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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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51 Responses

  1. preying mantis
    preying mantis June 25, 2009 at 2:37 pm |

    “Then there’s divorce. Ford and Drake say that since women suffer economically much more than men when they get divorced, snagging a good provider is ultimately critical to an equitable settlement. […] “If the marriage crashes,” they write, “it’s the women who are exposed to an extremely high risk of poverty.””

    There seems to be kind of a logic-fail going on here, too. Unless “equitable” has some new meaning I’m not hip to, it seems like the word they want there is “profitable” or “financially respectable.” Which is kind of bogus, because if the couple hits the skids and one of them not only has a reasonable case in their favor but can afford significantly better representation than the other, all bets on an even split are off.

    And of course, if you’re in a low-paying career and you break up with your partner, absent an increasingly-rare generous alimony order, your standard of living is liable to see a precipitous decline regardless of what your partner was paid while you were married. Because, you know, that’s not coming into your household anymore.

  2. Literate Shrew
    Literate Shrew June 25, 2009 at 2:59 pm |

    So…. instead of fighting against a system which devalues women and their contributions to society (in the form of monetarily compensated work)…. we should just dive headfirst into the system and do everything we can to make it pay for us?

    Am I getting that right? Because it sounds like BS to me.

  3. Cara
    Cara June 25, 2009 at 3:09 pm |

    Yeah, I don’t even understand the divorce-related argument. Isn’t the high rate of divorce precisely the reason to tell women not to becoming financially dependent on her partner when at all possible? And certainly to not actively seek out such an arrangement as though it’s the answer to life’s problems? Because when you and the rich guy break up, and seemingly 50% of the time you will, if you relied on his money, you’re likely even more screwed than you were before.

    Unless, of course, they’re arguing that rich people don’t get divorced. Which is ludicrous. Or unless they’re saying that women married to rich men always get a big alimony settlement, which as Preying Mantis points out, isn’t exactly common these days.

  4. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte June 25, 2009 at 3:30 pm |

    To expect — to plan, even — to find a wealthy man who will underwrite your lifestyle in traditionally gendered ways while also believing that you won’t be expected to reciprocate through doing more than 50% of the traditionally female work of child and home care strikes me as naive at best.

    I’d suggest that defenders of the “marry rich” argument would point out that you’re going to do more than 50% if you marry up or down, because wives do more housework in all but a tiny percentage of marriages, even feminists. Even feminists with feminist husbands.

    But I suspect if you don’t marry rich, while he won’t do much, you can scale back more and he has less room to bitch if the house is dirty. For most women, those are their choices—do more, have a neat house, or do less and have a dirty house. Having him do more is simply not an option in most houses.

  5. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte June 25, 2009 at 3:34 pm |

    I will add that I’m always amused by this argument anyway, since it presumes that most women who don’t marry rich were turning down opportunities.

  6. Amanda in the South Bay
    Amanda in the South Bay June 25, 2009 at 3:42 pm |

    It seems like the authors are assuming that women are going to quit their jobs the moment they get engaged to Mr. 6 figures. Which maybe makes sense, if you’re working a genuinely low paying job at Target or Safeway, but what if you’re a paralegal, making 50k a year, who marries a lawyer, making 250K a year? I’d argue that it’d be absolutely stupid, especially in this job climate, to make such a move.

    Isn’t the fiscally prudent, feminist way of looking at this to encourage women to keep their job when they marry up?

  7. amandaw
    amandaw June 25, 2009 at 3:45 pm |

    I really don’t want to sound harsh or bitter with this, but I just can’t get past it when I read on the subject.

    It does occur to me:
    When people say that they would not marry a person who does not “contribute equally” to the finances or the housework, they are outright saying “I would never consider a person with a disability as a romantic partner.”

    My husband provides well more than 50% of the finances — at some times, his income is all we have — and also does more than half the housework. Because I am disabled.

    I really think we need to expand the very concept of partnership in our society. Right now, even the feminist “liberated” ideal (which was necessary to construct for the betterment of women) isn’t as egalitarian as it likes to think it is.

    Life is hard, and there are many, many things that make our lives very different from what we expected before. We should build this reality into our conceptual models, rather than holding to the philosophy of “cross that bridge when we come to it” — which instantly writes out many, many people with less-than-typical experiences.

  8. amandaw
    amandaw June 25, 2009 at 3:51 pm |

    That said, I just can’t understand how a person can expect a healthy long-term relationship with someone when their wealth (not even income) is an explicit consideration in the partner search. How will it change the shape of expectations from each partner? Isn’t it almost inevitable in our society that the woman will be expected to “make up” for her “deficiency” — or else she will just be considered a lesser thing by her husband, a toy so to speak, not an equal partner, placed on a different (lower) level?

