Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sandra Tsing Loh and The State of Marriage

In my previous post, How Many (White) Men Are Getting Married I noted that there was a definite trend for White Men, between ages 35-40, to be unmarried. Using the GSS Data, the increase was from 5% in 1972 to 25% in 2004. A marked increase. Recent, a couple of articles by married women have shed light on the state of marriage by people who are, in fact, married, and are the Yuppie, White upper income class of people.

The infamous, Sandra Tsing Loh article in the Atlantic, extolling the virtues of divorce and a new post-marriage order where,
...let them have some sort of French arrangement where they have two men, the postfeminist model dad building shelves, cooking bouillabaise, and ignoring them in the home, and the occasional fun-loving boyfriend the kids never see.


Tellingly, the article derides Dads who help around the house and kitchen as "kitchen bitches" and finds both un-manly and un-romantic. Another woman writes that her marriage is a prison and she needs to bust out, because her beta male husband is not exciting, though a good father and husband. Comments about Loh's article can be found both here and here. Ross Douhat in the New York Times makes some silly observations and stupid ones on the matter (that the Upper classes are in fact stable, and with few incidences of divorce, and that cross-class marriages should take place, respectively).

But what is the real picture of marriage today, in America, among Whites? Increasingly, it looks as if marriage was for Upper Class people only, and no longer something that characterizes lower and middle class Whites.

Sandra Tsing Loh's article is not new. Barbara Ehrenreich, of "Nickel and Dimed" wrote a December, 1999 Essay on the future of the family, sadly no longer online, in Time Magazine, in which she advocated a "fluid and ever-changing arrangement" for family care in which "the community" would care for children while women pursued passionate, intense, but short-lasting affairs. More recently, she's written here that:
Which brings us to the third big scenario. This is the diversity option, arising from the realization that the one-size-fits-all model of marriage may have been one of the biggest sources of tension between the sexes all along--based as it is on the wildly unrealistic expectation that a single spouse can meet one's needs for a lover, friend, co-parent, financial partner, reliably, 24-7. Instead there will be renewable marriages, which get re-evaluated every five to seven years, after which they can be revised, recelebrated or dissolved with no, or at least fewer, hard feelings. There will be unions between people who don't live together full-time but do want to share a home base. And of course there will always be plenty of people who live together but don't want to make a big deal out of it. Already, thanks to the gay-rights movement, more than 600 corporations and other employers offer domestic-partner benefits, a 60-fold increase since 1990.


Standard stuff from a feminist who thinks Muslim misogyny is based on fears of globalization.

Betty Friedan, who wrote of marriage as a prison, in "The Feminine Mystique" set the tone, years earlier of course. It is striking, however, that all of these women belong to a class. Fairly rich, ranging from mansions on the Hudson (Friedan never did housework, she had maids and servants) to various maids and nannies, but not rich enough to prevent divorce or longing for divorce.

The film The Nanny Diaries has a scene in which the prospective nanny, played by Scarlett Johansson, has lunch with her prospective employer (played by Laura Linney). There is an uncomfortable moment when an old friend of the Linney character stops by the table and laments her downward mobility after the divorce. Near the end of the film, the Linney character divorces her husband also, and loses the ability to live the high-life with mansions, summer homes at Martha's Vineyard, and other luxury amenities provided by her master of the universe, Wall Street titan husband. In reality of course, most married couples with that level of wealth try to stay together. The stakes, particularly for the children, are tremendous. There is a lot more ability to rise high on a net worth of $20 million, than there is with only perhaps $8 million an ex-spouse, after lawyer fees. Serious money creates serious behavior, though perhaps the super-rich divorce at the rate of those on the lower end of the financial spectrum.

It's striking that the women complaining about their sexless, "beta male" husbands (Loh, others) and the need to "re-invent" marriage as a formless, shapeless mess in which kids and husbands come last after a woman's need for passion and excitement, all come from a certain class. One able to afford nannies and maids and carpenters, making "kitchen bitches" superfluous, and speaking to the need to indulge "passion" while not at the level of wealth in which divorce means no more summering at the Hamptons in a private mansion. At least one of the women in Loh's article is described as making $120,000 a year, in addition to her husband's income (which should push their dual-incomes to around $200,000 or more a year). Given their social network, it's reasonable to assume the same for Loh and her husband (she an NPR commentator, and Atlantic writer, he a guitarist for Bette Midler) and the rest of her friends.

