Joanna Schroeder wonders if it’s true that our civilization would fall apart without the nuclear family.
Joan Walsh of Salon.com is asking an important question in this election year: Must Women Civilize Men?
Ms. Walsh posits the interesting theory that one reason the Republican candidates have been staging what is called a “war on women” this year:
We’re having this debate over issues once considered settled because the right is trying to blame virtually all of the nation’s economic and social problems on one cause: the supposedly broken American family. It’s their only solution. It’s also increasingly clear that shoring up the family, in their view, involves restoring a traditional vision of the family, in which the man is head of the household, and women accept their civilizing role.
The author quotes an article in the New York Times by Nicholas Kristof, where he says,
Liberals sometimes feel that it is narrow-minded to favor traditional marriage. Over time, my reporting on poverty has led me to disagree: Solid marriages have a huge beneficial impact on the lives of the poor (more so than in the lives of the middle class, who have more cushion when things go wrong).
One study of low-income delinquent young men in Boston found that one of the factors that had the greatest impact in turning them away from crime was marrying women they cared about. As Steven Pinker notes in his recent book, “The Better Angels of Our Nature”: “The idea that young men are civilized by women and marriage may seem as corny as Kansas in August, but it has become a commonplace of modern criminology.”
Walsh then goes on to explain her feelings about Kristof’s statement:
I don’t care whether it’s as corny as Kansas in August; that’s a remarkable statement, and I think it deserves more attention. “The idea that young men are civilized by women and marriage” gained currency in the Reagan era, when George Gilder published his screed against feminism, “Sexual Suicide.” Gilder argued that men are barbarians unless civilized by marriage, and by demanding sexual and economic freedom, feminists were denying women’s crucial civilizing function – and destroying the world as we know it.
Anti-feminist and misandrist at the same time? That must be a world record!
What do you think? Will our country fall apart without the nuclear family?
AP Photo/Jae C Wong