Archive | June, 2011

Ask Not What Gay Marriage Can Do For Us, But What We Can Do For Gay Couples

Yesterday’s jubilant march along New York streets celebrating the right of gay men and women to marry was a spectacular reaffirmation of something we haven’t witnessed in awhile: A victory of civil rights, yes, but also a victory for marriage.

Marriage needs a victory, for it’s in deep trouble. I’ve long lamented the high rate of depression among young married women—a depression the culture has stonewalled, and which has led to a massive walkout strike among wives. I call it “Matrimorphosis,” this transformation of sexy, authentic brides into unhappy wives. And now that so many middle-class women no longer need marriage to put a roof over their heads, they’re finding other ways to live.

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Weiner’s Reasons? Schwarzenegger’s Apology? Do We Care?

I mean, what is there left to say but “Whatever”? That’s now the word of choice used by the young when, yet again, some famous, important guy does something weird and inappropriate or bizarre with his libido.  It’s our only remaining response to a morality that these men envision as entirely situational: a way to comprehend why they’re so self-righteous one moment, showing their penises to strangers the next. Situational morality is Anthony Weiner’s “But I’ve never had sex with any woman other than my wife” used as a defense of his honor. Hey, man, just because my privates are flying all over the net, don’t EVER DARE accuse me of infidelity!

An interviewer not long ago asked the creator of “Mad Men,”  Matthew Weiner, whether he felt Don Draper’s fall from power and failed marriage was a result of his basic, underlying badness–a badness like, say, Tony Soprano’s.

Not at all, he replied. Draper, unlike Soprano, “has a lot of admirable qualities and is basically a moral person, and he makes mistakes. His morality is conflicting. It’s situational, which is the disease of the 21st century.”

There it is.

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Women Surfing the Edge of Change

That an entire book has to be written about the way in which the French put pleasure first in their lives–a pleasure gleaned from a lovely long lunch; a good cheese; a natural (as opposed to a creepy or inappropriate) flirtation, makes me sad that our culture comes out so unfavorably.  It’s true that in our culture, “pleasure” seems to be a code word for sex, not a joy we breathe, not the expansive emotion, as the late William Safire wrote in his language column in The Times many years ago, “that suffuses one who has been gratified or stroked; it’s a good feeling, whether physical or intellectual.”

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Coming Up Next!: The Pretend Marriage

My favorite new fact about marriage is not the Census Bureau’s 2010 report that four in ten Americans feel that marriage is becoming obsolete.  (In my book, Marriage Shock, I’d already found that women were running away from marriage in droves–even young, newly married women.  And that was over ten years ago.)  No, the great new fact is that older people who want sex with one another are hiding it from their kids by PRETENDING to get married. Yes!  Heaven forfend their little darlings find out that their widowed grandma or divorced daddy are “doing it” or, more horribly still, “living in sin.” I’ve been hearing about this idea of having the ceremony for appearance’s sake, but not signing the papers –and just read it in this month’s AARP Bulletin.  As personal finance expert Jane Bryant Quinn, speaking about the financial concerns older couples should address before they marry, pointed out, over-50 couples who want to hang together (like kids do) are afraid to let the kids know they’re doing so. Ah, American morality! Don’t you love it? We eviscerate those who lie to us about their inappropriate sexual practices, but happily lie to our own families about our own appropriate ones!  Funnier still:  The over-50 crowd, whose sex lives are assumed by the young to have long since hit the road,  are lying because they, like everyone else, are happily hitting the hay.

How crazy is it that, at a time when there are more unmarried people in the country than married, we’re afraid to be unmarried? Continue Reading →

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