Marriage belongs on the junk heap

September 19, 2006

marriage problemsMarriage belongs on the junk heap of human folly says Laura Kipnis. Finally a book lambasting marriage is out and written by a woman! Laura Kipnis has written a brilliant book, Hopefully men everywhere will read this.

The article from MSN’s Slate, in a piece titled “Beware the ” Meghan O’Rourke looks at the book, Against Love: A Polemic, by Laura Kipnis. The book’s message says, “matrimony is equal-opportunity oppressor.”

, she suggests, belongs on the junk heap of human folly. It is an equal-opportunity oppressor, trapping men and women in a life of drudgery, emotional anesthesia, and a tug-of-war struggle to balance vastly different needs.

O’Rourke says THE NUMBERS seem to back up her thesis: Modern marriage doesn’t work for the majority of people. The [tag]rate of divorce[/tag] has roughly doubled since the 1960s. Half of all marriages end in divorce. And as sketchy as poll data can be, a recent Rutgers University poll found that only 38 percent of married couples describe themselves as happy.”

Kipnis’ poses the essential question, why do Americans keep getting married? Why, in what seems like an age of great social freedom, would anyone willingly consent to a life of constricting monogamy?

O’Rourke states that Kipnis’ answer is that marriage is an insidious social construct, harnessed by capitalism to get us to have kids and work harder to support them.

O’Rourke believes Kipnis is dead-on about the everyday exhaustion a relationship can produce. And Kipnis has diagnosed something interesting about the public discourse of marriage. People are more than happy to talk about how unhappy their individual marriages are, but public discussion assumes that in each case there is something wrong with the marriage — not marriage itself.

Kipnis argues, our social decisions need to start reflecting the reality of declining marriage rates — not the fairy-tale “happily ever after all” version.

Even in a post-feminist age of loose social mores we are still encouraged, from the time we are children, to think of marriage as the proper goal of a well-lived life.

Kipnis’ suggests Marriage could be a form of renewable contract.

While Kipnis usefully challenges our assumptions about commitment, it’s not evident that we’d be better off in the lust-happy world she envisions, or that men and women really want the exact same s****l freedoms. O’Rourke drawing inspiration from Kipnis adds in its ideal form, marriage seems to reify all that’s best about human exchange. Most people don’t want to be alone at home with a cat, and everyone but Kipnis worries about the effects of divorce on children. “Work,” in her lexicon, is always the drudgery of self-denial, not the challenge of extending yourself beyond what you knew you could do. But we usually mean two things when we say “work”: The slog we endure purely to put food on the table, and the kind we do because we like it — are drawn to it, even.

O’Rourke surmises that while it’s certainly true that people stay in an unhappy relationship longer than they should, it’s not yet clear that monogamy is more “unnatural” than sleeping around but finding that the hum of your refrigerator is your most constant companion. And Kipnis spends scant time thinking about the fact that marriage is a hardy social institution several thousand years old, spanning many cultures — which calls into question, to say the least, whether its presence in our lives today has mostly to do with the insidious chokehold capitalism has on us.

O’Rourke is amused by Kipnis’ exaggerated polemic romp, O’Rourke says it is wittily invigorating, it may not actually be as radical as it promises to be: These days, even sitcoms reflect Kipnis’ way of thinking. There’s an old episode of Seinfeld in which Jerry and Kramer anticipate most of Kipnis’ critique of domesticity; Kramer asks Jerry if he and his girlfriend are thinking about marriage and family, and then cuts him off: “They’re prisons! Man-made prisons! You’re doin’ time! You get up in the morning — she’s there. You go to sleep at night — she’s there. It’s like you gotta ask permission to, to use the bathroom: Is it all right if I use the bathroom now?” Still, love might indeed get a better name if we were as attentive to the intellectual dishonesties of the public debate over its failings as we are to the emotional dishonesties of adulterers.


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6 Responses to “Marriage belongs on the junk heap”

  1. Khankrumthebulgar on December 4th, 2006 5:52 am

    The truth is simply this. Women are choosing to destroy Marriage. Their unreasonable and unrealistic Demands, coupled with the legal sanctions imposed by the States and Federal Government are eliminating the incentives for Men to Marry at all. It is simply put an Adhesion Agreement. It is completely one sided. Men have only obligations and responsibilites and no rights or privledges. Marriage will die thanks to Women’s selfishness. While they whine the whole time.

    All the Movies made for Women feature a Wedding as the high point of the Movie. It is simply put a transaction that benefits Women at Men’s expense.

  2. antiriad on December 16th, 2006 11:06 pm

    Marriage is the bedrock of civilization – marriage where the man is the master and the woman obeys him implicitly, that is.

    A civilization which has rejected this biological absolute has merely relinquished its desire to exist. This does not invalidate the concept of marriage; it invalidates the nihilistic norms which our dying culture has chosen to adopt.

  3. obbop on March 9th, 2007 3:34 pm

    Hmmmm….. I am unable to correlate the proclaimed end of society with the end of the marriage institution as currently followed in the USA.

    No proof given, either (see above post). Just an assertion.

    I did the “live together” thing a couple times when younger. I offered and the female accepted what I termed a “mutual assistance pact.” If a car breaks down, call home and get a ride. If trouble occurs, I would do what I could to help and she would do the same for me.

    However, no life-long pledges of undying love or care. Merely an agreement to try to make each other’s lives a little better until it was time for one of us to move along.

    Seemed to work well and nothing was done to harm society in any way.

    Cultures have always been in a state of flux. Change is inevitable while certain human actions and inactions remain constant. I imagine that most of us today could have existed in any society of the past. We may not enjoy it, our lives may have been brutal and short but that would merely have reflected the norm for the times.

    Onward into the future we will stumble. Barring some extreme calamity such as an astroid impact that kills the majority or all of humanity, I expect that humans will keep on keeping on in some manner, no matter how unpalatable it may be to those who view existence with blinders on that limits one’s world view.

  4. Stephen on January 12th, 2008 10:26 am

    There is nothing wrong with the institution of marriage per se. If the government hadn’t stuck their nose into it I would recommend marriage. But women in America have been poisoned by feminism and a sense of entitlement so therefore marriage is a fool’s paradise for men. Marriage in America offers everything good for women and nothing for men. No wonder fewer and fewer men are willing to participate.

  5. Stephen on January 12th, 2008 10:39 am

    antiriad you are so right that marriage is the bedrock of civilization. Too many MRAs refuse to accept the fact that marriage is a relationship where the man loves his wife and kids and the wife submits to her husband. There is no other way or alternative dynamic of marriage.

    obbop, allow me to explain how the end of marriage is the end of society. Great marriages create great people which leads to a great society. Ideally, marriage has benefits for all concerned: The husband is productive and is a good role model for his kids. The wife is a help and is also a good role model. The children learn justice, responsibility, sacrifice and so many other things.

    But when you destroy marriage you destroy the nation and anarchy ensues. After almost 50 years of feminism husbands don’t know how to be husbands, wives don’t know how to be wives and children without discipline turn into criminals. You may not realize it but America is in grave danger of complete collapse because of the collapse of marriage which leads to the collapse of society.

  6. Armand on June 30th, 2008 8:56 am

    Stephen, you seem to indicate that our society is worth preserving.

    I wonder why.

Did you know there is someone right now in willing to cheat on their spouse to have fun with you?

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