    The other concern I have on the subject is that “marry wealthy,” or at least “marry someone who has a well above average income” arguments tend to come from already financially-privileged women. Women who aren’t “rich,” but still enjoy the comforts of the upper classes. These women are not likely to face concern about actually putting food on the table or paying for necessary health care. They are simply trading up lifestyles. All which makes the conversation look a little bit funny to people who are peering in from the lower and lower-middle classes.

  9. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. June 25, 2009 at 3:52 pm |

    “Feminists understandably object to women being traditionally valued for their physical appearance and their subservience; we often also object to men being traditionally valued for their breadwinner status and earning potential.”

    Yes. THIS.

    Life partners are not wallets, maids, mobile wombs, child care providers, punching bags, etc. They are people with whom we share our lives, because being with them, the person that they are (not what we want them to be), makes us happy. They are not there to fulfill some gaping whole in your psyche or your bank account. They are people. People we’re supposed to love.

  10. Amanda in the South Bay
    Amanda in the South Bay June 25, 2009 at 3:57 pm |

    amandaw-

    “All which makes the conversation look a little bit funny to people who are peering in from the lower and lower-middle classes.”

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts the authors of the book, as well as the people they interviewed, already live in another universe than the majority of women in the US.

  11. Embee
    Embee June 25, 2009 at 3:57 pm |

    Literate Shrew, you took the words right out of my keybooard.

  12. amandaw
    amandaw June 25, 2009 at 3:57 pm |

    and as Cara pointed out… if you are honest about the possibility of divorce, when looking for a partner, the smart thing to do is to make sure you have your ass covered in case something happens. Keep working somewhere, keep building skills, keep those licensed up to date, keep those contacts in hand. Whether your guy is making 1/4 million or 4 million, you’ll be better off in case of divorce if you are prepared to make do on your own, regardless what he was making.

    It just doesn’t make sense to marry rich in case you divorce rich. Fucking for virginity, sorta thing.

  13. Faith from F.N.
    Faith from F.N. June 25, 2009 at 3:59 pm |

    And what exactly are those of us who are not interested in marriage or who happen to be bisexual or lesbian supposed to do? Do the authors of this book have an answer to that one.

  14. Marle
    Marle June 25, 2009 at 4:07 pm |

    Not that I think I’d ever have the opportunity, but I don’t think I’d like to marry a rich man. I’ve always known that I’d never want to be a stay at home mom or a housewife, and I think it would be much harder to avoid those things married to a rich man. If I had kids, how could I justify to anyone putting them in daycare so I could contribute just a tiny percent of the household income? If the house was messy (I have a high tolerance for mess and I don’t really like cleaning, so it is) then could I justify that when he’s “holding up his side of the bargain” (the man’s work, bringing in money). It’s bad enough convincing my man to do 50% of the housework when I’m bringing in 50% of the income. Heterosexual relationships are so far from equal in our society as it is that marrying a breadwinner man would just skew the power dynamics too far. Money just isn’t worth that to me.

  15. Marcy Webb
    Marcy Webb June 25, 2009 at 4:09 pm |

    What happened to the desire for women to be able to support themselves, and to contribute financially to the raising of children? I thought that this was a goal of the women’s movement. The fact that women are still operating under the mentality that someone will take care of them shows that the women’s movement has not done a very good job of instilling the idea of self-sufficiency. Thus the reason I attended college and grad. school, so that I am able to support myself.

    Re: Marriage: Ours is a society where people marry on the basis of hope and expectation, i.e. that elusive thing called, “love”, and, to a certain degree, financial gain. Not very stable elements on which to build a lasting relationship. But, that’s another blog post, no?

  16. shah8
    shah8 June 25, 2009 at 5:57 pm |

    You should consider money in matters of practicality, but marrying rich men for their money?

    Set aside the whole “women have no problems marrying rich men” dillemma in the first place, but can you imagine the kind of toxic relationships you could get doing that? EEEEEeeeewwwww

    I have the same problems amandaw has, only I don’t even get to the married part. She’s lucky. ?:~) It just illustrates just how much this sort of advice is only very a very certain kind of women. Normative women from a privileged class to a slightly less privileged women.

    Ah, defense of privilege…

  17. Geek
    Geek June 25, 2009 at 5:58 pm |

    I wouldn’t marry a person that made significantly less than me (for the record we are within 5% of each other’s salaries). I wouldn’t count on a man to take care of me, but I do count on a double salary to lead myself and my guy where we want to go in life. And I count on him to do a lot of chores when I’m really busy at work/dead on my feet (and likewise I do a lot when he’s like that).
    I get pretty resentful when I’m doing more of the housework. I hate housework. I would be even more resentful if I paid for the housework to be done and he made a lot less than me. I don’t like contributing so much more and having people dependent on me.

