feminism

feminism

The State of a Woman’s Union

abstinence, Christianity, cohabitation, feminism, intact family, marriage, religion, sexuality, teen pregnancy, women's health No comments

By Lindsay Smith, Intern
 

Dear Florida,

I heard that you are spending $45,000to research women’s sexuality within your borders.  Apparently, this information is quite valuable to you.  I know you are offering gift cards if women will complete surveys on this topic.  Good news, I think I can provide you with some answers to your search – no gift card necessary. 

Abundant research has shown that disruption within a family structure increases the likelihood of sexual debut for children. “Women whose parents separated during childhood are more likely to have an out-of-wedlock teenage pregnancy, and men with divorced or separated parents are more likely to father a child with a teenage mother.”  As expected, women from intact-married families have the lowest risk of teenage sexual debut, and fewer partners.  Marriage positively affects not only the children, but also the man and woman in the union.  Since your survey touches on a woman’s emotional well-being in relation to sex, you really should know that married couples find their sexual relationship more satisfying than cohabiters do.”

Based on your survey’s questions, I see you are curious about religious affiliation.  You were wise to ask.  According to MARRI’s publication “The Benefits of Religious Worship,” females who attend religious worship weekly are less likely than their peers to sexually debut as a teen, have a premarital pregnancy, or abort their first pregnancy. The Christian abstinence program “True Love Waits” produces similar effects for its participants.  The American Journal of Sociology’s article “Promising the Future: Virginity Pledges and First Intercourse” reports that, on average, pledging decreases the risk of sexual debut even for those in a dating relationship. 

Combining regular worship attendance with an always-intact family bolsters these effects.  As seen in diagrams here, hereand here, MARRI research verifies that teens attending weekly worship with an always-intact family are least likely to sexually debut as a teen or have a premarital pregnancy. 

Florida, you mentioned your hope “to design the state’s service offerings, including pamphlets and counseling,” based on the survey’s findings. How about offering marriage counseling to strengthen families?  What if your pamphlets included the benefits of an abstinence pledge? 

Well, I hope this letter has helped.  In case you find the survey a bit superfluous now, it is almost Christmas, and gift cards make great gifts.

Conservatives and the “War on Women”

abortion, feminism, women's health No comments

By Sarah Robinson, Intern 

I would like to address the rhetoric that we hear reported through our news media regarding the “war on women” which conservatives are supposedly instigating.  Conservatives are generally labeled with this accusation because of the pro-life stance with which the Republican Party aligns.  But the pro-life position actually protects women’s health against the negative effects of abortion.  
A pamphlet titled The Top Ten Myths About Abortion, compiled by FRC’s William L. Saunders, Cathy Cleaver Ruse, and Lucia Papayova, contains research findings about the effects of abortion on women.  This research has debunked the myth that abortion is a “good” medical procedure for women.  According to the pamphlet, physical complications from an abortion “include cervical lacerations and injury, uterine perforations, bleeding, hemorrhage, serious infection, pain, and incomplete abortion.  Risks of complications increase with gestational age.”  Physical complications can also arise with the abortifacient RU-486.  Risks include hemorrhage, infection, and missed ectopic pregnancy. 
This pamphlet also notes some of the key psychological effects associated with abortion.  A New Zealand research team compiled data from a 25-year period and “found conclusively that abortion in young women is associated with increased risks of major depression, anxiety disorder, suicidal behaviors, and substance dependence.”  This is the most exhaustive research ever conducted regarding abortion.  Other studies suggest a substantial evidence of connection between induced abortion and both substance abuse and suicide.  Women may also experience anxiety, anger, flashbacks, guilt, grief, denial, and relationship problems.  These symptoms are generally identified as Post-Abortion Syndrome, a subset of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Adolescents who have had abortions, compared to those who have given birth, report more sleeping problems, frequent marijuana use, and increased need for psychological counseling. 
It is clear that abortion is a dangerous choice for women. A woman’s likelihood of having an abortion increases when she or her child’s father grew up in a non-intact family and is not religious. It decreases, however, when the woman or her child’s father grew up in an intact married home and makes religious attendance a regular part of life (see MARRI research here, here, and here). Conservatives, who tend to be pro-marriage and pro-religion as well as pro-life, are not waging a war on women. On the contrary, they may be women’s best allies in this fight.

