The married life is the best (National Post, January 21, 2004)

The series Sex and the City is winding down, and that's fine with me. I got the gist quickly, and dislike almost everything about it: the fusion of soap opera, group therapy and soft porn, and the women's repellent crudity around their obsession with orgasms. Mostly I hate their affinity for narcissistic jerks rather than for the husband/father potential in honourable men. Many women think SATC's a hoot; I think it's pretty sick.

SATC says that women can be promiscuous with any number of men, get hurt by most of them, then bounce perkily back to form, curiously unbruised by their misadventures, and eager to share their experiences: not their feelings -- what real women discuss -- but the graphic physical details more often associated with stud posses.

Women just aren't like that. They do not separate sex from emotion on an ongoing basis, unless they are so desensitized and cynical from years of sexual indiscrimination that they have completely abandoned all hope of genuine intimacy. But SATC pretends that women can be rapaciously sex-obsessed for years, yet end up pristinely unsullied, newly faithful for Mr. Right.

SATC projects an ideological fantasy rather than a probing exploration of modern courtship. The framing notion is that women are in every important way the same as men, that serial relationships -- with no permanent commitment in view -- are an end in themselves, and that intimacy is a fungible accessory to a sexual hook-up. Most of all, this subversive ideology implies that marriage is no better than other sexually-motivated relationship contracts, willfully ignoring persuasive counterclaims for marriage's unique power to enrich relationship quality, arguments from tradition, sociological research, and plain common sense.

Statistics and studies give the lie to the ideologues. A University of Chicago survey of 3,432 Americans aged 18-59 found that monogamous married couples reported the highest sexual satisfaction, while singles and marrieds with multiple partners reported the lowest. Another poll found that 67% of married couples said they were "happy with their sex life" against 45% of cohabiting singles. And -- listen up, post-Christians -- Redbook Magazine found, surveying 100,000 women, that the most strongly religious women were "more responsive sexually" than all others!

Academics, however, are never concerned with what actual living people believe or feel. They are enamoured of their theories. The postmodern creed du jour is Close Relationship Theory, according to which families are just one of many "close or primary relationship[s]", an interchangeable and dispensable social construct rather than a universally embraced paradigm and the foundation stone of every civilization in history.

Statistics and studies aside, the current U.S. administration happens to be sympathetic to marriage, and is putting big money behind that belief. But since Canadian elites are both anti-American and resolutely "progressive," they persevere in their lemming-like commitment to ideology over common sense, whatever the social cost. And when academics and glib lawyers speak, they seem to cast an intimidating spell on Canadians.

The Canadian Bar Association, for example, in its lengthy report: Recognizing and Supporting Close Personal Relationships Between Adults, advocates that the law stress the "substance of relationships" rather than "arrangements" such as marriage. The government "should recognize and support" all significant adult close relationships as long as they are "neither dysfunctional nor harmful."

"Dysfunctional nor harmful" to whom? The key words in that report are "between adults." Well, if only consenting adults were involved in their sexual choices, who would care what people do with their bodies or what kind of "arrangements" they made to maximize their satisfaction? The Bar Association (from which springs our judiciary) deliberately makes no mention of the impact their recommendations will have on children, as if to say -- and they do by omission -- that children's needs should always be trumped by adult sexual appetites and whims, even if adult "arrangements" are "harmful" and "dysfunctional" for children.

For Close Relationship Theorists, children are considered actual impediments to happiness. In their book Partnering: A New Kind of Relationship, Hal and Sidra Stone argue that children pose the main threat to "primary relationships" since these are "very frequently ... destroyed by the presence of children." To the concupiscent partners in a "close relationship," anything that distracts from the near-constant pleasuring of the senses is an irritant.

SATC enthusiasts and their supporting ideologues insist it is uncool to ask women to restrict themselves in their sexual explorations. The sexually cautious are today's new perverts. It is politically incorrect to state that promiscuity has made women unhappier, more vulnerable and less appreciated by men -- and families more fragile and dysfunctional -- than in the so-called "repressed" '50s. All the more reason to keep saying it then, since it is true.

© National Post 2004