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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Word of the Day: Unnatural

If a woman under the age of 30 gives birth, odds are the kid is a little bastard (or the female equivalent thereof) ("For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage").  Not that we go around anymore condemning these wanton harlots bringing their illegitimate bundles of shame into the world.  Alas, such is "progress."  America awaits breathlessly the inevitable gusting from Hurricane Santorum about this latest sign of the nation's moral depravity.

I've never bought into the whole fetishization of marriage as a cure for society's ills.  Don't get me wrong: Some of my best friends are married.  And I do think children generally benefit from having two parents, scientists not having worked out all the kinks of parthenogenesis.  But I can't quite see why we should particularly care that a majority of women under 30 are having kids out of wedlock.

Conservatives see in the growing numbers of out-of-wedlock births a sign of society's collapse.  They point to single-parenting as a culprit in everything from children's diminishing academic achievements to rising crime to economic malaise.  Of course, economic malaise, at least, is as much a cause of out-of-wedlock births as it is a result: Women see fewer "marriageable" men--in terms of their mates' financial prospects--and make rational economic decisions not to commit themselves to what may well be a bad investment.

Interestingly, many of the conservatives who will no doubt decry this news are the same people who will also condemn such things as homosexuality as "unnatural."  I mention this because it occurs to me that, compared to the institution of marriage, homosexuality (as well as out-of-wedlock birth) is extremely natural: Creatures with (natural) urges for sex will satisfy those urges in whatever way is most pleasing to them--indeed, examples of "homosexuality" in the animal world are, if not common, certainly documented.  If right-wingers feel concern about behavior that goes against "nature," they should celebrate both homosexual behavior and this news about out-of-wedlock births and condemn the unnatural institution of marriage.  Puffins do not marry.  Man is the only animal that signs a pre-nup.

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