Photographed by Winnie Au.
In a thrilling display of poor taste and judgment, The Washington Post's PostEverything section published an op-ed titled, "One way to end violence against women? Stop taking lovers and get married." If you're not yet sold on that groundbreaking argument, here's the sub-header: "The data show that #yesallwomen would be safer hitched to their baby daddies."
Twitter soon erupted with the face-palming rage you're probably feeling right now, and so The Post's team quickly changed the headline to something ever so slightly less offensive. But, in reading the rest of the piece, the original fits it just right.
Professors W. Bradford Wilcox and Robin Fretwell Wilson penned the piece to outline statistics such as "married women are the least likely to be victimized by an intimate partner," "girls raised in a home with their married father are markedly less likely to be abused or assaulted than children living without their own father," and "women who are married are more likely to live in safer neighborhoods." Many of the facts reported in this piece are indeed upheld by academic and/or government studies. But, marriage is hardly the only factor in any of these successes.
Then, there are statements like this: "Marriage also seems to cause men to behave better. That’s because men tend to settle down after they marry, to be more attentive to the expectations of friends and kin, to be more faithful, and to be more committed to their partners — factors that minimize the risk of violence." The writers do note that, according to Nicholas Sparks' novel Safe Haven, getting married doesn't necessarily mean you won't abuse your spouse. But, they say, it sure does seem to help! Their final pearl of nuptial/parental wisdom:
"So, women: if you’re the product of a good marriage, and feel safer as a consequence, lift a glass to dear old dad this Sunday."
And, with that, Wilcox and Wilson seem to have lost what little audience they had left. Because, of course, women — and men — who were raised by parents in a stable, loving marriage probably benefited from it. Surely, healthy marriages are good for kids and spouses alike. But, marriage isn't the solution to anyone's problems; nor is it a panacea for the issue of worldwide domestic violence. A healthy relationship, married or not, is the result of a myriad of factors and decisions.
So, cheers to dad indeed. Cheers to mom, as well. Cheers to the foster parents and the single parents and the partners and the relatives and the teachers and the friends who play formative roles in a kid's life. Cheers to the married and the single and the divorced and the widowed (did you forget about them, WaPo?) Next time, let's focus on the actual issue at hand: violence, not "baby daddies."