The Corner

The Left Is Still Ignoring the Costs of Family Breakdown

Katie Roiphe’s full-throated defense of single parenthood should not really come as a surprise, given the iron-clad grip of feminism and the related prerogatives of the sexual revolution on the elite worldview. This proud single mother and NYU journalism professor, who is definitely not “too poor to marry,” is insulted by a New York Times article on the 53 percent illegitimate-birth rate among females under 30, which she thinks covertly telegraphs the message that unwed moms can’t in fact do it all:

The Times reporters’ analysis of the economics and sociology of [an Ohio town with a particularly high illegitimacy rate] is punctuated by a pat “meanwhile, children happen” that is perhaps not quite as respectful as it could be of the fact that these independent-minded, apparently hard-working women are making decisions and forging families, after thinking clearly about their situation.

Marriage, Roiphe reveals triumphantly, “does not ensure eternal love, or even eternal security.” Now we know.

But despite its overdetermined status, Roiphe’s Slate piece is nevertheless a sobering reminder of how great the abyss still is between those who understand the costs of family breakdown and those who see it as merely “refresh[ing] our ideas of family.” Roiphe concludes that there are no (annoyingly retrograde) studies on “what it will be like for . . . children to live in” the coming world without marriage. Actually, we know already. It’s called the ghetto.

Heather Mac Donald — Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor of City Journal, and the author of the New York Times bestseller The War on Cops

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