Lunks and their bright wives: conservative marriage through the years

A great deal of weirdness in conservative life can be explained by the theory that smarter women were more likely to end up out in the West/frontier and also be able to offset the consequences of marrying a relatively lunkish guy because their domestic labors were monetized.  They also could afford to take the chance of marrying a lunk because he didn’t need to be all that clever to make it in the West.

Over time as the domestic sphere lost its financially remunerative aspects, the general pattern was established, but that just left such women scrambling to compensate in other ways, leaving them prey to scams and schemes because they had income pressure but no easy way to integrate it into their increasingly narrow domestic sphere.

This was, I think, since it’s been sitting in draft so long, a prelude of sorts to my Grand Unified Theory of Spectrum Formation, in which the nuclear family in America converges towards fulfilling an Asperger or autism-spectrum norm because those are a bigger and bigger chunk of the married people still able to afford having kids.  And this is especially obvious with conservatives, who appear to be continuing to have children for reasons not related to religiosity at all and this explains some of those reasons.

Marriage and divorce data roundup

72% of married couples in 2009 were man and woman in first marriage.  22% were one or both spouses in second marriage.

Median duration of  first marriage for American women is 20.8 years and for remarriage is 14.5 years, with the South and Midwest having longer median durations in both cases.  West and East have shorter median durations.

Pdf report with more details on marriage duration here.

Longer life expectancy means the current later marriage ages aren’t so bad, since it means longer marriages.  Men have 15 or more years on their 1890 counterparts and women have decades more on theirs.  

 

The takeaway is that divorce isn’t as rampant as some make out and marriages are lasting pretty long, and, well, Americans have been taking the fertility hit to marry later and in a better financial position for a long long time except for a brief 15 year blip.

Heidi and its messages of God’s love

The original (1881) book of Heidi by Johanna Spyri is fascinating and charming and did not leave my eyes dry reading it.  It was written during a time when there was great concern about children leaving the healthy country air for the dankness and blandness of the cities.

Much like Pollyanna, it contains the peculiar frankness of tone that older children’s literature had.  If you’ve read the original Grimm’s Tales in their 1880s form, the language is very similar.

But what I didn’t know from watching random pieces of the several film versions through the years was that it provided the young reader with two different messages of God’s love regarding physical health.  Heidi loves people very much and wants to help them.  The book provides two instances of her being able to help people with love (and good food).  They are messages of God’s love because Heidi is taught why in one case that though she has done good and the person’s life is better and their joy in Christ is the greater the physical healing she hopes for will not happen in this world.  In the other case the physical healing happens, but it is not due to the love and good food, but rather to an opening of the person’s heart more fully to God and the manifestation was physical healing.

The first person was open to God already and was the means by which Heidi could learn more about God.  It was the other way around in the second case.

I can’t wait until my girls are old enough to read it for themselves.

A brief overview of mass pornography exposure from World War II until the 21st Century, part 1

 

Early Superwife fantasy.

 

Something that goes very unremarked is how many generations we’ve had of pornography exposure being a significant male rite of passage in America.  And how government funding injected enough cash into the industry to industrialize its production.  You can start a timeline with World War II, in which pornography was distributed as an alternative to camp followers and the “gifts” they brought (mostly venereal disease, but also babies).  There were millions of young men exposed to pornography in a mostly or all-male environment.  Then, after seeing hundreds and thousands of pictures of women dressed even less discreetly than the picture opening this post and doing way more than what that lady is, they went home to wives and future wives.

That was the Greatest Generation.

Their sons got exposed a little earlier, magazines under the bed, late teens high school bonding.  But it was already normalized as something a young man might want to do.  It was acceptable fringe.  Not to mention their sons were coming of age in the middle of “free love”.  There was now some idea that it might be ok to try a few of those things in the magazines out before marriage, just not with the girl you planned to marry.

Well, we all have a pretty good idea how the Boomers and Silents handled the influences of mass pornography getting even more normalized and mainstream in their young adulthood.

They were the swingers and nudists and the earliest waves of  what is now called “polyamory” on the secular fringe.  On the Christian-inflected fringe side, they were Flirty Fishers and sisterwivers in the 1970s and 1980s.  There was also the acceptable fringe of taking your date to a pornographic theater, although now that is moving more into Generation X.

It’s hard to accept, but these were the parents of the Millennials and Generation X.  And this is just part one.  Part two is going to note what the consequences were to those Millennials and Gen X’ers.

Might also want to notice that this is an early example of managerialism and modern efficiency thinking, too.

Trump, Cruz, and the Parent Tribe vs the Red Tribe

In the current year of 2016, the Republican Party is faced with a serious challenge in its nomination process.  Do they pick the guy the supporters of the Tribe of Parents want or do they pick the guy the supporters of the Red Tribe* want?

Trump voters are parent tribalists more often than Cruz voters, who are rock-ribbed Red Tribers.  Palin is relevant here as an example of a pure-outsider to the Red Tribe.

Members of the Tribe of Parents are interested in practical natalism and improving conditions for people who have children (implicitly, married people).

