Dismantling The Nuclear Family Isn't The Solution. It’s The Problem

Feminism claims to fight for the rights and protection of women, and yet the track record of mainstream feminism proves that facts have not had as much of a role in the movement as ideology and demagogy have.

By Ellie Holt5 min read
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Feminism has fallen into two traps. The first is that it blatantly ignores real human rights issues in favor of entitled, privileged-brand feminism. The second is that feminism undermines the institutions of marriage and the family, institutions that arguably protect the best interests of women and children. 

Modern Feminism Is Anti-Man and Anti-Marriage 

Fourth-wave feminism, building upon earlier works of second and third-wave feminism, seeks to denigrate the nuclear family, the institution of marriage, and the nuclear family as oppressive hindrances to the natural freedom of women. Fourth-wave feminism is but a female-centric exploration of Rousseau’s idea that "man is born free, and he is everywhere in chains," meaning that women are born free, but have been shackled by patriarchy and internalized misogyny. 

Betty Friedan, in The Feminine Mystique, likened the life of a housewife to that of a "comfortable concentration camp." Kate Millet's work, Sexual Politics, was one of the first works to describe marriage as explicitly oppressive to women, a continuation of the work done by Betty Friedan and Simone de Beauvoir. Gloria Steinman popularized the quote, "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." Contemporary feminist writer, Andrea Dworkin famously declared that all [heterosexual] sex was rape due to existing power structures between men and women.

Betty Friedan likened the life of a housewife to that of a "comfortable concentration camp."

Even in 2020, we see The New York Times regarding, "straight culture, which is the very heart of society's most disgraceful failures.... [In] The pressure to partner with the opposite gender we find the extortions of capitalism, the misogynistic violence against women." Many of the feminist critiques of traditional family structures seem to fall in line with Marxist rhetoric that calls to subvert the nuclear family in order to enhance the power and influence of the state.  

Marriage and family are in turn viewed with disdain, as tools of the patriarchy to keep women oppressed, enslaved, and undervalued. The dismantling of the institution of marriage is therefore seen as a route to progress and equality. The concept being that without the social constructs of traditional gender roles, women will finally be free, and therefore happier. The denigration of the family structure is seen as a progressive revolution of sorts. Yet, marriage and family are arguably the very institutions that protect women.

The Consequences of the Decline of Marriage and Family

If we were to dismantle marriage and family, what do we suppose all the single men would do? Dawn pussy hats and march arm in arm at the #MeToo marches? Doubtful. 

Instead, we see men resorting to the exact kinds of male behavior that feminism claims to be against. We see the objectification of women, increased porn addiction, increased violence against women, and less respect for women in general. One need only to peruse the DMs of a woman's Tinder account to verify such. 

If sexual liberation is so good, why are women less happy today than they were 50 years ago? 

If marriage and family are so bad for women and sexual liberation is so good, why are women less happy today than they were 50 years ago? In effect, these are the results of feminism, not the reason we need more of it. 

Marriage Is Good for Women and Children

While there are numerous factors at play here, I want to specifically focus on attacks on marriage and family, as well as the ultimately harmful impacts they have on women and children. 

In the past 30 years, children born out of wedlock has increased by 28%, in which roughly 40% of all children in the U.S. are born to unmarried parents. Many feminists would tell us this is an evolutionary trend in which women no longer need men and proof that the nuclear, traditional family is increasingly obsolete. 

Contrary to everything feminism tells us, marriage and the family unit are the very social institutions that domesticate men, protect families, raise better men and women, keep families out of poverty, promote good values, and ensure success in future generations. 

Married women are more likely to live longer, to be more satisfied, and to be wealthier.

Women who are married are more likely to live longer, to be more satisfied, to be wealthier, and far less likely to be domestically abused than their single counterparts. Women who are married are the least likely to be victimized by an intimate partner. Women who have never been married are four times more likely to be a victim of violent crime, including rape, assault, or robbery. Children who are abused are most likely to be abused not by parents, but by boyfriends of their mother. The risk of physical abuse increases when a child lives without their father. 

