Douthat: Men Can't Succeed Unless Women Are Forced To Have Babies Against Their Will
There have been a lot of bad takes since a draft of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked. Endless, endless bad takes. So it takes a lot to stand out — but Ross Douthat has managed.
On Wednesday, feminist Jill Filipovic tweeted a thread about the ways in which men have benefited from Roe. "There are millions of men whose lives would have been much worse without abortion." she wrote. "Men who wouldn't have found their big loves, wouldn't have their kids, wouldn't have been as successful, wouldn't have taken big risks. Many of them don't think about it. Some don't even know it." She went on to list some of the opportunities that men might not have had if they had been forced to become fathers before they were ready.
This is true. Also it feels important to note that trans men have benefited from Roe in the exact same way that cisgender women have, but yes, cisgender men have benefitted as well.
Today, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat responded to that thread with a set of assertions gleaned directly from your local incel message board.
"Worth noting that in the 50 yrs since Roe," he tweeted, "men have become less likely to find a spouse, less likely father kids or live with the kids they father, and less likely to participate in the workforce."
Worth noting that in the 50 yrs since Roe, men have become less likely to find a spouse, less likely father kids or live with the kids they father, and less likely to participate in the workforce.https://twitter.com/JillFilipovic/status/1521891908309688322\u00a0\u2026— Ross Douthat (@Ross Douthat) 1651840734
If we're speaking factually here, there is nothing to indicate that any of this has anything at all to do with Roe. As many were quick to point out in the responses to his tweet, there are myriad other factors here and correlation is not causation.
Note the decline in men's participation in the labor force actually *slows down* right after Roe, almost levelling off for about 15 years. And then starts dropping again for what is probably a super-complicate bunch of interconnected reasons, because that's how Earth works.pic.twitter.com/YcSqM21FQ8— John Rogers (@John Rogers) 1651849076
That being said, even if it were true that Roe led to a decline in men's participation in the labor force and made it less likely for them to marry and have children, it would be beyond grotesque to point to those things as a knock against it.
The implication here is that men had jobs that were rightfully theirs taken away by women and others assigned female at birth who should have been at home taking care of babies they didn't want to have.
The implication here is that he would prefer that those women be married to men they wouldn't have chosen to marry were it not for reasons of survival. Or for reasons of "shotgun wedding." That he would prefer it be more difficult to leave an abusive situation.
That is, what is the word, evil. It's also insulting to cis men — suggesting that they are giant losers who can't compete in the workforce unless women are taken out of it, they won't have kids without forcing someone to have them against their will, and that they won't get married unless their prospective wife has no other option for survival.
It would be easy to consider this a one-off if this wasn't the same argument frequently used by those seeking to limit the social safety net. Just last week, Marjorie Taylor Greene argued that women will not get married if they can get welfare. Granted, she also argued in that same breath that no one would have any reason to go to work if they were paid a living wage and didn't have to pay out the wazoo for someone to take care of their child while they were at work.
Via Raw Story:
"And they're moving further into those programs of socialism," she said of Democrats. "They want to pay for child care. They want to have a living wage. And these are things that are never going to solve problems actually. No one will have any reason to go to work."
"I am opposed to all of that," the lawmaker continued. "Yes, welfare does have a purpose and a place and there are times the people have really hard times in life and definitely need it. But we need to have a program in place where they get moved off generational welfare."
Greene added: "Why does a woman need to be married if she can be married to the government and keep getting a government check?"
Ah yes, no foundation better to build a marriage on besides "Because otherwise I would starve to death."
Lots of men, of course, have managed to succeed in life without needing to hamstring women in order to make it happen. Shockingly enough, many women have even gotten married, voluntarily, to men, without the looming threat of poverty and a child they can't afford to care for hanging over their head.
Some might even say that a man who can't get a wife outside of those circumstances is not a man who should be married at all and that no one should get married to anyone unless that is what they actually want. One would hope that would be the vast majority of people who are not Ross Douthat, Marjorie Taylor Greene, or an incel planning an upcoming mass murder — but sadly that is not the kind of thing we can count on anymore.
But it is one reason why we really, really, really need to hold on to the right to have a legal abortion. Because while Roe did not actually hinder the ability of cisgender men to participate in the workforce, it would certainly hinder the economic prospects of those who were forced to have a baby against their will or put them in a situation where they have to stay in relationships that are not good for them in order to survive. And that, contrary to what Ross Douthat thinks, would actually be a terrible thing.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse