About “women delaying marriage”.

Recently the Christian manosphere has decided to blame women for the very high ages for first marriage.  They do this every few months, here’s a roundup of the latest with commentary afterwards.

Shorter Dalrock: Doug Wilson thinks lazy manbabies are keeping sweet Christian women from getting married at 22!  Joke’s on him, there are no Godly Christian women!  Churchian Carousel Bandits are keeping SUPER NICE TOTALLY MATURE AND GREAT CHRISTIAN GUYS WHO TOTALLY ARE MATURE AND STUFF from getting married at 22!  Additional Dalrock supplement to above, same premise.

Shorter Donalgraeme: I’m going to assert that later marriage is all womens’ fault and I assure you I will back it up with data at some unspecified point in the future.  But in the meantime, since most of my commenters agree with me, IT MUST BE TROOOOOOOO.

Shorter Moosenorseman: If women would just act more like dogs (amiriteboyz), there wouldn’t be a marriage crisis!

Anyway, the marriage issue is not solely the fault of naughty women and their hypergamy.  The evangelicals marrying young delay childbearing 5-10 years.  So they nominally marry early but then have kids late just like the people who delay marriage into their late 20s and early 30s.  This masks a lot of the manbaby stuff as well as the carousel issue.  Men are being more immature on average, and also in addition, women behave poorly and are immature and unrealistic as well.  Both pieces are true, not just one side of it.

And because childbearing happens at the same late 20s and early 30s point in time for most births these days, a lot of women figure that there’s no point in marrying young since they couldn’t have the kids right away anyhow.

We’re back to real vs. imaginary status again.  You get nothing marrying young and having kids right away except a lot of hassle and headache from people around you for being foolish with your childrens’ futures.  Marry young but hold off a few years, and suddenly things are fine, you were prepared.   Suddenly you might be worthy of a tuition check or ten from one set of grandparents.

Our kids are going into private school and every single one goes on at length about how you might want to hit up gramma and grandpa for that cash.  But of course, you also can’t have eight kids that way either, maybe not even four or three.

There is a lot of blaming women and parents (by which we mean MOM) for later marriage and childbearing, but basic needs are increasingly impossible to meet for people having kids right now at young ages.  This is why even single mothers overwhelmingly have a kid, not kids plural.

And as I already linked, there are Christians marrying before 25, you just have to admit that this is where the husbands and wives are (for Protestants anyhow). But for some reason, going where the young marriage is happening in America is not something any of these folks want to do….

ETA: commenter “thedeti” is going to spam now (1pm EST), so don’t reply to him if any get through.


Four middle classes from Pew Research

There has been some really fascinating and informative discussion in the comments recently about education, class and child rearing, among other things.  And it turns out a few years back (2008) Pew Research split up the people who call themselves middle class in America (53% of Americans) into four groups, which mostly explain some of the crosstalking going on.


That’s the link to the report and discussion, and there’s also a link to download the data used as well at the end.

But their four classes map to some assumptions that I know were governing my view of “middle class”.  The labels they use are Top of the Class, Anxious Middle, Satisfied Middle and Struggling Middle.

The “Top of the Class” is what I’ve always thought of as middle-middle class or very lowest entry-level upper-middle class.  Two married professionals with a kid or two, at least one has a power career, but both might.  Often reliant on mom having credentials and often higher than median income to navigate their complex systems for schooling and career entry/access.  Pew thinks of this class as primarily male, but that may well be because it includes some part-time working wives or wives whose job is to “stay home” but really navigate the system full time.

The Anxious Middle is where our household is, and I think Pew doesn’t understand that it’s probably where most of your IT-worker households are represented.  This group can earn well, but mostly doesn’t crack 100K nearly as often as the paired-off professionals do.  And IT is a historical-quirk industry, many of the men in it are painfully aware that they simply could not earn at that level in a pre-IT world and might struggle to even marry, much less earn enough to comfortably support a family.  So there’s a constant status anxiety to go with the volatility within the industry, where it’s hard to lock in a job for more than a few years at a stretch and there’s endless pressure to reskill or retrain.  Lower down the income band for this class is very likely the remnants of the blue collar workforce with solid but lowish earnings and great benefits. This is also where some of the struggling SAHM households are, where Dad makes what both consider “middle class” money, but they are constantly crunched and pinched on one income.

The Satisfied Middle is young people with decent-paying (40k or so) jobs for a single person and retired folks who live a kingly or queenly life on their 2k-3k/month pensions.  Almost half this group receives a pension or Social Security income.  And what’s left are happy because their incomes do them very well as single and childless folks or merry widows, etc.

