First, the view from the Upper Middle Class. Susan Gregory Thomas is a writer for the WSJ, Washington Post, MSNBC, and other news outlets. Her memoir of growing up as one of the children of Boomer Divorce, and the cost, is worth quoting from:
Growing up, my brother and I were often left to our own devices, members of the giant flock of migrant latchkey kids in the 1970s and '80s. Our suburb was littered with sad-eyed, bruised nomads, who wandered back and forth between used-record shops to the sheds behind the train station where they got high and then trudged off, back and forth from their mothers' houses during the week to their fathers' apartments every other weekend.
The divorced parents of a boy I knew in high school installed him in his own apartment because neither of them wanted him at home. Naturally, we all descended on his place after school—sometimes during school—to drink and do drugs. He was always wasted, no matter what time we arrived. A few years ago, a friend told me that she had learned that he had drunk himself to death by age 30.
"Whatever happens, we're never going to get divorced." Over the course of 16 years, I said that often to my husband, especially after our children were born. Apparently, much of my generation feels at least roughly the same way: Divorce rates, which peaked around 1980, are now at their lowest level since 1970. In fact, the often-cited statistic that half of all marriages end in divorce was true only in the 1970s—in other words, our parents' marriages.
Thomas talks of her search to avoid divorce and the pain it brings. Yet, by marrying a guy who was dependable, and solid, a guy she takes pains to praise, it is clear that ... she had no sexual desire for him at all. A boring Beta Male, no matter how good at taking care of kids, running the house, cooking, and all that, inspires nothing but contempt. She notes she had not slept with her husband for years. The contempt for lack of sexiness oozes off the page:
I believed that I had married my best friend as fervently as I believed that I'd never get divorced. No marital scenario, I told myself, could become so bleak or hopeless as to compel me to embed my children in the torture of a split family. And I wasn't the only one with strong personal reasons to make this commitment. According to a 2004 marketing study about generational differences, my age cohort "went through its all-important, formative years as one of the least parented, least nurtured generations in U.S. history." Census data show that almost half of us come from split families; 40% were latch-key kids.
To allow our own marriages to end in divorce is to live out our worst childhood fears. More horrifying, it is to inflict the unthinkable on what we most love and want to protect: our children. It is like slashing open our own wounds and turning the knife on our babies. To consider it is unbearable.
But marriages do dissolve, even among those determined never to let it happen. After nine years, my husband and I had become wretched, passive-aggressive roommates. I had given up trying to do anything in the kitchen and had not washed a dish in a year. My husband had not been able to "find time" to read the book I had written. We rarely spoke, except about logistics. We hadn't slept in the same room for at least two years, a side effect of the nighttime musical bed routine that parents of so many young children play in semiconsciousness for years on end.
Yet I never considered divorce. It never even entered my mind. I was grateful that my babies had a perfect father, for our family meals, for the stability of our home, for neighborhood play dates.
But then, one evening, I found myself where I vowed I'd never be: miserable, in tears, telling my husband that we were like siblings who couldn't stand each other rather than a couple, and listening as my husband said he felt as though we had never really been a couple and regretted that we hadn't split up a decade earlier. "I'm done," he said. It was as if a cosmic force had been unleashed; the awful finality of it roared in like an enormous black cloud blotting out the sky, over every inch of the world. It was done.
I had married the kindest, most stable person I'd ever known to ensure that our children would never know anything of the void of my own childhood. I nursed, loved, read to and lolled about with my babies—restructured and re-imagined my career—so that they would be secure, happy, attended to. My husband and I made the happiest, most comfy nest possible. We worked as a team; we loved our kids; we did everything right, better than right. And yet divorce came. In spite of everything.
