Tuesday, January 16, 2007

No More Mrs?

Did you know that marriage is dying because women desire to be independent and to have fun? It's true. The New York Times says so:

For what experts say is probably the first time, more American women are living without a husband than with one, according to a New York Times analysis of census results.

In 2005, 51 percent of women said they were living without a spouse, up from 35 percent in 1950 and 49 percent in 2000.

Coupled with the fact that in 2005 married couples became a minority of all American households for the first time, the trend could ultimately shape social and workplace policies, including the ways government and employers distribute benefits.

Several factors are driving the statistical shift. At one end of the age spectrum, women are marrying later or living with unmarried partners more often and for longer periods. At the other end, women are living longer as widows and, after a divorce, are more likely than men to delay remarriage, sometimes delighting in their newfound freedom.

Read the whole article. It contains lots of interviews with women who are really happy not to be married. But it contains no chew-worthy evidence on the benefits and costs of marriage to women AND men, and it really contains nothing about men at all, except for this short paragraph:

Over all, a larger share of men are married and living with their spouse — about 53 percent compared with 49 percent among women.

So we have a four percent difference in the marriage rates, almost all of this (I speculate) explained by the fact that women live longer and are more likely to become widows? And this is written up as a large shift for women but no shift at all for men?

Ok. It isn't quite as one-sided as I made it to be, but it's a pretty poor article unless we think of it as the making of one of those faux trends. You know, the ones some people love to make up so as to have us all at each others' throats, fighting over the meaning of a trend that doesn't exist.

What is the real point of the article? I'd be willing to wager that it is to point out that marriage should mean something absolutely wonderful for women, it should be the goal of every little girl, and for some reason that doesn't seem to match reality. Men, well, men are not supposed to think about marriage at all. It's a maintenance part of their vigorous public lives. But women are supposed to dream about the dowry and the veil and the ring.