Notkin: Women Marrying Later, Men at Fault

September 15, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

I recently was forced to take two blog posts to respond to an article out of New Zealand. It was so badly done that I couldn’t outline all its deficits in a single one. Well, here’s another (New York Post, 5/13/17).

It’s by Melanie Notkin whose thesis is that women are waiting later to marry and have children and, of course, men are to blame for their doing so. Oh and, into the bargain, men are “perpetual adolescents.” As with so many gender feminist screeds, Notkin’s positively gushes logical fallacies and misuse of data. It’s all there, including “examples” that aren’t examples, a sense of victimization, not only by those awful men, but by the U.S. Census Bureau (really!) and by unnamed “others.” And let’s not forget elision of the difference between what people say and what they do. And finally there’s Notkin’s paean to that old feminist chestnut “single mothers by choice.” Yes, after all the information we have about the importance of two parents in a child’s life, Notkin’s all in favor or women having children without one.

The notion that women and men both are waiting later to marry and have children, a trend that’s been in process for almost 50 years now, might be a result of something other than male fecklessness never occurs to Notkin. Indeed, as much research has previously demonstrated, that trend comes from a variety of factors, almost all of them providing greater freedom of choice and action to women themselves. Ready access to inexpensive, effective contraception is one as is greater educational opportunities for women and laws that prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of sex. No-fault divorce and punitive child support and alimony laws play their parts too.

All of those of course have been feminist initiatives embraced by society and law over the past 50 + years or so and understandably, they’ve affected how we live and the choices we make. Gender feminists like Notkin are unhappy about it. It’s hard to know what they want other than to complain about men. After all, one of feminism’s most important aspirations was the greater financial autonomy of women achieved through better education. They asked for it and got it.

But among the results of that are that some women outstrip men in earning, that, in order to have a career, women have to postpone childbearing and that, because women have always tended toward hypergamy, they don’t want to marry men who earn less than they do.

That’s all understandable and more or less predictable results of feminist policy in action. But all the Melanie Notkins of the world can think to do with the information is to complain about someone other than the feminists who convinced policy-makers to create the situation we now have. Color me not surprised.

The census labels childless college-educated women over age 35 the “delayer boom” — as if we gathered together in a collective conspiracy in defiance of motherhood.

No, Ms. Notkin, I promise you, the Census Bureau imagines no such thing. “Delayer boom” is just a shorthand way of stating a fact – that the average age for women of first marriage and first pregnancy has increased from about 20 years old in the late 60s to about 28 years old today.

 Others dub this cohort “career women” as if we made a choice between having a family and a career. (There are no “career men,” mind you.)

“Others?” Who does that? She doesn’t say. Of course if someone has done so, it’s imminently reasonable. Surely Notkin knows of women’s strong propensity toward childcare over careers. There are countless studies of women who opt out of high-paying/high-stress careers in order to have children and step into the role of Mom. If she’d like to read her own article, she’d notice that one of the women she cites did exactly that, or tried to.

And then there’s Joanna, from the Upper West Side, who tells me that at age 32, she stepped off the partner track at her law firm, halving her salary to work in the firm’s marketing department, so she could focus on landing a husband.

The point being that countless women in fact make the very choice between career and family that Notkin pretends doesn’t exist. Some six million women in the U.S. are stay-at-home mothers, i.e. they chose motherhood over career. And let’s not forget that they were enabled to do so because someone else is paying the bills and that someone is, in the vast majority of cases, their male partner, you know, the “perpetual adolescent.”

So yes, it’s entirely appropriate to designate some women as career women to differentiate them from those who are solely or primarily mothers. That’s why it’s also appropriate that there’s not a term “career men.” Men are so strongly inclined to be first and foremost the support for their families that it would be redundant to call them “career men.” But of course these are well-known facts and Notkin’s not enthusiastic about facts that contradict either her thesis or her since of victimization.

In yesterday’s post I questioned the notion that black women don’t marry the fathers of their children because the men aren’t “marriageable.” I pointed out that, when it comes to gainful employment, black men do pretty well, not quite as well as white men, but considerably better than white and black women. And there’s no way that the 63% employment rate for black men explains black mothers’ 30% rate of married childbearing.

Well, Notkin pretends the same is true of men generally, i.e. they’re not marriageable.

Women want an equal partner, but there are increasingly fewer candidates to choose from.

Women want an equal partner? No, actually they don’t. They want a higher-earning partner and one who does less of the childcare and domestic work than they do. There’s a good bit of science to support both propositions and it’s pretty compelling. Job instability for men is the highest predictor of his wife’s filing for divorce, but the same isn’t true for women. Not only do egalitarian marriages have less sex than more traditional ones, they’re more likely to break up. Some women say they want an equal partner, but when it comes to childcare, they’re highly likely to marginalize their child’s father via maternal gatekeeping. And when it comes to divorce, few and far between are the mothers who ask the court for 50/50 parenting time.

Notkin’s idea that “there are increasingly fewer [marital] candidates to choose from,” is so much bunk. Despite the fact that there are more female than male college graduates, men still substantially out earn women and, even among those college graduates, that trend will continue. The American Enterprise Institute recently published a list of the 30 top-earning college majors and the sex of graduates majoring in each. Men overwhelmingly predominated in 19 of the top 20 and 26 of the top 30. That’s true despite the fact that men make up less than 43% of college enrollees.

Meanwhile, male labor force participation and employment rates are both 14 percentage points higher than women’s. And even when women are employed, they earn less than do men. So, if pulling one’s own weight in earning is of any importance to one’s marriageability – and Notkin clearly believes it is – it’s women who fall short, not men.




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