Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Shack-Up Honey Calls My Favorite Talk Show Host

Upfront: 1) I love Dr. Laura's show, books, website, and Facebook page, and I almost always agree with her and recognize that she's helped millions people. 2) I agree shacking up is bad and I strongly advise against it.

Almost 32 minutes into the third hour of her show on Tuesday, Dr. Laura took a call from a woman who said she is in an eight-year relationship and they've been "living together" for three, and she described her relationship as great all around and in glowing terms, even using the words "respect" and "sacrifice", but she was saying he deflects talk of marriage with "it isn't the right time".

(I wonder if that woman can explain why she even wants to bother to get married in honest terms that doesn't involve a series of parties in which she'll be the focus or community property. But I digress.)

This prompted Dr. Laura to tear into her about shacking up. "In my day, that wouldn't have flown." Well, right, there were a lot fewer people shacking up back then, but women also had fewer real choices in life. A sexual harassment lawsuit also wouldn't have flown, for example.  Dr. Laura talked about how she shouldn't "hump him, clean for him, and be his companion unless he's willing to lay down his life" for her.

The implications here include:
1) Women don't enjoy unmarried sex. This is obviously false.
2) She shouldn't clean the place in which she is living. And for all we know, the guy is cleaning or paying for a maid.
3) Companionship should only be given in marriage or if the relationship is leading to marriage. I wonder how Dr. Laura advises homosexual people? Are they not to have any friends or roommates of the same-sex? And aren't there plenty of women who aren't shacking up who fornicate with their boyfriends, help him around his place (and it is reciprocated) and they provide companionship to each other?

Dr. Laura frequently refers to marriage as a man "laying down his life". Men considering marriage should take note of that. Getting married is laying down your life. If you want to hold on to your life, then don't get married. For women, marriage is being "put on a pedestal".

She went on to say "foolish women like you give it all up to a guy" as if he's not giving anything and as if she's not getting anything. "He's ready to hump you," but not marry. Since her show is not a religious show, why is that so bad? Sex is pleasurable. Marriage is him signing a legal document obligating him to give half of everything he'll ever earn to the caller. The morality of the show borrows heavily from religion, but tries to scrub it of theology or religious attachment, and that can be problematic. (Unmarried sex = pregnancies outside of marriage, which can men kids raised outside of marriage and abortion, but again, why are those things bad? Eventually, no matter how many steps are taken, the moral code has to go back to some objective foundation or it is a matter of "I don't like it", to which a caller can ask, "So what if YOU don't like that?")

Dr. Laura described the caller as foolish more than once but didn't explain why shacking up is foolish. "He didn’t have to earn you, he just had to show up and unzip." Actually, we don't know how the dating went before they started having sex, and what he's doing for her now in terms of paying her way through life, providing her protection, romancing her, etc. Our host likes to refer to men "earning" women.

Dr. Laura never talks about marriage being a benefit to a man, but talks about shacking up as somehow being beneficial to him. Whether she's talking to a man or a woman about shacking up, marriage is always presented as his obligation and her benefit. So when she is talking to a man about shacking up, she never bothers to explain what benefit there will be for him in marrying instead of (continuing) shacking up, but rather tries to guilt him into it and does the "real man" talk.

As I've noted before, one of the assumptions seems to be that her time is more valuable than his. He needs to "earn" and pay for her time. To be sure, time should be very important to a woman. Geraldo Rivera made a good point about that recently and it caused a stir, but the cold, hard facts are that: 1) if a woman wants to have children, there is a limited window in her life where she has the ability to get pregnant and have a healthy child while a man has a much wider window to become a father, and; 2) men are visual creatures and most men prefer youthful appearance in women so that a woman's ability to attract a man who can support her in comfort, and especially luxury, diminishes as she ages, even more so if she wants a man who is not significantly older than her. (A 25 year-old woman can get wealthy 35 year-old men to marry her that would not marry a 35 year-old woman, but the 35 year-old woman might be able to get a wealthy 60 year-old to marry her.) So, time should be important to her, but that doesn't necessarily mean her time should be worth any more than his.

But then there's the law of supply and demand. The average man wants sex more than the average woman. Hence, the overwhelming majority of prostitution customers are, and have always been, men. Whether through explicitly admitted prostitution, paying for dates, marriage contracts, or alimony, men are expected to pay for sex, even if it was sex had in the past. I realize that sounds cynical and crass, but it is the logical principal, when we see through all of the niceties and flowery language, being employed in the reasoning of many marriage promoters today. (A religious show host might instead say He is our Creator, we belong to Him, and sex is a gift He has given for marriage, and in marriage our bodies belong to each other per His delegation.)

While Dr. Laura rants, in different words, about how women willing to shack up are lowering the price of... I’ll be polite can call it "sex"... for men (Tom Leykis says the price should be no more than $120 to start, and no more than $40 in ongoing per-use payments), here are the real problems with shacking up:

1) It makes it more difficult to break up. This is probably why there are many of the negative correlations Dr. Laura (and others) sometimes note about shacking up, such as increased rates of domestic violence and more likelihood of divorce if they do marry. If your date hits you, even if you don't file charges you can simply not date him anymore, but if your shack-up hits you, it's a lot more effort and hassle to get out of the situation. Some people marry because they've been shacking up and they've been conditioned to think it's the "next step" or he thinks (incorrectly) it will shut up her nagging and whining, and especially if they never should have been together in the first place, they end up divorcing. Such people were never going to have a lasting marriage, whether they shacked up or not.

2) It creates patterns of living together but not being married that might carry over into being married. Being married is a huge difference than not being married. Even stripping away all social factors, marriage is a state-enforced financial contract in which the state treats the couple as a unit, granting them default reciprocal beneficiary and next-of-kin status, and often assigns the husband default paternity status over any children the wife births. Living together with someone who is not your spouse is very different from living with your spouse, but because when shack-ups marry, they are dealing with the same person and often in the same environment, the patterns of living as "independent" individuals often carry over into a situation that is supposed to be them living together as interdependent spouses. These are people who might have had better or longer-lasting marriages if they hadn't shacked up.

Now, if someone doesn't want to marry at all, or wants to be with their current partner but not marry them, they're not going to care about #2, and they may be willing to risk #1 in exchange for sharing a domicile. Even someone who does want to marry might be willing to risk #2 rather than marry someone  with whom they haven't experienced sharing a domicile. This is where the marriage promoters whip out the statistics and say the odds are better of having a lasting marriage if they don't shack up. I've been over all of that before. How many of those divorces are because of #1? How many are because the same people willing to shack up are also more likely to go through a divorce rather than stay in a marriage they don't like? Those don't really "count" the same way #2 does, and perhaps #2 could be offset with some specialized counseling to transition shack-ups into marriage?

So, some people will continue to speak badly about shacking up essentially because it lowers the price of sex for men (in comparison to marrying - certainly not in comparison to hooking up), and other people will continue to speak badly about shacking up because it further entrenches someone into a relationship involving fornication, and still others will speak badly about it because they discourage man from sharing a domicile with a woman under any circumstances (see: MGTOW, Leykis 101).

Here's what I've written before about these topics:

Questions for Dr. Laura
Women Get Something Out of Shacking Up
Don't Let Her Move In
Cow and Milk

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