The Struggling Middle is basically striving single mothers and married low-income families who don’t use much welfare.  This is where a fair number of the people who reject food stamps but make very little and easily qualify are.  And another chunk of the struggling SAHMs.

It’s been nearly a decade since this analysis was done, but it helps clarify where people are when they think of middle class.  I was clearly thinking only two of these four groups were middle class at all.

Free Northerner misses the point about natalism and status

As is typical for conservative men regarding women and status, the blogger “Free Northerner” hazily realizes that having children is low status for women, but then doesn’t understand that the solution is not television shows promoting wealthy SAHMs.  I love me some Melania Trump as a role model, but her symbolic power as a First Lady would not be natalism, just nice to have.  

From the ridiculous blog post, an example of his cluelessness:

“It’s obvious that women want to work rather than procreate, but this is not because (most*) women particularly like working or because they prefer work to marriage and family. It’s not because housework is drudgery, most women who work do something similar to housework in their jobs.”

This is not true.  Most women who work do not do something similar to housework.  Since he’s just blindly asserting with no sources, I feel quite free to do the same, since it’s much more obvious that most work women do outside the home is not “housework-like”.

(section with feminism red herrings redacted)

Another example of his cluelessness is here:

“You’ve no doubt heard the blatant lie that motherhood is the toughest job in the world? Nobody could honestly believe taking care of a child is tougher than working in a coal mine or as an infantryman in Afghanistan, but everybody spreads that lie because it bolsters the low and declining status of women with children.”

This is not what he thinks it is.  It’s a way of asserting support without having to give support.  Nobody ever follows up this statement with offers to help the stay at home mother.  The statement is supposed to make her feel a sense of accomplishment for getting through the day at all and distract her from realizing that it doesn’t have to be as difficult as it is (which no, isn’t MOST DIFFICULT EVAR) and keep her from noticing she’s being prevented from defining stay at home motherhood as something serious enough to require society-wide support.  It also makes stay at home mothers come across as whining if they have any difficulties at all, since by definition it will never be the hardest job, they are told it must be the EASIEST JOB IN THE WORLD.

He continues to miss the point:

“Having children is low status, but even beyond that status games pervade all of motherhood. The mommy wars aren’t about whether children are better off being raised by their parents or by daycare workers, it’s about who gets good mother status points: stay-at homes or working mothers.”

No, it’s about who gets society-wide support at all.  Short answer: neither.  Longer answer: women who earn money can get some grudging public support since in America earning money is what humans do, and women who have private support but no public status can comfort themselves by downplaying their private support.

(more feminism red herrings redacted)

Anyway once he stops ranting about Jezebel columnists as if they’re average American woman, we come to the point where my blogging and his almost but not quite intersect.

“Having children is lower status than eduction, working, travel, or having status-giving interests. Being a stay-at-home mother is low status compared to being a working mother. Having many children is lower status than having one or two children. Having children young is lower status than having them once infertility hits.

This, more than anything, is why he have such low birth rates.”

This is more or less true.  Doing It All is higher status, relatively speaking, as well.  Travelling with kids, working at home with kids (and no childcare), homeschooling, etc.

Alas, we come to his idea of the solution to low birth rates.

“So, the answer to the fertility crisis is not tax changes, natalism benefits, or motherhood welfare. The way to get women to want to reproduce is to make children the ultimate status symbol.

Read the story of Leah and Rachel in Genesis 29 and 30. Having children was high status, so they did everything they could possibly to produce more children so they could win the status competition against each other.

We need to make it so that instead of the culture lauding whorish celebrities and woman CEO’s, mothers are celebrated. We need news reports to make glowing reports on women having their 6th child, rather than shows idolizing women who adopt foreign children or slutty daring dresses. When Mrs. Duggar has more status than Hillary Clinton, that’s when we will turn this ship around.

Sadly, we don’t control the levers of the culture-industry, so there’s not much we can do for society as a whole, but there are things you can do in your own little circles.

Make a point of praising women who have kids and their mothering skills. If a family is thinking of having another kid, make a positive comment. Praise young men and women you know who are thinking of young marriage, and otherwise encourage young people aroudn you to marry early. Let some disappointment slip out if people say ‘two’s enough for us’. Register some thinly concealed disapproval or contempt if someone says, ‘we don’t want children’. If you can smoothly do backhanded compliments or negs for the self-sterilizing, that would work too. And so on.

