J.D. Vance Just Suggesting Maybe Women Should Stay Married To Abusive A-Holes
The most succinct description of Republican Senate nominee J.D. Vance is “asshole.” (Even stuffy Tom Nichols at the Atlantic agrees.) So it’s hardly shocking that he’d argue that women should remain trapped in abusive relationships for the sake of the children.
Last September, he dropped this sexist load on students at Pacifica Christian High School in Southern California.
“This is one of the great tricks that I think the sexual revolution pulled on the American populace, which is the idea that like, ‘well, OK, these marriages were fundamentally, you know, they were maybe even violent, but certainly they were unhappy. And so getting rid of them and making it easier for people to shift spouses like they change their underwear, that’s going to make people happier in the long term,’” Vance said.
We don’t know what he’s talking about, either. His metaphor is gross and sloppy. Sure, we change our underwear regularly, but we don’t callously discard it. We wash it — on the delicate cycle if you’re fancy — and keep it around until it expires from natural causes. Most of us have a supportive relationship with our underwear. However, if your underwear is literally abusive, “even violent,” you should get rid of it. No one needs violent underpants in their life.
It’s also not that easy to get divorced in this country. Only 17 states have “no-fault” divorce, and it’s often very difficult for women to leave abusive relationships. Sometimes abusive partners try to kill their spouses for trying to leave, and use their own children against them. Republican Senate candidate Eric Greitens from Missouri allegedly threatened to kill himself unless his wife (whom he’d cheated on) showed “specific public political support” for him.
But Vance ignorantly suggests the “sexual revolution” freed women to burn through husbands with no regard for the families they ruined in the process. This sounds like the sentiment of someone who hates women. These are the words of a fool.
“And maybe it worked out for the moms and dads, though I’m skeptical. But it really didn’t work out for the kids of those marriages,” Vance continued. “And that’s what I think all of us should be honest about, is we’ve run this experiment in real time. And what we have is a lot of very, very real family dysfunction that’s making our kids unhappy.”
There is little evidence that remaining in a dysfunctional marriage benefits children in any measurable way. Studies have shown quite the opposite. This is one of those situations where science supports your immediate “well, duh” reaction.
Vance had responded to a moderator who’d asked, "What's causing one generation to give up on fatherhood when the other one was so doggedly determined to stick it out, even in tough times?” The moderator’s question is nonsense: Divorce rates have steadily fallen over the past few decades and hit a 50-year low in 2019. Vance brought up his own grandparents, whose relationship he’d described as “violent” in his crap book Hillbilly Elegy.
“Culturally, something has clearly shifted. I think it’s easy but also probably true to blame the sexual revolution of the 1960s. My grandparents had an incredibly chaotic marriage in a lot of ways, but they never got divorced, right? They were together to the end, ’til death do us part. That was a really important thing to my grandmother and my grandfather. That was clearly not true by the 70s or 80s,” he said.
His tiny mind apparently can't imagine that his grandparents might’ve chosen to stay together, despite the chaos, because they loved each other. Their marriage could’ve endured without legally resembling Sartre’s No Exit. Husbands bailed on their families all the time prior to the women’s movement (that’s what Vance is really upset about). What seemingly angers conservatives most about the “sexual revolution” is women’s growing freedom and independence.
The Vice article covering Vance’s remarks went viral Monday, and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, going straight for the jugular, tweeted, “I mean, he doesn’t 'suggest' [people should remain in violent marriages.] He says it. And it’s important to understand this isn’t some gaff [sic]. The new Right, with Vance as [its] figurehead, has a core belief that women should effectively be owned by men and that men should make choices for women."
\u201cI mean, he doesn't "suggest" it. He says it. And it's important to understand this isn't some gaff.\n\nThe new right, with Vance as it's figurehead, has a core belief that women should effectively be owned by men and that men should make choices for women. \nhttps://t.co/nXk8UzER8G\u201d— Chris Murphy (@Chris Murphy) 1658776351
This is the sort of searing statement you’d expect from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, not a bipartisan-boosting senator who’s spoken fondly of his Republican friends. Murphy went hardcore, sparing Vance no quarter. It’s no less than he deserves.
When Vice asked Vance for a comment, he sent a predictably snide statement, which reads in part:
“I reject the premise of your bogus question. As anyone who studies these issues knows: domestic violence has skyrocketed in recent years, and is much higher among non-married couples. That’s the ‘trick’ I reference: that domestic violence would somehow go down if progressives got what they want, when in fact modern society’s war on families has made our domestic violence situation much worse. Any fair person would recognize I was criticizing the progressive frame on this issue, not embracing it."
Vance claims incidents of domestic violence have dramatically increased since a supposed golden age when women couldn’t leave their abusive husbands or open their own bank accounts. The police didn’t take domestic violence seriously as a crime prior to the women’s movement. It was considered a “family issue.” Hell, a husband raping his wife wasn’t even treated as a crime until the 1970s. Vance doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about.
It’s laughable whenever Vance rants about “modern society” like he’s Chuck Grassley’s older, less cool brother. He turns 38 in August. He’s younger than Pete Buttigieg and was all of eight years old during the 1992 presidential election, when freaked-out Republican men thought Hillary Clinton was coming for their testicles.
JD Vance is an asshole. Fortunately for America, this isn’t proving a great selling point for his campaign. Stay tuned. We’ll get to that later.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."