The Bastard Boom
It’s a harsh title, I know, and I wouldn’t have run it but for the very fact of diminishing stigma evidenced in recent statistics (which is to say that the term “bastard” has no real social force in accord with its actual meaning*):
The 4,317,119 births, reported by federal researchers Wednesday, topped a record first set in 1957 at the height of the baby boom.
Behind the number is both good and bad news. While it shows the U.S. population is more than replacing itself, a healthy trend, the teen birth rate was up for a second year in a row.
The birth rate rose slightly for women of all ages, and births to unwed mothers reached an all-time high of about 40 percent, continuing a trend that started years ago. More than three-quarters of these women were 20 or older.
For a variety of reasons, it’s become more acceptable for women to have babies without a husband, said Duke University’s S. Philip Morgan, a leading fertility researcher.
Even happy couples may be living together without getting married, experts say. And more women — especially those in their 30s and 40s — are choosing to have children despite their single status.
With cultural trends, causes and effects jumble over each other, so it presumes too much to tease them apart in search of the decisive, but analysts and reporters do a disservice to the public by not mentioning, in this context, the concerted movement over the past decade-plus to redefine marriage as something not intrinsically related to child bearing and rearing. Writing the radical new definition into the law would burn the bridge by which we’re crossing into cultural no-man’s-land.
That is one way in which same-sex marriages does indeed affect society at large.
* Certainly, I believe it to be to the unmitigated good that children born under such circumstances face less social stigma than once was the case (if any at all). That the parents appear to face less and less, however, is among the contributing factors to our society’s decline.