Sunday Night Journal — May 16, 2004
Sunday Night Journal — May 30, 2004

Sunday Night Journal — May 23, 2004

The Progressive Steamroller

Once the bandwagon for homosexual marriage got rolling at a really good clip, it occurred to me that if it became thoroughly established the result would be bad for heterosexual women. Why? (A): most women want to marry and have children, while most men are at least hesitant about, and at worst determinedly hostile to, domesticity; (B) homosexual marriage will undermine real at-least-potentially-procreative marriage.

Point A above is beyond rational dispute, and I think attempts to deny at are made less frequently than they were twenty or thirty years ago.

Point B is more debatable, but in my opinion it is very likely. The reasons for expecting this have been widely discussed and I won’t go into them now, except to point out that one of the first male homosexual couples to be “married” in Massachusetts made it plain that they do not take marriage very seriously at all.

I am embarrassed to admit that I’m an habitual reader of Dear Abby. An inordinate number of the letters she publishes are from unhappy women complaining about the men who won’t marry them. Many of these women already have children, either by a previous man to whom they may or may not have been married, or by the man they are currently trying to interest in “commitment,” which seems to be a euphemism for marriage. Almost all of them have made themselves sexually available to the man in question. Sometimes the couple has “been together,” which seems to mean living together, for a number of years. Frequently they are thoroughly entangled financially, perhaps having bought a house together. Sometimes (and these are the most depressing) the woman supports the man. The question usually addressed to Abby is “Should I give up on him?” and the implied question is “Are my odds of marriage better if I wait on him or if I look elsewhere?” In one recent Dear Abby, if my memory is correct, every one of the day'sletters were in this vein. The women who write this kind of letter are unhappy and seem to live with a deep fundamental anxiety.

It's safe to assume that there are more women in this situation than there were thirty years ago, and that the general decline in respect for marriage is a significant part of the reason for it. If it is indeed the case that homosexual marriage will undermine respect for the institution, there will be even more women who desperately want to marry but cannot find husbands. These women, like those who want to be stay-at-home mothers but have found themselves pushed, by an unholy alliance of feminism and business, into jobs they never wanted and don’t like, will join the ranks of those whose lives have been made worse by the steamroller of “progressive” social change. Whether or not this effect on women really occurs remains to be seen (and it would be a hard case to prove), but one thing can be said with near-certainty: those who brought the change about will not accept any responsibility for its negative consequences.

Every progressive success has its victims, to acknowledge whom is the height of bad taste. As far as I know very few opponents of the Vietnam war have ever expressed any misgivings about their role in allowing Communism and its accompanying death and hardship to sweep over Southeast Asia after the Communists took power. They may have deplored it, but they did not regret their small part in bringing it about—it was as if these calamities were natural forces that nobody could have foreseen or prevented. Women who regret having abortions are generally treated as enemies by the abortion rights movement (the existence of the aborted children is simply denied outright). The apostles of drugs, sexual liberation, quick divorce, and all the other terrible ideas of the 1960s now regard the wreckage which their propaganda helped to encourage as evidence that society is even more messed up than they had thought.

I wonder if this phenomenon, which seems stronger than is accounted for by the natural human reluctance to admit mistakes, is an effect of faith in an essentially benign forward movement of history from darkness and oppression to light and freedom. The very dark view of the future which one sometimes finds among progressives is not a loss of this faith but a fear that the forces of reaction may stop or turn back the forces of progress. But to acknowledge that a successful change thought to be progressive has been in fact for the worse would raise questions about the fundamentals. These are generally more difficult to face than the prospect of defeat.

It's a shame. There might be more of a market, so to speak, in electoral terms, for many elements of the progressive agenda if they did not come as part of a package that includes utopian redefinition of a crucial institution like marriage.

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