It's an amusing truth that comes up with regularity: Men who love Donald Trump struggle on the dating market. This is neither surprising nor regrettable. Supporting Trump is much like refusing to bathe, blowing your nose in your hands or farting loudly on purpose. It's a repugnant habit that makes you repulsive to normal people. The whole point of dating and marriage is to find happiness, not to spend the rest of one's days suffering in silence while the racist you live with cackles over Greg Gutfeld's latest hateful diatribe disguised as "comedy."
This should be common sense. Yet our sexist culture remains too enamored by stories of female self-sacrifice to accept that it's just fine if Trump voters never get laid. Even people who really should know better have taken to bullying liberal women for their refusal to date male Trump voters. "If attitudes don’t shift, a political dating mismatch will threaten marriage," declared a recent headline of a Washington Post column by the editorial board. To make it even grosser, the op-ed was published the day before Thanksgiving, as if to arm "concerned" relatives who planned to spend the holiday pestering single women at dinner over when they will get serious about finding a husband.
Being married to someone you wanted to marry is very different than what is being suggested here: lowering your standards just to get married.
In this unsigned essay, the authors fret that the "ideological divide" between young men and women is preventing Gen Z — who range in age from 9 to 27— from getting married. Women under 30 are far more likely to be liberal than men, who are far more likely to identify as conservative. Citing data showing that Democratic voters generally refuse to date Trump voters, the Post editors argue that people should be more willing to date across party lines, and learn to appreciate "alternative perspectives that may at first seem odd or offensive."
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The op-ed presents as if this entreaty to date across party lines as if it's generalized advice being offered to both men and women, and both Republicans and Democrats. But of course, it's aimed primarily, if not exclusively, at Democratic-voting women. The polling data shows that most Republicans are already willing to date Democrats. (Which makes sense, since Democrats make more attractive partners.) It's mostly Democrats — and mostly women — who decline to date those from the other party.
Adding further insult to injury, the editorial board cites right-wing sociologist Brad Wilcox, who is set to publish yet another in a long list of books that treat compulsory heterosexual marriage as a panacea for all social ills. Wilcox has a shady history of ties to anti-gay advocacy. Disturbingly, he once argued that marriage prevents domestic violence. In reality, marriage just traps women in relationships with their abusers.
In trying to sell women on this "marry men who repulse you" plan, the editorial board unconvincingly argues that simply being married makes people happier than being single. But while it may be true that married people — even those in politically mixed marriages — report higher levels of happiness than single people, it doesn't follow that the wedding ring is the reason. Most Americans marry for love, after all. Being married to someone you wanted to marry is very different than what is being suggested here: lowering your standards just to get married.
To be a bit crass about it, think about it this way: Two women buy a pair of shoes. The first one is allowed to try on every pair in the store until she finds ones that fit well and look good on her. The other woman buys the first pair on the rack, without even checking if it's her size. Which woman do you think will be happier with her purchase a week from now? And choosing who you marry has even more impact on your life!
But of course, women's happiness is not actually the concern of the Washington Post editorial board.
Marrying a Trump voter isn't just a matter of minor political differences, or expecting someone to be exactly like yourself. For women, in particular, it's about being able to be safe and respected inside your own home, which is a very minimum standard all people deserve. Voting for Trump means backing a man who has been accused of sexual assault by two dozen women, and who a judge and jury deemed responsible for rape. It means backing the man who repeatedly brags that he got Roe v. Wade overturned. In addition, the MAGA media consumed by most Republicans is hardly neutral on the question of sexism. They are all for it, from the tired sexist jokes on Fox News to bizarre internet trends like "tradwives." For a woman, marrying a Trump supporter isn't about being with someone who has different views on tax rates. It's bringing someone into your home who ascribes to an ideology in which you are not fully human.
But of course, women's happiness is not actually the concern of the Washington Post editorial board. The more serious argument comes from their insistence that cross-political marriages will help save the nation from "the Trump-era divisions" and social ills stemming from men's misogyny. Basically, it's a gussied-up version of the classic "Beauty and the Beast" fantasy, where a woman's love can turn the brute into a prince. It's cruel on its face to expect women to give up their own happiness in hopes they can turn a redhat into a better man through patience and love. But it's also a false hope. It's hard enough to get anyone to change their minds about politics. Trying to get men who already think women are inferior to listen to their liberal wives is a joke.
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I have a small sliver of sympathy for the frustration that drives this asinine hope that pity-marriages for Trump voters will save us from the MAGA threat. It's galling that nothing seems to wake up Trump voters from their fascist stupor. Reason doesn't change them. Evidence has no impact. Compassion or decency? We've tried appealing to their better angels for years, and all we get is "cry harder, libs." In the face of this MAGA unwillingness to suck less, there can be comfort in "Twilight"-style fantasies that the monster can be made into a man by a woman's loving touch. But it's simply not real.
Worse, it shifts responsibility for male misbehavior onto women. The blame for MAGA is subtly moved away from those who are perpetuating the problem, meaning Trump's predominantly male voters, onto the shoulders of Democratic women who have been doing everything right all along. It's reminiscent of the way women's hemlines are blamed for male violence or the way mothers are blamed for what their grown sons choose to do. It feels easier to blame women than to hold men accountable. But it's a distraction from the real source of the problem, and from thinking about real solutions.
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