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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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100 Responses

  1. TomSims
    TomSims February 4, 2013 at 12:30 pm |

    I agree with the post. Marriage seems to be going the way of the horse and buggy.

    http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2011-12-14/local/35287431_1_couples-decline-in-marriage-rates-median-age

  2. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos February 4, 2013 at 12:44 pm |

    A nice article. But at least in my view, conservative opposition to same-sex marriage has never been about marriage. Same-sex marriage wasn’t even on the horizon in most of the states where conservatives pushed state laws and amendments banning it. Instead, these laws were passed in response to (and used against) municipal and collegate domestic partner benefits, amendments to civil rights law, legal and medical powers of attorney, and adoption and custody cases.

    That also seems to be the case here. “Defense of marriage,” has never been about marriage, but about attacking lgbt*, women, the poor, and ethnic minorities.

    1. DouglasG
      DouglasG February 5, 2013 at 8:47 am |

      It is true that it goes back well before marriage. I remember seeing Mona Charen making much the same conservative case before the US had any SSM at all. At the time, it felt like the kind of erasure one didn’t always mind that much, but back then we had a good deal on our plates.

  3. pillow in hell
    pillow in hell February 4, 2013 at 12:46 pm |

    I think what may be overlooked here is how societies views on common law relationships have changed. Its not seen as living in sin so much, and its a far cheaper option than a formal state and religion ceremony. Its cheaper to enter into and easier to dissolve than a formal wedding. The expense of a marriage with the cultural expectations and the expense of lawyers in the case of divorce is what deters many of the people I know who belong to working class and poor families.

    Of course, the downside is that legal protections and benefits for a common law relationship is not the same as a formal marriage.

    1. Angie unduplicated
      Angie unduplicated February 5, 2013 at 9:50 am |

      Seconded. Working-class couples who marry and stay together, often do it because one partner has health insurance with family coverage. I’d like to see data on the F state, where a married couple with no children can file for uncontested divorce for under $100.

    2. speedbudget
      speedbudget February 5, 2013 at 10:26 am |

      I got married for health insurance, and it only cost me about $200 all told. I paid for the license and the justice of the peace. You don’t have to have a wedding with all the trappings in order to get married, and it’s actually a pretty smart choice if your only compelling reason is insurance or some other financial incentive.

  4. Syn Delano
    Syn Delano February 4, 2013 at 1:02 pm |

    I had decided I didn’t want to be married or have children at a young age pretty much because of everything stated above. I hated that I had to bargain my dreams with becoming a wife/mother. My first time being pregnant was at 29 and I decided to have my daughter. I didn’t marry her father until recently [she'll be 4 this year]. Before I chose the life I have now, I made more money, my career wasn’t put on hold, and I was viewed ENTIRELY different by my husband. I don’t push traditional roles off onto anyone because they’re never as rosy as others make them seem, ESPECIALLY, when you have a mate who still subscribes to these outdated marital roles. I don’t discourage anyone from this life, if that’s what they want, but I make sure they know it isn’t happily ever after when finances are tight and/or the husband and wife aren’t on the same page [re: "duties"].

  5. Miguel
    Miguel February 4, 2013 at 1:22 pm |

    The problem is capitalism. The fact of the matter is, there aren’t enough “good jobs” to allow most people to “pull their weight” economically, and there never will be again. So people are stressed and either don’t get married or get married and then argue and fight and get divorced. On the margins, there are a few people who are able to survive by building their own personal “brands.” One thing I’ve noticed is that most Big Name Feminists have their own “personal brand.” And outside of feminism, you have people like Andrew Sullivan, who’ve also survived by building their own “personal brands.” But for 99% of the population, having one’s own “personal brand” doesn’t work. Remember this unfortunate young woman?
    You say that people are constrained by (1) outdated gender roles and (2) financial insecurity. I think that if we scrapped capitalism and had a decent economic system that provided financial security, the problem of outdated gender roles would work itself out. One reason I think this is that places with messed up ideas about gender, like Steubenville, Ohio, are also places with really messed up economies where people are hopeless and uneducated, like Steubenville, Ohio.

    1. Li
      Li February 4, 2013 at 1:50 pm |

      One reason I think this is that places with messed up ideas about gender, like Steubenville, Ohio, are also places with really messed up economies where people are hopeless and uneducated, like Steubenville, Ohio.

      Or, like, say, Amherst College, Massachusetts? (Content warning on that link for descriptions of rape and subsequent trauma.)

      Or wait, maybe viewing poor people as the predominant perpetrators of sexual violence is in fact less of an anti-capitalist position than you imagine.

    2. EG
      EG February 4, 2013 at 2:45 pm |

      I think that if we scrapped capitalism and had a decent economic system that provided financial security, the problem of outdated gender roles would work itself out.

      So if you ladies could just quit it with the false consciousness and wait until after the revolution comes for your rights to be recognized, that would be swell. In the meantime, somebody’s gotta make the coffee–the next meeting of the Society of Reductionist Marxists and Others Who Believe That It’s All About Capitalism and Everything Else Is False Consciousness is going to start. Could you get on that?

      1. Li
        Li February 4, 2013 at 3:06 pm |

        I am counting down to yet another round of “sexism is caused by people using the categories of ‘women’ and ‘men’ ” manarchist douchebaggery personally.

      2. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl February 4, 2013 at 3:23 pm |

        I disagree with everything else Miguel had to say in his long-winded comment, but I do think there is a valid point to be made that our capitalist system here in the U.S. does a lot to prop up the patriarchy while undermining women’s ability to find social and financial equality with men.

        We currently have an economic system that demands that employees elevate work above all else, where productivity is demanded but so often not rewarded, and where employees are expected to take less and less benefits like time off or health insurance (if that is even offered at all.) Forget about collective bargaining, fair maternity/parental leave policies or even better work-life balance, because with these tough economic times employees should just be glad to have any job at all.

        In countries where there policies like universal health care, paid parental leave, guaranteed vacation time and fair living wages there is often a real correlation with women achieving better social equality and economic stability (Scandinavia and much of western Europe spring to mind most easily.)

        1. EG
          EG February 4, 2013 at 3:32 pm |

          Sure, and I agree. But I honestly don’t think that’s what Miguel was saying. His rhetoric does not suggest that he’s in support of measures that ameliorate the ravages of insufficiently controlled capitalism in ways that promote gender equality; he’s saying that there are no gender role problems outside of capitalism, and that smashing the capitalist state will automatically, and without any special effort or attention, make oppressive gender roles wither and die.

