One of the worst people we know, conservative commentator Steven Crowder, is getting a divorce. Theoretically, this should be good news, not only for Crowder’s soon-to-be-ex wife, but all of womankind given that his behavior shines a bright, unmistakable light on why he should stay single the rest of his life.
As soon as he learned of his wife’s totally justified and legal escape, Crowder began rallying the chuds against no-fault divorce. Because why acknowledge that marriage is a partnership of mutual interests between two people when you can just be a man chaining a woman in a basement like the founders intended? Unfortunately for us, conservative reactionaries can’t help making their problems our problems.
Speaking on his show, the far-right podcaster recently lamented that his former wife “decided that she didn’t want to be married anymore and in the state of Texas, that is completely permitted” while complaining that she “simply wanted out and the law says that that’s how it works.” Crowder went on to specifically blast no-fault divorce, a seminal feminist victory which he complains “means that in many of these states if a woman cheats on you, she leaves, she takes half. So it’s not no-fault, it’s the fault of the man.” He ends with his policy proposal, demanding that “there need to be changes to marital laws … I’m talking about divorce laws, talking about alimony laws, talking about child support laws.”
Steven Crowder’s endorsement of no-fault divorce, of course, adds yet another anti-woman policy on top of the hideous GOP agenda. Not that they were hurting for ideas.
No-fault divorce has been a staple of the last half-century and a major feminist victory, allowing millions of beleaguered partners to escape ill-fated marriages without having to demonstrate specific harm or beg for permission from their spouse. It’s not a surprise that Crowder, who was caught on camera verbally abusing his pregnant wife while smoking a cigar, would cry and shout for a return to the “traditional value” of keeping women hostage in marriage no matter what harms are inflicted. It tracks perfectly that he’d whine prolifically about his wife being an autonomous human with her own desires. The problem is that perspectives on the wingnut welfare circuit have the disquieting tendency to find their way into Republican-run statehouses.
Already in last year’s midterms, J.D. Vance suggested an end to no-fault divorce on the campaign trail to his Senate seat. With ground-level activism from literally the worst humans also pushing that direction, it’s only a matter of time before we see bills being introduced. So let’s talk counter-strategy.
Like the rollback of Roe, any effort to unravel no-fault divorce is likely to ignite a feminist backlash. But the disquiet and disagreement will also spread further, with people who weren’t considering the law or only perceiving it in the abstract becoming animated as the policy shifts from theory to reality. Rather than wait for the Republicans to fuck around, we can hasten the “find out” by flipping an old talking point: “Government is coming for your relationships.”
Packaging these policies together as an assault on autonomy doesn’t just correctly characterize the costs of GOP governance, but connects constituencies that normally wouldn’t ally with each other. The more people who see Republican rule as a threat to their well-being, the easier it will be to push back against their efforts.
Yes, it means partnering with people who were oblivious or even hostile before Republicans began threatening them specifically. But it also activates people who thought all of this political noise had nothing to do with them. No-fault divorce means the right to end a marriage on our own terms, to create and sustain partnerships for our own sakes, and to know that when we pick a spouse, we’re choosing them—not being chained to them.
Being able to make that argument in terms that resonate far and wide is the ounce of political prevention that spares us a pound of cure. (Also the impact on the reality TV marriage market will be catastrophic. Can you imagine a season of “The Bachelor” or “Love Is Blind” without no-fault divorce?)
So even though it’s small right now, it’s worth paying attention to what the rabid right wing is setting its sights on next. Because we know after Dobbs — and everyone else does too—that when conservatives aim for a fundamental right, they’re not bluffing. By staying ready, neither are we.