She got the message.

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Sarah Bregel has the credentials, but can she compete in this already crowded field?

Sarah Bregel has joined a long list of mommy writers who converted their kids’ misfortune into career success.  Bregel used her new status as professional divorcée to get published at Slate, with The work of marital maintenance is a privilege not everyone can afford.

Bregel’s piece is about another mother informing her that divorce has lowered her status:

A few months ago, my husband and I announced we were parting ways after eight years of marriage. The response has mostly been supportive, though a few reactions hinted at something else: the idea that I simply didn’t do enough to make my marriage work. This well-meaning acquaintance and would-be marriage counselor thought Target was the place to tell me what I’d done wrong, just as others had before: I didn’t take enough date nights; I didn’t employ enough teenage babysitters; I didn’t go to therapy with enough consistency. I also didn’t take “marital maintenance vacations,” (which is what vacays sans kids are called these days, or so I’ve been told by fellow parents who often take them). I didn’t even take staycations, which, if you didn’t know, is when the kids go to grandma’s for a week so you can stay in your pajamas and spoon-feed one another tiramisu.

To be clear, this is not about wealth, vacations, marriage counselors or baby sitters.  It is also not about keeping romantic love alive (keeping mama happy).  This is about class and status. Bregel’s status dropped when she signaled to the world around her that raising her kids in an intact home wasn’t a priority.  Bregel’s kids are no longer a good match for the married mother’s kids to hang out with (although it sounds like this already wasn’t common).  It would be considered crass for the married mother to say this outright, but she used the cover of advice to get this message across.  Clearly Bregel got the message, which is why the “advice” stung so much.

Bregel responded in the only way she knew.  She wrote an article accusing the mothers who remain married to their children’s father of having privilege.  The subtext is sure they have higher status (for who can deny it?), but they didn’t earn it.  Bregel closes with:

What’s not said enough is that becoming passing ships doesn’t just happen out of sheer negligence, though. Romantic dinners and getaways might be one helpful component to a lasting marriage. But imagining everyone has that kind of freedom is a certain kind of privilege. No, money might not buy happiness, but it does buy more date nights, therapy, and those ever-loving adults-only vacations I keep hearing about. I missed the boat on that one, but you go ahead and sip that piña colada at your all-inclusive resort. I’ll be over here babysitting all the neighborhood kids and writing about fitness gear at 4 a.m. so I can finance my divorce.

When Bregel submitted the piece to Slate, the editors obviously knew it was a winner.  Married mothers can gloat over their higher status while feigning concern for the unfortunate.  Baby mamas can join in mock solidarity to express their outrage at being excluded by the higher class married mothers, dooming them to the company of their fellow trashy single mothers.  Everybody wins.  Almost everybody that is.

Related:  Harming your kids for attention and profit.

H/T:  Heidi

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Posted in Divorce, Professional Divorcée, Slate, Status of marriage, Turning a blind eye, Ugly Feminists | 64 Comments

Casual dating and serial monogamy as lost virtues.

There is a story making the rounds about a Boston College professor trying to entice her students to go on dates.  The shocker for older generations outside the men’s sphere is that dating is now a dead practice.  But what makes the article stand out to me is the way that serial monogamy and casual dating are framed as lost virtues that need to be recovered:

If students don’t learn how to date while they’re in college, while surrounded by thousands of peers all in a similar stage in life, Cronin says, it only gets harder to build those skills after graduation…

Cronin has received all sort of pushback to her dating project – from super-Catholics, from super-feminists and from students who’d rather focus on getting a job than getting a date. Her defense? “Not everybody is called to romantic relationship, not everyone is called to marriage,” Cronin says. “But everybody’s called to relationships — that what it means to be human.”

And that’s what she’s trying to foster. She tells students: “This is mostly not about meeting your soul mate; it’s mostly about social courage and challenging yourself to be a little countercultural, to do something you know you want to do. And to just be okay with being a little awkward, a little vulnerable and asking a little bit of yourself.”

This is a quixotic desire is to take a snapshot of the sexual revolution and freeze the frame there, but it won’t work.  The supposed virtues of serial monogamy and casual dating are not in fact virtues at all.  Conservatives long for them out of nostalgia, not a real sense of morality.  Moreover, what has destroyed our popular conception of the courtship ritual is the massive extension of the period we expect this ritual to take place (both before marriage and after divorce).  The longer we stretch the process out, the more ridiculous the seeming formality of the process (with no real rules) becomes to the young people we expect to participate in it.  That older generations pine for a bygone era doesn’t make this seem less ridiculous to young people;  it makes it seem even more ridiculous.

