The patriarch comes homes on the crowded train, weary from his labours. He looks forward to seeing his wife and children, the latter who will need bath and bedtime story. Then at last the masculine monster sits down for a cup of tea, but not for long – there’s odd jobs and tax forms to complete. And for this gender dinosaur, there may be a load of marking too. Such is the life of a typical suburban husband, namely me.
Marriage is bliss, nonetheless. My children grow up in a stable, secure home, with a caring mother who always puts them first. I have much to appreciate, yet I fail to understand how my generally contented life has arisen from sex discrimination, or that I am enacting an Edwardian ‘head of household’ role, tying my other half to the kitchen sink.
So when I hear Charles Keidan and his partner Rebecca Steinfeld describe marriage as institutionalised male hegemony, I cannot contain my mirth. This is the professional couple who have decided to spend years of their lives, and a fortune in legal fees, on a protracted and surely futile bid to create a legally protected bond between loving partners (that isn’t marriage).
As university lecturers, Keidan and Steinfeld characterise the dictum of George Orwell that ‘there are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them’. They are certainly rising head and shoulders above common sense. They met, predictably one might add, at a talk on Gaza at the London School of Economics, and it didn’t take them long to realise that they shared higher values.
According to a Telegraph interview, Keidan ‘splits childcare and housework with Steinfeld and refuses to be photographed with her back to him for fear it will imply inequality’. They are also, I suggest, diverting precious time from their family life (their daughter was given a hybrid surname of Keidstein). I’m really not suggesting this, but parents have been referred to social services for less.
Of all the problems in our fragmented world, Keidan and Steinfeld choose to attack one of the last bastions of civilised society. They do not merely opt out of marriage as not being for them, they disparage it as misogynist oppression. The left-wing media have stepped back from full-blown support, suggesting the possibility of a tipping point. It could be the nadir of white middle-class cultural sickness.
Marriage, Charles, is what you make it. If you fear becoming a tyrant because of a marriage certificate, don’t get married. That won’t stop you from marshalling Rebecca, who surely has moments of doubt about the cause in which she is embroiled. Crowdfunding won’t pay for this foolishness forever.