Jessica Valenti has a column up at the Guardian, celebrating the power of single ladies, particularly their power to force the state (aka mostly male taxpayers) to fund their life choices. She correctly outlines how women can, do and will continue to vote to force all men to support them, no matter how economically disastrous for everyone. It will come as no surprise that Valenti doesn’t care about the long-term consequences of single mothers for society, she just gleefully relishes the power women have to destroy what men create.
What Valenti doesn’t seem to be able to parse is that for every single woman, there is a single man who has not married her, and those men represent a formidable voting block of their own. Dawning awareness from men that they are the ones holding the short end of the stick is creating a political climate in which men are becoming increasingly primed to fight for their rights as men.
I have taken Valenti’s article and switched genders to illustrate how Valenti’s insistence that women are victims disappears when the conversation shifts to a recognition that single men are a demographic growing angry over their exploitation at the hands of single women.
Don’t ignore single women voters? Au contraire. Don’t ignore single men.
There’s a special kind of disdain in American culture reserved for unmarried men. Women are ‘sassy single ladies’ – a word that conjures up images of a pre-George Amal Clooney – while men are losers, dropouts and deadbeats who need to ‘man up’. Unmarried women are free; unmarried men are manbabies. And if you’re a single man who has a child … well, you are given no credit – you’re just manning up. Like you should.
Just this week, a new bill in Illinois was proposed that would ban a mother from receiving state aid unless a father is named on her child’s birth certificate. If the mother cannot or doesn’t want to name the father, “either a father must be conclusively established by DNA evidence or, within 30 days after birth, another family member who will financially provide for the child must be named.” Ohio tried something similar in 2009, when a Republican legislator tried to pass a bill that required a woman to notify the father of their baby before she could obtain an abortion, asserting that children are not the personal property of women, which can be disposed of in a landfill site.
It seems we’re not very interested in single men unless we’re finding new ways to monetize their reproductive rights and life decisions. We’re upset that they’re not married, even more so if they dare undertake parenthood without a woman. We’re obsessed with their sexual exploits but diminish their political power with insulting labels like “Bernie Boys” or “angry white men”.
According to a new book, however, those who dismiss unmarried men – or aim to punish them like the Illinois bill does – do so at their own peril. Robert Traister’s All the Single Dudes: Unmarried Men and the Rise of An Independent Nation, out next week, documents not only how the increase of single men is shifting American politics and culture right now, but how unmarried men have always been a central part of our country’s development. And at a moment when single men as a voting bloc are more important than ever before, it would do well for those who disdain single men as a demographic to pay closer attention.
Traister, a writer for New York magazine and author of the 2008 book Big Boys Don’t Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Men, details in his new book the impressive history of single men, from President James Buchanan and the Bachelor’s clubs of the 1900s to modern male friendships and James Bond. Traister also examines the unfortunate history of mostly liberal women who blast single men, whether Hanna Roisin and her shaming of men, or Sherry Argov, author of Why Men Marry Bitches: A Woman’s Guide to Winning Her Man’s Heart.
But as Traister points out in a newly released excerpt, all that hating has not amounted to more men getting married: single men now outnumber married women, and only 20% of Americans are married before age 30, a 40% drop since 1960. And while this rise of single men hasn’t brought down society yet, it has meant tremendous change, the sort that shows the clout that unmarried (but not necessarily uncoupled) men have quietly accumulated.
“The practicalities of male life independent of marriage give rise to demands for reproductive rights for men, shared parenting, elimination of male genital mutilation, the inclusion of women in the draft, expanded college places for men (who are now the minority), male focused, fully funded healthcare and due process in criminal courts,” Traister writes. (All of which, I suppose, must feel like the end of society to some liberals.)
Single men have changed the way we think about politics, culture and even the institution of marriage. And now, as the election looms closer, the fate of the country could very well be in their hands – almost quarter of votes in the last presidential election, Traister writes, were made by unmarried men. So perhaps instead of creating laws to expand the ways that single men are forced to support children they did not intend and do not want (or not), or wrongly deriding those without spouses as aberrations or cultural dangers, we should start treating single men with the power that they deserve – and the power they have.