    So I guess I might be in it for the money, and maybe I’m ableist.

  18. Cori
    Cori June 25, 2009 at 7:10 pm |

    Wow. Hm. My marriage — my relationship with my husband, and our life together — is the best thing in my life and I can honestly say I never considered how much money he made, or how much I made, a factor in deciding to marry him. I married him for who he is, one of maybe two or three people I have ever met with whom I would want to spend my life in partnership.
    Maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic, but it makes me sad to contemplate marrying for anything but love of the good-solid-partner/best-friend variety. I find it hard to imagine that most women meet so many potential soul mates that they can afford to screen them based on income.
    For the record: I grew up middle class, my husband grew up working-poor. In our eleven years together, each of us has at times made a lot more money than the other. Currently I’m the major breadwinner while he goes to school and works part time. We are not wealthy and never will be, but that’s okay. We’re happier than just about any couple I know.

  19. amandaw
    amandaw June 25, 2009 at 7:58 pm |

    She’s lucky. ?:~) It just illustrates just how much this sort of advice is only very a very certain kind of women…

    lol, trust me, I know it. every single day. It makes me want to cry sometimes, because it isn’t fair. we were across the country from each other for our first few years, and I was on my own in terms of finances, self-care etc. until I moved here. and that was difficult enough. I wake up every day with the knowledge of what I could be facing if our relationship were not working as well as it is.

    No one should ever fear their basic wellbeing if they fail to pair up with a societally-approved partner in a binding legal contract. It’s ridiculous. I really have no words beyond that.

  20. amandaw
    amandaw June 25, 2009 at 8:05 pm |

    the fact that women are still operating under the mentality that someone will take care of them shows that the women’s movement has not done a very good job of instilling the idea of self-sufficiency.

    Honestly, I think this is part of the problem with conceptualizing any justice movement. Individually, of course we should be seeking to do everything we can to be self-sufficient, to navigate life’s problems as well as we can. Collectively, however, we should be encouraging community solutions, appealing to the collective, making sure everyone is supported adequately. Then there won’t be as much issue with self-sufficiency, because there will be hands there to help (figuratively, in terms of a benefit check or legal solutions or accessible healthcare, or literally, in terms of our immediate communities) when things get hard.

    There is a tension between the feminist and disability communities in that the western feminist movement holds steadfast to the ideal of independence, while disability *is* the very realization of one’s own dependence on the rest of the world. and not only the disabled: we are all interdependent, all supporting one another in various ways. We need to strengthen that network, so that no one of us slips through when something breaks.

  21. Ismone
    Ismone June 25, 2009 at 8:07 pm |

    I wonder if they realize, on a merely pragmatic level, that there aren’t enough rich men to go around.

    I’m just sayin’. And frankly, from a class perspective, I would be very uncomfortable married to someone really wealthy, even probably nouveau rich, because of the circles we would have to travel in.

    Plus I don’t believe in bigamy. :)

  22. chava
    chava June 25, 2009 at 8:43 pm |

    Coming from a lower class background, it was very important to me to marry someone who was *good* with money and with whom I shared similar fiscal goals. Not someone that necessarily made it hand over fist, but who was reliable with bills, good at investing, frugal, etc.

    That’s slightly but not so very different from “marrying for money.” There are several woman I know who went into a relationship at least partly for money eyes wide open and knowing what they wanted: a very traditional relationship where they contribute cooking/cleaning/childcare and the man makes the money for a nice middle class life. I think they all love their husbands, and seem to get what they wanted out of the relationship. They are *inter* dependant with their husbands, not dependent.

  23. octogalore
    octogalore June 25, 2009 at 10:27 pm |

    Jill, this is an outstanding piece. Kudos.

    I disagree with Wakeman and “Smart Girls” for exactly the reasons you state.

    I don’t think your analysis excludes a situation in which one of the parties is disabled or in which the parties are lower class. In the former situation, there should still not be different gender expectations. In a hetero situation, if the man is or becomes disabled, the woman should pick up the economic slack. And vice versa. That’s not a gender role thing, it’s a right-thing-to-do thing. And in the latter situation, the idea of equal economic power still holds. Not to say that a situation in which one makes more cannot work. But as long as the person making substantially more is the male in the majority of cases, given our societal proclivities, there is likely to b ea power imbalance.

    Literate Shrew said: “So…. instead of fighting against a system which devalues women and their contributions to society (in the form of monetarily compensated work)…. we should just dive headfirst into the system and do everything we can to make it pay for us?”

    My short answer is: yes.

