Morning Ed: Love & Marriage {2017.12.27.W}


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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69 Responses

  1. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    LM9: I feel like “born out of wedlock” is a category that is no longer worth any meaning. “Born out of wedlock” can mean born to teenage or barely adult parents with low-educations or it can mean being born to educated-professionals who choose not to get married for reasons that make sense to secular blue-staters but not to conservative-leaning people. I’m not down on marriage. I’d like to get married one day but I am not sure it is a soceital concern that more people are not getting married. Is this too European of me?

    This feels like another one of those areas where conservatives can’t police themselves so they blame liberals.Report

    • Avatar InMD says:

      I think it just means we need to parse the data better. My understanding is that the further down the socio-economic ladder you go the more implications it has.

      The libertarian side of me agrees with you that its really no one’s business and that marriage shouldn’t mean anything more than people make it. On the other hand the guy with a 3 month old and a new appreciation for what European states do for mothers and children thinks discarding some of the old tropes may be premature.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        I have no problem with the European stuff but let’s be frank, the right-wing doesn’t want that stuff here. They will just fret about wedlock without any substance.Report

        • Avatar aaron david says:

          There is a cause for concern over the societal costs of an increase in single parenthood*. That is a legitimate thing to be worried about and a concern that can go past “nobodies business.” If there is an increase in the tax burden, both locally and nationally, issues with education, etc. those are costs born by society and a legitimate cause for worry. That doesn’t mean there is nothing to claims of moral superiority, but those claims are not the only animating issue.

          *And this is coming from someone who has been a single parent.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            It’s especially rich when the right wing demographists then go on Douthatian fret-fests about how people are so selfish for not having more babies.Report

            • Avatar aaron david says:

              The two ideas are quite compatible. If one feels that the most positive option for children is to be raised in a two-parent household and that those two being married constitutes the greatest path to success in for that couple then it is no issue to feel that multiple children raised like that are an unalloyed demographic good.

              Fret-fest intact and worthy! (for those who believe in this paradigm.)Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @aaron-david Don’t they also have to prefer babies to be raised by their biological parents and/or the reproductive superiority of the upper middle-class, rather strongly, for this paradigm to work out?

                I mean, otherwise it’d be a fret-fest about upper-middle-class people *adopting* more babies, not *giving birth to them*, and they seem to fall pretty clearly into the latter category, albeit with various levels of explicitness.Report

              • Avatar aaron david says:

                Generally, from my reading, they seem quite cool with adoption, things like that. And yes, they do know that a marriage can be a place of horror if one of the parents has issues. But the point seems to be that 1) two parents gives the greatest chances of success for a child, 2) Marriage is the strongest form of that bond. Now, I do think they have a HUGE blind spot when it comes to gay marriage, although that seems to be changing as time goes by, and they seem to recognize that, as I say above, that any given marriage is not always going to be the best situation for a variety of reasons.

                What they (conservatives) are often complaining about is the lack of societal pressure to help people by sticking to the most proven method of succeeding in life – finish school, get a job, get married, then have kids.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @aaron-david In my reading they only seem to welcome adoption as a decidedly secondary choice for those who cannot bear children. They pay it lip service but they want middle-class “elite” couples to be giving birth to their own babies, also, and treat not doing so as a failure. (Generally for religious reasons, IME – I’m not saying they can’t be consistent by believing this, I’m saying that the two things you identified *alone* are not sufficient to explain their paradigm.)

                It’s quite possible that you and I are thinking about different groups of people, but I’m not sure I’m further away from the folks @north is referring to than you are.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                “In my reading they only seem to welcome adoption as a decidedly secondary choice for those who cannot bear children.”

                I’m not sure where that impression comes from… we know many families who also adopt; but adoption is actually hard – so it tends to favor the *very* motivated, like couples who are having difficulty conceiving.