        2. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl February 4, 2013 at 3:46 pm |

          Yeah, I know EG. Which is why I specifically couched my comment in terms of only agreeing with his opening sentence. The rest of his premise is faulty and I disagree with it.

          I was also going to come back and add to my initial comment to point out how capitalism tends to undervalue any jobs or tasks that are traditionally considered to be feminine endeavors (from childcare, to teaching and even areas like nursing) and thus holds it as canonical that those types of jobs should be low paying and with minimal to any benefits of any kind. That’s bullshit, and it truly is the fault of the underlying patriarchal roots of our capitalist system.

        3. Miguel
          Miguel February 4, 2013 at 4:18 pm |

          I was also going to come back and add to my initial comment to point out how capitalism tends to undervalue any jobs or tasks that are traditionally considered to be feminine endeavors (from childcare, to teaching and even areas like nursing) and thus holds it as canonical that those types of jobs should be low paying and with minimal to any benefits of any kind.

          Okay, maybe now’s a good time to point out what the article I linked to in my original comment actually said:

          We, as a society, treat wage labor as though it is a unique source of dignity and worth. The left has historically perpetuated this view, but we should be challenging it. We should point out that there is a lot of socially valuable work that is not done for pay. The biggest category of such work, as feminists have long pointed out, is household labor and the care of children and elders.

        4. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl February 5, 2013 at 1:03 pm |

          Miguel, I think your tone came off as a bit too mansplainy, and your lack of acknowledgement as to how sexism is so entrenched in our society was also offputting. Such that blaming capitalism misses the bigger picture of sexism and patriarchy as it exists today.

          I’m still interested in hearing what more you may have to say on this subject. The ways in which our capitalist system hurts women and often prevents them from achieving social and economic equality still doesn’t get nearly enough attention from the feminist blogosphere these days.

    3. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune February 5, 2013 at 9:00 am |

      And tomorrow if we woke up and everything was perfect, everything would be perfect. Well done. What a masterpiece of nuanced thought.

  6. JBL55
    JBL55 February 4, 2013 at 1:48 pm |

    At this very moment I am listening to my daughter-in-law awaken to the repercussions of the fact that her husband (my stepson) does not pull his own weight around the house.

    Part of it’s her fault, because she has always been one of these people who thinks it’s easier to “just do it myself” rather than ask for help. It’s also part of her self-esteem calculus: she likes feeling needed. Among many other things, this means she is not teaching her boys how to take care of themselves, from tying their shoelaces to cleaning their rooms.

    Two days ago she decided she needs to pay someone to clean her house so she doesn’t have to do it. If she follows through on that, her boys will learn that cleaning up after yourself is something you pay other people to do for you.

    Sigh.

    I’m just a step-MIL so I have to be very very careful about (a) offering advice and (b) how I word things. But I hope I can find a way to help her step back and take a broader look. Meantime, my husband is trying to find a way to illuminate his son, who did not learn this “I’ll let my wife do everything” from his father, trust me.

    1. JBL55
      JBL55 February 4, 2013 at 2:01 pm |

      BTW The reason I mention all this is that she is beginning to talk openly with both me and my husband (her FIL) about thinking marrying her husband was a mistake.

      The thought of their divorcing over something as stupid as housework makes me feel ill.

      1. anon
        anon February 4, 2013 at 2:30 pm |

        I’m a regular commentor going anonymous because my partner would not be pleased to have me say the following:

        It’s not stupid–it’s symptomatic. I have the same issue with my boyfriend, and for me, the bigger issue is feeling taken for granted, is feeling the immense pressure of complete responsibility for cleaning, of the distaste and disgust I felt for an adult unable to perform basic self-care.

        For us, it culminated in a screaming fight with me picking things up from the floor and throwing them, screaming that he was pathetic and disgusting, that I felt like a pervert for sleeping with a child, that I might have to chew his food and vomit it in his mouth, and I was thinking of murdering him and selling his organs on the black market so he’d finally be worth something, because he was clearly valueless and worthless.

        We have, since then, worked it out (somewhat, it’s an ongoing project) but the deeper issues of me being overwhelmed and resentful and him feeling useless and depressed had to be confronted before we talk about things like dishes and laundry.

        1. pillow in hell
          pillow in hell February 4, 2013 at 2:58 pm |

          Apparently, household chores are the only things you need to talk about.
          “or us, it culminated in a screaming fight with me picking things up from the floor and throwing them, screaming that he was pathetic and disgusting, that I felt like a pervert for sleeping with a child, that I might have to chew his food and vomit it in his mouth, and I was thinking of murdering him and selling his organs on the black market so he’d finally be worth something, because he was clearly valueless and worthless.”

          Screaming fights are one thing, this is something else. Do you do this often? Trust me, I’ve been where you are in terms of being the only one caring for a family, but..wow. I just…wow.

        2. JBL55
          JBL55 February 4, 2013 at 4:03 pm |

          I agree. These are just symptoms, and they will continue until the root cause is determined and addressed.

          But they both believe counseling is useless. Personally, I think their attempts at counseling have yielded pretty good grist for the mill — they just don’t like what they’re hearing.

          And of course they are also sure it’s just because there’s so much stress in their lives, and they’ll be able to deal with their issues once all this stress goes away.

          If I had a nickel for every bit o’stress they have created for themselves because they either ignore something or treat it as a crisis (even when it isn’t), I’d be a very wealthy woman.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 4, 2013 at 4:13 pm |

          screaming that he was pathetic and disgusting, that I felt like a pervert for sleeping with a child, that I might have to chew his food and vomit it in his mouth, and I was thinking of murdering him and selling his organs on the black market so he’d finally be worth something, because he was clearly valueless and worthless

          Um. You know, I come from a family that’s had its share of knock-down fights, but that’s pretty…extreme. I hope things are more emotionally healthy for you both now, because that sounded pretty abusive to me on both sides.

        4. anon
          anon February 4, 2013 at 5:40 pm |

          @ everyone who commented on this particular fight:

          This was an extremely unusual fight for us–in almost five years, it’s the worst we ever had, and we have serious quarrels maybe once every few months, and not with screaming/throwing.

          At the time, I was going to school part time, working almost full time, and commuting an hour to work/school and back every day. He was completely unemployed, massively depressed, and my (limited) income was supporting us both. I’d leave the house at 8am, with a list of things for him to do, and I’d get home at midnight and nothing would be done, and I’d have to do the laundry for me to have clothes for work, cook food for both of us, clean up all the mess he made during the day, and then sleep as much as I could. I finally snapped under the pressure.

