Nicole Bailey

NYU Professor Katie Roiphe idealizes the Dutch feminist culture that considers marriage unimportant and entirely unrelated to childbearing. Having written a book on the subject, she fantasizes an America that does not care about low marriage rates, high divorce rates, and the prevalence of single mothers - where she believes women could better experience love and life.

Instead of treating the facts that the marriage rate is declining faster than ever and that out-of-wedlock births are skyrocketing with a proper level of concern, Roiphe celebrates the possibilities for megalomaniacs to pursue their own self-fulfillment in the complete absence of something greater than themselves.

She argues, for example, that breaking off a relationship with kids is easier than breaking off a marriage. Nobody denies that; I would agree and say that it is easier because there wasn't as much to tear down in the first place. Under her logic, achieving marriage - and thereby an optimal child-raising environment - are not worth the risk of divorce because it is less "easy" than breaking up. It speaks to her disturbing mindset that she encourages operating under the assumption that all relationships - even with children - will end.

When a Princeton-educated NYU Professor starts spewing arguments like that, it's easy to see why we have a marriage crisis in the first place.

In the end, Roiphe argues that she wants individuals to be free to choose whether or not to marry:

I am not here arguing against marriage, but against marriage as a rite of passage, against the assumption of all little girls that they will one day be married in a white dress on a green lawn, against the socially engraved absolute of it, the impossible-to-evade shining ideal.

...but who is forcing girls to accept a husband in the US today? It is not illegal for a woman to be unmarried - even if she chooses to have a child out of wedlock. As for the author's problems with the extremely expensive wedding culture, that bubble is beginning to burst as more and more fiscally responsible couples elope or have scaled-down weddings.

The reality is that the core of Roiphe's reasoning does not lie in an honest desire to preserve the individual's freedom to choose their own lifestyles, but rather a deep and powerful contempt for marriage and tradition. It is impossible to deny this truth when Roiphe gleefully references others who universally condemn the sacred institution of marriage (emphasis mine):

In Edwardian England, the cultural critic Rebecca West wrote about the “dinginess that come between us and the reality of love” and the “gross, destructive mutual raids on personality that often form marriages.”

The bottom line is this: Roiphe celebrates the Dutch characterization of marriage-oriented traditional values as a "quaint narrowness" and wishes that everyone could just adopt the attitude "Who could possibly care?" Unfortunately for her, there are still a lot of values-loving people in America who are not looking to become moral relativists anytime soon.


Nicole Bailey

Nicole Bailey is a Townhall editorial intern.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography