Social & Domestic Issues

The ‘War on Women’ and the War on the Family

The 'War on Women' and the War on the Family

The Democratic Party has found what seems to be a winning formula in both state and national elections – a “War on Women” being waged by the Republicans.

The “War on Women” is based on the premise that women are oppressed if they do not 1) have access to free birth control, 2) have unlimited access to abortion, 3) receive “equal pay for equal work” based on credentials rather than performance, and 4) have the support of the state if they have a child out of wedlock.

On closer examination, however, this “War on Women” turns out to be something very different.  It is a feminist-and-Democratic-Party-led “War on the Family” that is threatening the very foundations of American society.

In my book, Marriage and Civilization, I show that the system of monogamous marriage that characterizes all stable human civilizations is actually a very fragile institution.  Although it promises a very egalitarian outcome – “a girl for every boy, a boy for every girl” – it leaves two very large cohorts of society dissatisfied: 1) high-status men and 2) low-status women.

High-status men are constricted because they cannot take multiple wives.  Under polygamy – which is practiced by 95 percent of mammals and 75 percent of all human cultures ever discovered – the most powerful and successful men can take multiple wives and sire large broods of children.  The downside is that this creates an unstable residue of unattached men who become a constant source of conflict and disruption – witness the eternal strife plaguing Islamic societies that allow polygamy.  Just how the civilizations of Western Europe, India and China managed to avoid this trap is something I explore at length in my book.

But monogamy also creates another unsatisfied cohort that is often overlooked – low-status women.  They are denied access to the more successful men as second and third wives and are forced to seek husbands from among a very limited pool of low-status men.

What the Democratic Party has discovered is that these low-status women can be peeled away from monogamous marriage by offering them the support of the state.  This creates a kind of “state polygamy,” where poorer women congregate around the main concentration of wealth in society – the government.  Freed from the constrictions of monogamy, these women are then free to pursue men on purely reproductive grounds – mating with men who are attractive or intelligent and otherwise have “good genes” without having to worry about getting them to settle down as husbands.

It is not at all surprising to find that marriage and family formation in America are unraveling from the bottom.  It began with African-American women in the 1960s, who stopped marrying the fathers of their children and invented “single motherhood.”  The pattern is now spreading to the white working class, as Charles Murray documents in his important book, Coming Apart.  Couples with college educations still marry and form self-sustaining families but among white women with only a high school education the illegitimacy rate is approaching 50 percent.

All this is proving to be a disaster for American society.  Children raised by single mothers are six times more likely to live in poverty and have severely reduced chances of climbing the economic ladder.  But it has been a boon for the Democratic Party.  Married women voted for Mitt Romney by 7 percentage points in 2012 and married people favored him by 14 points.  But single women gave President Obama an overwhelming 36-point majority, assuring him of re-election.   More and more, the main division in the American electorate is becoming the gap between those who marry and form self-supporting families and those who are dependent on the government.

One of the most common expressions heard among people who grew up in the hollows of Appalachia or the sweltering urban neighborhoods of the 1950s and 1960s is, “We didn’t know we were poor.”  For people growing up in a loving, supportive family, access to material possessions did not play a decisive role.

By concentrating solely on material goods and ignoring the personal and spiritual elements, however, the minions of the welfare state have managed to create a far more debilitating form of poverty – the poverty of never knowing the security of an intact human family.

William Tucker is the uthor of Marriage and Civilization.

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