Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Freedom From Love

There is an article in Atlantic magazine that praises the hookup culture in college.
And to a surprising degree, it is women—not men—who are perpetuating the culture, especially in school, cannily manipulating it to make space for their success, always keeping their own ends in mind. For college girls these days, an overly serious suitor fills the same role an accidental pregnancy did in the 19th century: a danger to be avoided at all costs, lest it get in the way of a promising future.
Of course this is wrong on so many levels. Intentionally avoiding the men who are looking for a life partner and seeking the men who are just looking for a sex partner. Encouraging men to think of women in the most degrading ways is somehow a win for feminism?

Still what strikes me is that it does not stop there. People are going to avoid religion for the same reasons. If your "promising future" is so important then you are not going to give yourself away in love. Not to a marriage and not to God. If a man is going to get in the way then God will get in the way all the more. So you pick a safe religion like liberal Christianity or atheism.

In fact, any sort of ultimate answer to the meaning and purpose of life is going to demand you change your life to reflect that answer. What are the odds it is going to fit with that promising future? It has the effect of preventing you from asking the really big questions in life. You end up accepting the default non-answer to what truth should be at the center of your life.

It really boils down to a lack of courage. An unwillingness to make a choice that costs something. But you always end up choosing something. You get a career in government, in business, in academia or whatever. You give your life to something one day at a time. You just do it without thinking about it. That "promising future" always looks better in the abstract than it does in reality. The commitment to serve God and a vocation that might flow from that often looks scarier but bless us much more.

The old song says "freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose." Modern feminism seems to be selling this to women. Throw away your love life. Throw away you religion. Then you will be free. Like we have something better to do. But what if there is nothing better? What if we sacrifice the greatest goods in this world so that we can climb the corporate latter and that latter leads nowhere?

Update: Leah Libresco has a piece at First Things about this same story.


  1. It seems to me that The Atlantic is peddling propaganda rather than reality. I don't believe most college women are self-centered in the sense that they want to push their way to the top with total disregard for finding a spouse. I believe a small minority do, but they're more tending towards lesbianism.

    I believe a large percentage of college women lose their virginity because they're simply pressured by the culture to not wait till marriage. When the "men" they are sold on tv and in real life are losers to a large degree (i.e. waste their time playing video games, sports, drinking), the women will naturally lose hope in finding Mr Right.

    The real problem is Paganism. Men and women are equally irreligious, and so hedonism rules the day.

  2. I do think women are pressured. You have to be careful. Most would not say they are not having sex because the men in their lives want them to but because they want to. Maybe they are not self aware. But you need to to deal with as they describe themselves and not as how you analyze their psyche. Especially when you are likely to be accused of being anti-woman.