In the discussion on my post Thoughts on the future of marriage, Ricardo di Matteo shared a link to an article on the Daily Mail: I’m childless because I haven’t found Mr Right – and it hurts as much as infertility This article reinforces four of the points I made in my post on the future of marriage:
- Women today assume that marriage to a worthy man is an absolute given. This is why so many assume women don’t really benefit from marriage. They value it so little because it is thought to be so plentiful, not because they don’t want what it brings to them.
- There is a significant class divide between women who are willing to raise fatherless children and those who feel that doing this is a mark of low status.*
- Serial monogamy presents the allure to women that they can have investment from men without offering men commitment. This works in the short term, but evaporates as the woman ages and her SMV wanes, and the men she is with have been around long enough to understand the rules women like her are playing by.
- Even though assumption #1 is/was almost universally true for women today in their 30s and later, we already hear a hue and cry by the small number of exceptions to the rule. If it ever becomes such that the average woman has good reason to doubt that marriage is hers for the taking, the hue and cry from women will be deafening. If husbands become more scarce they will become more valuable as well.
The Daily Mail article opens with:
When I was younger, I always expected to become a mum…
As far as I was concerned, the day I became a mum was just out there waiting for me to reach out and embrace it.
While she refers to the chance to become a mother, she isn’t talking about fertility per se. She always assumed a man willing to commit to her as a father of her children was as easy to obtain as a dish at the local buffet. She is looking for a man who will financially support her as a mother. As she has been an adult for over 20 years, obviously marriage was not a priority for her:
During my 20s, I put in long days as an aspiring journalist, and at night I partied with the best of them. In my mid-30s I battled an addiction to alcohol…
Note that the role of husband (or something very much like one) is so taken for granted, even now it isn’t worth mentioning. Such a man was simply to be plucked out of central casting to fit the role she defined for him once she decided that was what she wanted. She expected to hail a husband when needed as one does a taxi. When the time came she snapped her alcoholic party girl fingers, but for some reason no husband appeared:
Like a lot of women my age, I’d thought 30 was probably an ideal age to settle down. But once I hit 30, it’s was if I hit an oil patch and the years just slipped away. The men I dated either weren’t at the same life stage as me, or simply didn’t have the money to commit to a baby.
But never forget that this woman is the victim here. She and other women like her put marriage and motherhood last, and for some inexplicable reason are less likely to be mothers:
According to a recent study, 48 per cent of university educated women born in the late Sixties and early Seventies are childless.
She tells us that friends jokingly suggest that she has it made, since she can live the fling filled lifestyle of Sex and The City. But this isn’t what she wants now; she asks “But where’s the fun in that?” I assume the flings were fun enough in her 20s, since she postponed marriage in order to enjoy a full decade of them. I strongly suspect her beef isn’t with flings, but with what flings are like with her declining SMV and men who have learned that women like her see men as disposable.
Not only do we owe her sympathy for the fact that she is inexplicably childless, but we owe her sympathy for the fact that she hasn’t been offered sympathy. She complains that women who are biologically infertile are offered sympathy, but not women like herself who waited out the clock. She reinforces this by quoting another woman who made the same choices, with the same results, and feels the same way:
‘As I saw couples younger than I getting sympathy for their biological infertility, I wondered why all I got were accusations of not doing enough, not trying hard enough. Trying too hard. Being too picky. Not being picky enough . . . And the hardest comment to defend: “You’d better hurry up!” (Hurry up with what? Falling in love?).’
She even appeals to the authority of an expert who tells us that the “circumstantially infertile” experience “disenfranchised grief” due to them being seen as having chose their fate. We are all guilty of blaming the victim. The victim of her own choices.
Maybe not. She then changes course and admits that those who lack sympathy may have good reason to (emphasis mine):
…a year ago, I wrote in this very newspaper about how I liked being ‘sassy and single’ and felt no significant yearning to have children. Yet after spending time with my cousin’s adorable little girls this summer, I realised I’d been putting on a brave face.
Fortunately she now understands that men are human beings with hopes and dreams of their own, and not just sperm donors and walking wallets:
Instead of getting to know someone slowly, I find myself sizing them up. Would they make a good father? Are they solvent enough? Could I wake up next to them each morning without wanting to strangle them?
If so, would they be willing to just get a move on and impregnate me?
*Somewhere in the middle are women who would be mortified at the thought of having children out of wedlock but don’t feel the same about kicking the father out after the kids are born.