Now, I start this essay knowing that there is a fairly well-known MRA who will attack me for having the audacity to say what I am about to say. A lot of people seem to very hung up on this term “marriage strike” and are betting on it to produce social change of the type they wish to see.
However, being attacked, insulted, and called names for daring to give voice to ideas which go against the grain of conventional social wisdom is something I have had to grow quite used to over the past 4 decades or so.
While the idea of a marriage strike is a cute sound bite, I think it has several major problems both as a metaphor for what is happening culturally and as a strategy. The first and biggest problem for the MRA side of the issue is that it implies that the changes in patterns of marriage that we are seeing today are temporary, and that sooner or later all these so-called “marriage strikers” will “go back to work.” I don’t think that is true, and that the changes in mass behavior are permanent and just the beginning of a major cultural-level shift in behavior reflecting the shift in values over the past 50 years.
In a classic strike situation management has a variety of strategies to break the union and break the strike. They can employ goons (White Knights) to go in and break the heads of the strikers. They can find scabs (manginas) to do the jobs that the strikers are not doing. Or they can stage a lockout and refuse to employ strikers in hopes that they can starve them into capitulation.
This last strategy is the one women are currently using – claiming it is them, not men, who are avoiding marriage. All this conveniently ignores the caterwauling of women over the past 40 years that men were “Peter Pans who can’t make a committment” and the fact that there are no Groomzillas nor Groom Magazines gracing the racks by the checkout stand. There is currently a “Project Husband” – a classic attention-seeker who has the date set and the wedding planned and only needs the small detail of a groom – but no “Project Wife.” And, we even have a woman marrying herself – complete with photos in a flowing white dress, a wedding planner, and a banquet hall for a marriage celebration with 30 friends – but no men engaging in such surreal antics. Every time I think women have reached the absolute peak of narcissism, beyond which it is simply not possible to go, some woman shows up and proves me wrong. The woman with the life-size wedding cake in her own likeness was the previous high-water mark, but at least she did have a groom.
The entire idea of a strike is that it accepts the status quo as legitimate and as the only option. Faced with falling demand for their product, US women have fallen back on the time-honored method of protectionism – passing IMBRA, the International Marriage Broker Regulation act, using their worn, but still effective, method of painting all men as abusers. Imagine what sort of condition Firestone Tires would be in today if, instead of addressing their quality problem, they had gotten huffy and said “Well, NOT ALL our tires are ‘like that.’ Not every one will fail on you and kill you and/or your family. YOU just HAVE TO find the ones that won’t.”
“I’ll take chapter 11 for $1,000, Alex.”
One of the biggest problems with even trying to discuss the issues turns out to be a religious problem. I don’t mean “religion” as in a particular religion like Christianity, Judaism, or Islam (although it is related) – but “religious”in the sense that we have TRUE BELIEVERS and non-believers. Many of the issues we deal with fall into this category. As Words Twice commented on my recent essay on self-reliance when it comes to self-defense:
“Many casual gun owners have a religious devotion to their pet gun de jour or some piece of gear and trying to explain to them that their conventional wisdom and cherished beliefs are often mistaken is usually more trouble than it is worth.”
Believers BELIEVE, and it the very persistence of this belief in the face of contrary evidence or argument against it which distinguishes a religious belief from other kinds of beliefs. There are TRUE BELIEVERS and non-believers. The TRUE BELIEVER has a mirror category – the TRUE DIS BELIEVER – whose faith that what the believers believe is wrong is every bit as strong as the faith of the believers. For example, I am a TRUE DIS BELIEVER in all the tenets of feminism. I reject it completely, and the depth of my faith is every bit as deep as that of the most committed feminist.
Now, this next bit is going to involve a bit of adroit handling. I’m going to give an example of a TRUE BELIEVER to make a point – NOT to either attack him or hold him up for ridicule. As EW says on his site – Comment with honor.
There is a blog called “Rebellion University” (I like it already) where the blogger discusses another blogger’s musings on the phenomenon of a “Marriage Strike.” he says
“I have been married for 24 years. My marriage almost ended 3 times and had serious disagreements on several other occasions. I would not characterize it as a happy marriage now. But I am still convinced that marriage is an excellent institution that I recommend enthusiastically. A good marriage adds to the quality of life for any man. If my marriage ends badly tomorrow I have no doubt that I would be seeking another committed marriage before long and hoping for a better outcome.”
