Given the multitude of conversations relating to the recession and recovery of the US economy, it's not altogether surprising that the discourse has involved speculation about marriages and divorces. A few folks have speculated about the rise and decline of marriages and divorces during the recessions (Do the rich get more recession divorces?).
What really interests me though is the juxtaposition of dialogue that suggests on the one hand that marriage is the cure for children living in poverty and on the other hand marriage is the "End of Men" because wives are becoming more successful than their husbands.
Let's look at the thesis suggesting women should just get married to solve child poverty. At the beginning of September 2012, the Heritage Foundation proclaimed that the solution to child poverty was marriage. For some great responses on debunking this claim, check out Professor Stephanie Coontz's response on CNN and the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence's blog. What women really need to support their children is access to resources and a stable paycheck. As WIFE.org proclaims, "A Man Is Not a Financial Plan". We can do better for women and children in society and offer families and girls real empowerment.
In contrast to this notion that somehow all of our problems will be resolved if damsel's in distress every where could just find their prince on a white horse, we see competing narratives that suggest women are doing so much better than men. Hanna Rosin is coming out with a book titled, "The End of Men: And the rise of Women". In it she pronounces that for some classes in society, women are more likely to be the breadwinner in married couples (See her article in the Atlantic here) and that women are rapidly outpacing men in the workforce due to them getting more education than men and their ability to be adaptable to change. Obviously, this proclamation is not sitting well with everyone, given that the majority of statistics would just not support her thesis that women are taking over. Check out a review of the book by Jennifer Homans in the New York Times and the many blog postings by Dr. Philip Cohen on Family Inequality for some counter argument.
I'm not entirely sure how both of these things can be true at the same time: women need a man to support themselves and their children AND women are ending men as we know them because they are just so much more successful than men. How can women both need a man and NOT be the primary breadwinner at the same time?
What this really does is say to women, your place is married and in the home. Make sure you have a man in your life but don't emasculate him. Really, what we're seeing is just the double edged sword that women experience in multiple facets of their lives. Be thin, but not too thin. Be fierce, but don't be bitchy. Be strong, but don't be arrogant. Be a wife, but not one that makes too much money.