In popular writing, modern men (and occasionally women) are occasionally accused of being ‘commitment phobic.’
The idea of phobia derives from the thought of Freud. Although there are theories about what physically causes the symptoms observed by psychiatrists, there are no objective tests for the existence of this syndrome (collection of symptoms). Further, most of the writers accusing various people of having ‘phobias’ are not clinically qualified to do so, and even if they were, they would not be able to legally diagnose it outside of a clinical setting.
Let’s ask ourselves: are men commitment phobic? Have the wicked men of this generation driven the good, hard-working feminist women into expensive fertility treatments, due to a lack of commitment-eager partners?
To even ask the question undermines the validity of the concept of ‘phobia,’ which medicalizes an inclination that may have rational roots.
Jillian, the author of the linked article, mistakes the salesman’s rapport-generating gambit for the truth, which is why people who think that they can spot sales techniques are often most persuaded by them. The doctor is a salesman for $4,500 a dose fertility treatments and egg storage subscription fees. Take away his doctor’s costume, and he could be selling vacuum cleaners or heroin.
There is nothing to fear about getting into a commitment when entering into a modern marriage, at least from the woman’s perspective, because she is not really making any commitments. In most situations, she can just seize the marital assets after cooking up some story or another about the evils of her bum husband with the help of lawyers and psychologists and all the other modern authorities.
The man commits to an unlimited liability that can be exercised as an option at any time, and gains few if any legal rights. Even rights to paternity in the form of visitation to children are conditional, at least as far as the man is concerned. It is up to the discretion of the judge, because paternity is more a question of law than it is one of biology, although the latter still matters.
Given that the woman commits to nothing other than the contract providing direct access to the man’s property, and the creation of a common family unit that can be looted later on, there is not really much commitment at all anywhere. A woman doesn’t even need a marriage to get child support payments from the biological father of her children. Parentage without paternal rights is just a parody of indenture, mixed with a confused genetic essentialism.
The other funny thing about the author’s personal essay is that she seems not to entirely notice that she gives away much more than she could ever expect to give away to a husband — like her youthful charms — to a succession of hook-ups which she calls relationships. Psychology sanctifies this behavior as ‘rational’ and ‘good’ while also noting that stable pair bonds have better life outcomes when measured in statistics. But the psychology of 50 years ago would have called it pathological behavior, because the language of mental illness is mostly concerned with medicalized metaphors for immoral behavior.
There has been no fundamental discovery in the way that the mind works since then — only changes in societal morality.
Despite all this, the faith that the moral system is not sick is as strong as the conformity towards lifelong monogamy once was. The belief is so strong that you can sell treatments that cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to these women — money that could otherwise be going to her children are going towards the gambler’s hope of having late children. You can also make phenomenal money selling eggs to the women who have delayed too long for conventional treatments.
If these women were as committed to their careers as they say, they would be re-investing that money into their boss’ business (or their own) and sterilizing themselves. And if they were as committed to having healthy, happy children as they say, they would behave differently.
The human condition is one in which everyone is buffeted around by intense drives and desires, but no one has a fully adequate means of fulfilling those desires. The achievement of civilization is like that of turning a path through a frightening forest into that of a well-lit road. Without the road, few people would be able to navigate the path.
Revealed preference shows a desperate desire to reproduce, but inadequate methods by which to make that happen in a secure and successful way. When the old roads are demolished, and replaced by an invocation to navigate by the stars, ignorant navigators will walk around in circles until they perish. This is the tragicomic situation of the modern people.