These women have enough money to hire their own nannies, their own carpenters, their own part-time cooks, and thus don't need or want their husbands helping around the house. It's not any accident that the women describe it as unmanly, as does the Salon.com woman who describes her marriage as a prison. Their basic needs are met by their income, and they desire stimulation and excitement. [This is why, middle income women always support more immigration, legal or illegal. Because immigration increases the supply and lowers the cost of Rosa the Nanny and Manuel the carpenter, without facing competition as, say, a Concert Violinist or Environmental Lawyer, two of the occupations of Loh's friends.]

The women also have another beef with their husbands: they don't respect them because they earn as much or more than their husbands. This is a trend that has been developing for some time.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics website has a wealth of demographic data. Their 2007 report on Women's Earnings has a wealth of data. Among the highlights are:


  • The difference between women’s and men’s earnings was largest among those aged 55 to 64, with women earning about 73 percent as much as men in this age group. By
    comparison, women earned 87 percent as much as men among workers 25 to 34 years old, and 92 percent as much among 16- to 24-year-olds. (See table 1.)

  • Between 1979 and 2007, the earnings gap between women and men narrowed for most age groups. The women’s to men’s earnings ratio among 35- to 44-year-olds, for example, rose from 58 percent in 1979 to 77 percent in 2007, and the ratio for 45- to 54-year-olds increased from 57 percent to 75 percent. The earnings ratios for teenagers and for workers aged 65 and older fluctuated from 1979 to 2007, but their long-term trend has been essentially flat. (See table 12.)



From the report, we have the following graphs:


[Click Image to Enlarge]

Clearly we can see that women's earnings have been increasing. Correlation is not causation, but it is interesting that as women's earnings have increased both in absolute and relative to men's earnings, divorce and later marriage and single motherhood have all increased. Charles Murray believes that the single motherhood rate among White working and middle class women may be as high as 40% and 20% respectively.


[Click Image to Enlarge]

Again, correlation is not causation, but marriage seems strongest in those populations (Asian and White) that have the biggest earnings gap between men and women, and weakest in those populations (Black and Hispanics) that have the smallest gap.


[Click Image to Enlarge]

Men have done poorly in 1979 dollar amounts (and 1979 was a miserable year, economically) to 2007, in all educational areas except Bachelor's Degree and Higher. But even there, they are far out-stripped by women, and women have done better than men, with small but measurable increases for Associate's Degree and High School Grad, where in comparison men have losses, and substantial ones, from 1979 dollars. Even with less than High School diplomas, women posted smaller losses than men in 1979 dollar amounts, i.e. inflation adjusted.


[Click Image to Enlarge]

Finally, we can see that women outnumber men in most workplace areas, except things like mining, trucking, and the like. In Professional occupations, women outnumber men by 9.4%. This is the largest gap on the graph.

It's possible, that as women have closed the earnings gap with men, particularly among middle class, professional occupations (such as lawyers, doctors, the like), the ability of most men, who won't be very exciting even on a good day, to first attract a woman into marriage, and then keep her happy, is low. Given that women can as Loh recounts her friend "Ellen" can pursue lots of bad boys, why not replace "nice guy" husbands like Ron with maids and nannies, and keep the bad boys around? Increasingly, this seems to be the choice women are making.

The Wall Street Journal in the "Real Pregnancy Crisis" suggests that the real issue is non-College White, Latino, and Black women having children out of wedlock. The CDC reports that 40% of children were born illegitimately, compared to 11% in 1970. Fully 60% of these children were born to women in their twenties, only 23% to teens. The article decries the nonsense feminist academics praising this development, ala Loh, Ehrenreich, and Friedan before her.