Posted in Death of courtship, New Morality, Serial Monogamy, Traditional Conservatives | 213 Comments

Tackling the patriarchy, holding the door open for trannies.

Last week the media was aflutter with the news that the Boston Marathon was formally inviting transvestites to compete.  If you wondered who to thank for this latest example of progress, you can thank chivalry.  As the Boston Herald explains in Boston Marathon pioneer hails trans ruling today’s progress can be tied back to 1967, when the first woman defied race officials:

Kathrine Switzer endured more than snow squalls and low temps during the 1967 Boston Marathon. Steely No. 261 fought to stay on track while fellow runners pushed her, angry that a woman dared to join the male-dominated race.

Five decades later, the first female Boston marathoner celebrates Sunday’s breakthrough decision to accept openly transgender women.

Switzer’s triumph was made possible by multiple acts of chivalry, but the most overt chivalrous act came when race co director Jock Semple tried to remove her official race number:

John Duncan “Jock” Semple (October 26, 1903 – March 10, 1988) was a Scottish-American runner, physical therapist, trainer, and sports official. In 1967, he attained worldwide notoriety as a race official for the Boston Marathon, when he attempted to tear off the number of Kathrine Switzer, who was officially entered despite a ban on female competitors.[1]

Switzer describes the scene in her own account:

A big man, a huge man, with bared teeth was set to pounce, and before I could react he grabbed my shoulder and flung me back, screaming, “Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!” Then he swiped down my front, trying to rip off my bib number, just as I leapt backward from him. He missed the numbers, but I was so surprised and frightened that I slightly wet my pants and turned to run. But now the man had the back of my shirt and was swiping at the bib number on my back.

It would have ended there, and Switzer wouldn’t have been able to finish the race as a numbered contestant, were it not for the chivalry of her football playing boyfriend, Big Tom Miller.  At that moment, Big Tom literally tackled the patriarchy:

 I felt unable to flee, like I was rooted there, and indeed I was, because the man, this Jock guy, had me by the shirt. Then a flash of orange flew past and hit Jock with a cross-body block. It was Big Tom, in the orange Syracuse sweatshirt. There was a thud—whoomph!—and Jock was airborne. He landed on the roadside like a pile of wrinkled clothes.

With that one act, Big Tom brought the Boston Marathon’s 70 year history as a race for men to a close.  Now, 51 years later, the race finally officially welcomes trans runners.  None of this would be possible without the chivalry of Big Tom and men like him.

The same is true for the progress that has been made in the church.  Only an unchivalrous man would tell a woman she couldn’t teach, or divorce her husband, or have children out of wedlock, etc.  If you’ve ever spoken out against feminism in the church, you’ve no doubt had an experience similar to Jock Semple, albeit with a metaphorical tackling instead of a literal one.  But what matters is the impulse is the same.  Feminism has relied on the chivalrous impulse every step of the way, even as feminists have expressed contempt for chivalry.

Laughably conservatives have assumed all along that they would appease the feminist impulse by engaging in more and more chivalry.  When women complained about the patriarchy, men chivalrously offered women the vote.  When women responded by complaining louder, more concessions were made.  Women complained that it wasn’t fair that they were excluded from the military, so men chivalrously opened first the military, and then combat, to women.  After all, what kind of a man would say no to a woman?  Can’t they see that she is upset?  This is true even though chivalry says only men should fight.  Modern day chivalrous men square this circle by pretending that other (cowardly) men are somehow forcing women to fight in their place.

We are to this day still stuck in this same pattern, with conservatives still believing that one more chivalrous push will finally win the war against feminism.

Related:  They had a good run.

Posted in Chivalry, Military, Traditional Conservatives, Turning a blind eye, Ugly Feminists | 54 Comments

St. Jerome, the Puritan.

