I’ve been thinking a lot recently about a question someone posed in response to an essay on relations between the sexes. I must apologise for having forgotten the source, but the gist was “This is all very interesting but what do you think we should do?”
Recently a brilliant Cambridge postgrad in her early twenties approached me for advice on a personal dilemma. We walked across autumn countryside for two hours, and talked about many things. In the course of that conversation, she asked me how I thought we should start rebuilding relations between the sexes in the rubble of hyper-liberalism.
Three points emerged, all of which I’ll write about in due course, and all of which address the question: “what in fact should we do?”The first is this: it’s time to abolish Big Romance.
One of my central contentions is that while some liberalisation has benefited some women, especially bourgeois women in the developed world, radical social liquefaction across the board is catastrophically bad for women – and especially those of us who are mothers. Interdependence is a defining feature of motherhood, from gestation onward. Family life is the archetypal template for those ways in which, as humans, we thrive when we belong to one another.
Another central question for me is how we start rebuilding after liquid modernity. In particular, as I argued at Natcon, how we do so in a way that isn’t just stuffing women back into some imaginary ‘trad’ box, or seeking the ultimate victory of one sex over the other. In my view the central institution for surviving and rebuilding after liquid modernity has to be marriage. But for this to work under today’s conditions we have to revise what we understand marriage to mean.Continue reading “Abolish Big Romance”