                But there’s not the slightest stigma or (cultural) disincentive from adopting or raising other people’s children who need help; quite the opposite, really.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                There’s plenty of stigma / cultural disincentive in choosing to not bear children though, regardless of how much adoption or helping one does. (Again, often for consistent religious reasons – I’m just saying it’s *there*.) And plenty of cultural *behavior* that treats adopted/foster children as lesser-than, even within extended families.

                As someone who was raised Catholic and who has known since the age of 8 that I was unwilling to bear children – and who didn’t stop going to a Catholic church every Sunday until I was twenty-one – I’m quite thoroughly familiar with this aspect of Catholic culture, and my experience is *very very* different from yours. One of my dear friends also teaches at a Catholic university and is the custodial single parent of a nephew whose biological parents are both …. a not-safe-to-raise-kids mess is putting it incredibly charitably, and she experiences stigma from Catholics who disapprove of her being an adoptive single mother without any context about the reasons why – their assumptions are negative. If they find out why, they pivot to finding her saintly… unless they find out she’s in polyamorous relationships and has no intention of getting married…. at which point they pivot to being horrified again… they don’t really leave room for her to just be a person making hard but good choices. Tangential, but relevant *to me* and to my perception of what priorities those people are embracing.

                And that’s even leaving aside the difference between “Catholic culture” which is far more open and positive than the people I was previously complaining about – and “right wing demographists [who] go on Douthatian fret-fests” which is the group North was describing, that I was agreeing with him about, and whom I would not consider you to be included among.Report

              • Avatar aaron david says:

                I am stumbling on your use of Middle Class “elite”, as for the most part, no conservative I have ever come across would use that term for themselves. Instead, that is often how they refer to the Left-leaning management class, which I am pretty sure that they don’t want that group to have more kids.

                But all kidding aside, from my reading they mostly want kids to be brought up in as stable a family as possible, not really worrying if the child is a child from an earlier relationship, adopted, immaculate, what have you. @marchmaine bearing this out in a comment just above.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @aaron-david That’s why I put it in quotes – because folks like Douthat do *act* like they believe in an elite (which they are part of) despite their skepticism of the term and their use of it to criticise other people. Apologies, I can see how that wasn’t clear.

                Again, I don’t think you (and now Marchmaine) are, at all, talking about the people North was referring to.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Nope, definitely not!Report

              • Avatar aaron david says:

                Maybe you (or North) could give an example then?Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @aaron-david I really don’t have the strength today (for unrelated reasons) to go looking for evidence/examples for you, that also (usually) includes people explaining that I suck.

                I would suggest that if North and I are describing a shared experience of people like that, you might just accept that we’re talking about people like that because they exist, and also that you are less likely than we are to notice them because they don’t think you suck. I personally have tried to avoid them where possible for at least the last 5 years or so, and I don’t exactly bookmark the ones I do come across to make sure I can share them later, but i’m fairly certain they haven’t magically disappeared since then.

                (No idea if North sees it that way or if he would rather give you some examples, which would be fine and dandy by me. I was assuming originally that if you were disagreeing with his description of Ross-Douthat-and-people-like-him, you would have been familiar with Douthat… but your other comments make me think not?)Report

              • Avatar aaron david says:

                No, not being Catholic nor conservative, I generally don’t read Douthat. That being said, I have never come across anyone talking from the vantage that you and North seem to be describing. But, I will have to take you at your word that those thoughts are out there.

                Here hoping North can shed some additional light.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                If you can stomach it the writings of Laura Ingram or dear ol’ Maggie Gallagher tend to wax very generous with other womens’ wombs. For a more recent higher profile example see Steve Kings comments on rebuilding civilization with other peoples babes.Report

              • Avatar aaron david says:

                I am assuming you meant Laura IngraHAm, who is the writer of this little bit:

                My friends called me insane. Within the last three years, I have adopted three children who are all under the age of six. Overnight I went from carefree social butterfly to a working mom, regularly fried.

                That is from 2011 so it stands to reason that she has been an advocate for adoption for a while. I can find no mention of a husband, so it stands to reason that she is cool with single parenthood at least on some level.

