Jewish World Review

July 19, 1999 /6 Av, 5759

Feminism has taught men that commitment doesn't matter

Dr. Laura
Jewish World Review

LATELY I'VE BEEN ASKED one particular question over and over again by seemingly perplexed women: "Why do men just walk out on their women and children?"

It would be easy to answer: "Because those men are not men -- they're only males. Real men take on responsibilities and honor obligations."

While that is completely true, this explanation falls short of encompassing the underlying motivations of the majority of those men who don't take their participation in relationships and family as seriously as they once did. After all, there have always been "bums," but something has inflated their numbers.

And that something is liberal feminism and the sexual revolution. Just look at what the lessons of that feminism are. Women are no longer bound by social rules that say, "Nice girls don't." Women, according to the new mantra, are entitled to their own sexual experience and pleasure. Throw the birth-control pill into that mix, and hallelujah (!), women can enjoy the full range of real and perceived male promiscuity. How wonderful. Now women can have multiple sexual experiences without pretense or hope of caring and intimacy.

Does this increase feminine self-esteem? I think not. Women are generally more sensitive to relationships and feelings -- part of what nature built in the gender responsible for new life and child care. A long-term enjoyment of casual sex probably requires drinking, drugs, massive denial or a profound fantasy life. Considering the sadness in the women's voices as they call me with their disappointments in so-called love experiences, there's just been a lot of hurt instead of the promised land of exhilarated, liberated feelings.

But what feminism has taught men is the crux of this discussion. It has taught them that women are readily available for sex. More important, and destructive, men have learned that women no longer demand that sex be paired with love, marriage or parenthood.

In chiding women who call me with some sad complaint about their man not being as into love, commitment and parenting as they are themselves, I tell them it's their own fault for presenting themselves virtually as unpaid whores. "At least prostitutes get financially compensated. Perhaps you should charge $200 a pop, depending on how good you are!" Never has this kind of provocative comment from me been met with rage. It's always been ruefully absorbed as a sad truth.

Here's a brief summary of what has contributed to making men less responsible for their women and children. Casual sex and contraception outside of marriage determined that the connection between love, sex and reproduction would be severed for purposes of recreation and immediate gratification. However, the inherent failure rate of every form of contraceptive resulted in births outside of wedlock. Following of necessity are women's so-called reproduction rights -- especially the right to terminate that inconvenient life.

With abortion on demand, men further learned that the burden of producing and terminating life was fully on the woman's shoulders. Next came the celebration of single motherhood, supported by the dissemination of biased psychological research "clarifying" that fatherhood is marginally meaningful to children.

This devious and destructive propaganda (starting with Gloria Steinem's "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle") fully opened the floodgates, resulting in men streaming away from the most important contributions they can make to humanity: as husbands and fathers.

Add to this decades of feminist propaganda about the innate horrors of the patriarchal culture that oppresses women, and you have an understanding of males' diminished respect for women, child-raising (my goodness, we now hire complete strangers and institutions to do that!), and the commitment of marriage.

This is why I get more and more phone calls from both men and women complaining that their spouse or house partner has just up and moved into a new bed with a new honey. And why not? If the goal is gratification, and that wanes, and obligation and sacrifice and responsibility are not the focal point of maturity, then we are justified in moving on and re-establishing that all-important FEELING of gratification.

I wouldn't even care so much if it weren't for the devastation of the lives, hearts, hopes and well-being of the helpless, dependent children whose parents just keep moving on, sometimes again and again. And sadly, when I challenge folks to sacrifice for their children, I usually get the telephonic version of a blank stare. That's where we are. And that's why our children are out of control. They learned it from us.

©1999, Universal Press Syndicate