Monday, February 27, 2012

How hook-up culture saved bourgeois marriage

Julian Sanchez is completely right to bring neoconservatism into the discussion of whether conservatives who want traditionalism from the masses are just fine and dandy with a more anything-goes value system among elites. I knew there was some branch of conservatism that held that different things held for elites and the rest, but I'd forgotten which one.

I'm not sure I agree with him, though, that social conservatives hide their true agenda when it comes to their stance on the Sexual Revolution's impact on the lower/working classes. I mean, there are different registers, and what's in a book geared at conservative intellectuals isn't what Santorum's going to holler at a rally. But the underlying principles are basically the same. Their line is ostensibly what this commenter says: that premarital sex (and homosexuality) represent decay wherever they're found, but that those with enough money and enough keeping them future-oriented, they're insulated from the ill effects. Social conservatives have long been in a tizzy about the so-called "hook-up culture," whose natural home is the liberal, residential four-year college, not an especially blue-collar environment. And anecdotal evidence from well-educated and socially-conservative acquaintances suggests that the judgment is not directed only at Those People There, but also at their own socially-liberal peers. As in, in my unmarried days (which, having been married for less than a year, would have been most of my days), I remember getting a decent amount of unsolicited advice about what ought not happen prior to marriage, the importance of marrying ASAP, etc. Frequently, I might add, by those who were not exactly living up to that standard themselves.

If there's hypocrisy, if there's - put another way - inconsistency, because personal hypocrisy's something else, it's in the new social-conservative demand that elites preach their lifestyle. A lifestyle they aren't, well, practicing. How are the fancy and schmancy to "preach" a particular means to an end, if they themselves required quite a different means to get there? I will need to read Coming Apart (how convenient!) to see how the man himself phrases it. As in, does he gloss over the decade-plus of premarital goings-on in that caste? I somehow doubt his answer is what mine would be - that the norm of not even considering getting pregnant until you intend to get pregnant ought to extend to segments of the population not planning on a decade of post-grad education, and that this means Pill plus condoms or similar, and not merely in some abstract sense 'access to' contraception, but frank discussions of its necessity. But we shall see.


Withywindle said...

"Tory" covers the territory as well as "Straussian," and maybe better. I may try to write up something on this. Thanks for a post making me think about the subject.

Elizabeth said...

Conor Friedersdorf and I talked about this post on bloggingheads this week, p.s.

Phoebe said...

Indeed, and I was honored! Expect a full-on defense of my out-there conservative argument for gay marriage soon.