    In longer form: as I’ve stated http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2008/08/14/dirty-little-secrets/ in the past, I’m pro-regulated capitalism. And I think under any capitalism-related system, voluntary work (which right now mostly falls to women) won’t be compensated as well as work which yields market revenue. But even if one is anti-capitalism, it does happen to be the prevailing system. One can certainly work to change that, but for the sake of ones family, it is healthy to acknowledge that it will not change in the near term. And in the meantime, there are bills to pay, and the person who provides the wherewithal to pay them is going to have the most power, by and large. By being idealistic, we create a situation in which someone else — usually someone with a penis, be it dad or hubby or older bro — will have to wear the reality hat. Which will bring a power imbalance.

    Amanda — some thoughts about how wives with feminist husbands can achieve 50%.

  24. preying mantis
    preying mantis June 25, 2009 at 10:33 pm |

    “The fact that women are still operating under the mentality that someone will take care of them shows that the women’s movement has not done a very good job of instilling the idea of self-sufficiency.”

    Yeah, that there women’s movement sure has fallen down on the job. Some women still choosing to listen to organized and semi-organized counter-movements’ sugar-coated-poison domestic prescriptions or being raised by anti-feminist families with expectations of the same is proof positive that the women’s movement dropped the ball on this one.

  25. octogalore
    octogalore June 25, 2009 at 10:46 pm |

    Chava: “There are several woman I know who went into a relationship at least partly for money eyes wide open and knowing what they wanted: a very traditional relationship where they contribute cooking/cleaning/childcare and the man makes the money for a nice middle class life. I think they all love their husbands, and seem to get what they wanted out of the relationship. They are *inter* dependant with their husbands, not dependent.”

    I had lunch with a woman like that yesterday. She didn’t come from a lot of money, was first in her family to go to college. She had a knack for design and started a clothing line that, because she didn’t have any connections, took awhile to get any attention, but was beginning to get some interest. She met a man in the financial world and was attracted by his suggestion that she turn her interest to decorating their home. She had never lived in anything larger than a tiny studio.

    Long story short, after triplets (!) and eight years, he began coming home later and later and after some detective work on her part and locating some hotel receipts, he fessed up to infidelity and moved out. With his finance skills, various accounts have gone missing. She is having trouble finding money for the divorce attorney retainer, and while hopeful that she will track down what he has done with the money, he is telling her they are now all of a sudden dirt poor.

    So no. I think inter-dependency is a pipe dream in many cases, and the problem is that as in love as we are, none of us can ever prove that we’re going to be on the right side of that statistic.

  26. chava
    chava June 25, 2009 at 10:58 pm |

    I don’t know that I would connect that to the type of marriage as much as I would to the particular man being a jerk, octo. Men in perfectly gender-equitable marriages, as far as I know, run around at the same rate as those in “traditional” gender relationships.

    Obviously one should make an effort to keep one’s skills up, keep track of finances, whether male or female. But like amandaw said, complete self-sufficiency and independence (for anyone, not women per se) is the real pipe dream, at least to my way of thinking.

  27. chava
    chava June 25, 2009 at 11:03 pm |

    Octo–I also think that what you’ve hit on is a supply/demand issue.

    To put it bluntly: If you bank solely on your ability as a breeder/homemaker, that market value steadily declines as you age. It’s much easier for Jerk(tm) Husband to find a new homemaker than for you to find a new Jerk. Thus Jerk has much less incentive to stay with you than you with him.

    Hence, it’s always a good idea to keep track of your own money and keep up a skill set. But that doesn’t mean that for some, keeping down the home front isn’t the right (and valuable) thing for them to do. Raising triplets ain’t no picnic, after all.

  28. chava
    chava June 25, 2009 at 11:06 pm |

    Gahhh–the “also” is in ref to a previous comment stuck in moderation. Every other comment has been getting sent to the moderation black hole recently, argh.

  29. Marcy Webb
    Marcy Webb June 25, 2009 at 11:36 pm |

    I really do wonder why so many women spend their money or their parents’ money for law school, med school, etc. only to become stay-at-home mothers. What’s the point of getting all of that education? The longer one stays out of the system, that education and training becomes obsolete. The idea of being highly educated is to develop one’s skill set, and to increase one’s marketability. At best, work part-time. Then again, not working was never a choice. My grandmothers worked, my mother worked – full time. Getting educated was something I had to do, in order to be able to take care of myself.

  30. octogalore
    octogalore June 25, 2009 at 11:54 pm |

    Chava — unfortunately, it is tough to keep up a skill set without actually being in the field.

    Raising kids is tough, but even if one breast feeds, the pregnancy iteslf (typically, women can work for most of it) and maternity leave for a few months (after which feeding can be done before and after work, punctuated by bottle feeding and solid food) is the only difference between a man’s and a woman’s roles in bringing up kids. After that, there is no difference between a mother’s and father’s role. The idea that it’s more important for the mom to do the bonding is gender stereotyping. And it also is laden with class privilege, as many women cannot afford not to work after they have kids.

