The Dreamy Hormones of Matrimony

Last week on Twitter, I saw a link to a Catholic site calling itself Fix the Family, which had posted an essay titled 6 Reasons to NOT Send Your Daughter to College. It was so hilariously over-the-top that I wondered at first if it was a parody. But after perusing the site for a while, I’m persuaded that it’s for real.

At the beginning of the essay, the author responds to what he sees as the obvious objections:

“You believe in taking away opportunities for women and trapping them into a subservient role.” False. We believe in women making wise prudent choices for themselves.

Which is why their essay is called “6 Reasons to NOT Send Your Daughter to College”, as if that were entirely the decision of a girl’s parents.

“You believe in oppressing women.” False. The Church teaches that husbands and wives are of equal dignity, but with different roles.

And it just so happens that those “different roles” allow men to pursue any career they aspire to, whereas women should be limited to the one role of wife and homemaker, regardless of how they personally might feel about it! (Remember, they don’t believe that women should be “oppressed”, just that they should be “submissive”. Totally different.)

But I’m sure you’re eager to hear the compelling reasons why women shouldn’t go to college. And so, without further ado, here they are:

She will attract the wrong types of men. I share the common concern addressed to us, again mainly by angry women, that there are so many lazy men in our society… What she did that was looked upon to be the “responsible thing ‘just in case’” ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy because of the type of man she married.

The argument here, such as it is, asserts that the nation’s fat, lazy men can loaf around the house drinking beer and watching television because they know their educated wives will support them. If they knew they couldn’t count on women to be their safety net, they’d have to whip themselves into shape.

You only have to look at this for a second to see the obvious flaw in it, which is that it’s completely backwards. A woman with no career and no college degree, who has to depend on the income of a husband, by definition can’t afford to be selective about who she marries. (It’s not as if she can put off eating or paying bills while waiting for Mr. Right to come along and sweep her off her feet.) A woman with an education, who can afford to be choosy and to delay marriage if there are no suitable partners around, has more bargaining power.

She will be in a near occasion of sin. Just think of the environment that college-age students live in. You have a heavy concentration of young people all living together without the supervision of parents at the most sexually charged state of life they will experience. How can one expect that anyone would be able to avoid these temptations, even on a Catholic college campus much less a secular one?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but did they just say that Catholic abstinence-only education doesn’t work?

Catholic OB-GYN Dr. Kim Hardey notes that a woman is naturally very observant of a man’s faults as long as she is in a platonic relationship with him. Once she becomes sexually active with him, she releases hormones that mask his faults, and she remains in a dreamy state about him. We can see why God would arrange things in such a way so that when in a proper state of holy matrimony, she would be less sensitive to his faults and thereby less tempted to be critical of him.

I’ve seen some pseudoscience in my time, but this one has to be a serious contender for the gold medal. This marriage-makes-you-high hypothesis rivals the right-wing kooks who claim that looking at porn creates “erototoxins” that scramble your brain like the fried egg in those old anti-drug commercials.

But wait a minute! In the very last paragraph, the author wrote that “what mystifies me is why girls continue to marry” lazy, irresponsible men “and then live to complain about them”, which puts “very strong stresses” on families. Doesn’t he see that his cargo-cult science contradicts his stagnant gender stereotypes? After all, if marriage releases bliss hormones that keep women in a dazed stupor, how is it possible that they’re still capable of nagging their fat slob husbands?

The cost of a degree is becoming more difficult to recoup. Like anything that is subsidized by the government, the cost of a college degree is inflated. That being the case, it can often be difficult or impossible to get an adequate payoff for the investment.

Aside from the obvious point that the most unsustainable tuition costs are at private colleges, not public ones, it’s true that a college degree isn’t as valuable as it once was. But it’s hard to see how a family’s making less money is supposed to help with this, especially considering that people without college degrees have lost even more ground. If anything, the rise of two-income households has been driven more by economic necessity than by philosophical arguments for feminism. It’s just not realistically possible, in many parts of the country, to support a family on a single income.

If you don’t like this, you could fight for a more progressive tax scale, or an increase in the minimum wage, or a strengthening of labor unions – all things that make work pay more. But, as you can tell from all the author’s sneering and dog-whistling about the government, that strategy is anathema to religious-right finger-waggers who prefer to believe that societal breakdown always stems from character flaws of the individual, and never has anything to do with social policy that shapes and constrains the choices open to them.

