The Case Against the Sexual Revolution: Part 24, Marriage Is Good

We're coming to the end of this series. Today we finish up the final chapter of Louise Perry's The Case Against the Sexual Revolution. There is a Conclusion to the book, which we'll turn to next week.

As Perry wraps up the final chapter of the book, entitled "Marriage Is Good," she returns to the demands of child-rearing upon women. We all know how much it takes to care for and raise children. And here's the irony: If feminists want women to have kids and pursue full-time careers, marriage is even more necessary. Having a domestic partner is critical for female emancipation. Only with a committed partner doing their share on the domestic front will women be free enough to pursue their careers. Beyond the very wealthy who can hire a nanny, a cook, and a maid, most single mothers can't do both things at once, raise kids and pursue a full-time career. 

True, this vision of marriage-as-domestic-partnership demands a shake-up in how many men think about domestic work. There is some work to be done with the modern institution of marriage. Men will need to change diapers, clean toilets, cook meals, and dust baseboards. 

But it should be clear beyond dispute that, where such partnerships are found within marriages, these marriages are very, very good for women. Simply, partners are good for women. 

As Perry writes, reflecting on her needs after giving birth:

If we want to keep that maternal bond intact, then the only solution is for another person to step in during these times of vulnerability and do the tasks needed to keep a household warm and fed. Perhaps we could call that person a spouse. Perhaps we could call their legal and emotional bond a marriage.

That observation brings Perry to her final paragraphs and recommendation:

I have just one piece of advice to offer in this chapter, and you've probably already guessed what it will be. So, here it is: get married. And do your best to stay married. Particularly if you have children, and particularly if those children are still young...

The critics of marriage are right to say that it has historically been used as a vehicle for the control of women by men, and they're right to point out that most marriages do not live up to a romantic ideal. They're right, too, that monogamous, lifelong marriage is in a sense 'unnatural' in that it is not the human norm. The marriage system that prevailed in the West up until recently was not perfect, nor was it easy for most people to conform to, since it demanded high levels of tolerance and self-control. Where the critics go wrong is in arguing that there is any better system. There isn't.

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