    So I agree it’s valuable to spend time at home bringing up children, but I am not sure why that creates a mandate for a woman to give up a professional life, rather than both parties sharing in the balancing act, and either paying (generously, to avoid disadvantaging paid caretakers) others or finding a low-cost co-op put together by other cost-conscious parents.

    If there were a course called “Feminism 101″ in college (or even high school), I think this should be on the curriculum.

  31. chava
    chava June 26, 2009 at 12:13 am |

    I absolutely don’t think it creates a mandate for women to raise the children/do the housework, I’m just saying that if the woman (or a man) legitmately wants to handle his/her life that way, it shouldn’t reflect badly on him/her or indicate that she has somehow ‘failed’ at self-sufficiency or independence or “wasted” his/her education.

  32. octogalore
    octogalore June 26, 2009 at 12:49 am |

    I don’t think it reflects badly or means she (and I am talking about she, because women are statistically less economically powerful and therefore it’s a more relevant concern) should be judged. I do think it’s not optimally self preservational. She has the right to make her own decision on that, and I wouldn’t interfere or offer an opinion in any individual case unless consulted.

    As far as wasting education, if a markedly higher % of women get advanced education per Marcy’s comment and only work for a couple of years, then employers being rational economic actors are going to make decisions based on this trend, and it will hurt women collectively. That doesn’t create a mandate for individual women, but I do think it should be part of the calculus.

  33. Linden
    Linden June 26, 2009 at 8:42 am |

    Marcy, it may be frustrating to see, but I suspect living through the changes required in your lifestyle is not easy either.

    I just looked up statutory maternity and paternity leaves in the UK. Maternity leave is 52 weeks (and you can get some pay for 39 of those weeks). Paternity leave is 2 weeks. Obviously, a woman will need time to recover from childbirth, but I reckon patterns of childcare will be set up immediately.

    Not to mention statistically, the mother is likely to be earning less than the father is. The older you get, the more the gap in pay opens. Childcare is very expensive. Who do you think will be under pressure to give up their job? This is not the only pressure at work though, not at all.

    I have a friend who just had a baby. She is in a very specialised field. She ought to earn more than her husband. I suspect (rather, I’ve been told) she will give her job up for a few years. I wonder if they even discussed the possibility that he should look after the child instead. There is a great deal of pressure on women to be the exclusive care provider. Only the mother will do, don’tyouknow, and the first few years are *so* important. They are both very religious (by British standards!), and perhaps this has something to do with it.

    She is risking a lot by doing this. She may find herself at 40 worth a great deal less in the jobmarket. On the other hand, she is no less intelligent, or good at math, or super in every way, just because she’s a mum. The kid will have an engineer (one of the best engineers I’ve met, at her age) to bring him up. Is it a waste? Maybe. But Husband could have chosen to take the risk, and he didn’t. He could have done the job just as well, but he didn’t. So maybe we should quit saying things like, “why do women choose to waste blah blah blah”, when there is another person in the equation.

    Where is he, where are men like him, and why aren’t you questioning their decisions? Why aren’t they lobbying for more paternity leave? Why aren’t they trying to get laws changed to make it easier for men to stay home with the kids? And if you think educated mothers leaving their jobs is a waste, what do you suggest? Do you pipe up every time someone mentions “a mother’s responsibility” for this, that and the other, and say, “actually, I think you meant ‘parental responsibility'”? Do you question the fact that we’re foisting gendered toys on to babies& toddlers to make doubleplus sure that they fit the roles they are *supposed* to play?

    I’m getting married in a couple of months, and I hope and think that I’m marrying a man who is prepared to share the risks and the joys…

  34. Marcy Webb
    Marcy Webb June 26, 2009 at 9:25 am |

    “I’m getting married in a couple of months, and I hope and think that I’m marrying a man who is prepared to share the risks and the joys…”

    Linden, I wish you all the best on your impending nuptuals.

    Furthermore, I *am* questioning the male partner’s decisions. However, I realize that, just like I will not see racism eradicated in my lifetime, I will not see the termination of assigned roles based on gender.

    Look, I had a very unusual upbringing. I was born in 1965, a time when most women – primarily White women- were stay-at-home mothers. That wasn’t the case in my family. My mother worked for 34 years, from the time I was four months old. My father was home with my brother and me during the day, and my mother worked the night shift. The roles reversed when my father worked at night, and my mother during the day. My father mopped and waxed the floors, did laundry, cleaned, and walked my brother and me to school. There were no assigned duties in my childhood home based on gender. Whatever needed to be done, got done.