          I also have chronic heartburn that flares when I get stressed, so I’d walk into the house, see a load of dishes or laundry sitting there, and this massive, horrible pain would surge in my chest. I started to associate my home–and him–with literal pain. I was also sleep deprived because of the burden of school/home/commute/work, and every moment I had to spend awake felt like deliberate torture on his part (it wasn’t, at all, but it felt like that).

          (I’d also like to add I was throwing laundry from the floor into a giant pile, not throwing breakables or things at him or in his general direction).

          This was a couple months ago, and since then, he’s found a job, I’ve cut back on my hours, and we divided the workload more evenly, and we both use our words to express our feelings and our expectations.

          I don’t really mean the things I said–but I meant the sentiment, which was, “if all you contribute to our relationship is being a warm body, I will get a cat. You need to be a partner or you need to move out.”

          And the last part is that I think meltdowns are a normal part of life. Not every week, or even every year, but if it’s during some of the most stressed out, miserable parts of your adult life, then throw some laundry and scream a bit and then get your shit together.

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 4, 2013 at 5:48 pm |

          @anon,

          You know, I take back what I said about abusive on both sides. People do weird shit – insane (clinical definition) shit – when they’re sleep-deprived. I’ve been there, both because of anxiety and because of others who decided to fuck with my sleep for shits and giggles and We’re Concerned About Your Health Rly, and I felt pretty fucking insane, I’ll tell you. Like, literally insane, not knowing what I’m doing or where I am or what I’ll do at any given moment. So I actually get where that snap of yours came from.

          Uhm, your boyfriend, though. Er. Not sure what to say there.

        6. scrumby
          scrumby February 5, 2013 at 3:42 am |

          Because I can’t reply to your later comment:
          “He was completely unemployed, massively depressed, and my (limited) income was supporting us both.”

          I actually went through this with my roommate/tenant and good-god was it hell. Long-story short, she lost her job and sank into a pretty deep depression. I ended up paying all the bills, doing all the chores, all the while giving her a pass on the rent till she got her feet under her. I had been in the same spot a few years before and I knew that it was more than just laziness and leeching on her part, but it got to the point I was in a constant state of rage from the resentment. It turned into this nasty catch-22 because she was so fragile I was scared of how she’d react to a nasty fight, but my suppressed anger made me unable to figure out how to discuss it reasonably.
          What’s a little different about my experience is that it all went down during a less-stressed part of both our lives; we were both out of school and I had the bills paid and the fridge stocked. The wolf was nowhere near the door. But the sheer psychological toil of one person’s unemployment did a ton of damage on it’s own.

      2. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune February 4, 2013 at 4:05 pm |

        It’s not a stupid thing, though. Not by a long shot.

        I do 90% of housework, go to college and work extremely part-time (>10 hours/week); my wife works full-time and cooks about 40-50% of the time. I’m really happy with this arrangement, because I feel useful around the house and in control of my environment (and having it clean and predictably tidy helps her feel in control of hers, so it works out). Eventually, we plan on switching off on work/school.

        But….I still had a meltdown in my first term of college, when I was having massive issues with my disabilities that made me unable to keep up with the housework. She wanted to help, but I got ragey when she tried, because I felt it was the only thing of worth I was contributing to the household (I wasn’t working at the time) and hated her taking that away from me. In the end, she had to literally scream that seriously, her chipping in with dishes during finals week was just her being a good partner, not me “being a useless lump” (my words to her that finally made her snap). I’m better now; the last finals week, she did a fair amount of housework, and I stopped stressing out about her doing stuff around the house. It’s all good. But the resentment/helplessness/anger/self-loathing/anxiety cycles I went through in those four months were horrible. I cannot imagine having to do that for years, or feel like that for years.

        Also, in general, I fully, totally consider not chipping in equally on housework (and if you’re doing 50% of the working you’d better be doing 50% of the housework, oi) a dumpable offense.

    2. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl February 4, 2013 at 5:25 pm |

      Meantime, my husband is trying to find a way to illuminate his son, who did not learn this “I’ll let my wife do everything” from his father, trust me.

      I get it that you’re more inclined to sympathize with your step-son over your DIL, but in the scenario you are describing your step-son really needs to have his feet held to the fire instead of having the blame heaped on his wife.

      Part of it’s her fault, because she has always been one of these people who thinks it’s easier to “just do it myself” rather than ask for help. It’s also part of her self-esteem calculus: she likes feeling needed. Among many other things, this means she is not teaching her boys how to take care of themselves, from tying their shoelaces to cleaning their rooms.

      What is sorely missing from this description is any mention whatsoever of what your step-son is doing to take an active role in the running of his shared household and the shared raising of their children together. This omission makes it pretty clear that he is doing nothing tangible to take his fair share of responsibility. This isn’t something his wife should be having to harp on him to do, nor should he be standing on the sidelines acting all learned helpless because he doesn’t want to take the initiative to step up.

      Look, I get it to some extent. My MIL is a wonderful woman, but she and her ex-husband raised the spouse to leave everything to mom to do and to never lift a finger to do a thing around the house. I blame them both equally for that, not just my MIL. And I sure as hell refused to let that status quo continue once we combined households, married and had kids. And we recently, together, came up with a system to insure that our kids understand that they have a shared responsibility to keep this household in order and running properly and that these responsibilities will grow as they get older and more capable of taking care of their own shit.

      Finally, hell yes, divorcing over household chores is perfectly reasonable. If there is zero distribution of what should be shared labor by both spouses and a refusal of the spouse benefitting from the unfairness to take on his or her fair share of household chores I see no reason why the spouse who is getting screwed by that arrangement should not decide to end the marriage.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune February 4, 2013 at 6:43 pm |

        And we recently, together, came up with a system to insure that our kids understand that they have a shared responsibility to keep this household in order and running properly and that these responsibilities will grow as they get older and more capable of taking care of their own shit.

        More of this for all people everywhere plz!

        Seriously, whenever I see any article etc discussing the second shift, I pause and take a moment to appreciate my wife, to whom I will never ever have to explain that housework is, y’know, WORK.

        1. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl February 4, 2013 at 7:34 pm |

          More of this for all people everywhere plz!

          Ik, r?

