“Love ’em and leave ’em” the old saying goes. The new power women of the 90’s from ‘Charlie’s Angels’ to the working women of HBO’s ‘Sex in the City’ jump in and out of bed with the hot man of the moment, no strings attached, before proceeding to conquer the world. Women like Rachel, the independent single mom, on the popular sitcom ‘Friends,’ choose not to marry the father, but rather strive to prove they can make it on their own. According to the typical script, they all live happy, secure lives without having to commit or depend on a man. Indeed, a popular prime time refrain is “Who needs a man?”
Does Hollywood know reality?
As cohabitation and one-night stands become more prevalent and the institution of marriage loses validity, women may believe that their “freedom” gives them more power, but ironically they are endangering themselves and subjecting their children to a vicious cycle of abuse. A 1995 U.S. Department of Justice study showed that women were the victims of more than 4.5 million violent crimes, and intimate partners committed 29 percent of single offender crimes.
According to a study conducted by the Heritage Foundation in 2002, marriage offers the best protection against violence toward women and children.
Mothers who have never been married experience domestic violence at more than twice the rate of mothers who have been or currently are married. Never-married mothers also suffer from violent crime at three times the rate of mothers who have ever been married. When a mother cohabitates, a child is 33 times more likely to experience serious abuse and 73 times more likely to suffer fatal abuse than a child with married parents. A Heritage Foundation study in 1997 found that due to the disintegration of the family and community, about 2,000 of America’s infants and young children 6 per day die each year.
This is reality.
Feminists claim women and mothers of the 21st century can do equally well for themselves and their children without a legal relationship with a man. They argue that while a binding relationship like marriage may work for some women, society has no business promoting such a personal choice.
Should society get involved?
The institution of marriage represents more than a private, individual choice. The deterioration of marriage affects the safety of women and children, indeed, all of society, by creating a violent cycle trapping generation after generation.
A recent study by the Institute for Youth Development shows child victimization as the leading risk factor in juvenile violence. Thus, violence breeds violence. The National Youth Violence Resource Center reported that children who encounter domestic violence are more likely to attempt suicide, abuse drugs and alcohol, and commit sexual assault crimes. In 1996 a study by the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family estimated that 3.3 million children witness the abuse of their mother or female caretaker. The research noted the cycle of violence and its impact on society: “[The process of violence] begins in the family, expanding through the culture of the larger society in which children grow and mature, and then again is reinforced or discouraged in the family.”
Thus, a single mother’s decision to cohabitate not only increases her odds of experiencing domestic abuse and violent crime, but also increases her child’s risk of suffering abuse and falling captive to the cycle of abuse leading to juvenile violence.
Marriage represents the foundation of the family, and its role in society should not be taken lightly. The IYD study found that children living with two biological parents are at a lower risk for engaging in sex; cigarette, alcohol, and marijuana use; and physical fighting. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner recognized the value of the family: “The family unit plays a critical role in our society and in the training of the generation to come.” Each generation is trained and raised by the values passed down to them influencing their role in society, and children learn violence as they learn morals. Therefore, pro-marriage policies that strengthen the family protect women and children from abuse and defend society from a cycle of violence.
Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, Senior Fellow of the Beverly LaHaye Institute and an authority on women’s issues, said, “The argument that pushing women toward marriage could lead to violence collapses under the research. While there are horrible and lamentable exceptions that must be addressed, the research is unequivocal, marriage is the safest place for women and children.”
Feminists and the Hollywood media portray women who want marriage and a family as having what they call a “patriarchal sexist mentality.” However, real “girl power” goes far beyond the delusional game of serial sex and self-indulgent “liberation.”
Even feminist Gloria Steinem, who married for the first time after age 60, discovered “being married is like having somebody permanently in your corner, it feels limitless, not limited.”