    I say the aforementioned to say that I was raised to do whatever I set my mind to do, without deference to assigned gender roles. That included getting educated and supporting myself. I was raised to believe that a man would probably *not* come along to take care of me, so, I had to learn to do it for myself. BTW: Would I like to get married? Perhaps. But, women typically marry men like their dads. I’ve not yet found a man like *my* dad. :)

  35. octogalore
    octogalore June 26, 2009 at 10:56 am |

    Linden: of course we should question the male partner’s decisions and implicate him in responsibility. He may in fact bear the lion’s share. But just like blaming capitalism is a waste of time, we have to focus on what we have the ability to change. We can try to work with a recalcitrant spouse, to educate, to refuse to do more than our share, to threaten, but our ability to make him into what we need him to be is limited.

    What we can do is have these conversations before marriage and kids arrive on the scene. In clear enough terms so that “misunderstandings” later are minimized.

    Not everything can be planned or anticipated. But in many cases, if it’s made clear that a woman plans to continue working after maternity leave, and especially where decisions are made that don’t reflect an expectation that the guy will necessarily make more (a la Jessica Wakeman, choosing a fun and rewarding but less remunerative job with the expectation that she’ll marry a much richer guy), surprises can be limited.

  36. MadamaAmbi
    MadamaAmbi June 26, 2009 at 12:07 pm |

    this is all very interesting, but doesn’t address an even more fundamental assumption: why get married at all? What’s so great about marriage? Or, let me say it another way–is pairing up to have kids really the best way for all members of the nuclear family to get their needs met??

    And why is sex tied to marriage? I don’t see women or men getting liberated from patriarchal assumptions, behaviors and invisible pillars of support until we can imagine a world without marriage.

  37. amandaw
    amandaw June 26, 2009 at 12:23 pm |

    Jill wrote:

    When I wrote “contribute equally,” I didn’t mean dollars-for-dollars; I have sort of a Communist view of relationships, where each person gives what they can in all senses (financial, emotional, etc).

    And that is very fair (and very similar to how mattw and I approach things) — just that the language did erase the possibility of ever having a partnership with someone who has a disability, no matter the intent behind it. This is something most abled folk never really think of, because they never really have to. I do think most people, when actually confronted with the issue, do adapt well. But it would help if we would address the construction that makes pwd issues ones that never receive acknowledgement w/o that confrontation.

    It was a bit of a one-off criticism, but as I said, I think it’s very important to change that construction so that non-normative folk are included from the start, so I spoke up. I did think your response very fair, and I appreciate that you listened, and responded with care. Thank you :)

  38. Alphanista
    Alphanista June 26, 2009 at 3:57 pm |

    I really don’t see what is wrong to provided “gendered services” like cooking, cleaning, helping with children, house, etc. It gives the inclination that thse things are negative or LOW. These are powerful, influential tasks that are honorable in many cultures, but ours. So if all he is asking is for me to cook, have his babies, be a good wife, while he supports my dream, and our lifestyle, where do I sign?

  39. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers June 26, 2009 at 4:13 pm |

    And that is very fair (and very similar to how mattw and I approach things) — just that the language did erase the possibility of ever having a partnership with someone who has a disability, no matter the intent behind it.

    To be fair, only some disabilities.

    My husband is disabled in that he is legally blind. He cannot drive a car and will probably never be able to. However, he has a job as a programmer making twice what I do, because with a sufficiently large monitor, he can see well enough to program. He had a close friend who was completely blind, but had a job as a radio DJ. I once had a friend who was completely blind, but was a law student, and I believe she worked as a lawyer for a while before having blind children and quitting her job to do volunteer advocacy for blind kids in the educational system. Another friend of mine has a blind brother-in-law who runs his own business. My son’s best friend has two deaf parents, both of whom have jobs.

    So actually, saying that you would not consider a person who can’t contribute to the household income is *not* the same thing as saying that you would not have a disabled partner. It’s saying you wouldn’t have a partner who is so disabled they cannot work, which is not quite the same thing. Even a partner who is “on disability” for being unable to work may at some point be able to have a job — my husband collected SSDI when he was a young man, before he discovered that this Internet thing could make him a lot of money.

    As a woman with a disabled partner, therefore, I will say that I would not be willing to have a relationship with someone who did not pull their weight in either the finances or the household chores, unless something happened to them to make it that way during our established relationship. Having this requirement didn’t rule out my getting involved with a man who needs me to drive him everywhere he needs to go that he can’t get to on public, it wouldn’t have ruled out a deaf person, it wouldn’t have ruled out a fully blind person with job skills, and it wouldn’t have ruled out a wheelchair-bound person who was able to work at a job. Disability comes in a wide range. Hell, Stephen Hawking is probably one of the most disabled people on the planet, and is wealthy enough to attract any number of women who just want a guy for his money.