This person is a TRUE BELIEVER. Despite his own personal experience, he is “still convinced that marriage is an excellent institution that I recommend enthusiastically.” And, if his current excursion into the land of marital bliss “ends badly tomorrow I have no doubt that I would be seeking another committed marriage before long and hoping for a better outcome.”
God bless him, and God love him. And I mean that sincerely, it is not a snark.
All I can say here is that I, personally, would and do choose different strategies. At some point in my experience, if what I have been doing has not worked out, then instead of doing the same thing and hoping for a better outcome, I do something different.
I am a marriage non-believer. I do not believe in Marriage 2.0, and I mostly do not believe in my countrywomen. I pretty much agree with Mr. Price about “Stop Looking For a Wife: You Won’t Find One.” The difference between him and me is that I never actually looked for one, because I never was a Marriage True Believer. Probably the strongest point in favor of the institution that I ever reached was “marriage skeptic.” I saw a lot of gruesome marriages as I was growing up, and I watched my older brother’s marriage crash and burn before I was out of high school. My older sister’s marriage crashed and burned a few years later. Like the safety films they used to show us in high school with names like “Wheels of Tragedy” which showed ghastly car wrecks from driving recklessly, I looked at the carnage from brutal divorces that I was seeing all around me, and decided not to engage in high risk behavior.
As a result, I tend to not be as negative toward either marriage or women as men who have been through the meat grinder of family courts, but rather take more of a “none for me, thanks” position.
The tired old NAWALT dodge is wasted on guys like me – “There are still lots of good women out there, YOU JUST HAVE TO go out and find them.”
Um, sorry, no, actually, I don’t “have to.” There are a lot of laws that require me to do things – file tax returns, pay taxes, get a license to drive plus a license for every vehicle I intend to drive on public streets. But, there are no laws that say I “have to” go out, sort through all the turds for as long as it takes to find my tootsie roll (HT: Anakim Niceguy, aka Jaded Guy), stand at the foot of her tower pleading “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair”, court her, lay my worldly goods at her feet, and wait with bated breath while she rules on my “worthiness.”
As novaseeker has observed, people not marrying does not mean that they are not pairing up – at least for the few years it takes to produce one or more offspring. With marriage going down and cohabitation going up, the response of the White Knights has been to extend what were formerly marital prerogatives for women and obligations for men to cohabiting relationships. This is a singularly bad strategy for women because it forces the commitment-phobes to end an otherwise satisfying relationship before she gains legal claim on his assets and his work.
Now, the owners of the means of (re)production are counting on the fact that men need women so badly that all women have to do is wait men out and men will come around. And, I think the term “marriage strike” lends itself to this kind of thinking. After all, a striker’s bills go on whether he is working or not. Eventually he will run out of food, and the heat and lights will be cut off and he will have to take whatever he is offered or starve.
But, what if he doesn’t? What if he decides to up and move somewhere else where the availablity of work and working conditions are better? What if he has been frugal enough that he looks at his fiscal situation and decides that he can just retire?
Women and marriage are getting a whole lot of very bad PR right now. From Bill’s article, to how Bridezillas are portrayed, to the amount of hostility and violence expressed by not just women,but young girls as well, toward males of all ages. “Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them.”
But, bad PR is nothing new. As I said, growing up I saw a lot of gruesome marriages. The mother of one friend of mine was referred to as “the meanest woman in 4 counties.” For the last 15 years of my friend’s father’s life, his wife thought he was deaf because he never acknowledged hearing anything she said. Everyone in those 4 counties knew that he could hear just fine, and in 15 years NOT ONE PERSON TOLD HER!!! Everyone knew what a truly toxic person she was, but her husband stuck with her because he was a marriage true believer and kept hoping for a better outcome.
Not surprisingly, my friend never married.
