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Jewish World Review Feb. 27, 2002/ 15 Adar, 5762

Don Feder

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NOW is livid

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com -- THE administration wants to spend $100 million to promote marriage, and the National Organization for Women is having a meltdown.

The White House contemplates an educational campaign on the importance of marriage and pre-martial counseling for those approaching marriage.

NOW is livid.

"This is a crowd that says it wants to get government out of people's lives," huffs NOW President Kim Gandy. "And here they are pushing people they don't even know to get married." Of course, it's fine for feminists to push women they don't even know into the workplace and their children into child care.

"To say that the path to economic stability for poor women is marriage is an outrage," Gandy fumed.

NOW exists in a perpetual state of indignation. President George Bush recently decided to classify children in utero as "unborn children" -- so they and their mothers could be insured under a federal program. NOW branded the move "a slap in the face to all pregnant women."

If recognizing the humanity of the child she's carrying is a mortal insult to a pregnant woman, then referring to it as a "thing" until the moment of birth must be a compliment. Try figuring that one out.

The best break a child can get is being born into a traditional family. Kids in single-parent homes are four times as likely to live in poverty as those in intact families.

Children who grow up in a one-parent household are three times more likely to have a child out of wedlock, twice as likely to drop out of school, and far more apt to use drugs and engage in other antisocial behavior than their counterparts from two-parent families.

NOW apparently believes it's a coincidence that most poor women have children but no husbands. In fact, to admit that men and women need each other (that they're complementary in so many crucial ways) is an anathema to the feminist creed.

Still, in its efforts to advance marriage, the administration confronts a far greater obstacle than NOW. Outside of the media, people long ago stopped taking it seriously.

Over the past 40 years, the news and entertainment industries have legitimized pre-marital sex, cohabitation and single-parenting, while devaluing matrimony.

Human nature didn't change since the days of crew-cuts and "Father Knows Best." Young adults didn't wake up one morning and say, "Hey, let's start living together!" Millions of adolescent girls didn't spontaneously decide to let adolescent boys sleep with them -- and damn the consequences.

It's all cultural conditioning. Try finding a traditional family on prime-time television today -- but be sure to take along a flashlight and a pack of bloodhounds.

There's plenty of "Sex in the City." There are islands of temptation, but few harbors of fidelity. Yuppies drift in and out of relationships, a la "Ally McBeal." There are love triangles and quadrangles. Singles are celebrated, from "Friends" to "Frazier."

Single parents date and cohabitate. But TV's most prominent married-with-children family is "The Sopranos," where "family" has a double meaning.

Besides ignoring marriage, television (along with movies and pop music) pushes promiscuity at every turn.

The Center for Media and Public Affairs reports that in the 1998-99 season, sexual content was featured once every four minutes on the networks and three times every four minutes on cable TV. Moreover, 98 percent of the time the sex depicted had no consequences -- physical or psychological.

Last year, NBC "Dateline" did a segment about the media's effect on the way adolescents view sex. One 15-year-old boy stated: "I don't think parents get the fact that they're up against a whole army. ... Every person in the media is saying sex is OK and you should do it."

What Bush is proposing to spend to promote marriage is small change compared to what the media and advertisers lay out to convince the young that marriage is irrelevant and that sexual urges can be freely indulged.

And, unlike the administration, they have a forum that reaches into almost every home in the nation, seven to eight hours a day on average. Compared to these un-marriage brokers, the ideologues of NOW are no more than a nuisance.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.


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© 2002, Creators Syndicate