          Both twins already know to put their own dishes in the dishwasher, how to empty it when it’s clean, and to put their dirty clothes in the hamper. A few more life changing steps we recently undertook was to teach one of the twins how to do laundry. The other one was taught how to take the trash out to the alley and sort garbage and recycleables. Now that my little minions boys are finally getting old enough to take this sort stuff on the possibilities almost seem limitless!

      2. JBL55
        JBL55 February 5, 2013 at 2:14 pm |

        I get it that you’re more inclined to sympathize with your step-son over your DIL …

        Not really. And neither is my husband. We have been watching this situation build for some time, and both of us think he (my stepson, his son) is being a complete idiot. She is the best thing that ever happened to him.

        … but in the scenario you are describing your step-son really needs to have his feet held to the fire instead of having the blame heaped on his wife.

        Your “needs to have his feet held to the fire” is my “needs a good swift kick in the ass.”

        … he is doing nothing tangible to take his fair share of responsibility.

        You got it. He seems to think that doing the household laundry, mowing the lawn in the summer and clearing snow in the winter is all he needs to do.

        But oh, yes. There is something else. He coaches soccer. It was his favorite sport growing up, and he is a really great coach. He takes the kids nobody else picks, and his teams routinely make the finals which they quite often win.

        But as his wife pointed out, it seems other people’s kids are more important to him than his own. He agreed to scale back his coaching and only coach teams his sons are on, but he is oblivious to the fact that his older son hates soccer and only plays because it gives him time with his dad.

        When he’s not coaching soccer, he’s organizing the soccer league dinners, ordering shirts, and doing all other kinds of unofficial stuff that chips away at time at home with his family, and when he IS at home with his family he is usually on his smartphone while the boys watch TV or play video games.

        My DIL is losing her mind over all this and is tired of complaining to him about it. They saw a marriage counselor and her take on it was that she should stop nagging him, which she took as the counselor siding with him. My take is that the counselor was telling her to work on herself, which is what I am trying to help her do.

        She is really enjoying a book I gave her on mindfulness called “Wherever You Go, There You Are,” and I think it’s benefiting her.

        She has no control over him, only over herself. Her childhood was filled with trauma and stress, and I believe she is dealing with a form of PTSD because of her crisis mentality.

        This isn’t something his wife should be having to harp on him to do, nor should he be standing on the sidelines acting all learned helpless because he doesn’t want to take the initiative to step up.

        I agree. He needs to understand he really does need to step up to the plate, and (like with addicts) he needs to get it before things escalate to the next level. My husband is trying to help her, but he is so frustrated at what he sees as the legacy of his now-late ex-wife (who tried to do everything for their son despite my husbands efforts to the contrary) that it makes it difficult for him to have any objectivity. He thinks his son essentially “married Mom” and it really pisses him off. But if his son doesn’t “wake up and smell the coffee,” as the late great Ann Landers used to say, things might get real tough for him real fast.

        As I have often said, how bad does it have to get before you do something about it?

  7. Donna L
    Donna L February 4, 2013 at 2:00 pm |

    Jesus H. Christ, why does almost every comment thread in the Guardian, apparently no matter the subject, seem to turn into a cesspool of transphobia? I certainly wasn’t expecting it this time, but there it is. I’ll have to remember not to try reading any Guardian comment threads in the future.

    1. Li
      Li February 4, 2013 at 2:09 pm |

      I pretty much never read comments on the Guardian (or, in fact, on any website that doesn’t have a substantial and well enforced moderation policy), but WHERE DID THAT EVEN COME FROM?

    2. karak
      karak February 4, 2013 at 2:34 pm |

      I’ve had a very miserable day of Sudden Shithead attack, and I want to commiserate with you over it, and together, we can be Not Shitheads, and cling to the fact that the world is not completely filled with suck.

      I might be projecting, but I really needed someone to remind me that not everyone was like redditors and Guardian commentors, and now I’m passing it on. I like you and I love when you comment and I feel you’re a great part of the community here at feministe, and fuck the Guardian comment section.

    3. Tempy13
      Tempy13 February 4, 2013 at 3:41 pm |

      I was wondering the EXACT same thing! My Maude, Jill writes a superb article and not only do the women and feminist haters come out and jump on the comment train, but out of nowhere, trans hate is piled on too!

      DonnaL, I don’t post much but I read everything posted here and all the comments. It is one of my safe places to deconstruct the SHIT that is flying everywhere in this world. I truly appreciate your comments and your online presence.

      I second what karak said “Fuck the Guardian comment section”.

      1. DouglasG
        DouglasG February 6, 2013 at 8:05 am |

        I like “My Maude” (hurrah for Ms Arthur!) quite a bit and am not sure whether I’ve seen it before; is it something you devised for yourself? It sounds like one of those things that might have been an expression for decades, but maybe not.

        1. Li
          Li February 6, 2013 at 8:10 am |

          I’m not sure how long the it’s been around, but use of “Maude” in places people might otherwise insert “God” is at least a common expression of Melissa McEwan over at Shakesville.

    4. GallingGalla
      GallingGalla February 4, 2013 at 4:50 pm |

      Holy crap, what a cesspool that comment thread is. The commenters just keep trundling out the exact same old transphobic tropes again and again, regardless of the article. (And men trundle out the same old MRA tropes again and again.) The Guardian does a piss-poor job of moderation, and they don’t seem to give a crap about how trans people are affected by transphobia in the comment threads – or their articles for that matter (yes, yes, I know, the Burchill article was published by the Observer, but it was cross-posted to Guardian CiF, and Bindel has written any number of transphobic articles for the Guardian).

    5. Donna L
      Donna L February 4, 2013 at 6:48 pm |

      Thanks to all. I can’t figure out where it came from either, but I guess some people are so obsessed with trans-hatred that they feel compelled to bring it up no matter what the topic. I don’t get it and never will, but it was certainly quite an unpleasant surprise. I’ll be more careful next time.

  8. pillow in hell
    pillow in hell February 4, 2013 at 2:51 pm |

    JBL55, I’m not sure that “I’ll let my wiife do all the household chores” is something that has to be learned from anyone. If one partner is tidier than the other, than the person who can’t be bothered can simply wait it out.

    Also, divorcing due to housework isn’t as stupid as you think. Forcing one person to take care of all the details, decisions and logistics planning in addition to makng them spend so much time, effort and energy to endlessly stand behind you picking up the mess you strew around shows a real lack of respect or concern for your partner. Especially when your partner starts voicing their displeasure and you dig in and refuse to help.

    1. Li
      Li February 4, 2013 at 3:16 pm |

      JBL55, I’m not sure that “I’ll let my wiife do all the household chores” is something that has to be learned from anyone. If one partner is tidier than the other, than the person who can’t be bothered can simply wait it out.