                That Maggie Green seems to be a peach, and I am guessing large in Catholic and LBGT circles but I never heard of her before (not surprising, there is so much to read and neither of those is a circle of mine). I am not seeing anything other than a pretty typical lay Catholic aversion to SSM and that marriage is a good thing in general (outside of that peccadillo which I am pretty sure is rather large in your world, as it should be). Both of them have large bodies of work so sifting through it would be a task, but again, not seeing anything that would leave me believing that they are against adoption/fertility enhancement/immaculate conception in general, though they obviously have issues with SSM.

                And that might be the general rub here. Both of you are pretty seriously pro SSM, are you conflating a general aversion to that aspect of the culture war with other aspects or positions of reproductive health? That would make sense of why Marchmaine and I are seeing totally different things, but I don’t want to put words or thought into your mouths.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                When my wife and I were investigating IVF, we ran across quite a bit of online posts & comments treating AI & IVF as in the same evil ballpark as abortion. Something about overriding God’s will, etc. ad nauseum. We ran across it enough that we don’t talk about how Bug was conceived in mixed company, and we feel other people out before we mention it.

                It might be nut picking, but those nuts had some very strong opinions about it.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                Ugh. I’m sorry you went through that, @Oscar. My personal experience is that nuts with strong opinions about other people’s fertility are more common than one might think if one doesn’t offend their sensibilities, even off the internet, so I think you are wise to feel people out first.

                And perhaps this is overly intrusive of me (if so, I apologize), but i do feel the need to mention it: my enthusiasm for adoption/childlessness/not bearing children in no way reflects an aversion to other folks pursuing childbearing in every way that feels right to them. Bug is a delight to *me*, who barely knows him even as a character in stories that you tell, so I can only imagine what a wonderful little guy he must be. I’m grateful you all found a way to bring him into the world.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Yeah, we kinda like him too (right now he is upstairs taking a bath and playing with his Hexbug sharks – listening to him play is a delight, no worries about his imagination or creativity).

                We toyed around with adoption, both before and after we had Bug. The expense of infant adoption, coupled with the powerful uncertainty of both infant and foster adoption, is the big reason we tried IVF first. Both reasons continued to inform our decision after we had him. Maybe we’ll do it in the future, but right now, neither of us wants the heartache of a failed adoption.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:


                As I actually already explained, my aversion to these folks and my awareness of their subtle-or-not-so-subtle messages about my womb and about how women are meant to bear children has pretty much nothing to do with their attitudes toward gay people (which generally extend well beyond being against SSM) – other than that they do make it harder and more uncomfortable to comb through their writings looking for examples when someone doesn’t take my experiences at face value.

                I have literally been told (long before I was out as queer, even when I was still a child), directly to my face, that not having children from my own body is a sin, unless I were to choose the chaste *and dedicated* path of nunnery. That miscarriages are signs that women aren’t *really* accepting of God’s plan for them. (talk about cruel) That tubal ligation as a choice after multiple exceptionally perilous births is tantamount to abortion. (gee, i wonder if that’s part of the reason the older female relative of mine that was in that situation is literally in denial about having had one…) …

                And all that’s just from boring fairly-bog-standard not-Internet-pundit lay or parish-priest Catholics, not even particularly right-wing, not even particularly fervent. Do I think it’s fabulous theology? No, obviously not, I’m heretical from the mainstream Catholic church, let alone people who are close-minded and cruel all on their own beyond what the church sometimes asks of them. Do I think it’s common? Yeah, just try telling people that you can’t face the idea of getting pregnant and bearing children, try doing it over and over (though only when pressed on the subject, as women who do not want to bear children generally *are*) for a few years, and see how they react *to you* – er, not that you could do that, but I’m willing to bet you’d feel the same way I do if you could perform that experiment. (Again, I wasn’t out as bi or genderfluid at that time, I was getting the reactions they had to a supposedly straight teenage girl telling them those things, even before *any* discussion of birth control or even me saying I wanted to have sex, at all, ever. And I got the same sorts of weirdo reactions – albeit less commonly – when discussing fertility with evangelicals who assumed I was straight in my 20s. Granted by that point I was being upfront about those things because I was so sick of having people pity me for not having children that Jay and I had decided together we didn’t want…. but that was just my motive for being honest, it didn’t affect what I told them otherwise.)

