Why Do Daughters Make Parents Conservative? Because Men Exist.

Illustration for article titled Why Do Daughters Make Parents Conservative? Because Men Exist.

I have a daughter. One day she will grow up and start dating, and if she's hetero that means she's going to date dudes, and some of those dudes will be "shitty dudes." You know, the indecisive kind who won't commit? This, says Ross Douthat over at the New York Times, is reason enough for me to start voting 'publican, to long for the days when you still had to buy the cow to get that sweet sweet unpasteurized raw Brooklyn milk.


It is a weird, convoluted piece because it's a weird, convoluted argument. Douthat cites a study claiming that having daughters makes parents more likely to be Republican, which contradicts an earlier study saying the opposite. He is, naturally, tickled. And as the parent of a daughter and apparently someone who still on occasion hangs out with single people, he has a theory as to why. You see, there's this fictional character named Nate in a recent book he read — Adelle Waldman's The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. — who is a nice enough guy ("sensitive," "idealistic"), but who happens to cause his female friends/flings a great deal of emotional havoc in their Brooklyn creative scene, because he just wants the sex and not the marriage, and the very fact that this fictional guy exists (as a stand-in for ostensibly real ones) is enough of a terror to make parents of daughters start thinking conservatively.

He provokes it by taking advantage of a social landscape in which sex has been decoupled from marriage but biology hasn't been abolished, which means women now, still operate on a shorter time horizon for crucial life choices — marriage, kids — than do men. In this landscape, what Nate wants — sex, and the validation that comes with being wanted — he reliably gets. But what his lovers want, increasingly, as their cohort grows older — a more permanent commitment — he can afford to persistently withhold, feeling guilty but not that guilty about doing so.

A-ha! A-fucking-ha! See, feminists and liberals? Men take advantage of the new landscape you unwittingly created for them. You are victimized by it! You thought you had it all figured out, what with the decoupling of the sex from the marriage. But by expanding options for women, you forgot the exorbitant cost: If you let men off the conservatively driven hook, they will abandon all pretense of civilized courtship and its inevitable endgame. Women will die barren old spinsters! Everyone loses!

Ugh. To me, the weirdest thing about when men advance this argument is that they unwittingly call out their own entire gender as a terrible piece-of-shit monster-dickmonger gender who only marry or honor their commitments or even want to make them in the first place because society and women pressure them, not because they want to. And if society doesn't make them, they will instead be indecisive faux-sensitive idealists who will not marry you or breed with you. Ergo, we are all fucked, but not fucked in the right way that leads to weddings and babies, just one-night-stand-indecisive fucked. And nobody, but nobody, likes that (says Ross Douthat). And it's all your fault!

Worst assumptions found here in no particular order:

  • All women want marriage
  • All women want babies
  • All women would date Nathaniel P.
  • All men are like Nathaniel P.
  • Nathaniel P. is an epidemic sweeping the nation
  • Women don't like one-night stands, they only tolerate them
  • Women aren't indecisive about marriage/kids, just men
  • Women don't cause men emotional havoc, it's just the other way 'round
  • Women always want commitment, men never do
  • Having a daughter means you want her to get married
  • Having a daughter means you want her to have a baby
  • Having a daughter means you want her to do this with a guy who will be like Nathaniel P. and you will be so sorry when he does not live up to your above, automatic desires for your daughter to mate/breed
  • You will have to somehow reconcile the fact that ultimately your politics created this (fictional) guy
  • Having a daughter means you would change those politics simply because you would flash forward to a time when she'll be dating and will date one or two dudes, whose ultimate character you will define ENTIRELY BY "how likely he is to marry/breed with my daughter," and then, seeing how horrifically indecisive he will be, you will then rethink your entire concept of politics and liberty to the extent that you will simply stop wanting reproductive rights or equal pay for your daughter simply in the hopes that a creative manchild type will change his ways and suddenly experience the pressure to want to marry and breed right away with your daughter simply because they hooked up and kinda liked each other at one point, all regardless of whether either wants marriage or children, or has even met, or even exist, or even enjoy the same books and films and pour-over coffee.
  • None of these things come up when having sons

Sigh. Ross Douthat has got our number. The jig is up. Vote Republican.

Image by Jim Cooke.



Having a daughter has made my husband more liberal. It enrages him that someone would ever try to deny her rights or treat her like a second class citizen. He still hates the thought of her dating, but he hates the thought of her being denied help, jobs, or worse even more ;)