Saturday, August 7, 2010

Why Marry? The Decline of Males

WHY MARRY? My simple answer is to create families. Creating a family is the most biological, evolutionary, spiritual, soulful and fundamental human endeavor possible.

Lionel Tiger (no kidding that's his real name) published a book over a decade ago entitled The Decline of Males. Tiger's theme centered on the introduction of "the pill" in the 60's which for the first time in human history gave one sex (females) power and control over fertility.

In the not so distant past, birth control was a very uncertain science with a high degree of certainty about one thing - nature eventually won and pregnancy occurred after lustful passion between a male and female.

The introduction of the pill (and the subsequent "chemical pregnancy" of all female partakers of the pill) changed the balance of coupling negotiations and began a cycle of "paternity uncertainty" in which the male was never certain of who the father might be in the case of an actual birth. He had no way of knowing whether the female was on or off the pill, and was at the mercy of his partners actions or lack of action.

Thus began the "sexual revolution" and Cupid (his arrow in history was always the precursor to the shotgun and not the more misguided popular notion of something like a magic wand of love) didn't know who to aim at anymore....and even when Cupid took careful aim, there wasn't much fear instilled in the hapless male, who could easily shrug his shoulders and grab another beer while dismissing the arrow threat completely.

At the turn of the 20th century about 40% of all marriages were "shotgun"affairs, ones where everyone was essentially relieved - the female was fertile and the male was certainly going to marry her and everyone in the extended family loved the (early arrival) of the new baby.

A family was created and life moved forward. Nothing short of the story of Mary, Joseph and baby of the oldest and most respected worldwide drama's since the dawn of mankind. The pregnant and engaged young couple struggling to form a family and the entire world conspiring to help them. (The wise men bearing gifts looks something like the modern government in the West bearing gifts for the pregnant young woman - money, housing, assistance - everything necessary for survival.)

Actually the gifts given to the parents of Jesus would provide the necessary resources they needed for years to come. I have never heard anything about that in a sermon on Christmas...and the manger as least as depicted in American churches is about as nice as the cheap housing provided to young teen moms.

Society rally's around the pregnant female (typically everyone in the extended family)...all conspiring to promote the best interest of their beloved young relative. Even as the males begin to drift away, no one including Cupid most of the time, knows where to point the arrow or shotgun anymore.

So what happens in the early 70's? Roe vs Wade! Never underestimate the determination of a society to protect their beloved daughters from unwanted pain and agony. But why all the unwanted pregnancy's if the pill is so effective and readily available? I guess we have something of the paradox of the modern human life...unreliable human nature. Some call it "sin nature" I suppose.

Along with rising rates of unwanted pregnancy, declining marriages and uninterested males, there was an accompanying outburst of increasing divorce rates. Perhaps this all ties into my hunch that marriage is first and foremost about the "creation of a family" and not primarily about romantic love and sex.

When two people bind together simply to avoid negative societal pressure (another paradox is that there was all along a strong religious sanction against the sexual revolution and sleeping around and living together as unmarried couples and the pill etc.) and instead of living together against the wishes of the Church and the extended family they marry, many of those marriages ended in divorce after one to three years. Why?

Because they didn't marry to create a family! Instead they chose a lifestyle of freedom (no kids), materialism (two incomes) and excitement (infidelity) rather than responsibility, commitment and imagining and calling forth the future - KIDS.

I probably fit the model perfectly when entering into my marriage. We couldn't live together - in our case the Church and our families had strong sanctions against this and our only option was to marry. I wasn't thinking about creating a family - kids were far out on my horizon. I was in love with my best friend and I wanted to know this woman completely. The price was marriage. (We celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary this year and fortunately I have been blessed with four children and a courageous wife that gave up significant amounts of freedom, materialism and excitement over the past three decades to create our unique family.)

Here are the challenging highlights of Tiger's book:

1. The introduction of the pill profoundly changed our society and unleashed the sexual revolution
2. Men became unsure of paternity and gradually became less interested (or forgot) about the primacy of creating a family - they simply wanted more sexual experience from a variety of females
3. Laws were passed by law-abiding family members to protect their daughters from unwanted pain and abortion on demand became a constitutional right
4. Although there was still a strong current of pressure on many young lovers, divorce became easy as the lure of living together was not enough to sustain the daily tasks of routine marriage
5. Neighborhoods are now lacking fathers
6. In the 1,000,000 man march in D.C., 600,000 of them were not living with their children
7. Men have become more marginalized each decade since the 60's - thus the decline of males
8. The "Great Satan" as seen by Asia and the Middle East is the "rights of women" in the West - not materialism or capitalism....can you imagine if women could control fertility or abort the next generation whenever they wanted
9. Worldwide the industrialized nations are not producing enough children for healthy replacement of their populations
10. Paradox - 2/3rd of all pregnancy's in Russia end in abortion...they have lost nearly 20,000,000 in potential replacement population
11. Paradox - underdeveloped nations continue to lack birth control and they have too many babies
12. Laws are passed contrary to basic biological and evolutionary human development - welfare state in some Western nations encourage single mothers not to marry
13. Working moms often have some other kids mother watching their child in day care
14. Stay at home teen moms and other dependent women earn a low allowance that keeps them relatively poor and needy with at risk kids
15. Dis-arranged marriages in the industrialized nations leading to higher divorce rates worldwide
16. Chinese families exposing their daughters and having only a generation of boys - million of spoiled boys, with no siblings and not enough girls to even come close to providing wives for them in the future

I am not sure how accurate his observations are, but they certainly do stir the imagination. What would happen if we......?

Enjoy the challenge,


  1. 生存乃是不斷地在內心與靈魂交戰;寫作是坐著審判自己。............................................................

  2. Good thoughts, O. It's amazing to think about how technological advances affect our identities in such profound ways. Gender identity, human relationships, and marriage are all very different now because of the pill & the availability of safe abortions. Couped with the "civic technology" of no-fault divorce, we certainly have created an environment that has a very different view of "family" from even 50 years ago.

    It's also fascinating that for many people, equipping women in the global South with birth control could address many of their social problems.

    I certainly agree that marriage's main social outcome is the safe place to raise kids, but I'm not sure I'd go far enough to say it's "first and foremost" about kids. I do, however, think a healthy marriage must have some sense of "imagining and calling forth the future" that goes beyond the couple itself, but that can be something else other than children.

    Great thoughts!

  3. Yes Eric, I wrestle with the notion of marriage as primarily for the formation of a family. Most couples don't know if they can even have children when they get married, and some marry past the prime age of child bearing. At 30,000 feet, I am thinking that marriage for the primary purpose of romance and love is not enough. I can see the benefits of so called "arranged marriages" in many parts of the world. Essentially, this type of marriage embeds the newly weds in the complex generational patterns of extended families - regardless of whether they have kids or not. It is this spirit that I argue for marriage to be more about family than mere love or romance.

  4. Of course Tiger was a technological determinist, whose model of humankind was essentially that of a tough-skinned rhinocerous, forever advancing and defending the territorial imperative. As such he was an apologist for Empire.

    That having been said please find a completely different understanding of the all important emotional-sexual dimensions of our being via these references.

    Plus Touch (the essence of being fully human)