Archive for the ‘matrimania’ Category
Many thanks to John for pointing out this poll that links opinions about interracial marriage with opinions about political candidates. (Click through to see the difference between Palin and Romney fans.)
We asked voters on this poll whether they think interracial marriage should be legal or illegal- 46% of Mississippi Republicans said it should be illegal to just 40% who think it should be legal.
Fascinating, because the New York Times recently reported that “Mississippi led the nation in the growth of mixed marriages for most of the last decade,” and cited data “suggesting that much of the growth in the mixed-race group can be explained by recent births.”
The Times still describes marriage as the only indicator of mixed-race relationships and the only source of mixed-race births. This feels inaccurate to me, but a wonderful fact sheet published by our friends at the Council on Contemporary Families suggests why my instincts might be wrong.
- Interracial daters report receiving less social support, such as positive affirmation or help from friends, family, or just people they interact with in public.
- Due to perceived lack of support, interracial couples are less likely to … report thinking of themselves as a couple.
- …The odds of going from dating to living together or getting married are 1 in 4 for same-race daters and about 1 in 5 for interracial daters.
- Interracial couples who cohabit are only 60 percent as likely as same-race cohabiters to get married to each other.
I’m still willing to guess that interracial cohabiters are less likely to marry because they are less bound by traditional views about relationships, rather than assume their relationships don’t work out. I’d love to see some research on that.
I’d also love to see stats on the marital status of parents of mixed-race children. The CCF fact sheet does not mention childbirth – perhaps we can inspire them to look into that question for a future fact sheet.
Meanwhile, more of you have responded to our quiz about interracial identity and relationships. Thank you! Here’s an update based on your 56 responses:
- 40% identify yourselves as multi-racial or multi-ethnic
- 14% of your parents were unmarried when you were born
- 93% of you are unmarried
- 82% of you are in committed relationships including marriage, and 80% of those relationships are with one different-sex partner
- 67% of your relationships are interracial, including 50% where your partner is one race/ethnicity that is different from yours, and 17% where your partner has a mixed-race identity
- 43% of you have mixed-race/ethnicity children
Great news: the executive branch will stop defending the section of the Defense of Marriage Act that prevents the federal government from recognizing state-authorized marriages that are not configured as one man + one woman. Does this open the door to regulatory recognition of same- and different-sex domestic partnerships and civil unions, or only same-sex marriages? For example, does it obviate the need for legislative action to end taxation of DP benefits as income, or to give plus-one benefits to federal employees? Legal eagles, please advise!
Facebook will start letting users pick domestic partnership and civil union in its list of relationships.
Ever-single, 83-year old, non-violent intellectual Gene Sharp is credited with “inspir[ing] dissidents around the world, including in Burma, Bosnia, Estonia and Zimbabwe, and now Tunisia and Egypt.” I’m inspired, too!
We’re pleased to host this guest post by Dr. Karen Gail Lewis. Dr. Lewis works primarily with single, straight-identified women, but you might find her tips useful regardless of your gender, orientation or relationship-status.
When you think about Valentine’s Day, do you feel pleasure? Grief? Anger? If you are single, Valentine’s Day, along with New Years, are the two most hated holidays. Too many single women say they “hide out” on February 14.
Valentine’s Day, though, is not about lovers; it’s about love. It has become commercialized for lovers, but it’s really a time to connect with people you care about. In the midst of the hearts and flowers that have become associated with this day, the origin of the holiday is lost.
In fact, there is no agreed upon origin. There are numerous stories about the man Valentine and the holiday of love. They range from Roman days to honor the god Lupercus, to Emperor Claudius forbidding marriage, to Pope Gelasium turning a pagan game of romance into a game about saints.
You can choose which version of the origin of the holiday you prefer, in the same way you can choose how to relate to Valentine’s Day. It can be a day of shame because you do not love and are not loved by a special man, or you can honor this day by acknowledging those people who make your life better. Valentine’s Day is not about lovers, it’s about love.