No, "divorce did not just happen." Any more than sex with an Alpha Male "just happened." Even with every reason to remain married, the woman divorced because a non-sexy, non-dominant male, is simply too repellent for most women to stomach for very long. Even Upper Middle Class ones with strong emotional reasons to remain married (note her imagery comparing divorce to slashing her babies with knives, strong stuff). But the pull of an Alpha male, and sex with one, was simply too strong. She married the kindest, most stable person she'd ever known. And grew to loathe him, as a sexless sibling, instead of a sexy man.
How many men can be sexy, all the time? Not even I'd wager, Antonio Banderas or Brad Pitt. A normal man, domesticated and involved in child-rearing, will not be sexy for long. No man, not even Brad Pitt, looks sexy changing diapers. Or cooking dinner. Or taking care of kids. Those are the unsexiest things a man can do, besides World of Warcraft and Cosplay. Well, maybe Star Trek and Star Wars nerdery qualifies too.
Then there is the view from the White working class. Larry Auster has the story of one Roderick Shonte Dantzler, who in Grand Rapids Michigan, killed seven people, including an ex girlfriend, her sister, her sister's daughter, his ex-wife, his daughter, and his ex-wife's mother and father. Before killing himself (he got the order wrong, he should have killed himself first). Sad and ugly though this is, it is not unusual, and the cross-racial issue is not as important as Auster thinks it is. Here in Southern California, not a day goes by without the same story playing out, only all the victims and the perpetrator are Latinos, generally Mexican immigrants (illegals) with little or no English skills. Here is one from the Orange County Register. Here is another.
No, what I found remarkable was that Roderick Shonte Dantzler, a man on anti-psychotics, in and out of prison, with no visible means of support, a man who threatened to set his own mother's house on fire, had a daughter by a much younger woman, and three attractive ex-girlfriends. The man's daughter, who he murdered, was by simple math conceived by her mother when she was 16 or so, as Larry Auster reports.
Dantzler married her ... while he was in prison. For shooting five times at a car with a (White) couple in it, in a road-rage incident. One would think this would prove to be a barrier to romantic love, but apparently not. Again, and I cannot stress this enough, a man with a prison record, no visible means of employment, on anti-psychotic medications, a man who threatened to burn his own mother's house down ... has three ex-girlfriends. One of whom he married and conceived a child by.
Note, not one weird/crazy woman found him attractive. By all accounts three working class White women found this guy attractive enough to become his girlfriend. None of the women were repulsive, each could have easily found more dependable, more reliable, and certainly less dangerous men to date and or marry. Yet they chose -- this guy. It is remarkable.
What is going on?
Among the White working class women, no less than among Black women, or Latino women, illegitimacy is rising. And the reason is, these women all demand sexy men. Sexy men don't stick around. They don't do dishes, cook dinners, help raise kids, contribute to the household, and certainly never change diapers. That's for loser Beta Males. Sexy men are well, sexy. And for working class women, that means T-H-U-G-S. That was true for Black women, by the early 1960's, and exploded by the late 1960's. For Latino women, it shifted sometime in the mid 1980's, judging by illegitimacy rates of only 17% in the 1980s, compared to over 50% today (Black women today have national illegitimacy rates of over 70% nationwide and over 90% in the urban core). For Working Class White women, illegitimacy is over 40%, according to Charles Murray.
A Black family, contrary to "noble Platonic lies" that TV advertising, movies, and the like tell us, is a single Black mother with two or more illegitimate kids by different fathers. This is not a recipe for a happy life for children. Kids of different fathers generally hate each other, and any observer of either faculty politics or dynastic politics knows that when kids fight, over trivial scraps of affection by a single mother, the effect is like a Plantagenet bloodbath, only with faculty politics low-stakes. Someone dies not for reasons of state, and dynasty, but because Mom favors the half-brother more.
Latino/Mexican families are rapidly approaching this point of no-return.
So too, are White working class families. This group is getting to it later, and slower, than the other groups, but it is getting there all the same. The train might be a bit late, but the same hellish destination awaits.