It could be a near occasion of sin for the parents. In our culture many parents feel an unnecessary obligation to pay for the children’s college tuition… So parents may avoid having more children with contraception, sterilization, or illicit use of NFP to bear this cost.

Remember, mom and dad, if you feel any obligation whatsoever to provide for your children’s futures, you may be tempted to use evil contraception so as not to have more kids than you can afford to care for. Don’t listen to those thoughts! They come from Satan, who wants to bring about the ultimate evil: a world of human beings who are all loved and wanted and born into families that can provide for their needs. And we all know how awful that would be. So resist! In the name of Holy Mother Church, it’s essential that you pump out as many children as your body is physically capable of bearing, without regard for your ability to feed, clothe, house or educate them!

She will regret it. The more we talk about this prudent option for girls, the more we have women who are willing to admit to the regret they possess for having bought into the lie of the dual-career family… We are not surprised that more and more women are coming forward to tell their stories of regret for having by-passed the more meaningful things in life to opt for the approval of feminists who cared nothing more about them than being statistics to reinforce their agenda. All the while they regret neglecting their children and restricting their childbearing to such an extent that they don’t want to even think about it.

The claim here is that having children is “more meaningful” than having a career and making money. Fine, I’m sure many non-Catholics would agree with that. But if that’s true, why does this argument apply only to women? Why don’t men also want to participate in the more meaningful pastime of raising a family? Why don’t men regret neglecting their children’s upbringing in pursuit of the almighty dollar?

As always, these rigid and antiquated gender roles insult and degrade both men and women, but women most of all. They may mask their misogyny in a cloying cloud of false concern, but what they’re really advocating is that women should be ignorant, subservient, and dependent on men. The reason they hate and fear women’s education so much is transparent: women who have the knowledge and the perspective to choose for themselves will see that what this theology offers is a life of poverty, dependence, and renunciation of one’s own happiness – in short, a bad bargain.

Image credit: The Oncoming Hope

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • MNb

    “I’ve seen some pseudoscience in my time”
    So have I last five years, but this one is topnotch indeed. Thanks for the good laugh I had.

  • Pofarmer

    “Illicit of use of NFP”

    Control freak assholes.

  • Jason Wexler

    “They come from Satan, who wants to bring about the ultimate evil: a
    world of human beings who are all loved and wanted and born into
    families that can provide for their needs. And we all know how awful that would be.”

    Adam, thank you, you’ve convinced me! I am repenting my atheism in favor of Satanism!

  • John

    I just want to know what the hell that would even be.

  • Shawn

    I know the answer to this because I know some crazy Catholics – among a certain set, NFP is looked down upon because you’re supposed to have a “grave” reason for limiting how many children you have. Although the Church itself doesn’t give hard and fast definitions of what a “grave” reason is, these zealots are happy to tell you that whatever your reason is for not wanting a child right now, it’s not good enough. Because there are good Catholic families in the Philippines who have twelve kids and can’t afford to feed them but are always happy to welcome another one of God’s blessings, so what are you complaining about not having enough money?

  • kenny

    A wise old man once said, “Women! They let ‘em vote, smoke and drive – even put ‘em in pants! And what happens? A Democrat for president!”

    (Oh, yeah, that’s from the great Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!)

  • CompanionCube

    Actually they’re talking about oxytocin. There is a lot of recent pseudoscience surrounding it, trying to portray it as almost “the” critical factor responsible for love/romance/attraction/etc, and wanting to exploit it for all kinds of ridiculous purposes, but when you boil it down to the actual experiments, the hormone does affect human behavior, to the extent of influencing trust, among other things… I can’t find the study I read a few months ago, but one that measured the levels over time found that it was usually higher in the first 1.5-2 years of a “serious” relationship. Their theory on why is that biologically, it’s about the length of time a “mating pair” of humans needs to stick together to raise a child to an age where the mom can actually take care of herself and the child without the man (9 months pregnancy + 9-15 months of infancy, baby is weaned, she can leave it with another person while hunting for food, that sort of thing). The behavioral effects they described as “wearing rose-colored glasses” in regards to their partner. The study only looked at new couples though, so it didn’t compare it to, say, a couple married for 5 years, and no kids, or a couple married 5 years and having a second kid at that point, so maybe they’re reaching a bit in their conclusions.

    But what this religious author is claiming, that “Once she becomes sexually active with him, she releases hormones that
    mask his faults, and she remains in a dreamy state about him.” is *mostly* true. It’s their interpretation of the reason for it that is completely off-base.

