The Corner

Beyonce Sings to Endurance

Jennifer Marshall:

 If you take “The Girl Project,” add “The War Against Boys,” and mix in some sexual revolution (“Dan Quayle Was Right,” after all, per The Atlantic’s April ‘93 cover story), is it any surprise you’re left with “All the Single Ladies“?

Our feminist forebears were frustrated by barriers to fulfilling work. Today we’re frustrated by obstacles to lasting love-and some seem to be the result of the feminist movement itself.

For too long, the dominant framework of male-female relations has been that storied battle between the sexes. Antagonism expressed in power struggle, rather than the pursuit of mutually respecting interdependence, is the default perspective.

Which brings us back to our views of marriage. Is marriage an ideal because the majority, the powerful or forces such as evolution or economics made it so? Or is marriage an ideal because it is rooted, timelessly, in the universal nature of man and woman?

Many marriage-minded women struggle with the unexpected in-between of today’s prolonged singleness. That includes Bolick: “If I stopped seeing my present life as provisional,” she writes, “perhaps I’d be a little … happier.” (The ellipsis is hers.)

Bolick seems to have resolved her sense of being betwixt-and-between by demoting marriage. In other words, if experience doesn’t match up to the ideal, toss out the ideal. But must we abandon our unique esteem and deep desire for marriage to find fulfillment today without it?

We need to restore cultural respect for the marriage ideal. In the meantime, the marriage aspiration is alive and well.

Far from giving up on marriage, the single ladies – a la Beyonce – are looking for a man to “put a ring on it.”