Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Zenpriest #23 - Marriage Is Becoming the Social Edsel of the 21st Century

I like to point out some of those assumptions which I see people making and pose them as additional questions to be considered - often that ends up changing the question that the person ends up asking.

So, the first question I would like to re-ask is - are women really any better off than they have been in the past, and/or are men really any worse off?

I believe the answer is "no."

In any sufficiently large and complex system it is impossible for things to become grossly out of equilibrium or balance.

Try this experiment - take a yardstick (or meter stick, for our non US friends) point both index fingers straight out and put one end of the yardstick on each finger. Then, by moving only one finger, try to move that one to the middle of the stick. It can't be done. As one finger moves in, the amount of the stick beyond it starts to extert leverage and put more pressure on the finger. This creates more friction, and soon the other end of the stick starts to move instead. The same process then starts to happen on the other end of the stick. This process flips back and forth until your two fingers are together in the middle of the stick, never more than 1/2 inch from the exact center.

So, what does this have to do with men and women? For everything women have supposedly "gained" en masse, individual women have lost something. Men and women were under equal pressure to marry in the old social system, so the moment women started gaining "independence" they started losing the cultural belief that they needed to be protected and supported. Women were having difficulty getting men to marry them by the early 80s.

There have been dozens of stories told here on this board about fathers, grandfathers, uncles, etc. married to overbearing, controlling, harpies. 50-60 or more years ago, men had far less freedom to not marry than they do today. A great many men were trapped in situations just as unhappy, just as unbearable, as men talk about today. The difference is that now we men have much more choice to not get trapped in such misery.

Marriage is becoming the social Edsel of the 21st century. Would you buy any product which failed more than 50% of the time?

As more and more women are forced into careers as a result of the lack of men willing to marry and support them, women's values will gradually shift away from careers and marriage will come back to being valued more. And, given how poorly men regard marriage, those values will eventually have to include major enticements to get men to sign on.

Will these changes happen in your lifetime? Probably not.

Which brings me to my second philosophical point - I will leave arguments about how the world "should" be to the theologians. My challenge is to figure out how to survive the world as it IS. Given things like disease, and a much higher rate of truly grisly work-related accidents, the world of today is still far better for men than it was 100 years or more ago.


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