Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

"The New Girl Order?"

The always interesting and compelling Kay Hymowitz writes about the globalization of the Single Young Female (SYF) phenomenon. Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw is alive and well and living in Eastern Europe, Japan and--increasingly--even in China. Of course, this has all kinds of demographic, social and political implications. How this transformation will be greeted and felt in each country or region will vary--depending upon what preceded it. Hymowitz has some interesting takes on how it all may play out.

She also has a very interesting discussion about why it may be that the "Rome of SYFs"--the United States--has felt the impact of this transformation less vividly or violently than it is being felt in the countries she discusses here. American women, even SYFs of the Carrie Bradshaw sort, still report a strong interest in getting married. It has much less to do with these women, she argues, than it has to do with the quality of the men. American men, apparently, are more worthy of marriage in these new circumstances. In the United States (and Northern Europe), Hymowitz explains, there is a long tradition of companionate marriage which is more open to the interests of both parties. This translates into more flexibility to accommodate these shifting roles within marriage. Much more could be said about all of this but Hymowitz offers much to stimulate that discussion.

Discussions - 2 Comments

Sex and the City type women make fun of those women who are married, yet seek to find the perfect mate, possibly for life.

These type of women are for dating only and will only further wonder why they can't hit it off with someone longer than 6 months.

And, when faced with something that should be celebrated, the gift of bringing new life to the world, they not only show disdain, they demonstate that they do not, at least initially, have the best interests of the new life in mind (think red headed lawyer character).

There are charitable and uncharitable interpretations to offer--not only of what is happening but of why it is happening. It might be useful, however, to think the whole thing through with the more charitable interpretation first and then see if the less charitable view has anything to offer around the edges.

Let's assume then that these young women are, by and large, well-meaning. They want to do well professionally and they sincerely want to fall in love. Neither thing is bad in itself nor--necessarily--bad when put in tandem. So a more useful question might be how is the method these women employ to achieve both of these good things keeping them from happiness in the end. I think Dale is right to point out that the "Sex and the City" model for marriage will probably keep a lot of women from getting married--for the simple reason that there are a lot of men for whom the extreme emulation of that model is off-putting. But I also agree with Hymowitz that the extreme traditional marriage described (in Japanese and in other cultures) is pretty off-putting to any woman with a lick of democratic sense. I think the real question may be to what extent the American idea of marriage ever really emulated these more extreme traditions. I think feminists dishonor their fore-mothers when they suppose that they were pathetic little creatures born to serve the whims of their husbands. Early on in the Republic, Tocqueville talked about the equality in American marriages in Democracy in America as coming both from a political sentiment and from the character and necessity of the place we inhabit. Women had to do more on the frontier--and this earned them more respect from their men. This was a happy circumstance for American women--for they certainly should have the respect of men.

But the fact that men tend to give more respect to women who emulate masculine virtues (at least until they become too proficient or too obnoxious in their proficiency) presents another eternal problem for women. It is the real problem women should combat in men. Men don't need so much to "get in touch with their inner female" as they need to be taught to respect the virtues in women that are not masculine. Women should be spirited and respect and emulate the masculine virtues of independence--no one wants a shrinking violet--but not at the expense of their other particular excellence. Too often these virtues are honored in the breech or valued only when missed. Women should be respected as least as much for their feminine accomplishments as they are for their masculine achievements.

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