                So, no, I can’t, today, go find you a bunch of examples of people on the internet expressing the same sorts of sentiments only doubling down to the point where it seems egregious and awful in the ways that North and I were originally referring to (which are not necessarily the same, just closer together than they are to the people you’re talking about) – because they will exist in context with those other kinds of statements and I don’t have the energy for those kinds of statements today – but I promise you they’re out there.

                Given that Laura Ingraham is an unmarried adoptive mother of three, no, I wouldn’t have suggested her as an example either. I’m not familiar with Maggie Gallagher enough to parse her one way or the other, and trying honestly made me sick to my stomach with tension (soooo many bad-science claims about children being better off with their biological parents,which she just throws in there at every opportunity while contradicting herself elsewhere and saying it just needs to be a mom and a dad… and then going back to hammering on “their two biological parents” again), so I stopped.

                But I notice you didn’t address Steve King at all.

                Nor Ross Douthat. I know you keep saying you’re not familiar with him, but he’s specifically who I was thinking of since North literally mentioned him. Douthat thinks, for example, that immigration rates should be tied to citizen-fertility rates and calls himself “pro-natalist”. Douthat also wants the government to spend a bunch of money to encourage people to have babies – not to adopt, not to raise children, but specifically to *raise fertility rates*. He brings this up every year or so. He refers to it offhandedly even more often than that. I go *out of my way* to avoid this guy and still I come across it.

                Here, I went and looked and it took me about two seconds to find this Twitter rant from Douthat in which he’s actually complaining about the other folks I was talking about (King, Steyn, etc.) and how they, in their frenzied clickbait populism, are letting down natalist ideals:

                *Those* guys – King, Steyn, what often feels like half of Breitbart, etc etc – and Douthat despite his offense at them… those guys are the ones I assumed North was complaining about.

                I wasn’t thinking of folks like Ingraham or Gallagher because I tend to find them easier to ignore. (Probably because as women, they get less press? But that”s quite possibly just me being cranky after spending all this time reading this stuff.) But also, I wasn’t thinking of them because I was thinking of “Douthat and people that Douthat wants to be more like him.”

                Go read his Twitter rant. Consider that he’s a nationally respected (i know! not by me either! but he is) pundit. Consider the (disturbing) popularity of King and/or Steyn. Then you’ll probably see what I was getting at with my original question, which, again, I asked in the context of assuming you were talking about Ross-Douthat-and-those-guys – NOT the First Thingers or whomever else – given that North specifically called out Douthat in his comment.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                (FYI for folks who don’t know what I meant by First Thingers – I was referring to First Things, a conservative, mainly Catholic, religious political journal:

              • Avatar aaron david says:

                I have now read that Twit thread, and it only says that he feels we should have greater child tax credits. Hardly surprising for a Catholic (which I am not) but what is also surprising (or maybe not as he is an NYT writer) there is nothing about what to do or not with a woman’s womb, nothing about child rearing (the start of this whole thread) nothing about abortion (which I am in support of) nor is there anything about people not getting the credit for adopting, fertility treatments, etc. And yes, he does call himself a ProNatalist, a term I have never heard before, but from what is written in that twit, it does seem to be pro childbirth, but not anti… anything else.

                I have now tracked down two writers that North specifically mentioned and read a Twit that you say is an example. I am not seeing anything like what you are talking about, therefore I am backing out of this conversation.

                Have a good night.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @aaron-david I linked to the thread mostly to give you a list of names, to be examples to go look up since I didn’t have the energy – I should have linked to some of the Douthat longform pieces to give you the context, I now realize that if you don’t have it, the stuff I’m talking about is not particularly obvious – but I couldn’t / can’t stomach rereading them and finding the “best” one to show you, tonight. I’ve got bigger fish to fry, emotionally.