What Kind of Man Do You Want?

children, culture, family, feminism, marriage, men, social institutions, women 2 comments
By Sharon Barrett, Intern
It’s an eternal question: What do women want?
 
Last week, I came across this blog post on manhoodthat offered a partial answer:
 
Men in American society seem to fluctuate between two extremes….It seems barbarians [à la Han Solo of Star Wars, or Tom Doniphon in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance] are the kind of men women fall for from a distance, and then despise when they get close – the “bad boy” image. Wimps [like tenderfoot Ranse Stoddard, opposing Doniphon’s gun-slinging version of justice] seem to be the kind of men women despise from a distance and then get to know and start to care for as good provider, “beta males.”

But neither barbarians nor wimps are fully men.

 
What barbarian and wimp alike are lacking, the writer argues, is balance: an Aristotelian “golden mean” between tough and tender. Where one man excels in physique, business savvy, or rugged individualism, another may have aesthetic sense, intelligence, or a reputation for being “good with kids.” By implication, the man who balances these traits not only will achieve manliness in the eyes of other men, but will increase his attractiveness to women.
 
Can a “golden mean” between barbarian and wimp give women what they want? Yes – with this addition. Manhood is more than a middle way that combines ruggedness and gentleness for the sake of balance; it is a third way that employs a man’s abilities in the pursuit of a goal outside himself. Masculine strength is best defined in one word: commitment, the decision to give one’s word to another and stand by for the long haul. Men who embody commitment to a wife, family, job, and community are the ones who can reverse the current trend of fatherless families, broken marriages, and child poverty.
 
Unfortunately, the sexual revolution has taught women they don’t need this kind of man. In the words of feminist writer Hanna Rosin (author of The End of Men), “Women no longer need men for financial security and social influence. They can achieve those things by themselves.” (Nor do they need a man for help in raising children, since full-time daycare is only a phone call away. With the advent of Artificial Reproductive Technology, they no longer even need a man – other than a sperm donor – to conceive children.)
 
According to Ms. Rosin, the sexual revolution gave us “the ability to have temporary, intimate relationships that don’t derail a career.” Because career is (in her estimation) most important to women in their 20s and 30s, she continues,
 
No one is in a hurry to get married, and sex is, by the terms of sexual economics, very cheap. When sex is cheap, more men turn into what the sociologist Mark Regnerus calls “free agents.” They sleep with as many women as possible basically, [sic] because they can.
 
Men don’t need to strive for a “golden mean” when women pursue them for short-term pleasure without asking for commitment. Women perpetuate the hookup culture by allowing men to expect to take any woman to bed, no strings attached, as long they take her out for “a nice time” first (as Maria Reig Teetor reported last week). Women may suffer emotional pangs, but men are taking the real hit: since the 1960s, a “persistent ‘gap’” in employment has existed between married and unmarried men. Employment rates for single, divorced, and cohabiting men consistently plummet faster than rates for married men – in or out of a recession. A culture of marriage, on the other hand, by demanding commitment, actually makes men more employable.
 
When sex is cheap, commitment has no value whatsoever. When women live as if they don’t need men, real men disappear. And the economy and the family suffer equally.
 
In the end, women’s expectations set the bar for manhood. The question is still before us: Women, what kind of man do you want? The men are waiting for your answer.

What Kind of Equality are We Concerned With?

