TIME Magazine and Caitlin Flanagan: a shameful take on marriage

I know TIME can be a little conservative sometimes. The whole Matthew Cooper/Valerie Plame thing was kind of the exception that proves the rule, to a certain extent. So I don't expect them to be Newsweek. Newsweek's Newsweek, and TIME is TIME.

But what I didn't expect is for TIME to publish a cover story on the allegedly sorry state of the institution of marriage, and to call it "our most sacred institution" ON THE COVER. Thanks, guys, but let's leave that to GOP.com. How about just being journalists?

No, author Caitlin Flanagan--who, I'm relieved to discover, is no stranger to controversy--goes that far and farther. She writes, "There is no other single force causing as much measurable hardship and human misery in this country as the collapse of marriage." People without health care, education, or affordable housing might beg to differ if they weren't busy begging for those other things right now.

She begins the article by relating a scene wherein she remarks to her father at the dinner table that it's amazing he and his wife (her mother) have been married for fifty years and he's never cheated on her. (It's all a build-up to a very lame payoff, the punchline delivered by Dear Old Dad: "I can't drive.")

Who says to his or her father, "I can't believe you haven't cheated on Mom yet!"? Who does this?

I don't want to come across as a firebrand for marriage just because I'm about to buy membership in that club in a few days. But please. Marriage is fine. Fascination with Jon and Kate + 8 doesn't equal an "ambivalence" toward marriage. It indicates the same thing as our fascination with the O.J. Simpson trial, the Michael Jackson memorial, and Winona Ryder getting caugh shoplifting: modern Americans like to see trainwrecks, scandal, ceremony, and comeuppance. We're gawkers. It ain't good, but it ain't a mystery.

The whole article is an absurdist take on love, family, and romance, and it's no better highlighted than by this little factoid: not once does Flanagan mention "gay marriage." Not once. So while pointing out Jonathan Edwards and Mark Sanford as symptoms of a disease rather than the disease itself, she conveniently leaves out the scores of couples across the nation, yearning for the right to be legally recognized as families.

No, instead Flanagan flogs us with "man and wife," "man and wife," "man and wife." Fertility, Cialis, procreation, and the failing of the heterosexual male to keep it in his own yard. Not only shamefully one-sided and misrepresentative, but BORING AS FUCK.

Do better, TIME.