A few words on harlotry, the marriage industrial complex and Steven Crowder

It has come to my attention recently that some guy named Steven Crowder got married – and, for some reason, used that as a chance to launch into a massive diatribe about sluts and harlots and what have you. It was picked up my Jezebel and much hilarity involving gifs ensued.

My initial reaction to Crowder’s piece is also best summed up with a gif:

(Sent to me by a friend who sends me great gifs – and lotsa random porn to freak me out while I’m working. I salute you, brother.)

Then I read this discussion of Crowder’s um, joyful missive from the Ever After – as well as checked out Crowder’s own Twitter – and it got me thinking. About Crowder, whom I still wish all of the happiness in the world (although, if you ask me, launching into a mocking tirade about other people’s sex lives is a funny way of showing that you’re in the throes of wedded bliss), but also about our culture’s extreme Marriage Mythology.

Truth is, I know a fair amount of people who have chosen to wait to have sex. And a fair amount of people who were virgins on their wedding night. It’s just Their Way and not something to comment on beyond that, for me. That’s not really the issue here.

The issue is – the Marriage Mythology requires your wedding to be The Happiest Day of Your Life™. And if you read between the lines, happiness actually signals a kind of unreality. It can’t be a regular human experience, it has to be something Beyond That.

And there is an entire industry built around this supposition. This is why otherwise normal people will suddenly break down when confronted with the fact that their wedding invitations, the ones that were supposed to be eggshell white, actually turned out to be more like cream white. 

And abstinence is, in many ways, a kind of niche industry. You have people writing books about it. Or those who, like Crowder, write columns about it. You have people teaching abstinence education and massive abstinence campaigns with passionate-sounding slogans such as True Love Waits, slogans that are used on official jewelry and apparel and what have you.

Abstinence is industrialized the way that sex is also industrialized. Both of these narratives are packaged like a De Beers commercial. And both need each other – one is irrelevant without the other.

So beating your chest and celebrating your own decision to remain “pure” until marriage while simultaneously blasting the sluts and whores who haven’t followed your shining example is actually a pretty awesome career move. It’s a bit like coming out with an in-your-face commercial that people will talk about long after the Super Bowl is over. You’re stumping – but no one will notice unless you take a major swipe at the competition.

But let’s get real here – and talk about the actual human beings involved in making such a decision.

While I totally understand that people in the wedding (and the abstinence!) industries need to eat, ya’ll, I don’t think that using a marriage ceremony as a chance to impress other people is healthy for your relationship. I like the notion of a public celebration as dedicated to commitment and love – and for certain, there are different ways to express that. Some are more expensive than others. Sometimes, the bride is extremely lucky to take advantage of a great aunt’s vintage jewelry and post-Christmas sales events (*cough*). Some people cannot imagine a wedding ceremony without the participation of big fucking elephants – and to them I say right on.

But people like Steven Crowder here go on to frame their wedding and their wedding night as one big “HAHA FUCK YOU” to the folks who taunted him about being abstinent and I… am a little disturbed by that, I guess? Imagine if I met and married a football player – and then wrote a gloating column addressed to all of the jocks who didn’t see fit to invite me to any of our high school dances. Take THAT, fellas!

Yep, it would make me seem like a totally cool and well-adjusted human being. And one who is certainly mature enough to embark on what is supposed to be a lifelong commitment.


P.S. What’s the deal with Crowder’s weirdly competitive insistence that the people his wife and he encountered during breakfast must have had some sort of shitty wedding – and are clearly just pathetic shits in general? Like, “MWAHAHAHA, DUDE DIDN’T COME DOWN FOR BREAKFAST, BET HE WAS A DRUNKEN ASSHOLE AT HIS OWN RECEPTION.” Yeah, ’cause that’s totally what I would assume as well – as opposed to giggling inappropriately about what a great wedding night those two probably had.

OK Vox, I’ll bite

Why the hell are you (or, for that matter, this guy agreeing with you) assuming that a highly educated woman would want to marry some millionaire type?

Having your own helipad, truffle farm, and earlobe masseuse is the ultimate goal of some people, but if you’ve gone to the trouble of getting a PhD, you’re probably interested in a different kind of success altogether.

When I met my man, I wasn’t looking for someone to spend the rest of my life with. But when I realized that he was into cooking, football, and reading creepy fairy tales on dark and stormy evenings, the angels did a chorus, organ music swelled, and golden beams of light reached towards him as if providence itself were leading me into his arms (or… something like that). Even if I did have the looks to snag me some playboy instead, I’d be bored to tears with a dude who was busy with his investments 90% of the time, and wanted to spend the other 10% draping me in diamonds and showing me off on yachts. It’s just not my idea of happiness, plain and simple. Hell, my mother was smokin’ hot in her youth, and when some guy who owned a castle proposed to her on account of her smokin’ hotness, she ran away screaming.

Because… dude. Some people are simply a bad match.

And here’s another thing: if you are really, really smart and discerning, your dating pool automatically gets smaller. It’s also true that men are often taught by their family and/or culture that it’s OK to marry a woman who’s either a) not particularly bright, or b) dumbs herself down. Women? Not so much. Now, I know several highly successful and wealthy women who married men whose primary function in life is sipping daiquiris and waxing their chests, which is perfectly fine as long as both parties are happy. And I’m not going to say that those men are stupid, because they could also simply refuse to advertise their intelligence on account of it interfering with their marriage. Whatever.

Everyone has their own idea of bliss, and I think it’s safe to say that for Carolyn Kaufman, this idea most likely involves someone who is just as erudite and committed to a profession as she is.

I’ll drink to that.

“So, what’s it like being in an ‘unconventional marriage,’ Evan?”

I did this interview following the publication of the “Vanya” interview below. Once again, the name “Evan” is not real.

Our exchange was inspired by Vanya’s peculiar (in my opinion) take on marriage. Continue reading ““So, what’s it like being in an ‘unconventional marriage,’ Evan?””