Even worse, so are White Middle and Upper Middle Class families heading for disaster. Thomas deludes herself that the price for her sexual satisfaction is not her children's best interests. A "happy divorce" is an oxymoron. No matter what, at best kids face a group of "instant siblings" in the case of remarriage who will all hate each other, despise the "new parent" and compete constantly for attention, love, and affection. That is the best case. The worst case is a parade of men, who have no interest or affection for the kids, and the formation of a new family by the ex-husband and the abandonment of the old one. A "shared family" is no family at all. Men simply seek to create another one to replace the one they lost. With the kids falling into the cracks, from which they never get out.
Steve Sailer has posted perhaps the best column he's done yet. On why there is no real "diversity" among the Women's (and Men's) US Soccer teams. Among his points is that the concerns of modern, Upper Class White parents is high parental AND paternal investment in kids, particularly daughters (to keep them away from sexy men who will get them pregnant at age 16 like Roderick Dantzler). With an emphasis on wholesome, outdoor sports that lead to College scholarships, not pro sports careers, and a lily-White, Upper Class environment. No Thugs, bad boys, goons, Chavs, etc. allowed.
And this is because the economic environment is incredibly competitive. As blogger Half-Sigma has written (be sure to check out his bios on the NYT writers, he's covering them all and so far they are all well connected, well-born, hereditary wealthy upper class folks which explains a lot) unless you are an economic winner, meaning the right school, the right career, the right grades, the right connections, the right attitude ... everything can blow up in your face. The winners win big, but unless you are an exceptionally talented athlete, actor, singer, or entertainer, you better be part of the prepare from Grade School track of Upper Middle Class striver. A man like say, Thomas Edison arise from poverty, to become powerful and rich and famous. Not today. It is tick all those boxes, make sure it's an Ivy or near Ivy (Stanford, Univ. of Chicago, Northwestern, NYU). Make sure its the right career, working for the right folks. Doing the right things. The littlest mistake can derail a career before it ever starts.
And this means, upward mobility requires two parents. Economic success, merely standing in place, doing no worse than your Upper Middle Class parents, means an intact nuclear family. Unfettered by divorce and the demands of multiple families, child support and the like. No parade of men, abandoned kids, and replacement families. This is something that Park Slope society knows well.
The same Susan Gregory Thomas who crowed about how she dumped her Beta Male Hubby (for a hotter hunk, btw), became a persona non-grata among the Park Slope mommies:
After all, she had gone from Park Slope matron, complete with involved husband (“We had cracked the code of Gen X peer parenthood”) and gut-renovated brownstone, to “a Red Hook divorcée,” she said, remarried with a new baby and two children-of-divorce barely out of preschool. “All of a sudden, this community I’d lived in for 13 years became this spare and mean savannah,” she said.
It was as if, she said, everyone she knew felt bad for her but no one wanted to be near her, either. Even though adultery was not part of the equation, Ms. Thomas said, “I feel like I have a giant letter A on my front and back.”
That a woman who has been divorced should feel such awkwardness and isolation seems more part of a Todd Haynes set piece than a scene from “families come in all shapes and sizes” New York, circa 2011. But divorce statistics, which have followed a steady downward slope since their 1980 peak, reveal another interesting trend: According to a 2010 study by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, only 11 percent of college-educated Americans divorce within the first 10 years today, compared with almost 37 percent for the rest of the population.
For this cross section of American families — in the suburban playgrounds of Seattle, the breastfeeding-friendly coffee shops of Berkeley, Calif., and the stroller-trodden streets of the Upper West Side — divorce, especially for mothers with young children underfoot, has become relatively scarce since its “Ice Storm” heyday.
There is a reason for that:
The shift contains an economic as well as a social component.
“That this change has occurred mainly among the affluent suggests it’s not just a reaction to the divorce epidemic of the ’70s,” Dr. Cherlin said. “The condemnation of divorce is also coming from the group that is most confident it can make its marriages succeed, and that allows them to be dismissive of divorce.”
From this perspective, splitting up with tender, vulnerable children in the mix is seen as a parental infraction.
