Is it worth anyone’s time rebutting the moron Jill Filipovic? Her columns are like the far corner of the room prisoners in solitary confinement use for a toilet. The vomit and feces smell awful, but there’s nothing to clean it up with, so you stay as far away as you can. The same goes for the forsaken niche in feminist “thought” Filipovic inhabits. So obtuse and irredeemable is her worldview that many of her assertions go unchallenged.
So I’ll cut to the chase. Filipovic is a champion of the sexual revolution, especially as it enables women to fornicate with men they don’t want to marry and delay marriage until they meet a man they do want to marry. She writes:
Some conservatives, most recently Ross Douthat at the New York Times, have suggested that conservatives should shift positions on subjects like mass incarceration, which leads to a glut of disproportionately working class and of-color men who have difficulty finding decent employment after their release. But he also argues that, in some sort of public policy quid pro quo, liberals agree to restrictions on abortion, birth control and no-fault divorce. In his estimation, those policies make marriage less socially valuable; curtailing them would reinstate marriage to its once-vaunted position.
Look, though, at what happens to marriages in the social classes that have the easiest access to things like birth control, abortion and divorce: their marriages are the most stable.
There is no correlation between access to these services and using them. Anticipating Filipovic, Douthat followed up his proposal with this observation:
When we legalized abortion and instituted unilateral divorce, we helped usher in a sexual-marital-parental culture that seems to work roughly as well for people with lots of social capital as it did sixty years ago, while working pretty badly for the poor and lower middle class. It is still a reality of contemporary life that when anyone can get a divorce for any reason, the lower classes seem to get far more of the divorces, and that when anyone can get an abortion for any reason, the poor end up having more abortions and more children out of wedlock both.
Why might this be?
Let’s look at the sexual marketplace of the low-income woman. Having achieved technological mastery of her womb, she now can bide her time and enjoy herself until she meets Mr. Right. She no longer runs the risk of having to wed Mr. Not Quite when he impregnates her, or settling for the first guy she falls in love with, if she’s chaste. But there are few Mr. Rights for all the women in America, and they generally don’t travel in the same social circles as low-income women.
Thus, a large pool of men with moderate to low sexual capital—the majority of the low-income woman’s potential mates—are priced out of the sexual marketplace. The women they were marrying don’t want them anymore. It’s a hostile environment for love to flourish.
The low-income woman has choices now. She can choose to not have that baby, and does. She can choose to have the baby on her own, letting Mr. Not Quite off the hook, and does. She can choose to divorce that guy and go in search of Mr. Right again, and does. Whatever she chooses, the government enables through generous subsidies.
And the defective Filipovic, in response to the collapse of the civil society in the bottom half of America’s income distribution, suggests more access to family planning!
Marriage can be great for a whole lot of reasons: sharing your life with someone you love, sharing expenses, building a family, having an emotional rock for mutual support through difficult times. But expecting a marriage to pull people out of poverty imbues the marital contract with a power it simply doesn’t have. It’s also an enormous amount of pressure to place on already-vulnerable men. After all, that’s what conservatives mean when they say marriage pulls people out of poverty – they mean that men pull women out of poverty by marrying them.
Clearly she hasn’t heard of the marriage premium. It’s the phenomenon of married men consistently outperforming single men in the economy. This is not a function of men who make more money marrying at a higher rate. It’s a function of married men having stronger incentives to be more productive.
Charles Murray writes in Coming Apart:
The responsibilities of marriage induce young men to settle down, focus, and get to work.
Prime-age men are much more than three times as likely to be out of the labor force if they are unmarried, and this was true through the entire half century from 1960 to 2010.
That being said, there is limited truth to marriage alleviating material want. Cultural destitution is the greater handicap. The social goods Filipovic blithely skips over are the primary benefits of marriage. It is more than the union of two people in love. As a civil institution it invites them into communion with society, into nurturing the long-term interests of the community for their children.