You’re working against the combined forces of the media, academy, bureaucracy, and culture, but you might be able to have some influence. Status is mainly an abstraction of a multitude of positive and negative social interactions. If you add to the interactions around you, elevating motherhood and deriding self-sterilization, you might indirectly change a few minds in your local communities. If enough people do it, maybe the trend could be reversed.

One warning, try to keep it subtle enough. Push too hard or too blatantly and you it might backfire if they get defensive or if you look like a jerk. You want to subtly influence their general perception of status, not come off as someone pushing a low status opinion.”

This is stupid because conservatives already do this and their birth rates are not very high at all.  Flapping your lips isn’t going to make the hard work go away.  You can admit that it’s hard to bring up children these days without resorting to false dichotomies about how it’s either ultrahard or supereasy.

It’s also stupid because one of the reasons mothering doesn’t have support is that conservatives, like everyone else WATCH TOO MUCH (@$(@)@)@* TV already.  It’s another way people have retreated from the public sphere as it’s gotten more polarized and combative.

So many people are in sick systems, commuting long distances to have somewhere slightly quiet to bring up a couple of kids, and they come home tired and tv seems like a relaxing thing.  And mom was home all day in the subdivision and blasting Veggie Tales was how she got dinner made at all and the upstairs cleaned.

Natalism is a society-wide project.  You can’t put up natalism rap videos and sit back and watch a hundred thousand five child families bloom.  That doesn’t work, conservatives have their own alternative tv and movies promoting motherhood and housewiving and yet, mysteriously, the birth rate keeps dropping.  Of course, Free Northerner doesn’t appear to know much about the reality on the ground of having three or more children.

Tax changes and motherhood welfare are actually LESS STUPID than his plan of sticking with what already doesn’t work.

As ever, totes open for mashed potato tossing in the comments.  And also discussion.

Money does matter

I don’t think poor people shouldn’t have kids, but I talk about a high household income earned mostly by Dad because money does matter in a world where people are always running away from their duties and obligations to people outside their immediate nuclear family.  Obviously yes, even in America you can totally raise six kids to adulthood on 20 thousand bucks a year.  But the big conservative lie around this is that it’s a middle class upbringing.

Further, refusal to accept that individualistic, disconnected society really does have high financial costs attached keeps a lot of families dancing without a net over a ravine.

Take the often promoted “telecommute in the boonies!” plan.  Well, where’s the internet to do that?  In most of rural America outside of city limits, high-speed, telecommuting-friendly internet is several hundred dollars a month, not fifty.  In practice, people “telecommuting” this way are either defining “suburb with large backyards” as “rural” or they are commuting the old fashioned way.

And if you live rurally, it is easier to let the kids scamper around while mom stays home with no other adults nearby doing stuff around the house.  But eventually the kids need to go places, and now mom is on the commute-train too.  Even the very rural homeschool types can’t actually sit at home all day every day and never leave until the youngest of nine is 18.

Having no money, and no ability to earn a large income leave the entire household vulnerable all the time.  Dad’s car breaks.  It’s a fix requiring shop access (car lift).  Those kinds of homes exist in rural areas, but they’re not the cheap ones you could afford because “how dare you suggest we not have mom stay home when dad’s earning capacity maxes out at 40k a year!”  A lot of people get forced into really tough positions a lot faster.  It can get really ugly really unexpectedly.

Like romanticizing herb lore because you can’t afford doctor visits for chronic ailments.  Or buying the kids off with cheap filling food because you aren’t really rural, but exurban and there’s nowhere safe for them to play (busy streets, no way to walk to the nearest open play area, and you’re a one-car household).

Money would matter less if everyone was aggressive about using the interwebs to maintain clannish-style community ties to keep people matched up if they were far-flung.  Or if living twenty to a 2000 square foot house was normal mode in America right now.

From both the comments and Shirley Jackson, homes used to be built with very small sleeping areas and larger shared spaces.  Shirley Jackson’s family moved into a home not much bigger than the 2500 square feet places of now, but it was split into four completely separate apartments, with very tiny sleeping areas, almost no built-in closet space and bigger social and cooking areas.  But large homes aren’t built or even modified this way anymore.

Money also wouldn’t matter if people accepted that leaving everything in the hands of one woman on the baby having and raising front will lead to fewer children if she’s really struggling and even if she personally isn’t because it always has and it’s even more the case with reliable contraception and sterilization and delaying marriage for those who take the other two options off the table.

This one’s pretty open for discussion.