ABC News notes that America is not alone. Iceland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark post rates of 66%, 55%, 54%, and 46% respectively of illegitimacy. Nations known for rough gender parity in earnings, feminist politics, and lack of respect for their men. [One of Loh's friends notes in the Atlantic how "enlightened" Swedish women prefer dominant, aggressive Muslim men to their nice-guy Swedish men.] But then Sweden allows for gender-based abortion. Not the mark of a successful society, as China attests to. With 32 million more men than women under the age of twenty, gender imbalances due to sex-based abortions can be explosive. So too, lurching into illegitimacy as the social norm.

Thanks to reader Puma, for the link to Rutgers University study on the family.



[Click Image to Enlarge]

Over the last 40 years, marriage has declined radically, among women. While there are no class breakdowns, the largest slices of women are naturally going to be lower and middle class women, not upper class women.

We can see this decline in respect for marriage and husbands in the culture too. Nearly every ad, even those now featuring Black fathers, have doofus dads who are the butt of jokes.

Marriage, and the traditional nuclear family it seems, is something only for rich people. Yuppie women like Loh or Ehrenreich, can afford to replace husbands with exciting lovers and immigrant labor. For poorer women, out-of-wedlock children and rotating bad boys are the rule. Only where divorce means giving up real, serious money, in the millions of dollars, and giving up great luxury, do we see stable families and intact, nuclear family marriages. This great sea change, might incidentally explain the hatred of Sarah Palin, who famously married a blue collar guy of no great wealth, in her early twenties, and leveraged his support to run for office, first as Mayor of Wasilla, and then as Governor of Alaska.

After all, even the author of Moneyball, Michael Lewis, cannot get his wife's respect of that of other women. Lewis, a best-selling author not once but twice, with "Liar's Poker" is treated like a doofus.

In "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," it was eerie how the literally empowered women treated men. Written by avowed feminist Joss Whedon, Buffy and her super-powered female friends pursued, non-stop, dangerous bad boys with superpowers, who were their superiors. Character, morality, and duty meant nothing, only the thrill of violent, dangerous, super-powered men. Perhaps the most illustrative moment came when Buffy's second vampire boyfriend, "Spike" raped her, and she fell in love with him and (implied off-screen sex) with him again. [Star Sarah Michelle Gellar hated that particular storyline and feuded with series creator and show-runner Whedon over it.]

Now, women don't have superpowers. But the better earnings, status, social conditions, and opportunities afforded women have not come without a cost, all across the West. If women are hard-wired to be hypergamous, i.e. desire men of greater power and status than themselves, this would make "kitchen bitches" irrelevant and explain our brave new world of single mothers, rotating bad boys, and disdain, shown over and over again, for fatherhood and men who embrace it. It would also explain the success of the institution of marriage in the only class that still sustains it: high powered men making millions every year and women who work only part-time in jobs that pay little but give prestige, i.e. the Non Governmental Organizations, the NGOs, like Greenpeace or Amnesty International or Heal the Bay.

The very rich men, those of the Upper Class have superpowers. They have more power and status than their wives.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

That "employment by sector" chart was absolutely stunning. I made my comment on the doofus dad post before I saw this, and I didn't realize that women are literally hogging most of the white-collar jobs while men are lifting boxes and slaving away in coal mines.

This might not be a sign of the apocalypse by itself. But the feminists are still on the warpath, gaining more influence, marginalizing men, and demanding more, MORE, MORE with NO OPPOSITION WHATSOEVER.

Notice the sectors where men work (construction, production, shipping, maintenance) are necessities while the female-dominated sectors (finance, sales, office support) are luxuries. When Atlas shrugs, we're going to be in for some real suffering.

Micha Elyi said...

Not even the French have the "French arrangement" Ms. Loh imagines.

Grim said...

Even jobs like software engineering are being entered into by large numbers(relative to before) of women. Every female programmer I have worked with has trouble trouble fixing problems and rely on their male counter parts to work them out of their own messes.

Stan said...

This system is unstable and requires increasing amounts of social energy to maintain. The only questions are when will it fail and how spectacularly will it fail.

Ovid said...