“I’ve definitely experienced judgment,” said Priscilla Gilman, author of a new memoir, “The Anti-Romantic Child,” which deals in large part with her 2006 divorce. “Everyone said: ‘Isn’t there anything more you can do? Your kids need you to be together. They’re so little.’ ” At the time, Ms. Gilman knew only one other person who was divorced. “I had progressive, feminist friends. None of them were getting divorced, none of them.”
Several divorced women suggested that the news of their marital unraveling seemed to unnerve other couples in their social circles, prompting unease about their own marriages. (That anxiety may not be entirely unfounded. One study out of Harvard, Brown and the University of California, San Diego, last year found that divorce actually is contagious: when close friends break up, the odds of a marital split among their friends increase by 75 percent.)
“There has been a striking shift in both beliefs and behavior towards marriage among educated and affluent Americans,” said W. Bradford Wilcox, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Virginia and director of the National Marriage Project. “There’s a tacit or explicit recognition among well-educated parents that their kids are less likely to thrive if Mom and Dad can’t be together.” [Emphasis added]
Is this, then, the revenge of the children-of-divorce generation, rebelling against the experiences of their mothers and fathers? When I asked people who divorced in their 20s and 30s while researching my 2002 book, “The Starter Marriage,” about why they divorced with such alacrity, the response was near universal: “I wanted to do it before it was too late — before we had kids.”
Whereas their parents were divorce pioneers in the ’70s, unsure of how marital dissolution affected children and letting caution blow in the wind, today’s splitting couples are viscerally aware of how divorce feels to a 7-year-old.
A good deal of the reason for divorce is of course, sex:
In another unexpected twist, some divorced women say they detect an unspoken envy. Other wives and mothers, they explained, were “battling it out” while dealing with the unceasing tasks of wifedom, motherhood and work.
“What I get from a number of married women in my community is jealousy of my new lifestyle,” Dr. Monet said. “Dating, going to yoga five times a week, having time for myself. Raising young kids with a spouse doesn’t afford you much time.”
But in a place like Brooklyn, income divided among two households means that your kid ends up in Public school. Where life is hell for White kids. Even in gentrified Brooklyn. Heck the property boom in the Financial District of Manhattan is partly due to the fact that there are few schools there that are not White-majority. No Upper Class woman wants their kids beaten or worse at school, where wolfpacks roam and teachers merely babysit. That won't get them into Harvard, or at worst, NYU. It means CCNY, or low-level proletarian living. Which in NYC metro area, is hellish indeed, for working-class Whites who moved down not up.
Hence the social disapproval of divorce, the shunning of the divorced women (by other women afraid it is catching). Its all about making sure your kid does not become worse off. In a place like Brooklyn the pressures to stay together to avoid the non-White underclass are strong. Even so, a non-trivial number of women in that milieu follow their urges. Note that Susan Gregory Thomas quickly had another kid with her new husband to cement the bond. [It is highly likely that half siblings will hate or at least deeply resent each other, family is not merely a random collection of people dropped in on a household. The older kids are not the new Husband's, he's unlikely to give a damn about them compared to his own, generally speaking. And the Wife has to keep new Hubby happy, he's the one she threw over the old guy for. Her older kids are unlikely to get much compared to the new kid, in that situation. After all, they came from an "inferior" father she rejected in favor of a "sexy" guy. She's already made the calculation that she could and would do better. And at event, she's unlikely to be the face launching a thousand ships, as women that age generally don't even launch second glances. She's stuck with her choice and it will always come down, in general terms to the choice she made. Older kids be damned.]
Clearly, the women of Park Slope, Brooklyn, are fighting a valiant and determined fighting retreat, a vigorous defense that Lee, or Napoleon, would have applauded. A defense that however, is as doomed as those notable military leaders conducted. Ultimately, not even the desire to do better by one's children is a force that can contend with female desire. Desire is what it is, women want, and have always wanted, sexy men. They are now in a position to get, exactly what they want. And they will get it.