abortion, contraception, family, feminism, marriage No comments

Eileen Gallagher, Intern
In the past few months many people have been discussing the “War on Women.” In the news there has been a focus both on women’s “reproductive rights” and sex-selective abortions. These topics are very controversial because anyone who dares to think contraception or abortion is bad is contradicting feminist ideals, which include freedom, choice, and tolerance. Interestingly, recent research shows that equality between men and women, which feminists have been fighting for since the early 1900s, is no longer a problem. Two topics often discussed in the feminist movement are salary differences between men and women, as well as the persistent lack of women as top executives in the professional world. For feminists this is proof that we still live in a male dominated culture and that women are still oppressed. 
In 2008 Susan Pinker published a book called The Sexual Paradox which explores the paradox that “after decades of women’s educational coups and rising through the ranks, men still outnumber women in business, physical science, law, engineering and politics.” The author explains the paradox, basing her argument in human nature. Men and women are different. In the past 50 years women have had the same opportunities as men in world of education, and gradually girls have had greater academic successes than boys. The ratio of girls to boys among valedictorians or honors students in schools throughout the country is proof of the change. Girls, on average, get better grades than boys in school, and in the past few years more women than men have been graduating from college and graduate programs. If there is a war involving women in the education world, the women are winning it. 
But Susan Pinker’s paradox has not been answered: if women are more successful than men at a younger age, why do they still get paid less than men? This is when an understanding of human nature can provide answers. Women have innate maternal instincts, and even if they do not become biological mothers, many (though of course not all) women would rather work with and help people (e.g., social work and nursing are female-dominated professions) rather than doing the design work of engineers, or the lab work of scientists. Certainly some women enjoy these jobs, but many gravitate toward careers where they feel they are making a tangible difference in people’s lives. The careers that pay the most, such as engineering, computer science, architecture, and medicine, often are unattractive to women because of the type of work or the demanding hours. Many women want to be become mothers and it is nearly impossible for a doctor doing her residency to also have a newborn baby. A woman who wants to have children often chooses to be a nurse or a teacher, who will not earn as much as a doctor, but will have flexibility to be available for her children. The Marriage and Religion Research Institute showed that people are more likely to report being proud of the work they do if they are married. It seems that marriage and family life can bring about greater happiness in the working world, contrary to the feminists’ ideas.
Human nature explains the pay difference, as well as the lack of women as top executives. The path to become a senior staff member in a company generally involves decades of long hours, late nights, and little vacation time. Women are capable of this, but often do not want it. Many mothers gladly give up their dreams of a big house and fancy car for a few more hours at home each day, and to greet their children as they come off the bus from school. The feminist movement continues to cry for equality between men and women, but there are different types of equality. Equality of opportunity has been achieved, but equality of outcomes is impossible because men and women are naturally different.

Cheap Sex Isn’t Free

contraception, feminism, Hanna Rosin, marriage, sexual revolution 1 comment
Obed Bazikian, Intern

Carolyn Moynihan, of Mercatornet, discusses the sexual revolution and its multiple negative effects upon women. One contemporary writer she highlights is Hanna Rosin, who recently wrote an article for the WSJ, which is based on her upcoming book The End of Men. Rosin explains, “Women no longer need men for financial security and social influence. They can achieve those things by themselves. No one is in a hurry to get married, and sex is, by the terms of sexual economics, very cheap.”

Is sex really “cheap”? Perhaps birth control does not have much monetary cost. Rosin goes on to say, “Thanks to the sexual revolution, they can have relationships—and maybe some drama—through their 20s and early 30s and not get tied down with a husband and babies. If the price is a little more heartache, so be it.” But how do you quantify a “little heartache” and is it really possible to measure the internal and emotional effects that come from broken relationships? Moreover, is that all these young ladies take away from broken relationships? There are numerous social, physical, and emotional consequences of promiscuity. Incurable STD’s is just one of them. The “price” of “cheap” sex is anything but cheap. Often, it has a lifetime price tag.

Moynihan concludes that while there had been problems with “marriage and the status of women in America […], cutting sex adrift from babies and marriage was patently not the solution.” Our culture is constantly pushing women to lower their standards and dreams regarding sex and relationships. Men are encouraged to act irresponsibility and often persuade women to do the same.

There is a reason God designed sex to be within the bounds of marriage. It was not because He did not want us to have fun. On the contrary, He created it to be the healthiest, happiest, and most fulfilling within commitment, and social science research backs this up!

Knight in shining armor – a dying dream?

commitment, culture, fathers, feminism, MARRI, marriage, women No comments
Obed Bazikian, Intern
International Women’s Day on March 8 began as women stood up for their freedom against various oppressions. Yet, while many women stand up against oppression, certain aspirations in our culture are increasingly suppressed, including the longing for lasting commitment. Jim Anderson, in his book “Unmasked: Exposing the Cultural Sexual Assault,” goes into painful explanation of how so many women have, in search for commitment, given up what is most precious to them. Anderson says that women have subconsciously accepted that their worth is found in what they can offer a man, namely their sexuality. Many will sacrifice their body again and again thinking perhaps tonight, this man will be different. But with each hookup and breakup, the faint hope in their hearts for commitment fades.

Western culture has trained women to set their standards and expectations so low to accommodate an increasing population of men who have few to no standards at all. A recent article in the NY Times interviewed a 21-year-old single mom, Ms. Kidd, who had experienced her father abandoning her family at age 13 for her mom’s friend. Even though she expressed love for her child’s father, she could “not imagine marrying” him because she said, “I don’t want to wind up like my mom.” Acts like that of Ms. Kidd’s father are also teaching the current generation that commitment and marriage is not only a thing of the past, but instills belief and a fear to even think of entering it.

