Yes, it’s true: you, the listener, for no money at all, can go to this very web page and listen to Sandra Tsing Loh (who wrote about leaving her marriage because she didn’t like it any more) speaking with Caitlin Flanagan (who writes about how you should never leave your marriage, EVER) about, well: marriage, I guess. MARRIAGE: A Terrible, Soul-Draining Experience From Which You Must Escape, or a Terrible, Soul-Draining Experience From Which There Is No Escape? Such is the topic of discussion. I have this wild suspicion that maybe there are some people who like being married, but this is not newsworthy. Crazy fringe-dwelling marriage-likers!
Anyway, Sandra Tsing Loh seems like a nice lady. I liked her essay OK! (Personally, I like any lady who writes the line “my dearest childhood wish was not just that my parents would divorce, but also that my raging father would burst into flames.”) Sadly, given that Sandra Tsing Loh seems fairly even-handed and level-headed throughout, she cannot be the draw here. No! The real draw is the crazy anti-feminist carnival ride that is listening to Caitlin Flanagan speak! Join me, as I work through the checklist of potential “YIKES” moments presented to the listener here.
2) CAITLIN FLANAGAN FOREGOING RATIONAL ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF TALKING ABOUT HOW HER DAD ALSO HAD SOME BONERS: This comes in pretty early on, actually. She is supposed to be talking about how marriage is awesome and you should stay in your marriage if it is not awesome and what she does instead of this is to tell this marvelous story about how her grandpa used to say the phrase “before you were a glimmer in your father’s eye” (a phrase no-one else’s grandpa has ever used! I’m sure) and how she eventually realized that this meant her dad used to get boners, with her mom, and oh God don’t take me back to the Alec Baldwin sexy Dad place, Caitlin Flanagan, pleeeeeeeeeeeeassse.
3) CAITLIN FLANAGAN SUGGESTING THAT MARRIAGE IS “FOR THE CHILDREN,” WHO WILL TOTALLY BENEFIT FROM LIVING WITH TWO PEOPLE WHO HATE EACH OTHER. Did you know that, if children are not raised by their biological parents, they will fail at life? Such are the prophecies of Caitlin Flanagan. This explains why Tiger Beatdown, a blog written by a lady whose mom has been divorced two times and married three times, is basically entirely composed of entries about how I am trading sex for heroin in bus stations with men whom I call “Daddy.” Oh, no, wait, none of that is true! In fact, I know very few people who have spontaneously exploded due to the fact that their parents divorced! I do know people who think fondly about how great their lives would have been if their parents would have gotten divorced instead of fighting all the damn time and being crazy. But this is in direct contradiction to the high-brow ponderings of Caitlin Flanagan, who has found the Platonic model of marriage in “Jon & Kate Plus Eight” (WHAT) and writes things like “Jon and Kate Gosselin’s marriage was an enterprise dedicated not to making themselves happy but to taking care of the cavalcade of children they had produced… laboring at something more significant than their own pleasure.” Ah, culture!
4) CAITLIN FLANAGAN NAME-CHECKING TERRIBLE POTENTIALLY LETHAL ILLNESS THAT NO-ONE CAN SAY ANYTHING ABOUT NO MATTER HOW GROSS HER MEANS FOR NAME-CHECKING IT MAY BE BECAUSE IT MEANS WE DON’T CARE ABOUT HER CANCER: Check! As you may know, Caitlin Flanagan likes to talk and write – a lot – about how she had cancer, and her husband took care of her when she had the cancer, because she was an appropriately submissive wife. The alternative, of course, is that you are not an appropriately submissive wife, and you still get cancer, and your husband wraps you up in a burlap sack and drops you down the well like a sack of kittens. True story! Or, it might not be a true story, but you cannot question this, unless you love cancer and don’t care about Caitlin Flanagan. Shut your traps, cancer-lovers!
5) CAITLIN FLANAGAN DEFENDING MARRIAGE IN SUCH A WAY THAT THE LISTENER CONCLUDES HE OR SHE WOULD PREFER LIFELONG CHASTITY OR PERHAPS HAVING HER EYEBALLS GNAWED OUT OF HER SKULL BY RATS: Check, check, and check, my friends. Hey, remember this line? “There probably aren’t many people whose idea of 24-hour-a-day good times consists of being yoked to the same romantic partner, through bouts of stomach flu and depression, financial setbacks and emotional upsets, until after many a long decade, one or the other eventually dies.” Ha ha, YIKES! Yep, that’s pretty much the Flanagan program, and it is on display here. Thank you, Caitlin Flanagan, for steering us away from traditional values by praising traditional values. Again.