By William Raspberry Copyright Washington Post Writers Group
St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
A woman named A.L.T. Allen has been thinking about inner-city crime and violence and family deterioration. She's read the politicians, the sociologists and the pundits. And she thinks everybody has it wrong.
"The call by liberals has been for more social programs funded by government money," she told me the other day. "The moderates want more job opportunities to lure males away from drugs and violence. The conservatives want to re-establish traditional values of marriage and hard work - all in an attempt to end the problems faced by inner cities. And the emphasis has been on the African-American male" - as the missing father and as the perpetrator and victim of violence.
Says Allen: "It occurs to me that perhaps we are focusing on the wrong group. Our efforts should be aimed at reaching not the males but the females. If, under some ideal situation, we could bring millions of well-paying jobs to the inner city, I don't believe hard work for a decent paycheck is going to be more alluring than guns, drug money and sex without responsibility.
"As long as women tolerate this behavior in men, it will continue. As long as women continue to have relationships with, and continue to bear the children of, men who do not marry them, men will continue to be absent fathers."
What sounds like a new insight - and is - used to be common knowledge. Boys always tailored their behavior - including their language and dress - to what girls found attractive. Even when we did shocking things, we were careful to keep the shock within proper bounds. A tough, devil-may-care attitude was attractive; brutishness wasn't.
And growing up didn't change things. Men have always jumped through all sorts of hoops in their obsession to make themselves attractive to women, and both men and women have benefited.
Women, it has been argued by observers from Margaret Mead to George Gilder, are the civilizers of the society. Sex being hers to grant or withhold, she has withheld it in exchange for commitment. …