The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Marriage Matters

Posted on | January 6, 2016 | 35 Comments

Melissa Braunstein (@slowhoneybee on Twitter) is one of the handful of conservatives — along with Christina Hoff Sommers and Ashe Schow — who work the feminism beat on a full-time basis. She has an excellent article at The Federalist about the A&E series “Married at First Sight”:

Jann Gumbiner, a licensed psychologist and clinical professor at the University of California, Irvine College of Medicine, watched her own parents divorce when she was young. She wrote on Psychology Today’s blog:

Psychological theory of the 70s was heavily influenced by Maslow and self-actualization theory. People believed that it was OK to get divorced for self-growth. It was OK for parents to leave families to pursue a dream of happiness.This is selfish, plain and simple.

It’s now-grown children like Gumbiner that we see on “Married at First Sight.” These 20- and 30-somethings may be professionally successful, but emotionally speaking, they are the walking wounded.
In recent decades, boys have been told that they must not be overtly masculine, let alone chivalrous, because that would be sexist. American girls, meanwhile, have been taught that they must be strong and assertive, and that they don’t need a man.
Now, a woman doesn’t need a man, but she might want one in her life. While assertiveness can be a net positive, there must be room for compromise, because most of us find long-term happiness in complementary, caring relationships. But when young people enact this guidance, it doesn’t always play out happily.
Consider the latest season of “Married at First Sight.” . . . The six current “Married at First Sight” participants — all millennials — were plucked from 2,500 Atlanta-area singles, underscoring the widespread appeal of reality TV participation. . . .
Notably, five of the six singles participating this season saw their parents split by the time they were in high school. Divorce can have a long-lasting impact on children,including on their health.

Dr. Beverly Rodgers, founder of Adult Children of Divorce Parents and counselor for married couples from divorced families, said that many of her clients explain they feel ‘an overwhelming sense of doom’ about their relationships. A major consequence of this, she said, these children often have trouble trusting romantic partners in their adult lives because ‘trust could leave them feeling duped or foolish, in the same way that one or both parents felt in their own divorce.’

Of course, many children of divorce grow up to be emotionally healthy. However, some of the newlyweds here are uneasy with vulnerability and trust. Whether that’s related to the toxicity of their parents’ marriage, fall-out from the divorce, or an X-factor isn’t clarified, but surely that history haunts these new unions.

Read the whole thing. (Hat-tip: Instapundit.) Distrust, hostility, fear of commitment — if you’ve ever encountered one of these “walking wounded” victims of parental divorce, you know exactly what she’s talking about.  The first generation of these victims were the so-called “Generation X” kids born in the late 1960s and ’70s. Many of them became parents in the 1990s, and divorced, and so now you have a lot of 20-somethings whose parents and grandparents are divorced. Breaking the cycle of marital failure may be very difficult for such people.

Related: Wednesday, I spent a lot of time researching Professor Sandra Bem, a pioneer of feminist gender theory and author of the widely cited 1993 book The Lenses of Gender: Transforming the Debate on Sexual Inequality. I’ll write more about her later, but what is important to know is that, for decades, she and her husband, Professor Daryl Bem, were leading advocates of “egalitarian marriage” and “gender-neutral parenting.” After hours of researching, I came across a quote from Sandra Bem’s 1998 book An Unconventional Family.

This is significant, I think. What is suggested by the fact that this celebrated feminist “egalitarian marriage” ultimately failed, and that both spouses then entered homosexual relationships? And how do you suppose the experiment in gender-neutral parenting turned out?




 

Comments

  • Daniel Freeman

    Hypothesis: whether you believe in vaccines or not, herd immunity is a good metaphor for a widespread cultural belief in healthy attitudes regarding sex.

  • mole

    That last bit is as predictable as it is sad.

    People who write about how they have finally found the philosophers stone of gender studies have all seemed to have lives of unmitigated failure (outside the rarefied atmosphere of wimmins studies departments).

    My own brother was badly shattered by my parents divorce, something i could see clearly.
    You know what ‘fixed” him?

    5 years of working alongside other men on shearing teams in outback Australia.

  • RS

    Psychological theory of the 70s was heavily influenced by Maslow and self-actualization theory. People believed that it was OK to get divorced for self-growth. It was OK for parents to leave families to pursue a dream of happiness.This is selfish, plain and simple.