In his post Obeying Your Double Helix Pastor Doug Wilson recommends the book The Worldly Saints by Leland Ryken.  This is a book I read when I originally wrote about Courtly Love back in December of 2016.  At the time I decided not to post on the book because Ryken muddies the waters by attributing a quote from St Jerome to a Puritan.  Ryken does this while explaining that Puritans believed that married sex was dirty unless consecrated by romantic love (emphasis mine):

If the main purpose of married sex is the expression of mutual love and companionship, it is a perversion of sex to reduce it to a merely physical act. “How can two…become one flesh lawfully,” asked Cleaver, “when as there wanteth the union and conjunction of the heart, the true and natural mother of all marriage duties?” 60 Perkins had something similar in mind when he wrote, “Nothing is more shameless than to love a wife as though she were a strumpet.” 61 And Milton wrote,

Although copulation be considered among the ends of marriage, yet the act thereof in a right esteem can no longer be matrimonial than it is an effect of conjugal love. When love… vanishes,… the fleshly act indeed may continue, but not holy, not pure, not beseeming the sacred bond of marriage, being at best an animal excretion.62

I can’t find an online reference at the moment, but the work from Perkins that Ryken quotes* is actually Perkins quoting St Jerome**.  Here is an alternate translation of the same quote from Against Jovinianus (Book I), with a bit more context:

Hence Xystus in his Sentences tells us that “He who too ardently loves his own wife is an adulterer.” It is disgraceful to love another man’s wife at all, or one’s own too much. A wise man ought to love his wife with judgment, not with passion. Let a man govern his voluptuous impulses, and not rush headlong into intercourse. There is nothing blacker than to love a wife as if she were an adulteress.

In the same piece Jerome offers his striking interpretation of 1 Cor 7:1, explaining that Paul is saying sex in marriage is evil, albeit a lesser evil than sex outside of marriage (all emphasis mine).

“It is good,” he says, “for a man not to touch a woman.” If it is good not to touch a woman, it is bad to touch one: for there is no opposite to goodness but badness. But if it be bad and the evil is pardoned, the reason for the concession is to prevent worse evil. But surely a thing which is only allowed because there may be something worse has only a slight degree of goodness.

At any rate, I believe that Ryken is right in general;  Puritans (falsely) believed that romantic love was required to sanctify married sex.  After all, the quote from Milton is correct, even though Ryken failed to note that Milton made the argument in an essay arguing for the adoption of no fault divorce!

What is striking is that Ryken’s error in mistaking Jerome for a Puritan is an understandable error.  Both viewed married sex as something dirty.  The only difference is the Puritans decided that married sex could be made clean, sanctified, through feelings of romantic love, an idea that doesn’t come from the Bible.

*Ryken’s note for this says “61 A Godly and Learned Exposition of Christ’s Sermon in the Mount [Schnucker, p. 360]”.  When writing this post I found an online version of the text:   A GODLY AND LEARNED EXPOSITION of CHRISTS Sermon in the Mount, but cannot find the quote in question.  If you find the quote please let me know in the comments.

**See my post St. Jerome on marriage for more detail.

Posted in Chivalry, Courtly Love, New Morality, Pastor Doug Wilson, Romantic Love, St. Jerome | 38 Comments

Chivalry and biblical marriage can’t coexist.

Swanny River asks:

Can someone explain to me what is meant by a marriage depending upon the free will of the married means? Is an arranged marriage an example of people without free will? Women freely divorce and commit adultery by marrying another, so how is that different than a theory of adultery?

I assume Swanny is referring to the following quote from CS Lewis:

As I have said before, where marriage does not depend upon the free will of the married, any theory which takes love for a noble form of experience must be a theory of adultery.

What Lewis is saying is that when we elevate romantic love to something moral, then marriage can no longer be moral. At that point marriage must bend to romantic love, not the other way around. This is you will notice our current view. It isn’t just about arranged marriage. If a woman marries someone she doesn’t love because she wants something else out of the transaction (power, money, etc), then she must be allowed to exit the marriage at will. And if she marries for love but later falls out of love, she must be allowed to exit the marriage at will. If marriage is seen as something moral, a real, binding commitment, then in order to glorify romantic love you have to glorify adultery. Chivalry and courtly love are the antithesis of biblical marriage. You can’t get around this by trying to bring chivalry/courtly love into marriage, because the logic remains the same. Either marriage has moral meaning, or romantic love has moral meaning; both cannot be the case.

When the puritans incorporated chivalry into marriage they killed biblical marriage. Even Milton understood this, which is why he argued that when the feelings of romantic love were gone a marriage could no longer exist.

Posted in C.S. Lewis, Chivalry, Courtly Love, New Morality, Romantic Love, Uncategorized | 64 Comments