Wives In Stepford Increasingly Don't Want To Be Replaced By Robots
Why this threatens the institution of American marriage
The Reframe welcomes the Washington Post Editorial Board for a satirical guest post.
Ideological polarization is here to stay in American politics. Millions of young Americans will go home this Christmas and find themselves facing friends, neighbors, grocers, farmers, the wealthy and withdrawn but handsome and somewhat-intriguing young factory owner who they knew back in high school, even some family members, with whom they cannot agree over various matters of the day—whether all our political decisions should be controlled by oily-minded religious creeps who believe that science is demonic and judges are for bribing, for example. Should a nine-year-old be forced to give birth? Are concentration camps necessary to keep us safe? Is it good to profit off of human imprisonment? Should the wives in Stepford be slowly replaced by supple, compliant sex-bots? Differing opinions exist.
And look, ladies, I get it.
I get it.
In many ways, polarization is exactly what we should expect in a large and diverse country, especially one where an empowered minority has decided to eradicate all diversity in the name of their own aggrieved sense of superiority. Americans no longer agree on many questions of how to live or what to live for. These differences can’t just be papered over through an old-fashioned honest conversation about the issues, because these differences are real, and matter. (I told you I get it, ladies.)
The problem with polarization, though, is that it has effects well beyond the political realm, and these can be difficult to anticipate. One example is the collapse of American marriage1.
One American town in particular may provide the case study for this hidden danger of polarization.
Young women in Stepford, Connecticut are increasingly struggling to find suitable male partners who don’t want to have them abducted and replaced with a programmed simulacrum that will tend to their husband’s every whim. Men, meanwhile, are increasingly struggling with, or suffering from, higher unemployment, lower rates of educational attainment, more drug addiction and deaths of despair, and generally less purpose and direction in their lives, not to mention a rapidly shrinking population of young females still willing to vanish forever and be replaced by an animatronic that has no hopes or dreams, but that in the interest of fairness is covered in a soft, nice-smelling perfect simulacrum of skin and real human hair.
There is a growing and inescapable ideological divide in Stepford: between men who would like their wives to quietly disappear after having their likeness meticulously copied by a mild-mannered older gentleman who used to work for Disney’s animatronic division before he left under mysterious circumstances, and women who would not like that and are opting out of it entirely, often making the decision all by themselves without even having a conversation about it with a man.
This gap seems to be as nakedly partisan as a Stepford sex-bot is naked and patrician. Since Donald Trump’s election in 2016, the percentage of single women ages 18-30 in Stepford who identify as unavailable to be used as a template for a sex-bot prior to their physical liquidation has shot up from slightly over 20 percent to 32 percent. Young men in Stepford, on the other hand, have, if anything, grown more conservative. This ideology gap is particularly pronounced among Gen Z white people. According to a major new survey from the Institute for American Spousal Robotics, 46 percent of white Gen Z women are liberal, compared to only 28 percent of White Gen Z men, more of whom (36 percent) now identify as conservative.
In another era, political or ideological differences might have had less impact on marriage rates. But, increasingly, the political is personal. A 2021 survey of college students found that 71 percent of Democrats would not date someone with opposing views about murdering them after uploading their voice into the cloud for replication. This makes sense, to a degree. Marriage across the ideological line of murder and replacement by the uncannily warm caress of a never-aging sex-bot—if either partner considers those things to be central to their identity—can be associated with lower levels of life satisfaction. And politics is becoming more central to people’s identity.
This mismatch means that someone will need to compromise. Who should it be? That’s not for this board to say. But one thing is clear: marriage is what is best for society, and in a modern world driven by leaps in technology and innovation, there are going to be robots, and algorithms that allow the sort of predictive language models based on large data sets necessary to replicate the parts of a woman’s personality that a husband prefers do exist, and could probably be updated via app to allow the husband to set the autonomy levels of his ‘wife’ to whatever level he prefers in order to ensure marital bliss. And this technology is very popular in Stepford among male populations. According to researchers, these realities mean that about 1 in 5 anti-robot young single women will have little choice but to marry somebody with whom they disagree about any number of political topics, including whether or not they should experience the creeping dread of seeing the eyes of their friends in town go empty, one by one, while they wait in the company of quietly reassuring men for it to be their turn.
On the other hand, a huge number of Stepford men in the bar where I’m writing this report that in their experience young Gen Z women have thoughts, opinions, aspirations, interests, and, most chilling of all, options to pursue them, and that makes them very angry and sad. I don’t think it’s very good for society to be full of sad angry men, do you?
The Reframe is a reader-supported publication with a pay-what-you-want subscription structure. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
It’s starkly observable that Americans have not equipped themselves to discuss, debate and reason about things about which they differ, like whether one of them should be quietly disappeared and replaced by a likeness that doesn’t talk back so much. Sadly, Americans have sorted themselves according to ideological orientation based almost entirely on “us versus them” narratives. This has resulted in a “culture of sameness” that unfortunately means that a young women who does not want to be replaced by a robot that exists for the sexual and emotional gratification of a young man, is very likely to never encounter a young man who would very much like to gain her trust and then replace her with a robot, and so will never be exposed to his perspectives and ideas. Ironically enough, this effect is most pronounced on college campuses, the very place where the sort of open exchange of contradictory and challenging ideas so crucial to learning and growing should be easiest to find.
We’re not without hope here. Gen Z is still relatively young, and maybe some of them will learn to shut up and listen and maybe learn a little something. Unfortunately, there is a real danger that this won’t happen, and these Trump-era polarizations between single men and women may never reverse, especially if Trump keeps being exactly like he always is. But we should look to a moment beyond Trump, when people who fear the danger he represents have stopped worrying so much, and maybe have quaffed the drugged milk poured for them by somebody they trust, and have not long after that started being a lot less argumentative and bitchy. A cultural shift might be necessary—one that views politics as a part of people’s identity but far from the most important part.
Americans’ ability to live together, quite literally, might depend on it.
Ladies, are you going to be anti-tech Luddites forever? What’s your endgame here? Not getting married at all? Hahaha! What?
What? Seriously? Not at all?
That’s insane. The country must be peopled! Where will the country get new people if they aren’t being carried inside a glowing maternal robot that is wearing a version of your features so close to the original that nobody could really tell the difference?
Open the borders? Well that’s just extremist and childish. We can’t talk to you when you get like this.
Let us pour you a nice warm milk.
Hey all — I’m considering publishing a book of essays, and I’m running a crowdfunding experiment until the end of November to see if there’s interest enough to do that. If you want the details, click this link. (If you do not want the details, click this link.)
The Reframe is supported financially by about 5% of readers.
If you liked what you read, and only if you can afford to, please consider becoming a paid sponsor. If that’s not for you, consider following me and/or sharing this on any or all of your favorite social media platform that doesn’t throttle external links.
A.R. Moxon is the author of The Revisionaries, which is available in most of the usual places, and some of the unusual places, and is co-writer of Sugar Maple, a musical fiction podcast from Osiris Media which goes in your ears. His eyes are soft with sorrow; hey that’s no way to say goodbye.
American marriage is just like regular marriage, except that with American marriage we sort of assume in unspoken ways that the two people are wealthy, healthy, hetero, and haaaaawhhhhhhite. So white, you guys. They will have the whitest babies.