“Red Sex, Blue Sex: Why do so many evangelical teen-agers become pregnant?”

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That’s the title of this New Yorker article by Margaret Talbot, which mentions Feminist Law Profs Naomi Cahn and June Carbone prominently, as you can see in the excerpt below:

Among blue-state social liberals, commitment to the institution of marriage tends to be unspoken or discreet, but marriage in practice typically works pretty well. Two family-law scholars, Naomi Cahn, of George Washington University, and June Carbone, of the University of Missouri at Kansas City, are writing a book on the subject, and they argue that”red families”and”blue families”are”living different lives, with different moral imperatives.”(They emphasize that the Republican-Democrat divide is less important than the higher concentration of”moral-values voters”in red states.) In 2004, the states with the highest divorce rates were Nevada, Arkansas, Wyoming, Idaho, and West Virginia (all red states in the 2004 election); those with the lowest were Illinois, Massachusetts, Iowa, Minnesota, and New Jersey. The highest teen-pregnancy rates were in Nevada, Arizona, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas (all red); the lowest were in North Dakota, Vermont, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Maine (blue except for North Dakota).”The ‘blue states’ of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic have lower teen birthrates, higher use of abortion, and lower percentages of teen births within marriage,”Cahn and Carbone observe. They also note that people start families earlier in red states:in part because they are more inclined to deal with an unplanned pregnancy by marrying rather than by seeking an abortion.

Of all variables, the age at marriage may be the pivotal difference between red and blue families. The five states with the lowest median age at marriage are Utah, Oklahoma, Idaho, Arkansas, and Kentucky, all red states, while those with the highest are all blue: Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey. The red-state model puts couples at greater risk for divorce; women who marry before their mid-twenties are significantly more likely to divorce than those who marry later. And younger couples are more likely to be contending with two of the biggest stressors on a marriage: financial struggles and the birth of a baby before, or soon after, the wedding.

There are, of course, plenty of exceptions to these rules:messily divorcing professional couples in Boston, high-school sweethearts who stay sweetly together in rural Idaho. Still, Cahn and Carbone conclude,”the paradigmatic red-state couple enters marriage not long after the woman becomes sexually active, has two children by her mid-twenties, and reaches the critical period of marriage at the high point in the life cycle for risk-taking and experimentation. The paradigmatic blue-state couple is more likely to experiment with multiple partners, postpone marriage until after they reach emotional and financial maturity, and have their children (if they have them at all) as their lives are stabilizing.”…

Read the whole article here.

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