It doesn’t take too much to send Amanda Marcotte into an ideological tizzy. Recently, the debate provoked by Susan Patton’s suggestion that women should marry young did the trick.
As a notable feminist scold, a woman who was fired from the John Edwards campaign for rhetorical overreach, Marcotte defends the faith fiercely.
In her first defense of delayed marriage Marcotte resorted to a lame ad hominem argument: namely, that Patton was trying to play matchmaker for her Princetonian sons.
With that in mind, I'm guessing her sons are pretty embarrassed right now. Mothers have been embarrassing their sons since time immemorial by declaring that any woman should be happy to have a man so fine, but most mothers have the common sense to keep that sentiment inside the walls of their home. Dressing it up as concern for women's wellbeing and running it in a university's paper, however, takes cheek-pinching offspring-humiliation to another level entirely.
Everyone ought to know that ad hominem arguments are the first recourse of the feeble minded. They do not merit a response.
Since her first foray did not seem to impress too many people, Marcotte doubled down. When Slate’s Double X blog posted Julia Shaw's column about what it was like to marry young, Marcotte reached back to find a way to persuade young women to avoid marriage.
She came up with this:
Watching conservatives desperately try to bully women into younger marriage with a couple of promises and a whole lot of threats is highly entertaining but clearly not persuasive.
The underscored phrase refers to Marcotte’s first ad hominem attack on Patton. Nuf said.
Most of the women who are advising in favor of early marriage do not identify themselves as either liberals or conservatives. If you have been following the debate on this blog and elsewhere you will note that Patton et al. have not been manifesting any desperation, either.
It would be more fair to say that Marcotte has cornered the market in desperation. I am not suggesting that she is or is not desperate to get married. Reports suggest that she has a male "partner."
Women marry later because it makes sense given their own career aspirations. Even many of those pushing the ideological argument for young marriage, like Megan McArdle, tend, when it comes to their own lives, to opt out of the pressure to be young divorcees martyred for the cause.
Or course, Megan McArdle, who wrote an eminently intelligent essay on the topic, never said that marrying young meant divorcing young. And where did Marcotte get the idea that marrying young would lead to martyrdom “for the cause.”
Marrying young is not a cause. Feminism is a cause. If a woman sacrifices her chance to marry and/or to have children because feminism told her to do it, she has effectively martyred herself for the cause.
While some women have questioned whether a woman who is trying to care for a toddler or two during her peak earning years is doing the best by her career, Patton’s argument emphasized biology and the marital marketplace.
Marcotte concludes with this gem:
I’m glad young marriage is working out for [Julia] Shaw, but for the majority of women, dating and cohabitating until they’re more sure is working out just fine. If he's good enough to marry, he'll still be around when you're ready to make that leap.
Let’s be charitable and say that everyone but Marcotte knows that deferring marriage and childrearing is not working out “just fine” for very many women. It’s working out well for reproductive endocrinologists, but not for very many women.
If it was working out so well, we would not be having a national discussion about Susan Patton’s column.
Marcotte’s last sentence deserves an award. I consider it a sign of desperation when the best you can come up with is a piece of arrant nonsense that insults the intelligence of young women.
In Marcotte's alternative universe, a man who is “good enough to marry” will naturally defer to the wishes of a young feminist who has decided that career must come before family.
And what does Marcotte mean by “good enough.” Doesn’t that make it sound like she is settling? Is Marcotte suggesting that a woman who defers marriage will have to settle?
If a man is eminently marriageable, but is being strung along by a feminist, other women will notice. If they notice, they will naturally want to compete for his affections. Do you really believe that another woman will not be able to win him over, especially when her competition has attended the Amanda Marcotte School of Relationships?
If he’s good enough to marry, he will have a choice. If he waits around while she lives her feminism, he will be suffering a degree of self-abnegation that will ultimately make him bad husband material.