Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hey! It's the 50's again!

I just came home from going to a really sweet show (Cadette/Heavy Cream/The Coathangers at the Triple Rock), saw some awesome all lady bands, and talked to great people. It's late and I am a bit famished, so I make a bean burrito and open my Sunday New York Times (I am very busy and a bit behind in my reading) to find this article.

 Having just recently been through my own debacle of negotiating a relationship and what it means to say "I do" with all the complexities that it entails, I was intrigued. I was also intrigued as several years ago, my inclinations against marriage as my own personal path were boosted by a BBC special I saw while in Canada about the future of our society—and how part of it was that fewer people would get married, and, in fact, more people would live transient lifestyles, in commune-like settings, raising their children with all the various adults that came through their doors. I have been further intrigued by the data that suggests, despite the growing numbers of people I know in my personal life that choose to walk down the aisle, that fewer people are electing to get married.

 Unfortunately, the three page plus color spread of this article* decided to take a "no duh" fact—that households with two incomes are more stable, make more money, and thus, are able to "provide" better for their children—and summarize it by making the assertion that the thing that really keeps increasing numbers of lower-educated, single mothers from achieving a decent wage, and a happy quality of life, is that they haven't gotten married. In fact, the one woman he (naturally, the author of this article is a man) utilizes as his "case study" for the "unmarried, single mother" category, has found herself in what appears to be abusive relationships that she decided to leave.

Instead of condemning these deadbeat men for acting like spoiled children and alieving themselves of any sort of responsibility for either the children they have spawn or the relationships they are in, the blame falls, surprise, surprise, on the woman. We are told of the single mother's sad struggle, how she uses her federal tax return to pay for six months of rent and the sole Disney trip her family goes on (after being jealous of her boss, the case study example of the "happy, married woman", for being able to afford a lavish (and fucking stupid) trip to the commercial hell that is Disneyland every year), how she slumps in front of a half-watched episode of Friends, while her boss's kid gets to do things like be in boy scouts. The difference, the article/he explains, doesn't have to do with job inequality, lack of education (although this is a marker for this statistic), or the fact that our SOCIETY DOES NOT VALUE WOMEN AND THEIR STRUGGLES, but that it has everything to do with the, as the author puts it, "6-foot-8-inch man named Kevin," the betrothed of married woman case study.

 So....let me get this straight. On one hand, we have a woman who was fortunate enough to find a man that she (apparently) loves and cares for her and has decided to make it official by getting married. On the other hand, we have a woman who has had a string of bad relationships, and decided to go ahead and have her three children, with the promise that her rocky relationship would blossom into something better. It's not their fates, or any other number of choices or circumstances that has lead to their glaring income inequality (and the scary future that awaits her children as laid out by New York Times infographic!). No, it has everything to do with a "6-foot-8-inch man named Kevin"and a marriage license. In fact, it is getting married that leads Kevin to really "get serious about his life." Because, you know, if only the abusive, shitty boyfriend would have gotten married, then he would have become a stand up dude.

 Chew on that for a while.

 *Totally heteronormative, btw.

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