    I’ve made this precise observation on this blog several times in response to various posts here. Maslow’s theories formed the philosophical and sociological basis for “no-fault” divorce which took off in the late ’60s. Until that time, the focus of marriage was on the emotional health of the children. With Maslow, children became incidental to the institution of marriage, valuable only insofar as they facilitated their parents’ “happiness.”

    And kids are not stupid. They recognize this new reality and the fact that their parents are willing to sacrifice the children’s own emotional stability for some grail-like quest for unattainable perfection. Yet we wonder why modern 20-somethings are all screwed up and cannot develop stable relationships and strong marriages and families.

  • robertstacymccain

    Maslow’s theories formed the philosophical and sociological basis for “no-fault” divorce which took off in the late ’60s. Until that time, the focus of marriage was on the emotional health of the children. With Maslow, children became incidental to the institution of marriage, valuable only insofar as they facilitated their parents’ “happiness.”

    The trend toward a psychology of the self — whatever makes you happy is good — was a reversal of the previous idea that psychology was about becoming well-adjusted, i.e., capable of exercising adult responsibilities. As I wrote in “The Queering of Feminism”:

    “Whatever the troubled young person’s problem, psychology traditionally sought to locate the cause of the problem in order to help the patient successfully adjust to adult life. This emphasis on adjustment — being able to complete school, become gainfully employed, form healthy relationships with others, etc. — is rejected by radicals, who say that instead of helping the patient adjust to society, we should change society for the benefit of the patient. This is why, when we look at feminism today, it so often seems as if the inmates are running the asylum.”

    A book I often recommend is Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism. Lasch was a man of the Left, and an old-fashioned Freudian, so you have to endure occasional references to Oedipal conflicts and jabs at capitalism, but his book is otherwise excellent in diagnosing the turn toward the Cult of the Self after the 1960s.

  • robertstacymccain

    Since the phrase “dysfunctional family” become popular about 25 years ago, it has been used to condemn nearly all families. Basically, it gives young people an excuse for not becoming responsible adults: “I was raised in a dysfunctional family.” It leads to the belief that if your parents were less than ideal, or if your childhood was not perfect, you are a victim of society and entitled to whine and complain about your failures, for which you are not responsible. And this is bullshit. Your parents don’t have to be perfect to be good parents, and your childhood doesn’t have to be perfect to qualify as a happy childhood.

    Once I became a father, I developed a much deeper appreciation for how good my parents really were. And I think most people have the same experience. Your parents may seem like idiots when you’re 15 or 20, but by the time you’re 30, they seem a whole lot smarter.

  • RS

    It is difficult to underestimate Maslow’s pernicious influence on modern society. The entire concept of “self-actualization” is the foundation upon which our modern culture of “victimhood,” microagressions and the like is based. When defines oneself based upon transitory emotion, i.e. happiness, as opposed to one’s inherent dignity and contentment with a life well-lived and challenges well-faced, one dooms oneself to a life of constant misery.

    (BTW, this is where your run-of-the-mill Leftist pipes up and says, “Ah hah! You really do value the collective more than the individual!”

    Wrong.

    Individual human dignity and satisfaction with life comes from meeting challenges and overcoming them as best we can, not from avoiding the vicissitudes of life in a misbegotten attempt to pretend the Human Condition does not or should not exist.)

  • https://youtu.be/h82D5ZvcALM CrustyB

    By the 1960s black illegitimacy has grown epidemic. White illegitimacy, which was so frowned upon in the 50s that people would disguise their grandchildren as their own children, exploded. People rallied in the streets protesting a war against Communism and Lyndon Johnson established welfare. By 1969, the human race peaked with the first moon landing. We’ve been going steadily downhill ever since, culminating in an event that, to me, resembles the burning of the White House during the War Of 1812.

  • http://unix-jedi.livejournal.com Unix-Jedi

    When we were interviewing DJ’s for the wedding 10 years ago, ironically enough, barely outside ATL metro (a little west), the guy we went with was writing down the information to announce the parties.

    DJ: “And escorting your mother will be…?”
    Fiancee: “My father?”
    DJ: “And will there be anybody else announced?”
    Us: “????”
    My fiancee: “Both our sets of parents are married.”
    DJ: “To … each other? Wow. Have to say, that’s a first.”

  • Toastrider

    That’s God’s own truth right there, and it seems to be a permanent fixture in maturing.