                And none of those guys are consistent. King will rant about how we can’t restore civilization with somebody else’s babies at one point (which gets taken up by exactly the people you might imagine to advocate exactly the sorts of childbearing expectations you might imagine) and then claim he meant exactly what he said but he is totally 100 percent behind adoption the next. None of them come out and *consistently* say the things they randomly pop off with and then backpedal while insisting on those things…. they always duck and dodge and futz because we aren’t (yet) at a stage where society as a whole will accept that.

                But when someone makes a major theme of his work over years (as Douthat has) the need to get specifically American women to have more babies, while coupling it with more-than-orthodox doctrinal strictness about sexuality; or when, like King, he constantly talks about the perils of non-Westerners and the dangers of their relatively high immigration rates and the superiority of “Western” culture, etc etc – and ties those things into birthing babies – then it’s pretty easy to say that that *particular* group of people, the ones I assumed North was referring to, are much more interested in the birthing than the raising. And birthing by specific types of people.

                Maybe one day I’ll have the energy to give you better examples or you’ll have the energy to dig deeper into the people I cited and don’t have the energy to explicate properly.

                But the stuff that happened when I was a teenager *really did happen* and it really did sensitize me to the “you should GIVE BIRTH” rhetoric aimed at me as a young white apparently middle-class woman (and it hasn’t escaped my notice that very different rhetoric was aimed at my friends of color). Nothing at all to do with SSM and it irritated me that you assumed it probably did. That’s why I brought up that stuff – not because it’s a proof in some direct way but because I was peeved that you assumed I was operating out of my queerness, rather than just having been swimming in the water of people having opinions about my fertility and its purposes, and other people’s fertility and moral judgments thereof, since I was a kid. Just being in a relatively conservative social millieu and being a young fertile woman is plenty of reason to have heard all this stuff and developed a fair amount of peevishness about it.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Oh yes agreed, but it’s not super compatible with the general right wing mantra that state support for child rearing is counterproductive and undesirable shortly thereafter being shocked, shocked that when the price of having kids rises people elect to have fewer of them. Douthat, of course, squares this circle by simply not even pretending to be libertarian or republitarian which makes him a somewhat unusual duck among modern conservatives and republicans.Report

              • Avatar aaron david says:

                ” but it’s not super compatible with the general right wing mantra that state support for child-rearing is counterproductive and undesirable”

                As a former piss-poor parent, it is quite compatible in my eyes. And as a libertarian, the less gov’t/taxes involved the better. Not a Catholic, so have no opinion on Douthat.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                So the state should support child rearing, just so long as it doesn’t cost any money?Report

              • Avatar aaron david says:

                In the same way it should support gun ownership! Ie encouragement, not handouts.

                (personally, I don’t like even nudgesReport

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      Seconding Saul here. Born out of wedlock is a useless and meaningless category in a world where women are perfectly able to have jobs or careers on their own, few people take the idea of no sex before marriage seriously. You need a very different society, culture, and legal structure for being born out of wedlock to matter. Hell, states started to get rid of illegitimate as a legal category before the First World War. Texas of all places was the first to do it. Hollywood even made a biopic about the woman who led the campaign to get rid of illegitimate as a category during the 1930s or 40s.Report

  2. LM9 – I wonder how they measured shotgun marriages. That seems like it would be a particularly error-prone task.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      I assume cases where she gives birth within seven months or so of getting married.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        The first baby can come at any time.

        It’s the second one that usually takes around 9 months.Report

      • Avatar KenB says:

        You appear to be correct — they say this about their methods:

        For each birth, we characterize it as coming from a nonmarital conception leading to a nonmarital birth (births occurring while a woman was single), a nonmarital conception followed by a shotgun marriage (births occurring less than eight months subsequent to a marriage), or a marital conception (births occurring eight months or more after a marriage).