Very interesting stuff,Whiskey.What it all boils down to is:marriage is (was) all about money.Nothing more,nothing less.So much for "Holy" matrimony.

Which raises an interesting question to my mind.If these trends are reversed at some future time,what would the proper response from men be?To let the little angels back in to the relative luxury of housewifery;behind which they could mount a slow and stealthy return to the shameless condition that we are in today?Or a turning of the tables on these lupine creatures in vindication of their treachery and faithlessness?

Black Sea said...

I originally posted these comments on another blog where Sandra Tsing Loh's article was being discussed. I've copied them here because I'm too tired to write up something new:


I don't think her analysis revealed anything that many married people in their 40s haven't already thought of before, but she probably is on to something. Committing to "sharing one's life" with one other person over a 50 year span most likely works against our biology, and increasingly, against our culture.

A few random observations:

In the first paragraph, she allows that she doesn't generally "enjoy" men (I guess she means the company of men), that she and her family have engaged the services of a family therapist for years, and that prior to her divorce, she had an affair.

She later mentions that women initiate divorce more often than do men. This could be, in part, because women are more likely to get alimony out of a divorce. In her case, for example, the fact that she'd engaged in adultery just prior to the divorce -- had she been a man -- would quite likely have resulted in an extremely punitive settlement. Had she been a man, she might actually have found herself living in the U-Haul storage container from which she files her video report.

She apparently hated her father. This does not bode well.

A couple of her married friends report that they live in sexless marriages, about which they appear to be upset. It is true that sex creates a bonding experience (chemically), and probably this lack of sex is both an expression of their husbands' loss of attraction toward them (which they no doubt find angering) and, from a biochemical standpoint, an actual factor in the diminishment of closeness between them. Women, even fat, 40-something women, find it deeply wounding to their pride to discover that they are no longer attractive to their mates, probably more so than men, although this rejection or indifference from a spouse is wounding to men as well. This sexlessness between married couples may well reflect that larger gender-neutering that afflicts both men and women in post-industrial societies. Cubicle culture doesn't encourage much in the way of masculinity, nor for that matter, feminity. And we grow bored with androids.

We live in a culture in which growing up is synonymous with a kind of impotence, or irrelevance, or premature demise. Not surprisingly, people resist doing so. It struck me both in her writing style, and more obviously, in her fashion choices, that she emulates the jokey, semi-ironic "cleverness" of a self-consciously sassy university student. Unfortunately, she is almost 50. Her grandmother, for example, may well have BEEN a grandmother at that age. By contrast, she is dressing in bandanas, junk jewelry, and novelty sunglasses. This seems telling. Our culture bestows almost nothing in the way of respect on maturity. I mean this both chronologically, and in terms of one's capacity to . . . well, act like a grown up.

I suspect that in part, she is divorcing because she feels that she can afford it (financially, I mean). From an emotional standpoint, she may well be happier outside of marriage. I've known an awful lot of people, men and women, whom I consider good and decent, who have breathed an enormous sigh of relief when the divorce was completed. It will probably be harder on her children than she cares to admit at this point, but as T.S Eliot pointed out, "Humankind cannot stand very much reality."

Whiskey said...

Black Sea --

Great point about the total childishness of most post-Modern SWPL yuppie adults. It's pathetic, and something cultural. Everything from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" to Judd Apatow comedies has non-serious non-Adults where actual real decisions by actual real adults is indeed thought of as akin to dying.

TGGP said...

I only read the Salon article, but I didn't notice any complaints about the husband being a "beta" there.

I showed that women are not in favor of immigration here. I did not break it down by income though. I have now updated that post with INCOME by LETIN, controlling for SEX(2).

TGGP said...

For those who don't feel like looking at the data, it turns out that for all the income groups women on average want less immigration. Even the five highest income category are all more opposed than all of the five lowest categories.

TGGP said...

Whoops, make that the four highest income categories. The last on the list is OTHER, so it doesn't have an ordinal position.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if many of the women dominating the professional category are teachers and nurses?

Jesus Christ Supercop said...