The question must be asked: How do we shift this culture around to value women and commitment? Research shows the value of marriage and commitment. Our society must pay attention to the empirical truths about marriage. A recent paper by the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, “162 Reasons to Marry,“ finds that “women raised in stable married families are more likely to marry,” and goes on to list 162 benefits to marriage, for both the couple and the children. Our culture lacks commitment, but an alternative exists. Paying attention to the research shows the strength of the family, and can help women see that a desire for commitment is not dead.

 

Twenty-Something Ladies: “It’s Okay” to Think Family!

child well-being, family, feminism, marriage, mothers, Phyllis Schlafly, women's health No comments
By MaryAnn McCabe, Intern
Planning for marriage and motherhood is not a societal norm for twenty-something ladies, nor is fatherhood in the immediate plans of most men. But this generation of young women needs to hear that it is more than okay to think about not only career, but their family. Our culture today attacks traditional femininity, but research supports support the benefits of marriage and motherhood, so why not consider that option while you are career planning? According to studies published here at the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, there are many reasons to be married. Married couples find their sexual relationship more satisfying than cohabiters do. Married women are healthier than never-married, divorced, and separated women. Children in intact married families enjoy more emotional and behavioral well-being than children in cohabiting or single-mother families. Staying married results in men and women looking younger. Those raised in an intact family are likely to consider themselves “very” happy” than those raised in non-intact families. The positive outcomes from choosing marriage and motherhood are astounding.
Hopefully, most young adults are thinking about their future. In order to have a stable and secure home, one must build a solid foundation. Tenacious and driven women may have thought of graduate school, law school, medical school, and/or possibly owning a business. As you start to lay the foundation you may start to think, “By the time I am done with law school I will be twenty-six.” Then a second thought may possibly pop up: “It will take a good couple of years of late nights toiling at a law firm as an entry-level associate in order to become a mid-level or higher associate. Making partner can take up to nine years. I’ll be roughly thirty-five before I can even consider a spouse or child.”
Another consideration a woman must make is the staggering amount of debt she will possess. A law degree or a medical degree costs as much a house. In essence, it is a mortgage before having an actual mortgage. According to the National Student Loan Surveys, “fields of study with the highest levels of borrowing include law students, who are 4% of the NASLS population, but 17% of the borrowers with debt greater than $30,000; medical students are 15% of the survey, but 26% percent of those with debt over $30,000.  A total of 74% of borrowers with debt above $30,000 went to graduate/professional school.” Those with professional education feel most burdened, and women perceived their debt to be a bigger problem than men do. More than 80% of bankruptcy attorneys surveyed by the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys reported a “major” jump in student loan borrowers seeking help. These are the issues that can cause women to put off marriage. Education is by no means a bad thing, but it’s important to note its cost, both in dollars and in time.
In The Flipside of Feminism, Phyllis Schlafly and Suzanne Venker share their stories, telling young women today that “it’s ok” to factor family into future plans — you should! Schlafly and Venker shed some light onto the fact that it is hard to juggle it all, but we have one life to live, so how do you want to live it?

What Hath the Hedge Fund to Do with the Household?

