The Single American Woman via NY Magazine
Pretty long article, but very interesting.
Please use this link I’m giving you if you’d like to read the entire page (it’s a little bit farther below).
I am a right winger, have been a Republican my whole life (though the GOP has been annoying me more and more the last few years, but no, I am not fine with the Democrats), and I am a single woman who was raised in a Christian home.
My parents were Christians who had very traditional values.
The one thing I dread when reading articles like this one I am linking to in this post is imagining how my fellow right wingers will react to what it discusses.
Typically, rather than help single women where they are (which is what they should be doing), they will more likely, instead, complain and yell about singleness, about what a shame it is people aren’t marrying as much or not as young as they did decades ago, and yell at single women to run right out and get married immediately.
(One thing these types of idiots overlook is that marrying is not that easy. I’ve always wanted to be married, but I never met the right guy. I am not going to marry just any guy with a pulse just for the sake of being married.)
Anyway, following that initial reaction of my fellow right wingers, they will then, at that point – by “they,” I refer more specifically to the conservative marriage concern trolls among the secular right wingers and the conservative Christians – will write fear-mongering articles (like (Link): this one) to scare single women into marrying the first man they meet who has a pulse.
The fear mongering and pressure by conservatives to scare or cajole women to marry has gotten so bad with right wing marriage concern trolls, that some of them are even directing Christian women to marry (Link): known pornography addicts.
The majority of my fellow conservatives don’t give a rat’s ass about doing anything to assist single women so long as those women are single.
Many conservatives would prefer to sit back in their rocking chair on the front porch, sipping on lemonade, smoking on their pipes, complaining about how times have changed for the worst, and how the nation was so much better back in 1952. They would rather pine away for the so-called “good old days” than to help people in practical ways in 2016 where ever they find themselves in life.
Though I am right wing, I think this author makes a few good arguments against conservative views about singleness and marriage and the roles of women.
- The most powerful voter this year, who in her rapidly increasing numbers has become an entirely new category of citizen, is THE SingleAmerican Woman
- ….In 2009, the proportion of American women who were married dropped below 50 percent. In other words, for the first time in American history, single women (including those who were never married, widowed, divorced, or separated) outnumbered married women.
- Perhaps even more strikingly, the number of adults younger than 34 who had never married was up to 46 percent, rising 12 percentage points in less than a decade. For women under 30, the likelihood of being married has become astonishingly small: Today, only around 20 percent of Americans ages 18–29 are wed, compared to nearly 60 percent in 1960.
- It is a radical upheaval, a national reckoning with massive social and political implications. Across classes, and races, we are seeing a wholesale revision of what female life might entail.
- We are living through the invention of independent female adulthood as a norm, not an aberration, and the creation of an entirely new population: adult women who are no longer economically, socially, sexually, or reproductively dependent on or defined by the men they marry.
- This reorganization of our citizenry, unlike the social movements that preceded it and made it possible — from abolition and suffrage and labor fights of the 19th and early-20th centuries to the civil-rights, women’s, and gay-rights movements of the mid-20th century — is not a self-consciously politicized event. Today’s women are, for the most part, not abstaining from or delaying marriage to prove a point about equality.
- They are doing it because they have internalized assumptions that just a half-century ago would have seemed radical: that it’s okay for them not to be married; that they are whole people able to live full professional, economic, social, sexual, and parental lives on their own if they don’t happen to meet a person to whom they want to legally bind themselves.
- The most radical of feminist ideas—the disestablishment of marriage — has been so widely embraced as to have become habit, drained of its political intent but ever-more potent insofar as it has refashioned the course of average female life.
- I am not arguing that singleness is in and of itself a better or more desirable state than coupledom. Many single women, across classes and races, would like to marry — or at least form loving, reciprocal, long-term partnerships, and many of them do, partnering or cohabiting without actually marrying.
- Still, the rise of the single woman is an exciting turn of historical events because it entails a complete rethinking of who women are and what family is and who holds dominion within it — and outside it.
- …Single women are also becoming more and more powerful as a voting demographic. In 2012, unmarried women made up a remarkable 23 percent of the electorate.
- Almost a quarter of votes in the last presidential election were cast by women without spouses, up three points from just four years earlier.
- According to Page Gardner, founder of the Voter Participation Center, in the 2012 presidential election, unmarried women drove turnout in practically every demographic, making up “almost 40 percent of the African-American population, close to 30 percent of the Latino population, and about a third of all young voters.”
…Perhaps more dramatically than any other voting block, unmarried women — comprising as they do other liberal-voting groups including young women and women of color — lean left. Way left. Single women voted for Barack Obama by a wide margin in 2012 — 67 to 31 percent — while married women (who tend to be older and whiter) voted for Romney. And unmarried women’s political leanings are not, as has been surmised in some quarters, attributable solely to racial diversity. According to polling firm Lake Research Partners, while white women as a whole voted for Romney over Obama, unmarried white women chose Obama over Romney by a margin of 49.4 percent to 38.9 percent.
- …All of this prompts the question of how marital status might affect women’s voting patterns in 2016.
- …By the mid-20th century, the patriotic step-back of women from the workforce after World War II ushered in a whole new brand of enforced marital domesticity, largely supported by the government.
- Thanks to the GI Bill, returning veterans (or at least white veterans, who were far more likely to be admitted to universities) were eligible for college educations that could propel them into the coalescing middle class.
- Meanwhile, the federal government underwrote loans and built up a suburban infrastructure that would house the millions of children American women were busy making. It was a neat, elliptical system.