        Of course, that metric would bring in not just pure “shotgun marriages” (i.e. where the only reason the marriage is happening is that a baby was made), but also cases where the pregnancy was a final nudge to make an existing long-term relationship official, and cases where the marriage was already planned but the baby was made early. I suppose the “nudge” category is still representative of the association between having/raising children and being married though, and the last case is probably not very numerous.Report

  3. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    LM1: Millennials are either very tolerant, tired of dealing with other humans and all their complexities, or both.

    LM2: The cynic in me believes that the real reason many women find sex robots disturbing and perturbing is that wide spread availability of sex robots will decrease their power in the romantic market place. The ability to give or deny sex is a tremendous source of power and if heterosexual women have to compete with something close enough, they are going to find that their power is going to decrease. That means more of them might need to compete for non-top tier men rather than have men compete for them.

    LM4: Yeah, its obvious that people with long legs, nice bottoms, and good pair of tight jeans that show them off are going to have an easier time at it than people in baggy jeans that aren’t really flattering.

    LM7-Monogamous societies tend to out perform polygamous societies. One big reason is that you don’t end up with a decently large percentage of perpetual bachelors in monogamous societies that don’t have any stake in society because they can’t get a wife ever. This leads to how LM0 makes sense. The top men tend to get the largest percentage of women for themselves. In polygamous societies, they can do this permanently. Yes, I know this doesn’t sound exactly enlightened but I think the advocates of Sex Positivity or whatever you want to call it have been ignoring a lot of facts that go against their thesis for a long time.Report

  4. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    LM5: Christian Grey would be a rapist many times over in real life. So would the romantic male lead in many romance novels. The problem is that a lot of what makes for good, realistic, and consensual romance in real life would look at best tediously boring on the scream. People want thrills, chills, drama, and passion in their media romances. Many people want in their real life romances but most real actual humans have a difficult time at best pulling it off convincingly, especially in the early stages of the relationship from what I can tell. Its very easy to criticize how the entertainment industry depicts romance but I haven’t exactly heard what the replacement should be.

    Everybody is an inquisitor in these culture wars. Both sides police endlessly for even the smallest hint of heresy. The fiercest, harshest, and strictest people get to decide what the rest of us get.Report

    • Avatar InMD says:

      Nothing is hotter than signed contracts granting consent for a man to offer a woman a drink. This is of course only after a panel of gender studies professors has obtained consent on his behalf to get within 5 feet of her. Signatures must be provided for each advance thereafter, preferably in blood, with two for every step after the nipple has made an appearance.

      Seriously though I think romance in these movies is akin to space flight in most science fiction movies. There’s nothing wrong with criticizing it but you can go so far down the rabbit hole you forget that realism isn’t really the point.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        People are more likely to get into trouble or do bad things because they got bad ideas about dating from romance movies than dumb ideas about space flight from science fiction movies. According to the link, there are st least some examples of people using romance movies to defend stalking. The latter might be just some creative lawyering though,

        The critics of romance movies obviously believe that things could be depicted better. They should st least give constructive suggestions or better yet write a script themselves to show how things should be done.Report

        • Avatar InMD says:

          I read the article but I didn’t see proof of causation. There are billions of people running around biologically programmed to prioritize reproduction. Some of them try things that are downright nutty or criminal in their efforts. That may include immitating things they see in movies but I see that as a case of stupid is as stupid does more than anything else.

          I do think your point about ‘try writing one.’ Is totally fair. Rom-coms are notoriously hard to write but if you can do it well Hollywood will be all over you. The lack of special effects makes a success a great ROI. That also gets us to the primary issue she didn’t make any attempt to deal with- these movies are written for women. The idea that dudes are taking their cues from stuff like Love Actually strikes me as… lets just say something that needs a lot of proving.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq says:

            Same here. Not only are these movies written for women, many of them are written by women. In feminist circles, it’s still popular to blame them on the Patriarchy or if more honest just treat it like the proverbial elephant in the room.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

      I think its interesting that relationship-oriented movies like rom-coms get endlessly interrogated, but action movies aren’t.

      Imagine a real life police officer like Dirty Harry of John McClane, or any other office who somehow gets in a car chase and firefight every week, when most real cops never draw their gun more than once in a career.