child well-being, divorce, economics, family, feminism, marriage, social institutions, Wendell Berry No comments
By Julia Polese, Intern
Slate.com recently featured an article provocatively titled: “Help America: Get Divorced!” Author Michael Yglesias cites federal data to show that divorce rates have been falling as the economic recession continues. He writes that “the United States fell from 3.6 divorces per 1,000 Americans in 2007 to 3.5 divorces per 1,000 in 2008 to 3.4 divorces per 1,000 Americans in 2009.” As fewer couples are getting divorced – presumably because of the tremendous cost associated with the dissolution of a household – fewer new households are being formed, so fewer goods are being consumed. He concludes rather spuriously that one solution to the current recession is for more Americans to get divorced. He writes: “That’s why I, at least, will be rooting for more marriages to fail in 2012.” Yikes.
Setting aside the “correlation vs. causation” alarm bells triggered by his conclusion, Yglesias’s view of marriage as a purely economic good – he concedes that a married couple living together is “more efficient” than two people living alone – misses the “softer” benefits of the intact married family. While MARRI has shown that the family has a huge positive impact on the American economy in productive value alone and a recent estimation of an equivalent salary for a homemaker’s services was found to be almost $100,000, the all-encompassing picture of a productive household is not only measured in dollars and cents. In his essay “Feminism, the Body, and the Machine,” agrarian author Wendell Berry writes about how the consumerist anti-ideal of marriage has caused a separation between men and women, husbands and wives. Traced to the devaluation of care for hearth and home for both men and women, the culture’s profound individualism disdains the value of a productive household and looks only to the ways the disconnected members of the family can compete against each other on the market as worthwhile. Now, working inside the home generates the question “But what do you do?” Berry writes: “By this [feminists] invariably mean that there is something better to do than to make one’s marriage and household, and by better they invariably mean ‘employment outside the home.’”
This attitude, Berry argues, removes a sense of belonging from the marriage, for both husband and wife and their children. MARRI’s research has shown that a sense of belonging is essential to a child’s success in school, financial well-being, and avoidance of out-of-wedlock births.  Children from intact families are less likely to get expelled or suspended from school or commit theft and are, in general, more socially developed. Divorce harms the next generation in manifold ways. The family’s functioning as a household, not simply as disparate silos of production for the national economy, has profound implications for local community and society at large. An ordered oikos means a more harmonious polis.
Yglesias sees the tenuous link between divorce and an improving economy as something worth pursuing, but he does not consider the long term implications for a breakdown in society beginning at its most basic level: the family economy. A generation of limited connectedness will not aid an ailing economy. Perhaps what the national economy needs is a new “romance of thrift” and knowledge of the true micro-economy, as G.K. Chesterton lauded, found in the houses on Main Street, not the banks on Wall Street. This vision is inextricably linked to the intact married family in which, Berry writes, “‘mine’ is not so powerful or necessary a pronoun as ‘ours.’”

Why is Marriage in Decline?

divorce, feminism, marriage, no-fault divorce, women No comments
By Anna Dorminey, Staff

Suzanne Venker, author of “The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know—and Men Can’t Say,” posted a response to the Pew Research Center’s report on marriage. She writes that marriage is in decline due to a lack of modeling on the part of the parents of today’s 20- and 30-somethings, and asserts that “[f]or starters, parents have to stop getting divorced for less than dire reasons.”

She also writes that women have been deceived by the feminist movement. “Feminists assured women their efforts would result in more satisfying marriages, but that has not happened. Rather, women’s search for faux equality has damaged marriage considerably (some might say irrevocably, but I’m an optimist) by eradicating the complementary nature of marriage — in which men and women work together, as equals, toward the same goal but with an appreciation for the unique qualities each gender brings to the table.”

To read Ms. Venker’s full response, click here.

More on Chastity: Sex by the Numbers

feminism, Hollywood, marriage, sexual revolution, sexuality, women No comments

By Anna Dorminey, Staff

If you recall from my blog post on the romantic comedy “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” the characters’ number of past sexual partners doesn’t figure largely in the overall plot of the story. I was surprised, however, to read a few days ago about a film whose storyline is entirely based around the issue.

Meet Ally Darling, the fictitious star of What’s Your Number?. Ms. Darling is, as the tagline says, “looking for the best ex of her life.” The film’s trailer shows her out with a group of girlfriends when one announces that 96 percent of American women who have had twenty or more sexual partners will be unable to marry. We’ll flash back here to data from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth (which we also cited in the blog post mentioned above).
The data is pretty telling: Only 18-20 percent of women with Ally’s sexual history are able to marry stably. The problem is, the film won’t show this. Perhaps her wedding is shown at the end of the flick in a happy montage of photos, as in “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” but what happens after the credits are done rolling and the catchy music is off?

Even worse than the apparent trend of portraying fantasy in movies as reality is the fact that many women apparently still don’t believe that sexual history or chastity matter at all when it comes to future happiness. I actually first heard about “What’s Your Number?” from the blog Feministing. According to the author of the post that covered the movie,

[T]he bottom line is if women are upset about how many people they have had sex with, it is either because the sex has been terrible or because of external social pressure and faux-moral judgement [sic]. Despite what the anti-sex set may believe, how much sex you have today, does not impact your ability to be in a successful relationship later” [emphasis added].

What do you think? In light of the data above, what can we do to share the importance of preserving intimacy for marriage?