Sunday links: The marriage plot
Burn it to the ground
On Wednesday, I sat in a conference room in Manhattan with a team of women and talked about the best way to sell my book. I am very excited about this team of absolute geniuses and all our plans.
I told them that the time has never been better, because right now in the wake of Dobbs there is a conservative push to roll back the no-fault divorce law, and once again, promote marriage as a catch-all solution to America’s lack of a social safety net.
You don’t have to look hard to see this rhetoric being laundered through the opinion pages of media outlets. David Brooks, who divorced his wife to marry his assistant, pushed marriage as the key to happiness in his column in August. In Bari Weiss’s Free Press, there was an article arguing that people are lonely and unhappy and women should simply date men who make less than them. (Side note: I found one study that implied that women who out-earn their male partners are 35 percent more likely to be victims of domestic violence.) In The Atlantic, there was a kind of shallow attempt to parse out the “are married people happier” argument. This author uncritically quoted a right-wing think tank that is on a hate-watch list, so not great thinking happening on that page.
This push is also happening as celebrities seem to be divorcing left and right. And with the rise of the trad wife influencer on TikTok. And the fallout from 2020, when women were the societal stopgap, seems to be a lot of impotent rage, with a begrudging acceptance that this is the way things are.
On Friday, Rebecca Traister published a piece very smartly analyzing the right-wing push to offer up marriage. But into this space, I keep seeing a lot of impotent laments.
I’m mad I do all the work and my husband doesn’t seem to notice, but this is just how it is.
Or I hate how tired overworked and underappreciated I am, but marriage is okay. And I’ll stay.
Or This is hard and I’m doing all the work. MOM RAGE! But I have to stay together for the kids.
Is the thesis of a lot of books that are coming out this next year. And I am not linking them, you can find them yourself. But the impotence of the rage is infuriating.
Because, no, it doesn’t have to be this way.
You don’t have to wait for things to get awful. Your happiness is worth it.