Whiskey:
Another woman writes that her marriage is a prison and she needs to bust out, because her beta male husband is not exciting, though a good father and husband.

She does not write or even imply this, you are making things up. Based on her account of the situation, her husband is emotionally and psychologically abusive and would have probably beaten the shit out of her if she hadn't lost her job. He is basically a complete assclown, and not a "good husband," as you put it.

Whiskey said...

Jesus (nice to have the Lord on the blog) --

The woman in the same article says she admires her husband, the "abuse" comes down to arguing with her, her family which lives three blocks away is not supportive of the idea of divorce and the husband wants to continue the marriage. This certainly sounds like the phony "abuse" justification, ala Betty Friedan's. [Friedan famously said her husband beat her, a claim that he and her friends denied.]

TGGP -- I'll have to look at your data, it conflicts with the Gallup findings here generally, and from my own personal observations.

Certainly, if you are a woman in professions like nursing, teaching, real estate agent, office worker, accountant, corporate exec, you face little competition from immigrants legal or otherwise, and a LOT of benefit -- nannies, maids, etc. allowing the same lifestyle that Half Sigma observed (echoing "the Nanny Diaries") on the Upper East Side. I.E. no labor for child care.

Democrats are the party of immigration, and Amnesty, Republicans (absent a few leaders) are directly opposite that.

Thank you for the link to the data, I'll peruse it carefully.

TGGP said...

I have a long comment at my post in response to yours. I'll keep mine here short.

Maybe the women in the article is simply a shrew who'd be impossible to live with. Maybe her husband isn't bad as Jesus Christ Supercop believes. There is still nothing in the article about him being a "beta".

Finally, though I said the same thing in my aforementioned comment, I think you give the Republicans too much credit!

Jesus Christ Supercop said...

The woman cites the following abuse:

Once he realized I was earning enough money to really leave him, my husband began terrorizing me on a regular basis. He'd refuse to let me finish projects I had to do at night that were due in the morning. He'd refuse to stop arguing so that I could go to sleep, refuse to stop arguing every night and day, following me all over the house countless times and blocking my path ... till very late at night, in the morning so that I would be late for work as I tried to calm him (and my daughter ... ), etc. Last year, the year when things became especially dysfunctional and erratic and abusive in my home, I was fired from my job. When I was fired from my job, he stopped terrorizing me, because he knew I no longer had the financial means to leave. My independence had been taken away, as I have little savings and was focusing on paying down debt, etc.

Anyone can click on the link and see for themselves that there's far more to it than generic arguments, so trying to twist the facts is pointless.

ERM said...

Certainly, if you are a woman in professions like nursing, teaching, real estate agent, office worker, accountant, corporate exec, you face little competition from immigrants legal or otherwise, and a LOT of benefit -- nannies, maids, etc. allowing the same lifestyle that Half Sigma observed (echoing "the Nanny Diaries") on the Upper East Side. I.E. no labor for child care.

Nurses & teachers typically have maids & nannies? What planet are you writing from, Whiskey?

Novaseeker said...

The basic idea Whiskey has is sound, all quibbles aside.

I see the marriage situation among American whites as follows:

1. Low income = no real benefit for marriage because men bring nothing to the table, with stagnant wages and globalized redundancies couples with state aid. Marriage becoming rare here.

2. Middle income = people still marrying but marriages are not lasting, due to other options and generous child support. Marriage rate, however, in decline.

3. Upper middle/low rich = Similar to middle income, but with somewhat less divorce. Divorce still happens (see: Loh), women are bored to death with these marriages (see: Loh, Nehring, Langley), but some soldier on with their kitchen bitch husbands because it is more comfortable to do so, socially and financially.

4. Quite wealthy = very stable marriages. Divorce is very costly, causes a big lifestyle loss, and is generally strenuously avoided, even in a boring and sexless marriage or where adultery is present. This mirrors the marriages of old where people stayed in them because the benefits were greater than the costs of divorce. But increasingly this is the only demographic to which that logic applies.