      Or will simply not notice the mess or the labour that goes into cleaning it. Men aren’t really socialised that well to see mess or to understand that certain chores even exist. I mean, you don’t need to be consciously leaving cleaning the lint trap to your partner if you’ve never had occasion to learn that it does actually need to be done.

      1. karak
        karak February 4, 2013 at 5:43 pm |

        I’ve noticed this with a lot of roommates and friends–they really don’t realize that X or Y needs to be done because they’ve never done it and don’t value it.

        It’s baffling for someone to argue that they never clean their toilet because it’s “unnecessary” and it never seems to dawn that everyone in their entire life cleans toilets except for them, special snowflakes that they are.

      2. Miriam
        Miriam February 5, 2013 at 11:59 am |

        This is a recurring issue with my marriage–sometimes a huge issue, sometimes a minor one. My husband’s mother has some probably clinical compulsive issues with cleaning and clutter. So he was not only never taught basic pick-up and household cleaning but was actively discouraged from it because she didn’t want people messing with her things or her system. We have an okay division of labor on paper, but in practice there are a lot of little things that he just doesn’t see or think to do that then fall to me (things like putting a dish in the dishwasher instead of leaving it on the counter; wiping up a spill right away if there’s a mess during cooking). We’ve had many conversations; we’ve tried some strategies, but it’s starting to feel like a no win. Either a lot of work falls to me trying to train him to think about the little things or a lot of work falls to me doing the little things.

        And it’s really the little things that add up. The big obvious tasks are easy to divide up in an equitable fashion.

      3. rain
        rain February 5, 2013 at 12:38 pm |

        Men aren’t really socialised that well to see mess or to understand that certain chores even exist.

        While it’s true that men are socialized to think they are not responsible for housework, I don’t buy that they don’t see dirt. If that explained it, then all you’d have to do is point out the mess or the chore that they’re not aware of one. time. and problem solved forever. But I’ve never seen it work that way.

        1. Li
          Li February 5, 2013 at 12:52 pm |

          Yeah, that’s not really what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that men aren’t socialised to run an inventory of required cleaning tasks every time they walk into a room. They may see glasses sitting around, for instance, but they’re less likely to understand those glasses as mess and to respond by carrying them to the sink or dishwasher. By “see mess” here I’m not just talking about noticing things but also understanding them in relation to cleaning work. And if you’re not viewing things in terms of cleaning tasks, it’s often really easy to forget that people are actually doing those tasks. I mean, I know a lot of men who simply don’t think about the fact that when they make a mess someone has to clean it up.

          And I think you’re overestimating the effect of pointing out something once. People don’t automatically remember things, especially when, again, they’re not necessarily socialised to consistently think about the cleaning labour that needs to be done. You can tell someone that if they leave their dirty plates lying around someone else will have to wash them, but that thought isn’t going to automatically pop into their head every time they eat something ever again.

        2. Li
          Li February 5, 2013 at 1:01 pm |

          This is a vaguely not-quite-appropriate example, but as an illustration: I drink a lot of water during the day and I generally re use the same cup. So at most points there will be an empty cup near me or on a table or bench in the room I am in. I don’t see that cup as mess. It’s something I not actively using but want easy access to. But if my father is in the room with me, the cup will almost instantaneously be placed inside the dishwasher. To the extent that he will put clean cups that I have just removed from the cupboard into the dishwasher while I have my back turned getting a jug of water from the fridge to fill it with. We both know the cup’s there. But one of us sees it as mess and the other one of us. The converse applies to him placing his motorcycling jacket on the couches. I immediately move them somewhere else whereas he considers them in an appropriate place because he might use them at some point.

          Some of this is obviously, “my stuff is where I want it, but your stuff is just messy”, but I still think the kind of basic mechanic at work applies on a meta level in relationship to domestic labour.

        3. rain
          rain February 6, 2013 at 7:45 am |

          Oh, I got you the first time, Li. As in your first example, where it apparently takes time and repetition for a grown-ass man to “learn” that a lint trap needs to be cleaned out.

          What you’re trying to rationalize there is called learned helplessness.

        4. EG
          EG February 6, 2013 at 7:53 am |

          I don’t know, rain. I buy that it’s true for some men, because it’s true for me. I don’t see mess or clutter until it’s gotten truly, overwhelmingly out of control. And even then, I’ll continue on with my life, routinely looking at my place, thinking “this really is dreadful” and then forgetting about it until the next time. Got me into huge fights with my parents when I was a kid, because I genuinely couldn’t figure out what they were complaining about. It’s a hard pattern to change; at least, I’ve been trying for years with no success.

          That said, it’s one of the reasons I live alone; that way, nobody else has to suffer or clean up after me.

        5. Li
          Li February 6, 2013 at 8:05 am |

          What you’re trying to rationalize there is called learned helplessness.

          I’m not trying to rationalise it, I’m trying to describe it. Just because I think something is descriptively the case doesn’t mean I think it’s morally justified.

        6. Li
          Li February 6, 2013 at 8:16 am |

          Also, because I think I am starting to pick up why what I’m saying might be irritating to you: I don’t think women really need to give a shit where men’s problems with domestic labour come from and how they operate cognitively. But I do find understanding the kinds of socialised thought-patterns that cause men to suck at domestic labour is pretty critical for men trying to address their own behaviours, and so I still find value in teasing out these kinds of cognitive processes.

        7. rain
          rain February 7, 2013 at 11:19 am |

          OK, what I find irritating, where I think we differ, Li, is where you are talking about “understanding the kinds of socialized thought-patterns that cause men to suck at domestic labour”.

          Maybe if we look at a few examples. Think of older kids, teens. By that time, the process of socializing them into “men” or “women” is near, if not totally, complete. But I don’t think you will find that teenage girls are any more competent at housework or more likely to “see the mess” than their brothers. Yet once they’re adults and on their own, she generally will be, while he won’t. The difference there is not that, growing up, girls get more practice at housework than boys, or that girls are taught these chores and their brothers aren’t, but more simply, that the socialization has more to do with expectations. We expect her to know, we excuse him when he doesn’t. The thought process has less to do with the mechanics of a certain chore than with the acceptance that the job is yours to do and there isn’t going to be someone else there to pick up your slack.

