QUESTION: Do you think women need men more than men need women? Which sex copes best when living without the other?
That very interesting question is addressed by the brilliant social commentator George Gilder in his classic book Men and Marriage. Gilder acknowledges that men and women were designed for each other and often feel incomplete alone. He makes the point, however, that women do better without men than men without women. This is a reversal of conventional wisdom, which refers to single women derogatorily as “old maids,” “unclaimed blessings,” and worse. They are viewed as the most poorly adjusted and miserable people in society, and hence, are the subject of much ridicule.
Gilder disagrees with that assessment and says it is the unmarried male who is the most “out-of-pocket” socially. He is far more likely than unmarried females to be an alcoholic, a drug user, a convicted criminal, or a general ne’er-do-well. Land- lords don’t want to rent an apartment to him, insurance companies don’t like to underwrite him, and loan companies are reluctant to loan him money. He drives too fast, he is more hot-tempered, and he tends to be impulsive. There are millions of exceptions to this pattern, of course, but the unmarried young man is at risk for many antisocial behaviors. And yes, he earns less money than even the single woman and is more likely to move aimlessly from job to job.
When a man marries and commits himself to a wife and children, however, most of his social liabilities disappear. He has a reason to live responsibly, work hard, and save for the future. Instead of pandering to his own sensual desires, he post- pones gratification and sacrifices for those who depend on him. He becomes more future oriented. This “loose cannon” often becomes the “pillar of the community.” This transition has been referred to historically as “settling down” after “sowing wild oats.” I’m generalizing, of course, but the trend here is well documented by sociological research.
What a woman does for a man, then, is to harness the sexual energy that was unbridled and threatening to society—and focus it on protecting and providing for a family. This transformation is absolutely vital to the well-being of a culture. Gilder believes (and I agree) that society cannot survive the death of marriage. Without it, women lack the security to reproduce; illicit sex, abortion, and out-of-wedlock pregnancies flourish; children grow up in turmoil; drug abuse and alcoholism abound; legitimate businesses suffer; and peace-loving citizens find themselves besieged by violence and lawlessness.
Women need men, to be sure—but not quite like men need women.
Posted In: Family Talk