Marriage Is Good for Men and their Children

If marriage is so oppressive why would this be the case? This is because married men tend to be more attentive, more protective, more faithful, and more committed to their significant other than men who aren’t married. According to the Institute for Family Studies, married fathers are much less likely to commit violence than men who aren’t tied by marriage to a woman. Marriage often domesticates men and keeps male behavior in check, an inconvenient fact that feminists hell-bent on dismantling the patriarchy would rather ignore. 

Married fathers are much less likely to commit violence than single men.

This isn’t to say that the burden of domesticating men falls on women, but rather that marriage and family are transformative to men. When a man commits his life to a woman, he and his priorities are fundamentally changed for the better. The University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center tells us that an engaged father in the home provides unparalleled support, supervision, and protection to the home and family. This is because of the reality that when a man holds his child for the first time he’s fundamentally transformed; he sheds his old self and becomes a newer, better man for the sake of this new life in his arms. 

Fatherlessness Harms Children and Society

Children who grow up in one-parent households are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crimes, nine times more likely to drop out of school, and 20 times more likely to go to prison.  Fatherlessness is one of the most powerful predictors of crime and poverty. Women and children end up suffering the most from fatherlessness and the subsequent increase in violence, poverty, and crime, and as feminists, this should be our primary concern. 

75% of the 25 most cited school shootings were committed by young men from broken homes, which often translates to father absence. Policing isn't the problem. Gun ownership isn't the problem. The patriarchy isn't the problem. Oppression isn't the problem. Rape culture isn't the problem. A lack of fathers is the real problem here. 

Feminist rhetoric often debases such claims as disempowering to women, who shouldn't have to tether themselves to a man for safety, and yet rhetoric is but only rhetoric in the face of real casualties and victims. If we want to protect women and children, our highest concern needs to be promoting marriage and family and two-parent households, not dismantling them. 

75% of the 25 most cited school shootings were committed by young men from broken homes.

This isn’t to demonize single mothers, in fact, most are honestly just trying to do the best they can. But this fatherlessness is an issue that persists when paired with relentless cultural attacks on men and the family unit. The rise of fatherlessness in recent decades results from two primary causes: one is a welfare system that de-incentivizes marriage and keeps the poor poor for decades by separating work and income, and the other is a culture that antagonizes masculinity, marriage, and family as destructive forces meant to keep women barefoot and pregnant. 

If we want to protect women, then we need to protect the family unit. If we want to increase prosperity and diminish urban poverty, then we need to protect the family unit and maintain two-parent households, not subvert them. In fact, James Freeman at The Wall Street Journal writes that if we were to design a system that best promotes the interests of women and children, it would be akin to the two-parent household. Funny how that works. It’s almost as if the nuclear family is proven to be the most important social structure for a successful society. 

The Celebrities Promoting Feminism Aren’t Representative of Most Women’s Experiences

Modern feminism doesn’t equip women with the tools to be successful; moreover, it seeks to denigrate the very systems, institutions, and traditions that protect women. Such calls for the dismantling of the patriarchy and the social institutions that protect women are mere parlor games for privileged women. These are the musings of an idle class who have too much time on their hands. It’s easy for celebrities and wealthy women to have children out of wedlock when they have virtually every resource at their disposal, but not so much for impoverished communities who are kept poor and vulnerable without fathers. When celebrities showcase single motherhood as empowering and progressive, this is a disservice to the majority of women who need fathers the most. 

It’s easy for celebrities to have children out of wedlock when they have every resource at their disposal.

Cosmo-variety feminism doesn’t represent even a fraction of the needs of the majority of women worldwide, who are fighting for a right to vote, to learn to read, to drive a car, to obtain clean drinking water, to not fear being raped. To spend time debating the feminist merits of the song “W.A.P.” rather than bringing attention to the drive-by shootings of women and children in the ghetto is symptomatic of deep privilege, interested more in demagogy than true social justice. 

Closing Thoughts

It, therefore, becomes harder and harder to call oneself a feminist when the logic and loyalties are apparently a sliding scale, looking to shift to whatever the political fad of the day is, rather than stand up for the needs of real women. Such feminist rhetoric is a disservice and an insult to the women and men who have fought bravely for the rights and safety of women, and for the women who still face great injustice outside the bubbles of privilege many feminist talking points inhabit.