          Or, I find it helps if we view this as if it was a workplace. Let’s take the example of a restaurant kitchen, since there are many similarities in the work to housework. Not upscale, since they tend to be more restrictive in their roles, but the kind where I worked at in my younger days, where cooks are expected to do much of their own cleanup and many have worked their way up from dishwasher. Now when people started there, there was a period of training – how to make muffins or spaghetti sauce, how to cook a roast and make gravy, how to clean a grill, how to clean the equipment and the whole kitchen and what that entailed, how to launder the aprons and rags. There was no difference in training males or females, and once you’d been working there for a couple months, when you were assigned a job, you were expected to do it, all of it. There were no allowances made for the guys not being socialized to cook or clean. They were given no slack while they learned to understand dishes left on counters “in relation to cleaning work”. It would have been absurd to allow only the men to get away with leaving messes or doing half a job because of how they were socialized. And you know what? When you have those expectations of men, they rise to them. Also, accepting that responsibility, acknowledging those expectations, was not a process that took time. It was instantaneous.

          So here’s what I think is happening cognitively when a guy “forgets” to clean the lint trap or doesn’t “see” the mess. He doesn’t think it’s his job. He hasn’t accepted responsibility for it. I’m dealing with this with my kids right now, and I’ll use the example of their job to take their pile of folded laundry upstairs and put away. When I see the mountain of their clothes in the laundry room, I ask them why it’s there, and they’ll invariably say they forgot. What I tell them is, “Your job is to put away your clean clothes. Part of that job is remembering to do it, without prompting. If you have a hard time remembering, here’s what you need to do so you learn to remember. Every day, stop and think: what are my jobs? have I done them? If you need to, write down what your jobs are. But ‘I forgot’ is not a valid excuse. Because you never forget things that you like to do, and that tells me you’re capable of remembering.”
          So maybe men who forget about lint traps or wiping up that counter they spilled stuff on should adopt a similar strategy. The lint trap forgetter could have a written checklist to refer to by the washer/dryer. The mess leaver could either tell himself to clean up the mess immediately because he knows otherwise he forgets, or, before he sits down to his leisure time, he could do a run through of the house, specifically looking for things he needs to put away. Whatever he decides to do, the extra work to bring him up to speed should be done by him. What we should not do is coddle him and think he’s not capable of learning a job that in the work world would be considered unskilled labour.

          tl;dr The thought pattern happening when a man walks past his mess is, “Not my responsibility.” We tend to not notice things or remember things that don’t concern us. Fixing this is not a learning process; it’s a near-instantaneous attitude shift.

        8. rain
          rain February 7, 2013 at 11:56 am |

          I don’t know, rain. I buy that it’s true for some men, because it’s true for me

          Sure, there are individual differences and a wide range of tolerance for mess, but what we’re talking about here is making accomodations for men because socialization, but not giving women the same Get Out of Housework Free card. In a way, similar to the creeper/harasser discussions where we should be more understanding of the guys because he might be on the spectrum, but expecting all women to be social butterflies. So, allowing all men to not see dirt or behave in a creepy way because some men are naturally messy or non-NT, but expecting all women to be good housekeepers or socially adept even though some women are naturally messy or non-NT.

      4. JBL55
        JBL55 February 5, 2013 at 2:19 pm |

        Men aren’t really socialised that well to see mess or to understand that certain chores even exist.

        Some men are and some women are not. My marriage is Exhibit A. :-)

        I have had a tendency to let piles accumulate, and he is one of the tidiest men I’ve ever known.

        After 22 years of marriage, my piles are fewer and smaller, and he’s learned to relax.

  9. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune February 4, 2013 at 3:55 pm |

    WTF. Why does everything have to descend into some sort of transphobic poo-flinging or another? I mean seriously, this piece wasn’t even focused on trans folk (except to the extent they’re in heterosexual marriages) and still out come the assholes.

    Why are people so attached to what’s between their legs that they can’t fucking see that people are people? Why the fuck do people get so wrapped up in the biology of things? I seriously, sincerely do not get it.

  10. Man
    Man February 4, 2013 at 4:01 pm |

    Call me crazy (and I know I will be), but there’s an equal, legitimate argument by men about marriage providing financial security to women, while screwing men over in that regard. This article looks at one kind of (certainly prevalent) marriage arrangement and acts like it can be applied to all marriages, when there’s a whole boatload of marriages in which the husband is being exploited, which turns off many men to marriage as well. Divorce often screws over men who were indeed the breadwinners or had ownership over the most stuff, with heavy alimony payments, loss of a home, very few successes in gaining child custody, sometimes even paternity fraud. So men who CAN be breadwinners can and do very often get screwed by divorce and marriage. I’m not delegitimizing anything said in the article, I just think when talking about an issue as wide as the decline of marriage in modern society, it’s important to note that both sexes are at risk of getting screwed over in a bad marriage.

    The other complaint I have is the last sentence. I don’t think it’s so simple as financial insecurity and outdated gender roles destroying marriage. Consider that many times it’s well-educated people who aren’t getting married, while financially irresponsible, and/or poor people with rigid gender stereotypes are getting married in droves (often resulting in a failed marriage). So there must be a number of other forces going on that contribute to the decline in marriage. And while I totally support gay marriage and tend to disagree with social conservatism, there is something to be said about the poor outcomes of children raised by a single parent and not 2 parents; statistically speaking they are involved in a lot more crime, drug use, poverty, etc. It’s not really the fault of single moms, (especially considering the immense pressure they’re dealing with) I mean after all it is a deadbeat dad who caused that situation in the first place. But my point is, that situation isn’t good, and I don’t think we should be looking fondly at a decline in marriage.

    As far as “pulling weight,” personally I think the person working outside the home should not be responsible for household chores (or responsible for very few of them), regardless of gender, and that if both parents are working, they should split those chores in some percentage based on who is working harder, or split them evenly if they both work similar hours. As far as activities/chores regarding the kids, both parents should be involved in that.

    Now proceed to insult me, I know I’m making people here furious.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune February 4, 2013 at 4:08 pm |

      What do you even think is controversial about this comment? (Aside from the MRA cultspeak that pops up in your first paragraphs.) Douchebags of either gender act douchey, news at 11.

    2. EG
      EG February 4, 2013 at 4:12 pm |

      Blah blah blah, traditional gender roles hurt men, blah blah blah, women are leeches, blah blah blah, alimony.

      I’m not furious so much as bored. Do they never come up with anything new?

      1. Li
        Li February 4, 2013 at 4:22 pm |

        Hey, I thought the use of “Man” as his chosen pseudonym was pretty neat. OTHERWISE HOW WOULD WE HAVE KNOWN THAT HE WAS SPEAKING FOR MEN?