5. Super-rich/celebrity -- high rates of divorce, because once you get past certain levels of money, it stops being painful to divorce because there remains tons left over after even a painful settlement, and enough for both people to live exorbitantly after divorce.

And there you have it. Lowest risk for divorce is the wealthy (but not stratospherically so), followed by upper middle -- yet the upper middle class is changing quickly, as women there are rebelling against marriage now, as we see in Loh, Nehring, Langley, Fisher and so on. Marriage has largely drifted out of the working poor, and also among the lower middle class. The current firewall is in the upper middle class, and as we can see from the Zeitgesit articles coming from women of this demographic, the rebellion against upper middle class marriage -- even the equalist, companionate ones that feminists like Friedan touted -- is well underway.

The bad news is that there is no model for a society working with men alienated and disinvested due to marriage disappearing. None.

RIP Western civ.

Gunslingergregi said...

''''''''''''''''''Anonymous said...
That "employment by sector" chart was absolutely stunning. I made my comment on the doofus dad post before I saw this, and I didn't realize that women are literally hogging most of the white-collar jobs while men are lifting boxes and slaving away in coal mines.

This might not be a sign of the apocalypse by itself. But the feminists are still on the warpath, gaining more influence, marginalizing men, and demanding more, MORE, MORE with NO OPPOSITION WHATSOEVER.

Notice the sectors where men work (construction, production, shipping, maintenance) are necessities while the female-dominated sectors (finance, sales, office support) are luxuries. When Atlas shrugs, we're going to be in for some real suffering.

July 1, 2009 1:36 AM ''''''''''

I am the only white make in my office or any office on my entire location. Other than the top guy who gets to take on all the responsibility.
So yea prob gonna get worse.

Gunslingergregi said...

''''''''''''''''''Ovid said...
Very interesting stuff,Whiskey.What it all boils down to is:marriage is (was) all about money.Nothing more,nothing less.So much for "Holy" matrimony.

Which raises an interesting question to my mind.If these trends are reversed at some future time,what would the proper response from men be?To let the little angels back in to the relative luxury of housewifery;behind which they could mount a slow and stealthy return to the shameless condition that we are in today?Or a turning of the tables on these lupine creatures in vindication of their treachery and faithlessness?

July 1, 2009 11:05 AM''''''''''''''''''''''''

I advocate that you need to expect way way way more out of your woman now. You must build something now with your spouse so that in event of divorce what you split takes care of you both.

Jack said...

These upper middle class women who are rejecting marriage and "kitchen bitches" do have a bit of a point. Men - NEVER listen to feminists telling you to be enlightened, do housework, cleaning, etc. Women want you to be a man, at least deep down inside. So these women are doing men a bit of a favor.

Whiskey said...

Nurses, if they work aggressive shifts, can earn well over $130K per year, in some urban areas (SoCal). Even teachers, can earn up to 75K in some places, and work during summers.

However, in good times, lawyers, real estate agents, accountants, marketers, corporate finance execs, and the like had nannies and maids well within reach.

Note the Loh article cites the Environmental Lawyer, who makes around 130K per year. She can certainly afford a nanny/maid. There's no need to compromise with a boring, beta, "kitchen bitch" husband when she can have all that child/house care outsourced and go chase exciting men.

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lupoleboucher said...

For what it is worth, I don't have any respect for Michael Lewis either. Great writer, but he is no longer a man. He lives on my block in Berkeley, and I see him walking his douchebag wife's fluffy little dog. He has the slouched shoulders and dead eye look of a broken man, and generally avoids eye contact, presumably out of shame. It took me a half year of seeing this guy with the dumb dog before I realized who he was. He stood out in Berkeley, as, unlike most of the simpering geldings who live here, he obviously used to be a man. His obvious sense of shame told that. Yet, he obviously wasn't a man any more. He likes to imply in his books and articles that leaving Wall Street saved his soul. He's wrong. He lost his soul when he shacked up with the evil witch he's married to. Had he stayed a Wall Street predator, rather than turned himself into a frilled Berkeley lilly, he'd likely still be a man.
I had no idea he had actually written about his degradation online and in blogs. It's certainly written all over his face.