      Or as I noticed, how come archeologist Indiana Jones somehow manages to smash, burn, blow up or destroy every sacred relic and place he visits? No wonder the government locked the Ark away- they had to keep it out of his clutches.

      Of course movies are heightened reality, a universe of wildly improbable coincidence and leaps of logic. Critiques really don’t make any sense except from within their own internal framework of logic, like our discussions about the bombers in Star Wars (which obviously were set to home in on the artificial gravity of the star destroyer, duh!)Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        The reasons why romcoms get interrogated more than other genres is because they play a bigger part in an intra-female dispute on what it means to be a human or a societal dispute on romance or sex. Most men who don’t like action movies are going to write blistering critiques of Dirty Harry because they aren’t really trying to redefine anything in the culture. So they just ignore Dirty Harry and let men who like cowboy cop movies watch them.

        The critics of romcoms are attempting to rewrite at least some aspects of the culture and gender relations. Romcoms are seen as an obstacle because they don’t represent the truth. Therefore, they must suffer a full frontal assault.Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          There have been many criticisms and lengthy reviews of what violent cop movies mean. They aren’t a big thing now but that genre has faded a bit. There also isn’t much left to say in the movies or about them.Report

      • Avatar El Muneco says:

        Mike Myers deconstructed the “cowboy cop” tropes in one of the B-plots in “So I Married An Axe Murderer” (1993). Anthony LaPaglia complains to his superior “I became a cop because I thought I’d be like Serpico. Instead I’m like … Fish [from “Barney Miller”]”.Report

  5. Avatar LTL FTC says:

    LM2: I read a great line about sex bots that’s worth repeating. “Sex robots are not for men who want to treat women like machines, they are for men who are so desperate that they are willing to treat machines like women.”Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      “Desperate” may be a narrow choice of adjective, but I think the point still stands. Does a man who relieves his carnal impulses by using pornography count as “desperate”? Sometimes, but sometimes not.

      The good news is, women have been using mechanical devices to relieve their carnal impulses for a long, long time, and still have sought male companionship. Because I think that as a natural impulse, male and female libido are actually quite similar, there’s no reason to think that a man who has a reasonably satisfactory device available to quell an urge will cease to seek an actual woman as a mate, based on the historical experience of women.

      The bad news is, we don’t really know if women seeking mates despite the availability of devices to induce sexual pleasure is the result of something inherently better about the sexual encounter with a live mate as opposed to social pressure to pair-bond, a desire to procreate, or the historical reality that men held vastly superior economic and political standing to women — all of which are growing increasingly less applicable as women move towards cultural equality with men.

      Not there yet, but there’s reason to have a bit of apprehension that if sexbots become good enough and cultural pressures shift, people, both men and women, will simply decide that seeking a live human as a mate is more trouble than it’s worth.Report

  6. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    LM0 — Really? Really? I doubt it, at least outside of areas where the culture is to get married by your early 20’s. Seems to me that women enjoy having a multiplicity of partners as much as men do, and the more attractive they are the easier it is for them to attain this goal. And if the pattern of “date around until you find someone special and then be monogamous with them” holds true, then the only explanation I see for this is that women have lower standards for “special enough to be monogamous with” than men do. But I doubt there’s anything so different about a woman’s libido as compared to a man’s that makes having multiple partners somehow less appealing.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Can’t argue with science!

      More seriously, my initial read is not that it involved biology or libido but was mostly a product of social dynamics. Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      I don’t know about this. We really can’t tell
      what human sexuality would be like in a state of nature without any cultural filters. We can do some educated guess work but that’s about it. There does seem to be some evidence that even when you take away cultural baggage or filters or reduce it to the extent filing, there seems to be differences.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        What kind of evidence are you referring to? (Consider the challenge offered in a curious rather than confrontational tone, of course.)Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq says:

          Mainly my observations and those made by others I know. Outside certain circles, it generally seems to take more work to convince a woman to have heterosexual sex than a man. If women valued multiple partners just as much as most men do in a state of nature, it shouldn’t take that much work. The other explanation is that women possess higher standards than men. So most fetwrosdxusl men would be willing to have casual sex with every seven out of ten women on average but women only with every two out of ten men.Report