        1. Man
          Man February 4, 2013 at 4:38 pm |

          Li I chose this username to draw attention to myself because I like discussing this stuff, I obviously don’t speak for all men….

        2. Li
          Li February 4, 2013 at 4:59 pm |

          Well, clearly. You don’t speak for me, for example. I know it’s a radical thought that there are already men in feminist spaces, especially when they aren’t acting like three-year-olds who just discovered their genitals and thus have to announce them to every new person they meet, but sometimes it’s worthwhile picking a name that doesn’t make you look like you think you’re the only man in the room.

        3. Man
          Man February 4, 2013 at 5:31 pm |

          Ok Li, and you’re acting like a tween who needs to assert superiority over me because of the username I chose by insulting me. It’s not a good username but I just wanted attention to my posts for the purposes of debating with people, get over it and stop being a jackass.

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 4, 2013 at 5:50 pm |

          It’s not a good username but I just wanted attention to my posts for the purposes of debating with people, get over it and stop being a jackass.

          Man, you don’t have to use silly usernames for the purpose of sparking debate. Being interesting gets you 100% of the debate this thread did, AND >50% of the snark.

        5. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll February 4, 2013 at 11:29 pm |

          Li I chose this username to draw attention to myself

          uh huh.

          Coulda picked sparkle pony shit or dumbass and would have drawn attention to yourself.

          Where the fuck are these dudes coming from? It’s like a cycle or plague.

          The P hurts men too. And water is wet. Fire is fucking hot.

          NEXT? Can we move on from the fucking obvious having to be re-hashed on an hourly basis?

        6. ElegansMan
          ElegansMan February 5, 2013 at 11:00 am |

          Screw you phenobarbital. Yeah, by posting here I really brought the wrath of a plague…seriously? Have you considered that not every “dude” is actively looking at every post ever made in any OP here to check if everything they have to say was said before?
          The more important point I’m trying to get at is that I don’t think we should look fondly on the decline of marriage.
          I’m trying to own up to when I’m being wrong or immature, so stop being so nasty and disrespectful. If you are so tired of reading any comment that hints at a point you’ve heard before, and you’re gonna skip my whole 2nd paragraph, then just ignore my posts and don’t insult me.

        7. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll February 5, 2013 at 11:11 am |

          Screw you phenobarbital. Yeah, by posting here I really brought the wrath of a plague…seriously? Have you considered that not every “dude” is actively looking at every post ever made in any OP here to check if everything they have to say was said before?

          Have you considered that I don’t give a shit what dudes haven’t bothered to do before posting? Have you considered the fact that I’m well aware they’re too fucking lazy and arrogant to have bothered to read up before they opened their mouths?

          Sorry punkin, do your own god damn homework. And don’t whine when you’re called on it.

          There’s 2 other recent articles having to do with marriage right there in the side bar and last I looked, a search function.

          Use it.

        8. ElegansMan
          ElegansMan February 5, 2013 at 11:36 am |

          Haha, wow. Your whole fucking post reeks of arrogance and you’re calling me arrogant. It’s not my responsibility to read every post on this website on marriage. Even if it was, I still said more than you implied I did. To hell with your attitude. I’m not gonna respond further for the sake of not having a flamewar.

        9. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll February 5, 2013 at 1:23 pm |

          Haha, wow. Your whole fucking post reeks of arrogance

          The word you’re looking for is contempt.

          It’s not my responsibility to read every post on this website on marriage

          It’s your responsibility to make sure you’re not posting the same goddamn thing that’s been said umpteen times as if you’ve come up with some new fucking thought. (you haven’t)

          Gender roles and marriage suck for men and women. Really???? Tell me more Captain Obvious. God knows I haven’t had enough Fresh!Manly!Wisdom! on the subject yet.

    3. EG
      EG February 4, 2013 at 4:15 pm |

      The only reason children of single parents have more troubles, by the way, is because we have set up a society that does not provide sufficient supports for them. We can either push people into an institution they don’t want to be in, or we can adjust our social support. I know which one I’m voting for.

      1. Man
        Man February 4, 2013 at 4:54 pm |

        Maybe I’m biased in favor of marriage because I was fortunate enough to grow up in a good household, and it seemed like a lot of the success I’ve had in my life came from that and so I project that onto society as a whole. But of course there are plenty of terrible, abusive, unfair marriages and that really damages kids.
        But I don’t think it’s so simple as provid social support to single parents, or force people into marriage. If you ask me the bad family life of people in various neighborhoods is intertwined with the poverty, crime, and other negative social forces affecting those communities with a lot of single parents. I believe it becomes a chicken or the egg kind of question- will pouring money into social programs to try to improve the economic situation fix the family life, whether kids are raised by 1 or 2 parents? Or will finding a way to fix the family life change such a neighborhood so that those negative social forces diminish? I think a good argument can be made for either; personally I’m for the latter one, just because I feel pouring money onto a problem has been tried before and doesn’t seem to work. But then how do you “fix” family life? I just think no one has ever focused on doing that (other than conservatives, who have done a horrible job at it by thinking traditional gender roles and banning gay marriage is the answer, which is ludicrous), which is why I think it could be a good opportunity for social researches and public policy experts to look into.

        1. Clytemnestra's Sister
          Clytemnestra's Sister February 4, 2013 at 8:37 pm |

          I believe it becomes a chicken or the egg kind of question- will pouring money into social programs to try to improve the economic situation fix the family life, whether kids are raised by 1 or 2 parents? Or will finding a way to fix the family life change such a neighborhood so that those negative social forces diminish?

          This is a long answer so stick with me.

          If you want an illustrative example, take a look at black americans who are descended from slaves (as opposed to black americans who immigrated after 1970). Here are people who, for generations, were forced into inferior living, working, and educational systems by law. In some states, especially in the south, they were beaten, bullied, terrorised, and murdered, with state support ranging from tacit to explicit. They were originally denied social security benefits and had to fight tooth and nail to get veterans’ benefits.

          When black families DID manage to save enough money to buy property and start their own businesses–you know, the american dream–they were systematically forced into inferior housing, sold loans at disproportionately high interest rates, sold houses at inflated prices so that, in effect, they were locked into a property they could never, ever sell. Google redlining and blockbusting.