    I admit that I wouldn’t get involved in the first place with a person who could neither work nor do household chores, although if I was already involved with them and loved them, I would take care of them if they became disabled. But saying that I’m only willing to choose a partner who, at the time I become involved with them, is capable of contributing financially or otherwise to my household, is not the same thing as saying I am unwilling to be romantically inolved with a disabled person.

  40. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. June 26, 2009 at 4:46 pm |

    Wow, so those of you who think a partner should be able to provide or help maintain your lifestyle (in addition to being ablist) what happens if he hates his job. What happens if the stress of that high paying career is killing him. What happens if one day he decides he misses spending time with his children and wants to watch them grow up – up close and personal like. Or if he wants to write a novel or design shoes? Do you make him stay? Is his well being and happiness secondary to your financial security? This is the problem with loving something a person does for you rather than loving the person.

  41. Jennifer
    Jennifer June 26, 2009 at 6:26 pm |

    My ex-fiance was dead broke, refused to go back to school, and tended to work retail (or worse) jobs. “What was I thinking?” is something I say to myself a lot. Marrying him would have been shooting myself in both feet and a hand because he was a money SUCK and literally had to spend his paycheck within 12 hours of getting it.

    So, y’know, when I read stuff like this, I can kinda understand why they are saying it. I wish I could make my own bucks, but the only skills I have for pay that anyone MIGHT want are writing ones. If I could program or do math I’d go into a hard science or something else, but nope, all I am is a writer and nobody wants those any more. (Just came from a career counseling appointment.) So I can’t make my own bucks unless a miracle occurs. And in the case of my ex, I was the “breadwinner.” This was bad. So yeah, I don’t think I’d want to marry another retail worker, or maybe another writer either. I probably could really use someone with a better paying job as a spouse at the very least so I can have health insurance/financial backup if my job tanks. And much as I hate to say it, that’s an option straight women have that most everyone else doesn’t. It’s disgusting, but true.

    Of course, love makes you stoopid, so odds are I’d probably find another loser rather than strategically marry someone with money anyway. But I can see WHY they are saying this. Love doesn’t win out so much over no money and stressing out over it.

  42. Tamen
    Tamen June 26, 2009 at 7:36 pm |

    Linden: You know there is a flip side of that coin: Who do you think is feeling pressured to keep his job?
    In Norway we have 12 months parental leave; 6 weeks is reserved for the mother and 6 weeks is reserved for the father. The remaining weeks is free to share as the parents themselves sees fit. In reality that means that most men only take the 6 week (they can’t normally be transferred to the mother) due to pressures coming mainly from their partners and then their employersand economic considerations (80% of the wage is paid by the state and if the man earns more the family unit makes less for each extra week of leave he takes). Even though studies have shown that many men would like to take more than the 6 weeks they do. There has been some lobbying to increase both the part reserved for the mother and the part reserved for the father (and decreasing the free choice pot) and thus making it into three equal parts. Although some feminists have supported this (referring to the positive effect such an arrangement has had on the wage gap on Iceland), most, including the Ministry of children and equality in Norway has spoken against such a division – usually referring to the breastfeeding and it’s often implied that increasing the fathers part of the 12 months leave is somehow stealing from the mother…

  43. Tamen
    Tamen June 26, 2009 at 7:45 pm |

    A small correction: 80% of the wage up to a certain cut-off point is paid by the state. And that cut-off point is I think approximately around the average pay level – so many men will earn above this cut-off point and thus the family will loose even more money if he increases his leave.

  44. amandaw
    amandaw June 27, 2009 at 9:16 am |

    Alara,

    (The following is not a judgment on your particular situation but a response to the general argument you put forth.)

    Thing is, I simply do not see how it is better to say that language excluding anyone who cannot match an able-bodied ideal is not a potential partner, still allows for PWD who can closely match that ideal, so therefore it’s OK — I don’t see how that argument is really any better. Because it’s still (and now deliberately) excluding anyone who can’t closely approximate that ideal, and that *is* prejudice and exclusion.

    I appreciated Jill’s response and clarification because she specifies that she sees relationships as a partnership of two people who put forth 100% of what they are able to give, and that is what makes it fair. OTOH, saying that you would never be with someone who does not put forth an absolute amount *based on the able-bodied norm* is contributing to the framework where PWD aren’t “contributors” to (partnership/family/community/society) because they don’t match that norm, that their inability to participate in a way that approximates that norm means are therefore not whole people, that the able-bodied norm is *The* measuring stick to judge by, and what everyone should aspire to, and therefore people who simply will never fit that norm are lesser persons.

    This is not what you are trying to say, or what you mean or intend. But that is the dominant framework and such an approach reinforces that framework nonetheless.