Here are some tips for how to make this a special day.
1. Send cards to everyone you love, male and female, young and old. Not only will the recipients feel cherished, you will be reminded how blessed you are to have so many special people in your life. For a fun flashback to your school days, buy a pack of the colorful cards you used to pass out to classmates, or make them yourself.
2. Honor the service people who make your life better. Give cards to people in your everyday life, showing how much you appreciate them. It might be the person who cuts your hair or cleans your home. It might be the bank teller who helps when your checkbook gets out of balance. You don’t have to wait for Christmas to let your mailperson know you appreciate the effort made to bring you 30 mail order catalogues a day. Think about the people who make your life easier; this is the day to remind yourself (and them) that you don’t take them for granted.
3. Spend it with friends. Specifically choose February 14 to spend with people you appreciate but don’t tell often enough. Take a favorite co-worker or office assistant to lunch. Or have a Valentine’s dinner party for good friends.
4. Send flowers to yourself. Rather than mope or feel sorry for yourself that there is no man in your life to send you flowers, send them to yourself. Flowers are the love letters from Mother Nature.
5. Monitor your music. If you are likely to have a hard time on February 14, make sure for the few days leading up to the 14th you aren’t listening to love songs or songs about longing for love or about brokenhearted love.
6. Don’t hide. Don’t pretend it isn’t Valentine’s Day. Say Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone you see. Wear a pin with hearts or at least wear red and white.
7. If you are blue, don’t fight it. Give yourself permission to be sad there isn’t a loving man in your life. Give yourself an hour, even two, for your “Pity Party.” Then stop. Move on. Be careful you don’t drown your unhappiness in excessive alcohol, drugs, or food. There is no reason to be self-abusive just because you are alone and sad.
Here’s another idea. Buy yourself or your friends a ring. This is a way to say you are OK being single, to feel connected (like the circle of the ring) with singles all around the world, and to let singles know, that at least in this way, you have something in common. You can find special rings for singles at mysinglering.com, or myspace.com/Singelringen, or nationalmarriageboycott.com.
Some married women say they get depressed on Valentine’s Day because their husbands don’t get them anything. Or, they give a last minute, perfunctory gift of flowers or a card that the secretary probably selected.
Knowing some married women aren’t happy won’t make you feel better about being single. It should, however, be a reality check that Valentine’s Day is what you choose to make of it.
Participating in the holiday tells the world you love yourself and you love others. You have no reason to be embarrassed about being single; you don’t need to hide.
You can mope or you can celebrate your life – the life you have at the moment. There is no telling what your life will be like later today, tomorrow, next week. So celebrate whatever you have. After all, right now is the only life you have.
Dr. Karen Gail Lewis is founder of Unique Retreats for Single Women, weekends bringing small groups of women together to shift their thinking about being single in a society prejudiced against single women. Visit her website for more information.
As a mixed-race person myself, I couldn’t help falling for the huge coverage of multiracial identity in Sunday’s New York Times. And of course I couldn’t help noticing the Times’ matrimaniacal focus on interracial marriage, as if that’s where mixed-race babies come from. The article is good, and the charts are nifty, but I suspect the Times missed the real story. My unscientific hypothesis is that unmarried relationships are more likely to be multiracial than married ones. I’d even guess that mixed-race kids could be more likely to have unmarried parents than single-race kids.
I’m curious, and I hope you share my curiosity because we have the technology to find out more and share the results! Please take this quick quiz and invite your friends to do the same. It’s not scientific, of course. It asks for your name in case we have a chance to do some to follow-up research, but we won’t publicize any individual’s information; and, you can tell us up front if you want to be anonymous (or, by contrast, if you want to share your story with the media).
Thanks for helping us, and the world, reach a better understanding of unmarried people.
Florida Governor Rick Scott says his “personal position” is that only “married couples” should adopt children. Meanwhile, the Congressional Research Service details federal tax benefits for people who adopt children.
