My Valentine Wish for America’s Daughters
Growing up and learning about love in America these days is challenging. Attacks on marriage abound.
The very idea of wanting to find true love and happy marriage is scorned in some circles as antiquated, prudish, culturally and economically unnecessary in modern America, a signal of weakness, or in some other way just so “yesterday’s America.” The 2011 Census reported only 48% of households were comprised of married people, which was the first time married American households were in the minority.
Pop culture in the form of Beyonce teaches that thong-wear derriere-dancing constitutes tasteful family entertainment. Miley Cyrus was bamboozled into thinking that shedding her innocent girl image required a graphically sexual performance in which she succeeded in diverting all attention away from her musical talent.
The message to young girls is that being a grown woman means blatant sexuality is your best and perhaps only asset to attract men, attention and love.
And then there is message from NOW and today’s other angry liberal women that “women should hate men” or “men are useless,” captured well in the "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle" mantra popularized by feminist Gloria Steinem.
Feminists were of course right to reject the old-world view that women are fragile and helpless, and need men to take care of them and protect them. They rightfully demanded equal legal rights for women (to vote, own property etc.), and equal access to education and careers of every kind. But once laws passed correcting these past injustices, feminist rhetoric took an irrational detour into disdain for men, and for love and marriage except if it is in the same-sex context.
Piling onto that, political and social scientists observed the decline in marriage that paralleled the growth of the welfare state (government is your daddy and your mommy), and instead of calling for adjusting laws that discourage marriage and encourage out of wedlock births, pontificated that societal norms are changing, marriage is not popular anymore, and all of this has occurred for no comprehensible reason. Poor women suffer as a result.
Lecturing about marriage may not be government’s place (past efforts have faltered), but neither is enabling the “irresponsible men and baby-mama women” culture via perverse incentives in the assistance programs. Especially when the overwhelming evidence shows that kids growing up in single parent households suffer in every conceivable measure as compared with kids in two parent homes.
Countering all of the societal pressure to devalue marriage is a secret that should be shouted from the rooftops. Married people are happier, healthier and better off financially than their single counterparts, and so are their children. They are more satisfied in their intimate lives, more emotionally stable and in every measurable way, better off.
My many single women friends lead wonderful and impactful lives, and find that too many “eligible” men want to casually date, but not marry. (Society has lessened the incentive for men to pursue marriage.) My single mom friends are extraordinarily good moms. And my dad was a loyal husband for my mom, and a very responsible man, though he grew up in a single parent household. These are anecdotal truths repeated throughout society, but they do not change the fact that marriage is the single best building block for the emotional, economic and cultural fabric of America, and for children.
So girls, women, daughters, this is my wish for you on Valentine's Day. Value yourself, your life and your future enough to still believe in real love, and marriage. You are fighting a culture that devalues it and therefore devalues you.
Cherish your individual value and worth, and demand and reciprocate love, respect and tender care. This is not outdated, prudish, or impossible. It is the ticket to happiness.
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