  • smrnda

    I notice anti-women-going-to-college types pull out the idea that many women *regret* going to college instead of say, getting married at 17 and then having as many kids as they could while married to a guy who worked 70 hours a week to support the family (who, I’m assuming, must come home for sex on occasion.)

    No matter what choice, some people will regret it, but pulling this out without any facts or figures makes the claim kind of incredible; did the author of the piece run into 2 or 3 women who said that, and is now extrapolating to imagine that *millions* of women hold the same view? Do women who took at pass at college to have children earlier regret that? It’s all ‘argument by assertion.’

  • Pofarmer


  • Pofarmer

    Well, the thing is, a lot of what the Church designs keeps you inconstant emotional need of the church. The Sacraments, Fasting, unending kids, all keep you in an emotionally vulnerable state where you are easy prey.

  • Elizabeth
  • Antigone10

    Oh my god, that is so freaking sad. I hate these stupid beliefs- they obviously used condoms for years and masturbated and nothing bad ever happened to them. They should take that as a sign that these screwy, backwards beliefs are at fault, not normal, healthy, urges.

    Whatever joy you get from religion cannot POSSIBLY match the joy of healthy, contented sex life.

  • Antigone10

    Oxycotin is the new “women and their hormones, a I right?” Yes, hormones effect our moods and feelings. But the psuedoscience (and the sexism) always come after it. Oxycotin is released by both men and women, but the “article” talks about how WOMEN are in a dreamy state after sex* and throws in the the nice comment about nagging women. If we were talking science it would be talking about social bonding, and making small tepid claims that include things like “the preliminary studies show” and “studies with better controls”. Saying that “body releases oxycotin during orgasm, and oxycotin is associated with social bonding” is science. “Because women need to overlook faults in men” is psuedoscience.

    *The power of cock compels you!

  • Pofarmer

    Holy cow. Whadda buncha doofuses. Ernest doofuses, but doofuses nonetheless.

  • Michael

    Traditionally Catholicism has supported social safety net measures. I guess these right-wing Catholics have bucked it. Not surprising, given people’s highly selective obedience to religious teachings.

    What exactly is “illicit” use of NFP anyway? I thought it was considered acceptable overall. Do there exist some cases where it isn’t?

  • J-D

    I looked at the image of the anti-women-suffrage leaflet, and it occurred to me that every one of the arguments given works exactly equally well (which also means exactly equally badly) as an argument against men’s suffrage. (My favourite was ’80% of the women eligible to vote are married and can only double or annul their husbands’ votes’. In other words, there’s no point in a wife voting if she’s only going to vote the same way her husband does, and there’s also no point if she’s only going to vote the opposite way! Say, come to think of it, your vote can only ‘double or annul’ mine, so why should you have the electoral franchise? Just let me vote, that’s good enough!)

    Then I clicked on the link and looked at the arguments against higher education for women, and it was just the same! If you think it through, every one of them works exactly equally well (which also means exactly equally badly) as an argument against higher education for men. This is left as an exercise for the reader.

  • L.Long

    What it amounts to is the usual… religious or dogmatic dimwit opens mouth…BS dribbles down his chin….BS accumulates…just walk away laughing.

  • Levedi

    I notice his argument implies that a woman who gets an education and then stays home with the children is wasting her education and that a stay at home mom needs no education. He accuses feminists of denigrating women, but he’s the one painting the SAHM as a mindless worker bee who doesn’t need any sort of education or critical thinking skills to do her job.

  • Ani J. Sharmin

    And they always ignore then women who didn’t have that chance and wish they did—the women who encourage their daughters to go to college so that their daughters will have opportunities they didn’t have.

  • GCT

    Brilliant! A misogynistic joke about killing women so they can’t complain. Flagged.

  • UWIR

    The joke isn’t about me killing women, it’s about Raylan’s word choice. The target of the joke isn’t women, it’s Raylan. But of course, your vendetta against me means that you’re going to interpret in the most negative light.

  • GCT

    Don’t blame me because you’re a racist and misogynist.

  • Fallulah

    I liked the joke…get a sense of humour.

  • Azkyroth

    It’s not funny.

  • GCT

    I don’t see why I should have a sense of humor for the rantings of a known misogynist. The people you decried in another thread about having an issue with feminism? Well, UWIR is one of them (he’s also a racist). You want us not to take three steps back, but then you support those who try to do just that.