An international expert says the state of Vermont could launch a single-payer health system. Meanwhile, Vermont’s 2006 health reforms seem to be covering more people (no data on marital status, however).
We’re pleased and proud to host this guest post by Bella DePaulo, PhD, wrapping up Unmarried and Single Americans Week. The week may be over, but as Bella says, our movement is just taking off!
Successful social movements have rallying cries that become known throughout the land. For example:
Black is beautiful
Sisterhood is powerful
We’re queer, we’re here, get used to it
We shall overcome
So where is the expression of group identification and pride trumpeted by singles activists? Where is the movement for respect and rights for all of the American adults who are divorced or widowed or have always been single? After all, there are more than 100 million of us.
Does the mere thought of hoisting a “singlehood is powerful” sign make you feel embarrassed and self-conscious? That right there is a big hint as to why we do not have a singles movement in the United States. Being single – especially past a certain age – is not regarded as a point of pride here. In a culture steeped in matrimania (over-the-top hyping of marriage and weddings) and singlism (the stigmatizing of people who are single), singles can end up feeling defensive and apologetic simply because they are single. They are not about to march for justice!
Many stigmatized groups that took up the cause of social justice had to first fight the stereotypes that degraded them – stereotypes that, among some members, had even become internalized. Women realized, and then insisted, that they were not shrinking violets, gay men and lesbians rejected the diagnostic label that professionals had tried to impose, and African Americans showed how smart they really were. Marching in the streets is the province of people who cannot be persuaded that they are too weak or sick or stupid to do so.
There are many stereotypes of people who are single. Most fit under the obnoxious assumption that if you are single, there must be something wrong somewhere. Maybe you have “issues” or you are “damaged goods.” Other people think they know all about you, just from learning that you are not married – they are sure you are miserable and lonely and your life is tragic. One of the first and most fundamental tasks of those who want fair treatment of singles is consciousness-raising. Singles themselves – and everyone else – need to recognize that it is wholly inappropriate for anyone to be deemed inadequate in any way simply because they are single.
When we have truly succeeded, the tables will be turned: It will be the people who make singlist remarks who will feel humiliated, and not the people they are targeting with their prejudices. That’s what happens today to public figures (and often to ordinary people as well) when they make racist or sexist or homophobic remarks – they are called to account for their biases and they feel obligated to express remorse. It is a mark of the success of the various civil rights movements that appearing prejudiced is now considered shameful.
There is a comment I hear all too often from other people who learn about my interest in singlism. They say something like, “I’m single and I’ve never experienced discrimination.” Statements like that are a testament to the need for further education and consciousness-raising. It is not possible to be unmarried and treated fairly in the United States. Discrimination is written right into federal and state laws. Single people have fewer avenues of access than married people do to health insurance, Social Security benefits, several kinds of tax relief, and many other rights and entitlements. When last counted, marital status figured into the assignment of 1,138 federal benefits and protections. Unfair treatment has also been documented in the workplace, the marketplace, the military, in access to housing, and in everyday life. (The relevant research is described in Chapter 12 of Singled Out.)
To become part of a movement, singles would need to experience a shared identity. How can that happen when single people can be divorced or widowed or ever-single, when they can be rich or poor or somewhere in between, when they differ in race and ethnicity and gender and age and sexual orientation and just about every other relevant characteristic you can think of? That diversity is a real issue. Still, consider the wide range of people who are women or African American or gay. The many varieties of people within those groups presented challenges, but did not stop any of the movements from making their marks.
Another potential impediment to singles activism is that the practice of singlism does not rise to the level of viciousness that has characterized other forms of discrimination. So far as I know, no one has ever been dragged to their death behind the back of a pick-up truck simply because they were single. Nor have there ever been separate drinking fountains for married and single people.
