THE GRINCHES WHO WOULD STEAL MARRIAGE
By Carey Roberts
December 24, 2003
This Christmas season, many are pausing to reflect on our families, our children, and on the uncertain future of marriage. Exactly who are the Grinches who would steal marriage?
As early as 1971, the Declaration of Feminism declared war on this bedrock institution: "Marriage has existed for the benefit of men; and has been a legally sanctioned method of control over women....We must work to destroy it."
So radical feminists sounded their hysterical alarm, and began their relentless assault on this sacred union [Read]
Some feminists went so far as to compare marriage with illicit sex work. Andrea Dworkin warned the sisterhood that "Like prostitution, marriage is an institution that is extremely oppressive and dangerous for women." Attorney Catherine MacKinnon issued this analysis: “Feminism stresses the indistinguishability of prostitution, marriage, and sexual harassment."
In recent years, however, a broad coalition has emerged to rescue and resuscitate this beleaguered institution. Who are the lead characters on the stage of this Christmas pageant?
In Act I, we see the government coming to the rescue. Beginning this past January, DHHS Secretary Tommy Thompson began to announce a series of initiatives to promote healthy marriages.
But Steven Baskerville reveals that only one-quarter of the funds are actually targeted at improving marriages. [Read] The remaining amount goes to child support enforcement programs, designed to wring more money out of the pockets of low-income, unemployed fathers.
Act II, enter the marriage counselors, the marital Mr. and Mrs. Fix-Its. But are they hurting more than they are helping?
William Dougherty, a family therapist at the University of Minnesota, would answer that question with an emphatic "yes." Dougherty accuses some marriage counselors of actually pushing for a break-up with comments such as, “You deserve better.” And critizing the pro-female bias of many therapists, he notes that "men also get seriously disadvantaged in some couples therapy." [Read]
But don't lose hope, because the curtain is about to rise on Act III.
On cue, here come the marriage enrichment programs, those groups that would charge $500 to help you find your marital bliss.
The lead actor in the marriage enrichment business is an outfit called Smart Marriages. This past summer, a Smart Marriages conference featured a speech that answered the question, “What are Men For, Anyway?" The conference brochure included this insulting description: "One more time, with feeling and through the movies, we'll explore men's roles and their usefulness. Or lack of."
And if that's not disturbing enough, pay a visit to the website of John Van Epp, PhD at www.nojerks.com/. You will see that Dr. Epp conducts seminars on "How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk." Last I heard, Dr. Epp had no plans to offer a program on “How to Avoid Marrying a Bitch.”
Fortunately, there is at least one marriage enhancement program that is not afraid to present a male-friendly perspective. Secrets of Married Men offers practical advice on how men can cope with the many stressors and demands of marriage.
But the sad fact is, most marriage enrichment programs are designed for -- and pander to -- women. They convey the message that at best, men are irrelevant, and at worst, men are "the problem" in bad marriages.
So as the curtain falls on our Yuletide pageant, we will ask ourselves, which is worse: The Grinches who demonize and disparage marriage? Or the Grinches who, in the name of reviving marriage, demonize and disparage men?
© 2003 Carey Roberts - All Rights Reserved
Carey Roberts is a writer, consultant, and researcher
who analyzes political correctness and other social aberrations. Mr. Roberts
has published in The Washington Times, LewRockwell.com, ifeminists.net,
the Federal Observer, and elsewhere. E-Mail: CareyRoberts@comcast.net
"Some feminists went so far as to compare marriage with illicit sex work. Andrea Dworkin warned the sisterhood that "Like prostitution, marriage is an institution that is extremely oppressive and dangerous for women.""