    There is a quote, attributed to Mark Twain (though it is believed to be apocryphal) where he stated how stupid his father was when he was 14, but when he was 21 he was astonished how much his father had learned.

    I was the same way. I thought my father was stupid when I was 16-17, but when I got older I was shocked at how he -wasn’t- an idiot 🙂

  • librarygryffon

    I think they don’t just recognize that their parents are willing to sacrifice the children’s psychological health, they also realize that if there had been any suggestion that they would not have been born “perfect”, they would have been thrown out.

    They are being told “You must be perfect for us to care about you, but we don’t care if we are the ones who damage you”. It’s a wonder any of these children have relationships at all.

  • http://www.journal14.com/ Dana

    You were fortunate: you had a father around.

  • RS

    Absolutely spot-on observations.

    “You must be perfect for us to care about you, but we don’t care if we are the ones who damage you”.

    In the way-back when I used to do domestic relations cases, (before I developed enough other business to be able to refuse them), I used to listen to parents tell me, “my kids will be OK” or “my kids will get over it,” when discussing the ramifications of divorce.

    WTF? Divorce rips the the fabric of stability from little kids’ lives like nothing else. Yet people are so self-centered that it is viewed as the equivalent of minor inconvenience.

    . . .they also realize that if there had been any suggestion that they would not have been born “perfect”, they would have been thrown out.

    I could go on for 10,000 words about how correct that statement is. I’ve said before in these comments, that for many people children are accessories–the functional equivalent to fine art on display in the palatial McMansion. Kids know this. They know that their value is based upon how well they reflect on their parents, not in terms of being good, decent people, but in terms of grades, sports achievements, extracurricular activities, top-20 college admissions and SAT scores. I’ve seen it too many times among parents of my children’s peers. It makes me sick.

  • http://www.journal14.com/ Dana

    While arranged marriages have worked well in the past, expectations being different, I am surprised that you could mention Married at First Sight and not rail against the affront to marriage that it is. In arranged marriages in the past, it was parents who were doing the arranging, parents who had their children’s best interests at heart. This “reality” show has marriages arranged by hucksters and television producers, whose best interests are good television, not good marriages.

  • DrGreatCham

    Well, they wanted what was best for the -family,- which is a bit trickier. Still, they usually tried to avoid a complete yutz for a marriage partner.

  • http://www.paganvigil.com NeoWayland

    In the book Generations, Neil Howe and William Strauss talk about how Generation X was the first generation that people took pills not to have and the impact that may have had.

    Some of their thinking didn’t pan out, but most of it did and the book is worth a read.

    Oh, and they’re the ones who introduced the terms “Generation X” and “Millennials.”

  • Quartermaster

    I did grow up in a dysfunctional family. No one, however, bears any responsibility for my life except me.

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    The New American Dream!

  • The original Mr. X

    At the least, though, “what was best for the family” generally included a lack of interpersonal drama and conflict. “What’s best for the TV show” is generally the complete opposite of this.

  • Fail Burton

    It puts on the dress and rolls on the floor.

  • Fail Burton

    I arranged a marriage between my fist and the TV, but then left the bride at the altar, cuz football later.

  • Fail Burton

    My sister used to say our family was dysfunctional because we never hugged on another. Without going into details, it turned out she was the one who was dysfunctional.

  • The original Mr. X

    What you said in this post put me in mind of this, which is probably the saddest piece of television I’ve ever seen:

  • Ilion

    Since the phrase “dysfunctional family” become popular about 25 years ago, it has been used to condemn nearly all families.

    It seems to me that the phrase is never applied but to *normal* families.

    Basically, it gives young people an excuse for not becoming responsible adults: “I was raised in a dysfunctional family.”

    Indeed.

  • Ilion

    May your union be as blesséd.

  • Matt_SE

    Or else it gets the hose again.

  • RS

    When we discuss the term “dysfunctional family,” we need to remember that it was coined by those Leftist/Progressives for whom the concept of “family” is anathema. The purpose in describing family units thusly was not to identify those families which needed help. Rather, the purpose was to cast as wide a net as possible in order to disparage the family as the foundation upon which society is built. I defy anyone to identity a Robert Young or Hugh Beaumont character in modern media. The disappearance of such characters coincides with the Maslow-infected social trends we’re discussing here. Know this: In every Social Work and Clinical Psychology program in this country, young impressionable students are being taught that, a) in spite of what they may believe, their own families were hopelessly screwed up and b) all families need “guidance” from the designated worthies in order to be successful. Further, in a classic Kafka Trap, the denial of the need for “services,” i.e. government intervention and supervision, is evidence of the absolute need for same.

