January 17, 2007

Bumper Sticker Bastards for Our Time

Inspired by the NY Times story written about HERE.

LILEKS (James) takes aim at the Times' "I'm the one that I love... ooo.... ooo... ooo" spinster story, and flays it alive with:

To my parent's generation, divorce for no good reason was proof of moral failure. If someone cheated, that was a reason. If someone knocked you around, that was a reason. Decades of long nasty fights over things great and small, that was a reason. But splitting because the kids were out and it was time to have a room in which no hairy saggy-arsed ex-satyr would wad up his underwear and toss it in the corner? Not a reason.
For all their differences, my parents made it to 30 years and would have made it to 50 or more if my father hadn't died young. Chances of that being common in my generation? As the book title goes: Less Than Zero. For my child's generation? How many negative numbers are there? Ah, yes, my Not-So-Great Generation really does "Teach your children well...," don't we?

On the one hand, we have an increasing number of children born out of wedlock that gives us exploding, traditional bastardy across the land. One the other hand we have a larger wave of children "taken out of wedlock" into the Brave New World of "untraditional bastardy." Put them both together and it is little wonder we have armies of little bastards roaming about the malls looking for an angry fix.

Posted by Vanderleun at January 17, 2007 2:22 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Lileks left out the other major ironic dimension of this story, namely the fact that marriage between men and women is still fair game for snarky treatment from the NYT and other pseudo-sophisticates. But let anyone take issue with the push for gay marriage, and all of a sudden the institution is described as a great social good from which no one should be excluded by heartless "Christianists" and other "homophobes." Maybe it's time for you to repost your reflections on "gay divorce(e)s."

Posted by: Connecticut Yankee at January 17, 2007 4:49 PM

I was on a long walk today thinking about the state of marriage and the statistic that married verses single women runs about 50-50, give or take a percentage point or two. Yes, compared to our parents' generation, this is a stunningly low number. But our children's generation will be even more abysmal.

I also find it interesting that so few female bloggers are commenting on this. And I wonder why? I thought about it in the cold afternoon air and asked myself why I wasn't commenting and what the hell I would say. It's just so sad to me what's happening. The basic building blocks of the human species are disintegrating before our very eyes and at warp speed.

I'm still trying to find the words to put in a post about it one of these days without sounding like a moralist prude. I sure don't want to start sounding like Gerald Ford from the grave.

Posted by: Webutante at January 17, 2007 5:32 PM

Well, I can say that in my immediate circle, marriage is treated as a lifetime committment, probably because most of us had good role models in that department.

What I find interesting is how intriguing my siblings and I were to kids from broken homes. One of my brothers, as far as I can tell, only ended up dating children of divorce. He and his wife just had their second child, and believe me, she wants a marriage for life. (Given their respective temperaments, I think it's a lock. And out of my family, they've got the shortest duration— 6 years.)

I look at such surveys with a shrug. Children of divorce mostly dislike it. They may not have the abilities or experience to keep out of divorce (coping strategies are important), but they're still pretty wistful about the lifetime ideal.

Posted by: B. Durbin at January 17, 2007 8:52 PM

I enjoyed the part where Lileks' said that the guy who was turned down by the newly "freed" woman should buy a telescope and find his lucky star and thank if for dodging that particular bullet.

One question...I read all the time about these independent women listing "traveling" as being nearly the most important thing in their lives. Just where the hell are they all going?

Posted by: Mumblix Grumph at January 18, 2007 12:03 AM

Lileks' best catch was the fact that the "majority" is based on a group with a minimum age of 15. While the trend may be real and noteworthy, it seems specious to attach significance to a "majority" shift that includes women under 18, who've likely been overwhelmingly unmarried since the First World War or earlier.

Posted by: Umbriel at January 18, 2007 9:42 AM


I think Webutante hit it. We are all more afraid of looking bad to our "peers" than speaking up about something that is bothering us.
PC is, of course, self-censorship.

