number of men who are shorter than their wives.” Fully 50 percent of the adult population is single, compared with 33 percent in 1950.
The resulting decline of marriage has been a disaster for children, a deep disappointment to reluctantly single women and unhealthy for single men, who are less happy, shorter-lived and less wealthy than married men. The sexual revolution has left a trail of destruction in its wake, even when its victims don’t recognize the perpetrator.
See Charen, Blame the Sexual Revolution, Not Men
At about the same time Ms. Bolick was making headlines, there was another, shorter story in the news, a counter-narrative to Ms. Bolick. This story was about traditional marriage. It was not filled with data and in-depth analysis. The story was about Norma and Gordon Yeager. They were not nearly as attractive or successful as Ms. Bolick. They were from Marshalltown, Iowa. In the eyes of the world, they were until recently entirely obscure.
Mr. Yeager had promised his wife he would never leave her. In late October, the Yeagers were in a car accident. Rushed to the hospital, they lay side by side in critical condition, holding hands. Mr. Yeager died, still holding his wife’s hand, with their family around them. Though dead, his monitor still indicated a beating heart. It was his wife’s heart picked up through their holding hands. An hour later, she died, still holding his hand. Mr. Yeager was 94; Mrs. Yeager was 90. They had been married 72 years together. The Yeager’s son said, “They just loved being together. He always said, ‘I can’t go until she does because I gotta stay here for her.’ And she would say the same thing.”
The Yeager’s testimony on marriage, love and family is compelling. RIP
As more generations continue to eat the poisonous fruits of the “sexual revolution,” we can only hope and pray that the old becomes new again.