Politicians will tell you there are certain things in America that you just can't oppose. You can't be against mom or apple pie or jobs. You can't be against good schools or clean air or low crime rates.
You might expect to find marriage on the list. But as President Bush has learned ever since he floated a modest initiative to promote marriage among poor Americans, some people – ones who don't think the words "wedded" and "bliss" belong within 100 miles of each other – are willing to trash society's most venerable institution.
The president wants to spend $300 million to help poor couples understand what goes into the making of a successful marriage. And he's smoked out a contingent of hard-core feminists whose beef goes far beyond his proposal to the point of opposing the traditional family structure itself.
The ravages of bitter poverty, drug and alcohol addiction, poor education, desolate neighborhoods and bleak lives wrought by too many Americans growing up in single-parent households seems to have escaped them. When they look at marriage, they don't see that the wives, husbands and kids involved live happier, healthier, longer lives, that kids learn more and avoid out-of-wedlock births, chemical addictions and crime in far greater numbers. They see oppression, misery and slavery.
It sounds unbelievable, I know. But my colleagues at the Heritage Foundation just released a paper that shows how far some feminists have fallen from the movement's noble beginnings as an advocate for fairness in the home and the workplace – which most of us would see as worthwhile goals – to claiming that the only path to happiness for women is to resist marriage and eschew the traditional family model.
The shift began in the late 1960s. Typical of the new breed of feminist was Marlene Dixon, a sociology professor at the University of Chicago, who declared in 1969: "The institution of marriage is the chief vehicle for the perpetuation of the oppression of women; it is through the role of wife that the subjugation of women is maintained. In a very real way, the role of wife has been the genesis of women's rebellion throughout history."
That same year, author Kate Millett wrote Sexual Politics, which maintained that "[wives'] chattel status continues in their loss of name, their obligation to adopt the husband's domicile and the general legal assumption that marriage involves an exchange of the female's domestic service and [sexual] consortium in return for financial support."