Speaking of transactional relationships, Fox’s Outnumbered, which is basically a comment section overrun by misogynists made into a TV show, is at it again. Raw Story‘s David Edwards reports that the show had yet another hand-wringing session over “out-of-wedlock” births (man, conservatives do love the idea that marriage is a lockdown, don’t they?), and, of course, feminism was blamed.
Tantaros pointed out that “men specifically are opting out of marriage.”
“I mean this is a term that been dubbed by [conservative website] Breitbart as the sexodus,” she said.
Co-host Harris Faulkner agreed that there was less pressure on men “because we are a sexually free society.”
“Women have been encouraged to give it up freely with the rise of feminism, have sex like a man,” Tantaros opined. “So, they’re doing this and they’re not making the guy step up to put a ring on it.”
There was some racism (of course) stirred into the mix and some hand-wringing about Tinder, but this was really at the heart of it. Feminism is always blamed for the supposed problem of “out-of-wedlock” births, which are routinely and falsely conflated with single motherhood in conservative circles.* Sometimes single mothers are accused of being a sort of feminist shock troops who are breeding without male involvement to prove a point about fish and bicycles. Sometimes, as in this clip, single mothers are portrayed as hapless victims of feminist ideology. The latter belief is rooted in the belief that women are inherently stupid and inferior thinkers to men and therefore female-created ideas like feminism are bound to fail and ordinary women fall for them due to female gullibility. Yeah, gross all around.
What really fascinates me about this line of argument is that the basic premise, every time it’s trotted out, is that every man is a misogynist but women should want them anyway. Or, another way to look at it, that every woman is too loathsome to actually inspire genuine love and affection, and so they have to use tricks and traps in order to get a man to commit. Either way, the idea is that women need men but men aren’t interested in women for anything but sex, so women need to use that as bait to trap men. It sets up marriage as a loveless transaction.
But really, it’s all propaganda meant to benefit misogynists, scare women into submission, and perpetuate women’s inequality in relationships. Women are meant to hear this and think that they can never expect anything better than a man to commit reluctantly, and therefore in order to get and keep a man, you should be submissive and placating and never stand up for yourself or set boundaries, because you need this and he doesn’t need you—in fact, he can barely tolerate you. (And we wonder why women stay with abusers.) For men, the message is that they are entitled to be domineering to women, because their mere existence is precious to women whereas they can give or take having to endure female prattle.
The relentless nature of this propaganda is due to the fact that this is not, in fact, how it is. Men do want women’s love and affection. Women can hold out for someone who treats them right. Women’s power is not in holding out for a ring in order to have sex, but holding out on their affections for someone who shows real love and respect. They just want you to believe otherwise, so that you make your choices out of fear instead of a desire for self-fulfillment.
*Falsely because most single mothers are actually divorced and most women who have “out-of-wedlock” births are partnered with the father, often with plans to marry in the future. The notion that we have an epidemic of one night stands leading to women parenting alone is straight-up false, in no small part because, despite conservative efforts to squelch reproductive rights, women still use contraception and abortion to control the circumstances in which they give birth.