I was moved from the “marriage skeptic” camp to the “marriage non-believer” camp by a number of experiences – including one with my doctor. More than 30 years ago, when I was in for one of my yearly physicals, he asked me if I was married. I said no, I wasn’t, and he replied “Every night, and every morning, get down on your knees AND THANK GOD that is the case!!!!!“
At the time he was going through his 2nd gruesome divorce and was showing major signs of anxiety disorders – nervous ticks, picking and pulling at his hair (he looked like a cancer patient), and that death-camp look on his face.
I got a real chuckle through the years out of being able to respond to the question “Why aren’t you married” completely truthfully with “Doctor’s orders.”
I never actually took him literally and prayed to god twice a day, but over and over again over the years I had MANY occasions to look up and say “Thank you god that I am not married to a woman like that.” One of them is married to a member of my family, so I get a regular dose of “so, that is what living hell really looks like.” One of the benefits she thinks she gets from marriage is the right to use her husband’s family as a captive audience to listen to her complaints, mostly about him. Close to 30 years ago when they were first married she used to call me up to have someone to listen to her complain about him. And, the #1 thing she wanted to complain about was that he wanted to have sex with her. (Shades of Mary Winker!!) AND FOR ME TO AGREE WITH HER ABOUT HOW AWFUL THAT WAS!!! I had to really stomp on her repeatedly to drive home a few points –
- That is the deal of marriage. I’m sure that every morning at 5:00am when he had to roll out of bed to go to work so he could support her and she didn’t have to work, that there were some mornings when he didn’t feel jumping-up-and-down enthusiastic about doing it. But, he did it because that was the deal he made and he was going to live up to it.
- That, as a man, I had a LOT more sympathy for his position than hers,
- That she was betraying her husband about as severely as it is possible to betray someone by not just spreading around details about their husband and wife relationship, but that she was trying to so with a member of his own family and that blood always will be thicker than water, and
- That I was NOT going to listen to this, and that every time she tried I would tear her a new one so not to EVER bring the subject up to me again!
Nearly 30 years have gone by and I still absolutely loathe this woman. I’m sure I could have forgiven her over the years if she had figured out the error of her ways, mended them, and repented – but she never did. Thirty years later she is still the kind of woman who would use her husband’s family as a captive audience – thoroughly exploiting the social graces which we have that she doesn’t – to listen to her bitch about our family member – if we would allow her to, which we don’t.
THANK YOU GOD THAT I AM NOT MARRIED TO A WOMAN LIKE THAT!!!
And, at this point, I have to say “Thank you, feminism.” See, just about the time that I was entering the most vulnerable years for a young man to possibly get trapped into a marriage with a woman like I have just described, women started telling me that they needed me no more than a fish needed a bicycle, and that marriage was “oppression” for women. And, I listened to them and believed them. And right then I started organizing my thinking and my beliefs so that I could make women in general, and any particular woman, equally as irrelevant to me. Thus, when I would meet a woman who kept a sign on her bedroom door that said something like “I am a high performance woman! I go from zero to BITCH in 0.2 seconds. Caution, the bitch switch sticks!” or “It’s all about me, DEAL WITH IT!“, I could just go “OK. C’ya, bye.” (real examples which completed the job of moving me to the true non-believer camp)
So, now I’m about as hard core a non-believer as it is possible to be. If I met a woman tomorrow who was better looking than Jennifer Anniston AND Haley Barrry combined, cooked better than Julia Child, and knew more sex positions than Xaviera Hollander, I would still have a voice in my brain going “Run, Forrest, RUN!!!”
So, I, personally, am not on a “marriage strike”, because I have no intention of ever “going back to work” of marriage. Personally, I have entered a state of mind where I do not see marriage as necessary, or in most cases even desirable. It was a very useful institution in the past, but it has been completely demolished by women, white knights, and manginas over the past 50 years – just as the rubble of many ancient cites lie in mute testament to the structures which once stood there. I am completely and totally in a state of post-marriage consciousness and my only question is not “when?” or even “whether”, but “what comes next.”
And, I believe that instead of being concerned about any sort of marriage strike, and particularly not believing that all women have to do is wait men out and they will “go back to work”, I think what marriage True Believers need to be concerned about is the loss of the faithful. Once a man stops believing in marriage, and in the women who are his potential mates, there is absolutely nothing going on in this culture to encourage him to start believing again.