First off, frustrating news on the injury front. I have discovered that while I can bike easily, even coming out of the saddle on climbs, I can't run more than a few yards without calf pain. My hopes of a quick return to the trails have been dashed. Looks like Hugo will be spending lots of time in the gym and in the saddle over the next few weeks.
I do want to post again on marriage. Several men, particularly "jaketk" and "Gonzman" and "Mr. Bad" have suggested that, all things considered, modern marriage has become an increasingly bad deal for men. The former writes:
Because of my experiences with feminism, I am wary of long-term relationships. Though I am only 22, based on the expectations women place of men, I have no real desire to become yet again the plaything, sexual or otherwise, of another person.
And Mr. Bad weighs in:
MRAs (men's rights advocates) eschew serious long-term relationships with women because of women's behavior and the bad treatment they've received from individual women and society at large (i.e., the so-called "family" courts, etc.).
And then Gonz:
...in all the bending over backwards to "protect women" marriage has become damned unattractive to men as a business proposition.
There's a huge amount of literature -- some of it over a century old -- that makes the feminist case against marriage. Indeed, this semester I'm using Lillian Faderman's To Believe in Women, which makes the strong case that it was unmarried women, whom Faderman identifies as lesbians, who were primarily responsible for the success of the suffrage movement. Like the Roman Catholic Church, early feminists understood that marriage is often the bane of the truly committed activist. Nothing like wifehood and motherhood, particularly in a world where women had few civil rights, to consume all of one's time and attention. Even today, for a variety of reasons, some feminists continue to press the point that marriage is often not in women's best interests emotionally or financially. And though I am clearly pro-marriage, I don't believe it is something that ought to be entered into lightly.
But I am curious as to what the MRAs propose as an alternative. In different ways, Jaketk, Mr. Bad, and Gonz all make the case that men are victimized by marriage. Jaketk, reversing classic gender roles, worries (at 22) about being a woman's sexual plaything. Mr. Bad and Gonz, on the other hand, worry less about being exploited by individual women and more by a legal system that they believe discriminates against husbands and fathers. So, I would like some clarification here: is the problem individual women (as Jaketk and other MRAs have suggested), or is it the legal system's preferential treatment of women in divorce and custody cases, or is it both?
The way I see it, there are several alternatives for men to monogamous marriage and long-term committed relationships with American women:
1. Celibacy. No MRAs that I've encountered are arguing for this. True and complete chastity is a rare calling indeed. Celibacy precludes masturbation; it channels all of one's sexual energy into other activities. At its best, celibacy is joyful; the sense is less of what has been given up and more of what one has gained in return.
2. Singleness without sex with others. This comes in two subsets: voluntary and involuntary. In this category, I suppose, one would find both men who would very much like to be in a relationship with a woman (but can't find one for any number of reasons), and those who have forsworn sex with others but not with themselves (hence the difference with the previous category.) Inevitably, I suspect, this state will become frustrating on physical and emotional levels. (This is where it seems Joseph finds himself.)
3. Promiscuity. Clearly, this appeals to some. One MRA, Factory, writes:
So why should I marry? Why should any guy? It will only happen when and if I feel marriage is a fair deal. Obviously I'm not alone in feeling that men are taking their futures and putting them in women's hands when they do get married. Whatever...I'm off to the bar to go pick up a 20something for a night's fun.
Well, there you go. Clearly, Factory has found some sort of a solution, and it is one I suspect is shared -- or at least fantasized about -- by many other MRAs. No sexual frustration with this response to the marriage dilemma! But seriously, fellas, how long do you expect -- pun intended -- to keep that lifestyle up? When you're in your seventies, will you be cruising for the young and the vulnerable still? I can't think that most MRAs, particularly those with any moral sensibilities, will find this satisfying for long.
4. Mail-Order Brides. Now, it's clear that some MRAs (ala Nice Guy and Paul Fenn, whom I quoted here) have another solution. As Fenn writes, many men are choosing to pursue immigrant girls from more established cultures who are comfortable in their own less-complex skins and bring their own flourishes of exotica and mystery with them. Of course, if you're a real MRA, isn't that only a temporary solution? Importing a wife from the Philippines or Russia will work only until she understands how US laws work, right? Once your "less-complex exotic" gets wind of what she's entitled to under American law, won't it be only a matter of time until she becomes as shrewish and demanding as any native-born feminist?
5. Homosexuality. I've yet to meet any gay MRAs. And human sexuality being what it is, I highly doubt many otherwise heterosexual men will become sexually intimate with other men simply out of a political aversion to American feminism.
So, MRAs, here's my question: I know what you don't like about marriage. You've made it abundantly clear. Here's what I do want to know: What are you doing for sexual companionship, given your aversion to both marriage and committed relationships with American women? Are there other options besides the five I've listed, or do these just about cover 'em? What are you doing about sex? Where do children fit into your plan, if at all? When you are sick, or frightened, or lonely, who do you expect will be there for you?
Please be as detailed as possible in your responses. I am confident you can avoid profanity and attacks on individual bloggers. And my feminist allies are welcome to weigh in here as well, but I ask that everyone try their darndest for a very high degree of civility.