  45. amandaw
    amandaw June 27, 2009 at 9:23 am |

    A paraphrase of a saying:

    “A good relationship is not one where both people put forth 50%, it is one where both people put forth 100%.”

    Trite, I know. But applicable.
    The former frame is where non-normative people fall into trouble.
    The latter frame is broad, inclusive, and appreciative. And that’s the frame we should be emphasizing.

  46. LP
    LP June 27, 2009 at 11:20 am |

    I’m going to put a new perspective out there. I am not advocating the marriage to a man who makes beaucoup bucks. What I would advocate is marriage to a man who responsibly manages his finances. Granted the way a man handles his finances is not always a guarantee as to how that man will treat women while in relationships. Looking at other aspects of his life as well would probably be a good idea. But if the guy handles his finances responsibly (and I suppose “responsibly” could be a vague term), chances are he can handle other things responsibly. I was in a relationship where the guy was so worried about paying off his students loans but then turned around and spent money on a new (unnecessary) vehicle. Even though it was none of my business how he spent his own money, I figured he wasn’t really so concerned about paying off his student loans. Honestly, I didn’t want to end up marrying the guy only to inherit his student loans. The point being, his financial priorities were not in line with my financial priorities. If I had student loans, I personally wouldn’t want to burden someone else with them.

    Just a thought.

  47. Kat
    Kat June 28, 2009 at 2:50 am |

    It makes me really sad that upper-middle class seems to be the ideal lifestyle choice.

  48. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers June 29, 2009 at 12:17 pm |

    appreciated Jill’s response and clarification because she specifies that she sees relationships as a partnership of two people who put forth 100% of what they are able to give, and that is what makes it fair. OTOH, saying that you would never be with someone who does not put forth an absolute amount *based on the able-bodied norm* is contributing to the framework where PWD aren’t “contributors” to (partnership/family/community/society) because they don’t match that norm, that their inability to participate in a way that approximates that norm means are therefore not whole people, that the able-bodied norm is *The* measuring stick to judge by, and what everyone should aspire to, and therefore people who simply will never fit that norm are lesser persons.

    I see what you’re saying there. I guess I was a bit put off by the original phrasing because my husband has an “invisible” disability — I mean, you can see it if you look at his eyes, but many people don’t understand that his wobbling eyes reflect an actual inability to see well, and just interpret him as being “shifty-eyed” or something — so he actually runs into problems with people who don’t consider him disabled. He had to argue with a gatekeeper when we were dealing with an issue where he was supposed to be the only one allowed into the office, because it was his problem… but they were expecting him to read and fill out forms with tiny print, and he wanted me there to read for him because with his magnifying glass it would have taken him much longer to read. He told them he needed me because he’s blind and they were all “You look like you can see.” And it’s an issue he’s very sensitive to, because he *does* make good money and in a lot of respects he has so many societal privileges that people often don’t want to accomodate or acknowledge that yes, he is disabled.

    So I guess I wasn’t so much trying to say “hey, you could marry a person with a certain type of disability!” so much as objecting to language that it seemed to me was saying “only people who cannot work are disabled”, but I see that that isn’t what you were going for. I agree that the ideal should be that everyone in a partnership does all that they can, not that everyone does exactly as much as each other.

  49. Bre
    Bre July 30, 2009 at 4:14 pm |

    I don’t know about this book but, despite the name, I recommend having young females read “Why Men Love Bitches”. It teaches you to retain a certain degree of independence in your relationships (i.e. don’t drop everything going on in your life when a man comes calling and don’t lose your identity to meet your significant other’s expectations) and does so with a tongue-in-cheek manner. My mom has been married 3 times and raised my two sisters and me to be strong, independent women. She taught us that you don’t put yourself in a position where you can’t support yourself if you need to, which means having an education, an idea of how to manage money and a confidence in yourself to make it on your own should the situation call for it. Apparently those lessons have served us well. Both my younger sister and I will be graduating college in December and going on to pursue Master’s degrees (medicine and psychology). We are both happy whether we are in a relationship or not (many people are age are serial daters because they don’t know how to be along and be happy) and we both support ourselves financially by working while we finish our degrees. 3 cheers for strong women!!!

    As for marrying for money, I won’t marry or even date someone who is not educated. Now, there is a caveat to that statement. I would be with someone who owns their own business (an entrepeneur) because it shows they are hard working, responsible, etc. But why would I work hard to put myself through school, manage my money wisely and built a solid foundation for myself and then throw it all away on someone who didn’t do the same?!?! Plus, I think the more level you are with your partner when it comes to education/money/etc. the better your relationship is because you are closer to real “equals” in every way. Don’t marry for money, marry for love…but do it with an open heart and a sound mind! Too many ladies think they’re in “love” before they really know the person they’re with. Learn who you are, learn to love yourself then find your REAL prince charming. ;)

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