Watch out America, the traditional family may have some life left in it and might be making a comeback among millennials. At least that’s one view put forth by several studies.
Two recent PJ Media articles focused on this trend. The first is “Millennial Women Re-Embrace a ‘Homemaker’ Life,” and the second is “Millennial Men Prefer to Be Family Breadwinners, Have Stay-at-Home Wives.” Both articles discuss how millennials are embracing a more traditional view of family arrangements than their counterparts a generation earlier. As the articles’ titles indicate, this traditional view revolves around a male breadwinner and head-of-household, and the female as a homemaker.
Is this really our society finally emerging from 40 years of wandering in a cultural desert, or just the last gasp of a crumbling out-of-date societal norm? Rush Limbaugh thinks it’s the former. On his April 11, 2017, radio talk show, Limbaugh spent several minutes trumpeting the two PJ Media articles and their joint thesis. To Rush, this was a sign that the pendulum was reversing its direction.
Rush claims to be right nearly 99% of the time, but I have little reason to believe he’s right on this. The first question one has to ask, assuming this is a real permanent shift, is what is causing the shift back to the traditional family?
One speculation from the studies discussed in the referenced articles is that millennials have seen firsthand the effects on the parents and the children of dual-income and single-parent households (where usually the father is absent). Many millennials see modern families as high-stress environments where no one has time to be happy. If that’s true, millennials ask, what has radical feminism given us?
The answer to that question is simple. Radical feminism may have given women a paycheck, but it has taken away our souls and made everybody miserable. (Before moving on, I suppose for accounting purposes I have to stress my use of the modifier “radical” to describe feminism versus a real equal rights movement for women. The two are mutually exclusive and I’m going to assume that readers understand the differences.)
If the purpose of the family is to produce and rear successive generations, and the family is broken and everyone is miserable, then we need to fix it. What is the fix that will make people happy again? The right would argue all we need to do is bring back the traditional family; it’s not perfect but it’s the best thing we have to solve or drastically reduce many societal problems.
To the left, the traditional family is the core of everything that’s wrong with Western civilization. More specifically, bringing back the traditional family will put women right back where they were 100 years ago. Therefore, as the articles referenced above point out, the left would argue the fix requires more family-friendly laws, that is, more business regulations and bigger government programs.
In this right/left tug-of-war, we have to look at how the sides stack up. However, when we do that, the left clearly has the advantage. America today is politically, culturally, academically, economically, and legally left of center. In thinking about the traditional family making a comeback, one must think in terms of the non-traditional infrastructure that modern society has created. It’s an infrastructure that pulls from the left in all directions.
Modern society’s battle against traditional families is too vast and complex to discuss in detail here, but take, for example, the inclusion of women in combat roles, including Special Forces. You would be mistaken if you saw this as just another opportunity for a few select women with no other consequences.
In my article “Women in Combat: Venus Ascending into the House of Mars,” I discuss three aspects of this movement: Mars versus Venus, Mars and Venus sharing foxholes, and Venus’ motherhood role devalued. I’ll summarize the third topic here.
Women have always fought in wars, but seldom did a society accept them on par with the traditional male warrior. Feminists would say that it was due to patriarchalism. However, the primary reason why societies protected women from combat was because of their value in the reproductive process—a process where men were relatively expendable. A tribe could easily afford to lose a substantial number of young males, but no tribe could survive with an equivalent loss of young women.
With the acceptance of women in combat and other roles, modern societies have basically taken away the one key role of women that made them more valuable than men. If women no longer see their unique roles in reproducing and rearing the next generation, then why even bother with institutions like marriage and family?
All the seemingly disjointed social changes we see all around us trickle up to a macroscopic outcome. In another of my articles, “Copulation, Immigration, Incubation, or Automation: Workers Have to Come From Somewhere,” I discuss the dynamics regarding Western women deciding not to have children, including some couples holding vasectomy parties to celebrate choosing to be childless. It was only a few years ago we had baby showers.
We are fooling ourselves if we think today’s families can enjoy the same status and lifestyles as prior traditional families and still keep the tremendous changes we have seen in society, especially in the roles of women. Something has to give.
Separated from all of its touchy-feely overtones, what the left means by family-friendly laws is that we need to further socialize the family. To radical feminists, eliminating marriage completely would be even better, leaving the whole messy children thing to the state. We’ve already given some of this responsibility over to the state in areas such as education, medical care, and for many, in the area of basic needs such as food and shelter. In the United States, Uncle Sam has already become Big Daddy to most of us, and Sugar Daddy to many of us.
The left would argue that I’m way off base. Of course women would still have babies, who else would have them? That’s easy. The next step is for Uncle Sam to become our Baby Daddy, where the state produces babies from some yet-to-be-developed technology. All this leads to a question I keep asking: Given the pace of reproductive science, in 100 years will Western women still give live birth? The ramification of that change is something all of us need to really think about.
Saying millennials are embracing traditional family lifestyles invokes a Norman Rockwell painting. But does our future look more like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, where the punishment for carrying the title of mother or father is banishment from society? If traditional families survive, will they be a niche subculture, something akin to the Amish but with A/C and cable TV? That’s a nightmare many of us don’t want to think about, but it’s a very possible nightmare.
For traditional marriage to succeed, do we have to accept that men and women are not equal? Our happiness depends on the answer to that question.