- Advertisers sold both women and men on an old cult-of-domesticity-era ideal: that the highest female calling was the maintenance of a domestic sanctuary for men on whom they would depend economically. In order to care for the home, these women would rely on new products, like vacuum cleaners and washing machines, sales of which would in turn line the pockets of the husbands who ran the companies that provided these goods.
- The push was not simply for women to marry but to marry early, before gaining a taste for independent life. A 1949 American Social Hygiene Association pamphlet advised that “Marriage is better late than never. But early marriage gives more opportunity for happy comradeship … for having and training children … promoting family life as a community asset, and observing one’s grandchildren start their careers.”
- By the end of the 1950s, around 60 percent of female students were dropping out of college, either to marry or because the media blitz and realignment of expectations led them to believe that further education would inhibit their chances of finding a husband.
- In his 1957 Harper’s piece “American Youth Goes Monogamous,” Charles Cole, president of Amherst College, wrote that “a girl who gets as far as her junior year in college without having acquired a man is thought to be in grave danger of becoming an old maid.”
- In these years, around half of brides were younger than 20, and 14 million women were engaged by the time they were 17.
- But as white women married in greater numbers and at younger ages, African-American marriage rates began to decrease. By 1970, black women were not marrying nearly as often or as early as their white counterparts.
- …For men, marriage, and presumably the domestic support derived from wives, boosted professional focus. For women, the lack of marriage and its attendant responsibilities is what allowed them to move ahead at a faster clip.
- Less surprising, but still maddening, is that the same patterns apply to having children. Sociologist Michelle Budig has been studying the gendered wage gap between parents for years and, in 2014, found — based on data from 1979 to 2006 — that, on average, men saw a 6 percent increase in earnings after becoming fathers; in contrast, women’s wages decreased 4 percent for every child. The gap narrows significantly for women in upper-echelon professions…
- … Eighty-six percent of Gen-X and baby-boomer men said that their wives did most of the child care.
- Is it any wonder that women are not rushing down the aisle? Today, marriage delay is a move that women are making across the country and across classes, in both unconscious and very conscious ways, and the economic impact is clear.
- In 2013, Pew (Link): released Census data revealing that, in the words of the report, “today’s young women are the first in modern history to start their work lives at near parity with men.
- In 2012, among workers ages 25 to 34, women’s hourly earnings were 93 percent of those of men.” Those workers represent the very same generation of women who are remaining unmarried for longer than ever before.
- Remaining unmarried through some portion of early adulthood, especially for college-educated women, is intimately linked with making money. The “Knot Yet Report,” published in 2013, revealed that a college-educated woman who delays marriage until her 30s will earn $18,000 more per year than an equivalently educated woman who marries in her 20s.
- Women without college degrees also gain a wage premium if they delay marriage into their 30s, though only an average of $4,000 a year. (Both college-educated and non-college-educated men earn more money if they marry early.)
- Whether they know these statistics consciously, many American women understand them instinctively. Academic drive, the urge to capitalize on educational opportunity, a plan to put off distracting romantic entanglement, all with the conscious desire to make later independence possible: These motivations were mentioned by nearly every one of the college students or recent graduates I interviewed.
In 2012, Barack Obama’s campaign released a bit of propaganda that featured a cartoon figure named Julia. “Julia” was born, earned a college degree, had a career and a child, thanks, in part, to the aid of government-sponsored programs. According to Julia’s bare-bones time line, her life did not include marriage.
Conservatives went bananas. One Washington Post op-ed writer called her “Mary Tyler Moore on the government’s dime”; lamented that while single parenthood used to be a disgraceful state, single mothers now present “a new and proud American demographic”; and described a world in which independent women receive from their government a pitiable “hubby state” in which missing husbands are replaced by Uncle Sam.
…Whether or not single women are looking for government to create a “hubby state” for them, what is certainly true is that their (white) male counterparts have long enjoyed the fruits of a related “wifey state,” in which the government has supported (white) male independence in a variety of ways.
It’s hard for us to recognize this, since it has been the norm for so long — and here, it’s useful to recall Elizabeth Warren’s stirring “You didn’t build that” speech, in which she pointed out that “there is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody.”
Men, especially married wealthy white men, have for generations relied on government assistance. It’s the government that has historically supported white men’s home and business ownership through grants, loans, incentives, and tax breaks. It has allowed them to accrue wealth and offered them shortcuts and bonuses for passing it down to their children.
Government established white men’s right to vote, and thus exert control over the government, at the nation’s founding and has protected their enfranchisement since. It has also bolstered the economic and professional prospects of men by depressing the economic prospects of women.
In other words, by failing to offer women equivalent economic and civic protections, thus helping to create conditions whereby they were forced to be dependent on those men, the government established a gendered class of laborers who took low-paying or unpaid jobs doing the domestic and child-care work that further enabled men to dominate public spheres.
Our civic institutions both reinforce and determine these historic assumptions: Consider that school days end in the mid-afternoon and let out for protracted summer vacations.
Who is meant to care for those children if we do not subsidize child care? Women.
Women who our institutions presume do not have jobs that extend till five, till six, or into overnight double shifts.
Women the nation still assumes to be married, even though they are not and even though marriage itself continues — contra the conservative dogma that it is a cure for poverty — to hobble women’s chances at equality in lingering ways.
(Link): How Christians Have Failed on Teaching Maturity and Morality Vis A Vis Marriage / Parenthood – Used as Markers of Maturity Or Assumed to be Sanctifiers – Also: More Hypocrisy – Christians Teach You Need A Spouse to Be Purified, But Also Teach God Won’t Send You a Spouse Until You Become Purified
(Link): Why Christians Need To Stress Spiritual Family Over the Nuclear Family – People with no flesh and blood relations including Muslims who Convert to Christianity – Also: First World, White, Rich People Problems