The Red Tribe is strivers.  Red Tribe folks are much more interested in affinity clubs/groups.  The Tribe of Parents is more interested in local community groups.

Trump talks like a parent, making practical and tangible promises.  Cruz talks like a striver, emphasizing in-group jargon and abstraction as a sign of superiority to the outgroup.

Palin was criticized within the right for being vulgar and interested in financial security for her family after her moment of fame passed.  She was criticized for thinking and behaving like a parent.  Now the same people are bringing very similar criticisms to bear on Trump, that he is a huckster and con artist and vulgar and just trying to use this race to increase his personal wealth.  In other words, that he is committing the crime of being a parent instead of a striver devoted to higher abstract principles than his own children.

Red Tribe strivers tend to engage in SJW style projection about how wanting to preserve something for people who aren’t bound by affinity is hucksterism.  Red Tribe strivers use the fact that Trump supporters aren’t articulate as a proof that they’re being conned by Trump.  But being inarticulate about basic beliefs in God, family and country are normal and human…and average.  Strivers are defined by their insistence upon and investment in the notion that they’re above average.  So the Red Tribe loves a wonkish personality selling them their comforting beliefs but presume that a non-wonk isn’t sophisticated enough to learn how to join their club.

This is a concept I’m working out in real time, but I think it’s key to understanding larger cultural shifts going on of which Trump is just one piece.

 

*The Red Tribe is most classically typified by conservative political beliefs, strong evangelical religious beliefs, creationism, opposing gay marriage, owning guns, eating steak, drinking Coca-Cola, driving SUVs, watching lots of TV, enjoying American football, getting conspicuously upset about terrorists and commies, marrying early, divorcing early, shouting “USA IS NUMBER ONE!!!”, and listening to country music.  This definition from Scott Alexander at Slate Star Codex is not exactly right, but it’s not all that wrong either.  What it mostly gets wrong is the striver aspect of Red Tribe folks, who have buckets of strivers in their midst.

Dear conservatives, men should desire to be the sole breadwinner

Even non-conservative Penelope Trunk says so, and explains why in simple, obvious terms.

While I disagree with her about mothers providing sole childcare at young ages, she is correct that it’s Just Better for one person to focus on income and the other to focus on home and children.  We live in a society molded around working outside the home, and if both husband and wife are doing that, it’s way harder to have kids and raise them in a way that conservatives claim to want.

“There are two jobs for adults in a family. Kids or money. Grow up and take one of those jobs. Because while yes, it is a lot of pressure to be an adult and earn the money, it’s a lot harder to be a kid who doesn’t have a parent around when they need one.”

The comments are also enlightening (when they aren’t horrifying).  Women with rare and expensively compensated STEM skills, along with women who are CEOs or CTOs of companies pop up to argue that working outside the home part-time without losing career opportunity is easily doable, after all, they do!  Other women also pop up to talk about the shame of a husband berating a pregnant wife about her desire to stay home with her baby when he could be taking college classes and continuing to live off her instead, doesn’t she understand how UNFAIR she is being?

A lot of young men are being encouraged to use cheat codes even in marriage rather than accept tradeoffs and responsibility.  Women can’t do it all, and men can’t either.

 

Conservatives act like 1970s black Americans about male provision

Let me count the ways…

  1. Emphasis on self-employment because the (liberal) Man is prejudiced against their kind, without providing any meaningful reserve or protection against the volatility of this choice.
  2. De-emphasis correspondingly on male provision as an important part of being a husband, including discouraging men who want to do that as cavemen or delusional.
  3. Both overt and covert encouragement of women to produce the primary income in a marriage, either by openly promoting an egalitarian view that women can and do earn as much as men as sole or primary providers, or by defining the SAHM life as incomplete or lazy/leisured if there’s no income-generating going on.
  4. Related, but its own thing, pushing a “working homemaker” ideal where even if you do work full time or close to it, you are still expected to home-make at effectively a full time level too.
  5. Defending the extremely rare stay at home father as a paragon of manliness and as perfectly common and therefore something women should be expected to take seriously as a possible path in their marriages.
  6. Declaring any woman who talks about the importance of financial provision within marriage by the husband as a gold digger or money obsessed or not bringing a supportive and Godly spirit to marriage, etc.
  7. Raising daughters and loving sons.  This means encouraging girls to pursue practical options with education and prepare to earn a living while telling young men to follow their bliss and/or pursue self-employment and encourage this by not expecting them to work.

With immediately post-Civil Rights Act black Americans, some of this was not surprising and they did still have to face actual race prejudice making male employment riskier and more fragile even within marriage.  They also were looking at affirmative action preferences quickly shifting towards favoring black women over black men due to killing two birds with one stone (another reason straight quotas would have been less poisonous).

Conservatives, though, are doing a lot of this for ideological and unstated class reasons.  Many and probably most conservatives are not middle class but rely on declaring themselves such as a major part of their subculture’s cohesiveness.  But these are not middle class behaviors.