Such differences are important, and the grievances of singles should not be overstated. Yet singles should not be hesitant to ask for fair treatment in such fundamental arenas as access to quality health care and equal compensation and treatment on the job. I don’t think we should be dissuaded from speaking out about the smaller stuff, either. We need to tell our stories, and not be silenced by singlism.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of single status, in comparison to race or gender or sexual orientation, is that it is perceived as much more fluid. You can be single today and married tomorrow or ten years from tomorrow. How can singles be expected to identify with a status that might be fleeting?
Fortunately, the quest for justice is not limited to the stigmatized. Civil rights marches, for example, have always included whites as well as blacks.
Another point is important, too: Americans now spend more years of their adult lives single than married. Of those people who are currently married, most will become single again, either by divorce or the death of their spouse. As Nicky Grist aptly put it, living outside of marriage is relevant to “all of us most of the time and some of us all of the time.” Let’s advocate for fairness for all of us, over the entire course of our adult lives.
Protest rallies are one of the most visible statements of advocacy, but there are many smaller and less public ways to advance a cause. What are some of the things we can do to promote fairness for people who are single, and how shall we go about doing them? I hope to address those questions in future posts to my blogs, and I hope others will do so as well.
[Thanks to AtMP for the opportunity to write this guest post. Thanks also to Nicky Grist, Rachel Buddeberg, Kay Trimberger, and Wendy Braitman for the terrific suggestions they sent when I asked them for their ideas about this singles activism. I hope to incorporate more of their insights as I continue the theme. Thanks, too, to Keysha Whitaker and Terry Hernon MacDonald for all their work in organizing the blog crawl. I hope it has been a happy Singes Week for all!]
In 2006, New York City was rocked by the terrible death of Sean Bell. Unfortunately, the shooting of Sean Bell was not a rare or unique event. Some quick exploration finds that NYC police fatally shot an average of 24 people per year from 1990 through 2000, that, “in 77% of the incidents where officers fired their weapons at civilians between 1999 and 2006, the officers were the only ones shooting, with officers often shooting at unarmed civilians,” and that “during 1996 and 1997, 90.5% of civilian shooting targets were black and Latino.” Horribly, the death of unarmed black and Latino men in a hail of police bullets in NYC happens much too often, yet rarely becomes a huge news story.
One thing that made Sean Bell’s death huge news was the fact that it occurred on the eve of his wedding. The planned wedding separated Mr. Bell from potential stereotypes, giving the media a guaranteed attention-getter. Mr. Bell’s death is far from the only one to be treated differently because of proximity to a wedding. Just this morning I heard a radio report about a terrible plane crash in Pakistan: all 152 people aboard were killed; the only ones described in any detail were two Americans and a Pakistani couple who had just celebrated their wedding.
This is not to question that each of these deaths is tragic, but to point out that the media often relies on matrimania to make some violent, untimely deaths seem more terrible than others.
The loss of Sean Bell is in our minds again today, because NYC is paying his family $7 million to settle their lawsuit for “wrongful death, negligence, assault and civil rights violations.” Technically speaking, none of the settlement will go to Nicole Bell, whom Mr. Bell was about to marry after a long-term unmarried partnership during which they bore and co-raised two children. “The money will go to her two children with Mr. Bell, Jada, 7, and Jordyn, 4; she will not receive a share because she was not married to Mr. Bell (she took his name legally after his death).”
Since Ms. Bell was involved in negotiating the settlement, I’m willing to assume that she’s OK with the way it works. But what if they hadn’t had children? What if they had been planning to adopt? What if they were all much older and the children were independent adults? What happens to unmarried survivors whose partners die wrongful deaths?
Professor Nancy Polikoff has documented that few states allow any compensation to unmarried survivors, and New York State has consistently denied them – see her book Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage, page 88-89. Matrimania is not just an annoying media habit. Reliance on marital status in wrongful death cases, as in so many other legal and economic policies, can double the pain of a loss and create permanent hardships for people whose caring, interdependent relationships don’t count.