  • Matt_SE

    I can’t wait for the next Republican president to be a petulant dick about it. I want celebrations of NRA day, and other surprises.

  • GUEST

    Were you aware Sandra Bem killed herself after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? It would appear that that poor woman did not make one good decision in her entire life. And from what I can gather, her daughter, son and even her sister (who appears at the time of her death to have been raising a son with a woman) were all very dysfunctional (legitimately; I know there’s a thread discussing how this term has been attenuated by misuse). I pity them all, yet I’m also angry at them for the destruction they have wrought upon the culture. God have mercy on their souls, they know not what they do. Or maybe they do.

    Here’s her obit:

    http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/nytimes/obituary.aspx?pid=171123544

  • Joe Joe

    The government uses money to get control over every human life and destroy families.

  • Joe Joe

    While I agree with you about Maslow, the idea of leaving a marriage for “self growth” goes back to Heinrick Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” in 1879, about a century before the popularity of Maslow.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Doll's_House

    Considered a “feminist” play, “A Doll’s House” is an influence on the late 70s movie, Kramer vs. Kramer, in which the wife (played by Meryl Streep) leaves the marriage and her young son to “find herself.” When she does so–with lots of therapy and dates with other men–she comes back to reclaim the boy she left.

    Maslow was an incredibly destructive man, but ideas about self-actualization taking precedence over family obligations are far older than Maslow. The difference was that society didn’t accept them before the corrosion brought on by the 60s counter culture. In Ibsen’s time, “A Doll’s House” was considered immoral and scandalous, and the ending was often changed to have Nora stay with her family. A hundred years later, it was a playbook for much of the American middle class, thanks to the replacement of morals and religion with psychology and therapy.

  • robertstacymccain

    Yes, I was aware of this, As I said, I plan to write more about Sandra Bem later. But as you point out, her sister was a lesbian and, if you’ll follow this link, you’ll see that their mother was a very unhappy woman:

    “Sandra’s mother and her mother’s family often criticized her father, believing that he was not good enough for her. Sandra’s early life was characterized by frequent fights between her parents and her mother’s violent and emotional outbursts. Her mother would often have tantrums that involved yelling and destroying family property. She would then sink into a profound depression.”

    This pattern — a home characterized by parental conflict involving the mother’s emotional disturbances — can be found quite commonly in the biographies of radical feminists. Gloria Steinem’s mother was mentally ill, for example. Sometimes I get perturbed at guys who accuse feminists of having “Daddy issues,” when in fact the problem is more often Mommy issues.

    Study the biography and writings of Andrea Dworkin, for example, and you will see that her father was quite patient and supportive, whereas her mother … Well, there were issues.

  • robertstacymccain

    In every Social Work and Clinical Psychology program in this country, young impressionable students are being taught that, a) in spite of what they may believe, their own families were hopelessly screwed up and b) all families need “guidance” from the designated worthies in order to be successful. Further, in a classic Kafka Trap, the denial of the need for “services,” i.e. government intervention and supervision, is evidence of the absolute need for same.

    You should read Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism, if you haven’t already. Lasch describes how “therapeutic morality” deprives people of a sense of competence and responsibility for solving their own problems, and instead makes them dependent on the advice of “experts.”

  • RS

    There are other works of literature from the 19th century which explored similar themes, of course. The “woman in stultifying marriage looking to be free” is not new. The difference is, generally seeking “freedom” and self-actualization did not end well for the protagonist. Maslow made it “mainstream” acceptable behavior.

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  • mole

    Society can tolerate and even thrive with a certain % of non conformists to the ‘traditional” model of mum, dad and 3 kids.

    Throughout history there are characters who have been allowed to be quite peculiar without any great odium.
    Gay men would live as “confirmed bachelors’, and keep their lives behind closed doors, society knew the deal, but it was ‘dont ask, dont tell’.

    Now we are pushing as hard as we can to find out at what stage society will break down by encouraging and manufacturing (via education and entertainment) the eccentrics.

    I think we may have overshot the mark quite some time ago, but the ruin is catching up quickly.