          • Avatar Burt Likko says:

            And this is the point where I invoke cultural factors swamping out more base drives. An illustration, I think, of how difficult it is to filter culture out of a question like this.Report

          • Avatar Maribou says:

            “it generally seems to take more work to convince a woman to have heterosexual sex than a man”

            The filters I would like to see removed from that equation are:
            1) fear of pregnancy and unequal responsibility for everything thereafter
            2) fear of physical harm

            As in, I don’t buy any argument that doesn’t acknowledge those two things are present filters, but also as in it’d be really really nice if we ever get to a society where both the real and the perceived dangers of those two things are extremely low for both the genders under discussion. (and for everyone else.)Report

            • Avatar LeeEsq says:

              1) requires a lot of technological, social, and economic progress. There is already going to be a lot of cultural baggage and filters by the time any society achieves 1)

              2) is going to be an issue..Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw says:

      As I understand it, the study is making a relative comparison. Attractive men and attractive women have the fewest constraints on sex, and can dictate their own preferences. Attractive men report more sexual partners, more sexual relations within a week of meeting, and are more likely to describe a relation as “only sex” than as exclusive.Report

  7. Lm5 [Romcoms]: I have some disagreements with Kate. As someone above suggested, she doesn’t seem, to me, to demonstrate the causality. Her example of someone in Australia tried to use Bollywood as a defense doesn’t go into whether that defense was successful. (To be sure, though, I didn’t follow any of her links, so maybe those have more information.) While she’s addressing a real problem, it’s hard to know the scope of it. Sex and dating are inherently complicated. Not that there’s a way to pursue it wrongly, but it’s hard to draw bright lines.

    I do think whoever came up with the title for her piece did her a disservice. While I haven’t seen more than the first few seasons of The Office (and not even every episode of those seasons), it strikes me that in that show, Jim’s behavior isn’t particularly creepy. The two characters have an obvious (to me) chemistry in a way that the guy from Love Actually doesn’t.Report

  8. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    LM8 & LM9: I just had a friend of mine announce on FB that she is 16 weeks pregnant via artificial insemination. She’s educated (we were in college together, same program) and a small business owner, but just hasn’t found a male partner that clicked. She’s 39, so approaching the upper limit on fertility.

    So women are waiting longer get married, if ever, which is pushing back the age before they have kids, which limits the number of kids they can reasonably have. Makes sense both sets of data are going to show interesting things.Report

  9. Avatar Jaybird says:

    LM4 suffers from survivorship bias to a degree I’d have thought wasn’t possible before I read it.Report

  10. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Speaking in love as depicted by media, I’m wondering if a big problem with nice guys and other examples of toxic masculinity comes from the media. Using a recent media example with spoilers, the dance scene at the end of Stranger Things 2. Dustin bravely launches himself into the dance but gets rejected by everybody. Nancy comes along and dances with him and gives him a pep talk about how the girls will be all over him in a few years or something. We are supposed to find this sweet but the honest reality is that Dustin is probably going to still be a big dork at sixteen or seventeen and unless another big dork comes into the school scene, probably without a high school girlfriend.

    Lots of Nice Guys probably were raised on a belief that they just needed to wait for girls to mature and they would get a girlfriend. When that did not happen, they grew bitter. Maybe Stranger Things should have not ended with Nancy dancing with Dustin but giving him a righteous denunciation that even though he saved the town/world or at least helped, girls are allowed to reject him for whatever reason they want and he just needs to work on the superficial stuff and become more attractive. That would be incredibly cynical though and nobody would want that in ending.

    It would also be cynical advice to tell kids as they discover love and sex. I’m wondering if maybe the people who achieve romantic and sexual success earlier in life than others might be either more cynical or have received more cynical parenting than people who struggle with it. Maybe everybody could deal with a dose of cynicism when they are in puberty.Report