I'm somewhat astounded in my own life. I have critized the divorced husband of a couple that I know; the divorced husband and his ridiculous "antics", versus defending the wife who has looked out for the kids, and being mildly critcized by some of my female relatives for not realizing "there are two sides to this, you know."
What a bunch of moralistic hogwash. This jerk, being defended by women who don't even know him, just to be "fair". Frankly, this guy should be beaten with a cane, but that's just my "Gerald Ford" generation view. Not too PC, really.

Posted by: David at January 18, 2007 7:34 PM

Part of my dilemma in writing about all this is that I was married and raised children for almost two decades, and loved it.

I have also been single that long and loved it. While I certainly think, and want to believe, marriage is the superior state, I would only go back to it under remote circumstances, because I like my life and circumstnaces, truly, and I have some wonderful men in it as it is.

Gerard's and my generation helped create the mess we're in today and our children have run with the ball, and it's sad. On the other hand, there are some good things that come from all this.

As to the question of where the hell do all these women travel? I myself am on my way to a silent prayer retreat outside Tucson where I can be quiet and climb mountains and get a little sun. But it's not just the travel, it's the mobility that many of us like after decades of being tied to tight schedules. Selfish wretch that I am, I like it!

Posted by: Webutante at January 19, 2007 5:55 AM

Well, my wife and I have made it to 27 years and still going strong. We were married six years before our 1st child was born, which did serve to bond us together pretty well, and gave us several years of additional maturity and financial stability before having kids. Now we have three, the youngest in 7th grade. Travel? My wife has visited 15 countries or so, most with me.

Posted by: Donald Sensing at January 19, 2007 2:43 PM

One thing that Lileks didn't comment on about the methodology of this Times reporter that Michael Medved did today was that widows and women married to deployed servicemen are also included in "women living without a spouse." You have to be severely mentally deficient to equate the lives of: my grandmother, who is "living without a spouse" because my grandfather died of cancer after 50 years of marriage; my sister, who is "living without a spouse" because her husband is in Qatar with the USAF; and myself, who is "living with a cat" because, bottom line, no one has ever wanted to marry me.

Although I would like it if my family and conservatives in general would stop crapping all over me for not being married; it's not like years of rejection aren't painful enough without being an outcast, too.

Posted by: Heather at January 19, 2007 3:35 PM

Too bad your father didn't have the good sense to drop dead before he shot his wad into your mother.

Oh, is that in bad taste? In honor of Jane Hamsher, you can blow it out your fucking ass.

Posted by: dave at January 19, 2007 3:43 PM

Perhaps women need to accept that there is a time for everything, and everything in its time. The twenties or early thirties are when we have our babies. If not, we face the relentless biological clock; and the baby option may not be there for us. So why not enjoy this part of life at the time that's best for it?

Then, by her forties, a woman will start to be freed of the daily lock-down and also, I believe, be better equipped mentally to take on the world - travel, study, make a name for herself. This can lead to a gracious old age including a secure family, achievements in the world, and peace at heart.

It isn't a guarantee and it won't work for everyone. And it presupposes that women can find men wise enough to stick to the long term work of family building. But it is God's and nature's plan. Humans deceive themselves to believe they can easily figure out something better.

Posted by: askmom at January 19, 2007 6:05 PM

I doubt the NYT mentioned women "without a spouse" who are taking care of one or both elderly parents. I have several friends who are single women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s who are caring for an ailing father or mother (in one case, both parents). They have neither the time nor the discretionary income to travel or go out on dates like the women profiled in the Times story. And, as AskMom pointed out, there are not always enough men wise enough to value the good qualities of these women. The New Feminism of the '70s may have brought about changes in marriage and employment for women, but it didn't put much of a dent in the expectation that the womenfolk in a family should take care of the elders. Point being that women may be single for all kinds of reasons, many of them perfectly respectable or even admirable.

Posted by: Connecticut Yankee at January 20, 2007 4:54 PM

"Single Moms Agree: Spinsterhood is Powerful"? What's yer deal? Just why do you hate women so much? Is this how you get your rocks off? What a fucking loser. Enjoy your own spinsterhood, mister never-been-married.

And yeah, I'm still royally pissed off at your cancer crack at Jane earlier. Sue me. I have a right to shout down bullies.

Posted by: Daniel Thomas MacInnes at January 21, 2007 12:58 AM