To the Editor:
hristine Rosen’s primary sources for her column were several fictional literary or media creations of a hypothetical Women’s Worlds [“Welcome to Herland, 2016,” April]. The point of the piece is elusive, and the precept is faulty. I don’t believe she or Rebecca Traister, whom she quotes, has statistician bona fides. They have, rather, conspicuous backgrounds in the realm of advocacy journalism. Over the past 20 years, surveys by legitimate pollsters, such as Gallup, indicate that the house–car–wedding-ring ethos is still popular. More women than men feel a woman’s place is in the home. They say they don’t feel fulfilled in the workplace, and a majority long for a 1950s-type family. It’s the men who’ve lost interest in and commitment to that ambition. The women simply can’t find a partner to complete their dreams.
Christine Rosen writes:
ave Bernard is correct that Gallup poll data have shown that young people still claim to want, in theory, to marry (the most recent data, from 2013, revealed that more than half still had hopes of marrying one day), but the devil is in the details: That same data also revealed a continuing decline in the importance young people place on marriage; fewer than two-thirds of all Americans thought it was important for a couple to get married if they wanted to commit to each other, and “younger Americans are significantly less likely than older groups to believe people should marry when making a lifetime commitment or having a child,” according to Gallup. Moreover, fewer young Americans are marrying in practice, leading to the increase in single women that Ms. Traister examines in her book. It’s true that Ms. Traister is straightforward about her advocacy of certain policy solutions in her book—policy solutions with which I and many other conservatives disagree. As for “advocacy journalism,” I can claim no such label, nor lay claim to “statistician bona fides,” whatever that means; I’m just a historian. But the point of the column—which I hope Mr. Bernard will reconsider—was to highlight the issues this demographic shift creates. The looming social challenge isn’t that women are eager to race back into the kitchen to make their husbands a 1950s-style martini only to be thwarted by a lack of available men who want to help them realize that dream. It’s that single women (and especially single mothers) will be racing into the open arms of government, looking for support that will be economically and socially costly to provide.