For women in the working class, that is likely to be thugs-a-plenty. Men like Dantzler, of any race really. [Proof positive, somewhat tangentially, of lack of White racism against Blacks -- no consequences of any not happened to either Dantzler or the White women he dated, married, and impregnated (before killing two of them and their entire families) because of the relationships. No beatings, no threats, no cross burnings, nothing.] The important thing is sexy. Which for the working class means violent thuggery.
For women in the Upper Middle Class (and Middle Class) that is likely to be defined as stud-hopping. A fortunate few will land new guys, who hopefully will never make the mistake of actually doing any housework or caring for the kids. Women say they want it, but it makes men unsexy -- and women will never forgive that mistake. Not ever. Stud Hopping makes women happy, but at the expense of producing kids who are able to compete in a vicious, extremely competitive world where mistakes are punished ruthlessly and there is no real margin for error.
The way the world used to work, how lower to middle to upper classes formed their families, and nearly all save the top Aristocrats and Royalty (who were as distant and as alien as movie stars and pop stars are today) was that desire played a part, but only a part, in family formation. Certainly men had to have some sexiness in them. But Mr. Darcy was not the best dancer, nor the most witty speaker, nor the man who simply dominated the room by being the biggest thug. The Jane Austen model while flawed in many ways functioned well by not ignoring or sidestepping female desire, but requiring women to master their own desire. Even with full voting rights, and other liberty, women until the pill, condom, urban living, and highly mobile anonymity retained the essentials of the Jane Austen model. Which meant a deliberate trade-off, sacrificing some sexiness in men, for more stability and support, with the knowledge that even the sexiest man will grow old, gray, and unsexy. As will they too, if they are lucky.
Sexy was part of the demands on men, but not the only thing, and women would be relatively happy for just a bit of sexy, now and then, in exchange for stability and support.
That was blown apart by technology. Allowing women unheard of mobility, including physical mobility, anonymity, easy contraception, and welfare for the working class, not much lifestyle changes in the middle and upper classes. Yoga classes, dating, and such still go on. Divorce does not mean sleeping in a car, with cans of dog food for dinner. Even highly educated, professional Upper Class women will divorce when the burden of unsexy husbands are too great, and of course when an Alpha male is on the horizon, available.
The valiant, and unprecedented brave fighting retreat waged by the women of Park Slope, might last for a full twenty years or more. But eventually they too will fall. Brought down by untrammeled, unrestricted, unmoderated female desire. For sexy men. Family has changed, irrevocably. Family is now, whatever guy Mom has shacked up with, for now, and who likely does nothing and contributes nothing but being sexy. Which is a full time job in and of itself. Being sexy is not easy, just ask the Situation.
So we are looking, twenty or thirty years out, at a total collapse of the White working, middle, and EVEN Upper Classes. With only intact Asian families (where divorce is not unknown but strongly discouraged) as the knowledge elite, and hereditary aristocrats (the Murdochs, the Kennedy clan, the Clintons perhaps, and so on). America and the West will soon resemble say, in social structure, Brazil or Venezuela instead of say, Sweden. A collapse, fairly rapidly, of the White middle class into lumpenproletarianism, is something no one among the political and cultural elite has considered. If Gen X hated the Boomers for divorcing, what will the kids of Gen X feel towards both the non-White population that makes them easy lunch, and the chaotic family situation that led them to vastly reduced status from their parents? [Take Thomas's kids for an example. The older ones are unlikely to get much resources invested in them, or inherit much -- the younger one is likely to get it all. Write that out big among the next generations.]
The answer is not likely to marching jackboots (which in any event required a modern, middle class industrial power on the part of Germany, machine guns do not simply create themselves, nor do Stutkas or Panzers). But rather a grinding, feuding-style set of violence familiar to Mark Twain or any observer of the Hatfields and McCoys. That is where the arrow of desire will fall.