Men and Women Have Changed Their Opinions on Marriage. Why?
Let me ask a quick question. It should be fairly easy for you to answer because it involves your television habits. Think of a few of the shows you watch on a regular basis and then answer the following question:
Name 3 male characters that portray hard-working, loving, protective leaders in their families.
I’ve sat here for the past 15 minutes and I am having serious trouble writing just one name, much less a few.
When I was a kid I could have answered this question in a few seconds with several names: Carl Winslow, Howard Cunningham, Cliff Huxtable, and Tim Taylor.
If I go back in time even farther, more and more names start to fill the list. But to name even a single male, playing the role of a loving, protective, nurturing father that provides for his family is nearly impossible.
The lack of positive portrayal of men in the media is not coincidence. It’s part of a larger movement that has sought to change the very nature of men. The results have been catastrophic. And the people hurt most, I think, are women and children.
Studies in recent years have shown two disturbing trends: men are marrying later in life and adolescence is stretching into the early 30’s.
It doesn’t take long to see the reality of these trends. More males are putting off marriage until later in life, sometimes opting for co-habitation rather than marriage altogether. Starting a home and family is no longer a priority as perfecting X-box skills, traveling, and having the latest i-whatever is more important. (These trends have also contributed to serious financial difficulties, but that’s another issue for another day.) A recent Pew Research poll found that the number of men ages 18-34 that say having a successful marriage is a priority dropped from 35-29 percent.
But as one writer is arguing, perhaps there is more than meets the eye as to why young men are not excited about getting married.
An article by Suzanne Venker argues that the feminist movement of the last 50 years has damaged the institution of marriage, and, in the process, harmed women. Venker says:
“In a nutshell, women are angry. They’re also defensive, though often unknowingly. That’s because they’ve been raised to think of men as the enemy. Armed with this new attitude, women pushed men off their pedestal (women had their own pedestal, but feminists convinced them otherwise) and climbed up to take what they were taught to believe was rightfully theirs. Now the men have nowhere to go. It is precisely this dynamic – women good/men bad – that has destroyed the relationship between the sexes. Yet somehow, men are still to blame when love goes awry.”
That’s a very telling statement with, I believe, a great deal of truth in it.
At one time men believed they were to be the providers, leaders, and protectors of their families and homes. This belief assumed first that having a family and home was a priority. Men sought to “settle down” with their wife and have kids and establish some stability and roots where they could flourish as providers and leaders. So the priorities of family and provision were linked and propelled men to work hard and stay committed to their families.
In the wake of the feminist movement however, many men are wondering what the point is. If women don’t need men, as we’ve all been told for the last few decades, why work so hard, why stick around, why provide? Why put so much effort into something that a court can take away (or at least half) because a woman decides she wants to move on? The result of the feminist theme that men are the enemy has been a weakened institution that has served as the civil and cultural glue of society for millennia (marriage).
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that men didn’t always do things well. There is plenty of historical evidence to show that men have abused their position as the leaders of their marriage and family. In some sense we can agree that the feminist movement is a response to the abuses men have perpetrated on women. But the response went too far.
Helping society to see the inherent equality men and women possess in dignity and worth and value as humans was and is a noble cause. But telling us that men are evil, stupid, incompetent, and hopelessly lost without women is harmful. The fact is, men need women and women need men. We were created to be incomplete (though not incompetent) without each other. Men and women were given innate characteristics that serve them well inside the confines of a committed marriage. This doesn’t mean we are unequal; it means we are different and serve each other well by our differences.
Venker says that many men aren’t getting married because, they say, “women aren’t women anymore.” Clearly this new image of a feminist woman is not the picture many men had in mind. While the feminist movement celebrates the image they’ve created of women, men are walking away saying “no thanks.”
But men are, Venker says, also tired of the constant berating at the hands of women. She writes:
“Men are tired…of being told there’s something fundamentally wrong with them. Tired of being told that if women aren’t happy, it’s men’s fault.”
You only need to turn on your television to virtually any station, any show to find an example of the feminist image of woman berating a man for…being a man. By this I mean that men and women are different by nature. We were created different. Our differences don’t make us unequal; they make us different. To try and change the nature of a man (or woman) simply because it is different is harmful.
Maybe if we return to a proper understanding of our role as men or women we can begin to recapture the priority that marriage and family once was. Then maybe women won’t be so angry and men won’t be so indifferent to marriage.