The Faulty Premise of the Marriage Threat

By Amanda Marcotte
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 10:08 EDT
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Over the holiday, Fox News decided to troll women for thinking they’re people with this misogynist blather from Phyllis Schlafly’s niece Suzanne Venker (and you better bet that’s her married name!) about the “war on men”. To summarize: Venker believes men are entitled to female submission, and by not being submissive, women are waging war on them. And they, in retaliation, are refusing to marry you unladlylike monsters with your careers and opinions.

Venker’s blithering idiocy caused a great deal of feminist response, most of it measured and evidence-based, pointing out that Venker has a career and opinions herself, despite believing these things to be boner-destroyers. There is literally no evidence that men are abandoning marriage to punish women for being autonomous, and, as Maya pointed out astutely, in this economy most men well understand that you need two incomes to reach middle class status—if you’re lucky. All good and well, and I applaud anyone using trolls like Venker as opportunities to educate, share evidence, and calm young women down who have been told, repeatedly, that they’re going to die virginal cat ladies if they insist on having jobs and reading books. There’s nothing wrong with wanting sex and romance, and the fact that anti-feminists are willing to dishonestly exploit women’s desire for that to scare them off demanding equality is despicable. And also preposterous, as it comes from people who relentlessly object to medical advances that allow people to have freer, more fulfilling sex lives.

Still, having been warned by wingnuts over and over again that no one wants to marry a feminist, I find that my honest response to the threat is not to whip out the table and charts and history books. No, it’s more like this:

Oh noes! I can’t find a husband?! But whose socks will I spend the rest of my life begrudgingly picking up?

All these “but you won’t find a husband!” attacks are based on the shaky premise that finding someone to validate you with a wedding ring matters more than anything. More than your human rights, your basic dignity, your control of your own body, your ability to pursue your dreams, your ability to take care of yourself, and even happiness within any marriage you create. Venker’s piece assumes that given a choice between marrying someone who sees you as a subhuman fuck toy/robot maid and being single, women will choose the former because scoring the wedding ring matters that much.

Look, it’s absolutely true that there’s no evidence to show that men as a class hate independent women. Feminists believe in men and men’s potential, and do not accept as a given that men are monsters who will never treat women right. Just yesterday, I was battling with MRAs whose arguments rested on the assumption that all men are paranoid misogynists, a premise I thoroughly reject from both statistical and personal experience. I, like all the feminists above, also reject Venker’s argument that all men are babies who need women to recede from public life and act like unpaid servants in order to feel good about themselves. Seriously, no one hates men more than anti-feminists.

But even if anti-feminists like our resident trolls and Suzanne Venker were right to believe all men are scum, I don’t buy that women have no choice but to marry said scum. These idiots never bother to argue why marriage is so all-fucking-important that it’s worth suffering misogyny in your own home and even abuse to get it. And secretly, they know that this is a flaw in their arguments, which is why conservatives get all fired up about single women. They’re afraid that if women realize being single is on the table, then we won’t be forced to settle for any old asshole.

Obviously, in a lot of ways, it’s a moot point. There are plenty of genuinely good men out there who not only can fall in love with independent women, but often can only fall in love with independent women. A lot of men I know consider independence a bare minimum in a female partner. They aren’t being generous or taking one for the cause, either. They just find women who are independent-minded more attractive, and find the idea of a partner who is looking for a daddy figure to take care of her boner-killing.

But man, even if there wasn’t, being single is a better bet than settling for life with a man who doesn’t think you’re a real person.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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