In his 2012 book Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, Charles Murray makes a number of arguments which are not borne out by the data he cites. However, one that has struck me violently while reading is this: It is a woman’s responsibility to civilize her man.
The offending section starts on page 181 and I want to quote the entire paragraph so that I cannot be accused of taking anything out of context.
It makes sense that women would choose mates who have already exhibited evidence that they will be successful economically, and social scientists have demonstrated that this is in fact a statistical tendency: Men with high earnings are more likely to get married and less likely to get divorced. But there’s another possibility: Married men become more productive after they are married because they are married. Economist Gary Becker predicted this outcome in A Treatise on the Family because of the advantages of role specialization in marriage. George Gilder predicted it even earlier, in Sexual Suicide, through a more inflammatory argument: Unmarried males arriving at adulthood are barbarians who are then civilized by women through marriage. The inflammatory part was that Gilder saw disaster looming as women stopped performing this function, a position derided as the worst kind of patriarchal sexism. But, put in less vivid language, the argument is neither implausible nor inflammatory: The responsibilities of marriage induce young men to settle down, focus, and get to work.
Now, I would argue that the last sentence is not at all the sentiment that was expressed just before it. But that is something Mr. Murray and I can argue about at another time. What is important is the idea that women are wholly responsible for making men “civilized”. And that the breakdown of traditional values (specifically heterosexual marriage) is leading to generations of barbarian men.
I shouldn’t have to say this, especially not in 2019, but here it is. Men are solely and wholly responsible for their own behavior. (The same applies to women, but I feel like that is a mainstream idea that doesn’t need to be stated.) It is not the duty or responsibility of a woman to take a barbarous male and turn him into a gentleman. If a man has made it to marriageable age without being “induced” to “settle down, focus, and get to work” it should not be left to the woman to do this for him.
This idea that an errant man needs a woman to tie him down is pervasive and deep rooted. It harkens back to the supposed “good ol’ days”. A generation of men raised on westerns where John Wayne was brought low by the love of a good woman, giving up his wild ways for home and family. It also ties into the idea that a woman can reform a “bad boy”, which is equally destructive.
It is high time we put this trope to bed. Retire it to the pastures of history and tell misogynists like Mr. Murray to shove it. Let men be accountable for their own actions and behaviors. They will soon civilize themselves and be the better for it. I promise you society will not collapse from men being self-reliant and accountable.