Jewish World Review August 31, 2000/ 30 Menachem-Av, 5760
Dudettes that don't
THERE ARE WORSE things than being alone. Being married
to the wrong person, for instance, which is why
increasing numbers of women -- and consequently, men
-- are taking a pass on matrimony. Why, given today's
plethora of lifestyle options, would anyone marry?
Good question, according to women like Debra DeLee,
52, who's featured in Time magazine as a prototypical
single-by-choice woman. There she is, resplendent in
her BMW convertible, smiling with the D.C. skyline in
the background. She's got a great job, a boyfriend in
another town, her own home, her own space.
For what, exactly, does this woman need marriage? A
house full of leaky kids, dirty laundry and a man who
hasn't mastered the concept of wet-towel/towel bar?
No thanks, say a growing number of American women,
more than 40 percent of whom are single, according to
the Census Bureau. Thanks to career opportunities,
shifts in societal attitudes toward women as workers
and consumers, and fewer sidewise glances when a
woman says, "I don't," women don't have to say "I do"
unless they really, really want to.
Increasingly, they don't. Instead, women in today's
mating marketplace can afford to be choosy. ...
(But) they're the little detail(s) that keeps
creeping onto the edge of the screen, messing up this
otherwise breezy image of the
For though many unmarried women don't want an
imperfect man, they do want a perfect family.
Increasingly, single women are opting for single
motherhood, much to the confusion of women who have
actually been single mothers. Sperm banks, technology
and generous male friends make impregnation easier
than ever, if not nearly as much fun.
At last count, as many as 32 percent of births are to
unmarried women, most often, and dramatically, to
college-educated career women rather than to
oops-teenagers. Such pregnancies, once considered
scandalous, today rarely raise an eyebrow.
Maybe we can live without the scandal, but can children
really live without fathers? The answer is, "yes, we can,
and no, they shouldn't."
The reasons are too lengthy to itemize here, and too
obvious to need listing. Ask a father, if you must, but
don't ask a fatherless child. Giving everyone the benefit
of the doubt, he -- like the mother who bred him --
doesn't know any better.
Interview a 12-year-old who has never had a father, as
Time did, and he may say there's no difference
whatsoever, and we remain unenlightened. What do we
expect? If you've never tasted pizza, it's easy not to miss
it. We might, however, want to avoid creating family
attitudes on the precocious testimonials of children.
If we believe, and we seem to, that human beings are
composed of two parts -- male and female -- in varying
degrees, then we might assume that the influences of
both are necessary to the nurturance and development
of a complete adult. Meanwhile, the family unit, for all its
flaws and dysfunctions, is still the foundation upon which
societies rise or fall.
Curiously, mothers seem never to doubt their own
importance to their child's development, yet easily
ignore the value of a father's contribution. In a more
natural world -- absent technology, sperm banks and
generous male friends -- children would have dads,
even though their moms might wind up with imperfect
JWR contributor Kathleen Parker can be reached by clicking here.
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