However, modern feminism (specifically of the Betty Friedan variety) has a rather different narrative. It starts with "the fundamental assertion of feminism is that women are equal to men, and equal not as counterparts to men but in every respect" noting for example that "[f]eminist women refused to suffer a husband’s proud, or ironic, praise as “my better half,” which implied that women (and of course also men) have a natural role making them counterparts of each other as couples." Feminism's primary enemy is the patriarchy and it was the patriarchy that was responsible for the old romantic notions that kept women (and to some extent men) in their place(s).
Under this theory of feminism, a marriage of a man and a woman does not inherently produce a whole that is greater than its parts. In fact, if both partners are completely equal in desires, capabilities, needs, etc., all that overlap may mean that generally the whole is less than the sum of its parts.
In the romantic narrative, men and women inherently had a lot to offer each other. But what does a man inherently have to offer a woman in a long term relationship in feminism's narrative (and perhaps any modern narrative)?
Oh sure, a rich, attractive guy might be good for a fling, maybe even worthwhile to have a short term marriage with in order to have a child or two, followed by a divorce where she gets a great settlement. But till death do us part? Don't be silly, how naive and quaint. And that's just rich, attractive guys. The rest of us normal mortals? Fuhgeddaboudit!
The instapundit's wife, Helen Smith, has a website that focuses on the, in her opinion, poor treatment of men by women and what she thinks the effects of that poor treatment will be. Until recently, I've been chuckling because it seems pathetic that men need a woman like Smith to stand up for them and so I hadn't taken her seriously. She wrote Men On Strike about "Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream - and Why It Matters."
I haven't read her book, but in googling for statistics for this series of posts, I've run into some interesting data that certainly does not contradict her claims. For example,
Between 1950 and 2010, the rate of marital formation dropped by 39%, with a 17% drop between 2000 and 2010 alone.1 Today, the proportion of men between 25 and 34 years old who have never been married is more than six times higher than it was in 1970. For men between 35 and 44 years old, the increase has been more than fourfold. Marriages that do form are about twice as likely to end in divorce today as in 1950.Here is a related chart showing the trend of marriage formation for young adults (ages 25 - 34):
Note that the above chart is for men and women, so the numbers don't exactly match the previous paragraph but it's easy to see that they are likely consistent.
Also, the share of never-married adults seems to be both rising and possibly even accelerating:
So the data is consistent with young people deciding to not get married in much larger numbers than in the past. Some of them may be putting off marriage until they're older, but it looks like others will never get married. If the trend continues, within decades a majority of adults will never marry.
In The Sexodus, the acronym MGTOW is used and stands for Men Going Their Own Way. In a mostly monogamistic society, for each MGTOW there is a corresponding female version (WGTOW). It's still not completely clear to me whether the MGTOWs or the WGTOWs are the root cause of falling marriage formation rates. It may not be that men are going on strike, but rather that women have no interest in them so they're simply retreating to alternative lifestyles and activities that they may consider inferior but achievable.
After all, the Friedian Feminist has very little use for men, so they may have no choice but to go their own way.