By Rod Van Mechelen
Men too, with their vociferous denial of interest in "commitment," have been rebelling against marriage as a way of life (at least, verbally rebelling) for at least half a century, complaining that they feel restricted in it. - Women and Love: A Cultural Revolution in Progress, St. Martin's Press mass market edition, 1989, Shere Hite
Men care about their income the same way women care about their sexuality. - Anonymous
Paying for it
1992 Bellevue, Wash. - A common belief in our society is that women want commitment in relationships but men do not.
Why should men want commitment? There are many valid reasons for men to hesitate: Many women use marriage as a meal-ticket, a way to escape their feminist won freedom to pursue a career. (Women Vs. Women: The Uncivil Business War, Tara Roth Madden, p 137) Thus, a man who marries a woman with a career may suddenly find himself supporting a housewife.
A friend found himself in such a situation. Now he's dead. Committed suicide. It happens.
To women, commitment can mean escape, freedom, options to do whatever they want. Many count themselves victorious when they can pull it off. (Women Vs. Women: The Uncivil Business War, Tara Roth Madden, p 141) What's all of this mean to men? Prostitution by any other name still means you have to pay for it.
Despite this, the belief men fear commitment and women do not is a myth: Women fear commitment at least as much as men do. In fact, almost half of all women fear commitment. (Women and Love: A Cultural Revolution in Progress, St. Martin's Press mass market edition, 1989, Shere Hite, p 274)
Women: Celebration of Life; Men: Anti-monogamy
Twenty-six percent of heterosexual women between the ages of twenty and thirty never want to get married (Women and Love: A Cultural Revolution in Progress, St. Martin's Press mass market edition, 1989, Shere Hite, p 277), and 18 percent between the ages of thirty and fifty are completely uninterested in marriage. (Women and Love: A Cultural Revolution in Progress, St. Martin's Press mass market edition, 1989, Shere Hite, p 278) According to Shere Hite, this is because they are afraid they will commit to someone, and then find somebody better. (Women and Love: A Cultural Revolution in Progress, St. Martin's Press mass market edition, 1989, Shere Hite, p 287)
Many men feel the same way. (Why They Don't Call When They Say They Will and Other Mixed Signals, Dr. Joy Browne, p 93) But when they express this attitude, pop feminists call it "anti-monogamy." (Women and Love: A Cultural Revolution in Progress, St. Martin's Press mass market edition, 1989, Shere Hite, p 220) But they call women's reluctance to commit a "Celebration of Life on Our Own." (Women and Love: A Cultural Revolution in Progress, St. Martin's Press mass market edition, 1989, Shere Hite, p 310) This is a double standard.
Another Double Standard
The double standard begins with men's sexual invisibility. Most women feel most men are not worthy of their love. Consequently, they dismiss men's readiness to commit:
The women were not complaining about unsuccessful men who were afraid of commitment. They were complaining about men who were very committed to work but not committed to them. - Farrell: Why Men Are the Way They Are, Warren Farrell, Ph.D., p 153
Traditionally, women marry up, forcing most men to marry down. That is, women trade their sexual power for the economic power and social status men earn. If there is not actual gender equality in this arrangement, it is at least equitable, providing the means for women and men to get the most bang for their bucks, so to speak. But now the social equation is unbalanced.
Women's liberation opened the door for women to earn their own economic power and social status. Foreseeing the problems this could cause, early feminists admonished women to assume the responsibilities accompanying these rights. (The Rights of Women and Negroes, Angelina Grimke Weld, Resolution of The Woman's National Loyal League, Cooper Institution, N.Y., May, 1863.)
As the women's suffragists discovered, however, women are very conservative about such things. (See, for example, The Indifference of Women, a speech given by Alice Stone Blackwell at a suffrage convention held in Washington, D.C. on February 13-19, 1898.) Thus, while many eventually embraced the right to earn status and power, most still measure men by traditional rules. They still expect to marry up. Economic and social parity with most men makes this virtually impossible, because only the relatively few men with superior status and power measure up.
A Perceived Shortage
Thus, women perceive a shortage of suitable men. A shortage made worse when such men, realizing they have what women want, and wanting for themselves the best possible relationship, refrain from commitment for fear of finding someone they love more. The same reason many women fear commitment.
A man who won't commit may be Mr. Celebrity to a particular woman, but to him she might not be a serious contender. In her eyes, therefore, he is "afraid to commit." But from the point of view of the millions of men who have been rejected by their Ms. Right, women are the ones who are afraid of commitment.
There are many men ready to commit, and to commit for love, intimacy, being understood, and feeling needed, rather than for sex, power and domination. (Farrell: Why Men Are the Way They Are, Warren Farrell, Ph.D., p 162) Most women unconsciously know this. They also know they are afraid of commitment, too. (How To Love A Nice Guy, Dr. Judy Kuriansky, p 93)
Rod Van Mechelen
Rod Van Mechelen is the author of What Everyone Should Know about Feminist Issues: The Male-Positive Perspective (the page now includes several articles by other authors), and the publisher of The Backlash! @ Backlash.com. He is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and served for 9-1/2 years on the Cowlitz Indian Tribal Council.