Oct. 31, 2012
The 2011 General Social Survey shows that the percentage of wives who commit infidelity is nearing the percentage of husbands who commit infidelity. Whereas 23 percent of husbands reported cheating on their wives in 2011, 19 percent of wives reported cheating on their husbands. Reported unfaithfulness is up from 2010, when the General Social Survey found that 19 percent of men and 14 percent of women had cheated on their spouses. (As an aside, couples in intact marriages are least likely to have committed adultery, and those who are married and have never cohabited are more likely to be faithful than cohabiters, and those with greater religious commitment and who worship regularly are much less likely to engage in extramarital affairs or premarital sex or to have multiple sexual partners.)
In turn, these numbers are closer to equality than their 1991 equivalents: then, 21 percent of husbands and 11 percent of wives reported having cheated on their spouses. As Peggy Drexler writes, Do women account for more of today's affairs? Probably. But in a society that has been preaching, legislating and celebrating gender equality for decades, equality in marital misdeeds might be expected too.
Equal employment and educational opportunity for women is a social good. Personally, I have every hope that Ill be June Cleaver in ten years, but in the meantime Im thankful to be working as an editor here at Family Research Council. The problem is this: Quite apart from insisting on societys recognition of womens equal potential for intellectual and economic contribution, some among us insist that society also must approve of womens exercise of their equal right to behave sexually like the worst of men, from unfettered enjoyment of the hookup culture to the abandonment of their children when they prove inconvenient.
Nasim Pedrad appeared on Saturday Night Lives Weekend Update a couple weeks ago, pretending to be Arianna Huffington. She had a couple great lines, but I found myself sad and frustrated when Pedrad commented that [i]f men could get pregnant, abortion clinics would be like Starbucks: there would be 2 on every block, and 4 in every airport. And the morning-after pill would come in flavors like sea salt and Cool Ranch. I dont believe this statement, but even if it were trueeven if more men thought more favorably of abortionis this really what we would want?
The consequences of bad or irresponsible sexual behavior may differ for men and women. But why, oh why, are we fighting so hard to be equal to men who behave badly?