          So, given ALL of the horrible things done to black americans by the democratically elected government–a democracy that excluded them from participation, no less–it shouldn’t be surprising in the least that this particular group of people has serious, entrenched economic problems. Not all of them, not by a long shot. But save for native americans, black americans are consistently the most likely to be poor, the least likely to attain a higher education degree or skilled trade, and disproportionately likely to be imprisoned.

          It’s been 49 years since the Civil Rights Act was passed. That’s two generations, maybe two and a half, depending on when you start counting. In that time, black schoolchildren were sent to better schools. More of them got diplomas and then degrees, meaning better jobs. Separate-but-equal was thrown out the window, meaning black people had access (at least on paper) to better public facilities, better jobs, better health care (as opposed to, little to no health care). Sundown towns are officially illegal. Countless programs ranging from Head Start to Sesame Street to food stamps to job training programs have helped black americans, from children to elders, get a toehold into something better.

          It’s been 49 years, and in the last 4-5 years, Prince George’s County in Maryland is now the first county in the nation that has become richer as it has become blacker. Houston has a thriving black middle class, complete with a national-class theatre company, museums, and arts. So does New York. There is still a lot of work to be done, and some things like the drug war HAVE to go, and frankly some people need to gracefully die of old age and take their ideas with them, but compared to 1964, it’s BETTER.

          In each and every single one of these cases, what happened is that, by law, the US and the states stopped actively impeding black americans from gaining wealth. (I’m leaving the drug war out–it has had a massive toll on black americans, but my point still stands even taking it into account.)

          Now compare what black americans have done in 50 years, with what white americans did in the 30 years after WWII–the huge gains in wealth and prosperity–and those gains were directly correlated with huge amounts of government aid. Mortgage programs! Breakfasts and lunches for schoolchildren! GI Bill! VA Benefits! Medicare! Agriculture subsidies! Rural electrification!

          White families that attained wealth under these programs kept it, and made better lives for their children. With the residual family wealth, the next generation were able to become Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. They were able to use their family wealth to leverage their own personal wealth (like parents helping children with a down payment on a mortgage). They were able to use social connections to find and keep better jobs. Now, white families whose families gained wealth in the 1940s through 1960s are more likely to be in higher economic classes than black families, are more likely to have higher education, more likely to be married and stay married, more likely to have health insurance…..it just keeps going on and on. These white families were beneficiaries of massive social spending programs over a signifiant period of time, and their descendants are in turn more likely to have reaped the benefits of accumulated wealth than black families of the same age cohort.

          All because one group had active assistance for a sustained period of time while the other group was held back at first, and later held back less.

          So, long story short, social programs and economic assistance can and does make a HUGE improvement in society over time, but you have to give it enough time to work, you have to GIVE it and not begrudge every penny you spend, and you have to be prepared to spend enough money for the economic incentives to actually work. It’s a lot of hard work cutting brush, and like everything people do, there will be failures and unintended consequences along the way. But it does work.

        2. ElegansMan
          ElegansMan February 5, 2013 at 12:18 pm |

          Clytemnestra, thank you for that post! That was a fascinating read :) Everything up until “now compare” I completely agree with. I think that’s a good description of the history that’s affected many black communities and many people forget it.
          I think here’s where I have a difference in opinion. There’s no doubt that social programs in the past 50 years have aided white families, but I don’t think the success of white families can be ascribed mostly to those programs, just because whites already had a relative advantage over other communities in the US in regards to opportunities. I mean, if there’s an abudance of wealth and most of it ends up in the hands of a majority that already had wealth, they’re bound to be represented at the highest levels of society the most anyway.
          I think the specific social programs you mentioned have done more than just thrust money at people. For example agricultural subsidies provide financial backing to a specific enterprise, and cause it in particular to grow dramatically so that most people involved are going to be well off. Rural electrification provides a specific service that opens the door to many improvements in a rural community. The G.I. bill (I think) provided low interest loans for the purposes of starting a business and livelihood, and for aid for tuition for college.

          I think all these things are great, because they targeted specific problems, and when the money came in, it was to address those problems. I feel like many social programs being provided to poor communities now have a serious lack of the oversight, planning, and specificity that the programs you mentioned have. I feel like, along the way, a lot of the money also gets caught up in the corrupt arm of bureaucrats, blind-eyed politicans, and even the drug trade. When it does get to the people, it superficially improves the status of some members of the community but it doesn’t seem to actually impact the forces keeping that community from thriving. I might be wrong about this, but that’s the impression I got in my life having lived in a few poor neighborhoods. There were people using money they received for material things just because they were lucky enough to get it, and there were people who wanted to send their children to higher education but because money wasn’t being distributed effectively and social programs didn’t keep their promises, they couldn’t afford the rising tuition rates of nearby universities. It just seemed unfair to me, even random.

          I think there’s a very good chance, as you say, for married families to be more likely to stay married if the social situation is improved. I just think it’s very important to tackle it from as many angles as possible, and have as many public policy experts and other related experts seriously examine where the money is going, where it isn’t going, where it should be going, etc. I think those angles should include looking at family situations and marriage dynamics, as well as looking at school systems, the influence of the drug trade (which really is brutally prominent), etc, and then promote social programs that specifically address those concerns and thus open the door to opportunities for people in those communities, as opposed to just random money, the same way the social programs you mentioned aided whites.
          It might be a lot more complex than that and I’m just being naive.

        3. Clytemnestra's Sister
          Clytemnestra's Sister February 5, 2013 at 1:50 pm |

          At this point, I’m going to suggest that you do indeed head over to the Feminism 101 blog listed earlier in the thread. The conversation topic we’re on right now is a derail.

          That said, I’m going to address one point of yours briefly:

          I think the specific social programs you mentioned have done more than just thrust money at people. For example agricultural subsidies provide financial backing to a specific enterprise, and cause it in particular to grow dramatically so that most people involved are going to be well off.

          Yes, except these things do not exist in isolation. Look up the history of the Homestead Act. Black families were denied the suggested “forty acres and a mule” after reconstruction. White families who wished to move west were granted land, some of which became prosperous family farms that later benefited from agricultural subsidies. Black families were barred from participation, and as a result up until the end of the 2nd world war and the Great Migration were concentrated in the south. The ones who stayed in agriculture were largely sharecroppers, meaning no way at ALL to accumulate wealth, and those who did own their own land were blocked at every turn by the Jim Crow laws from doing things that would have made their land more profitable (and thus accumulate wealth).

          Once again, the group that had significant economic benefits provided to them through government social programs had better long-term outcomes than the group that was denied participation in those programs.

          Getting back on topic, and with the notion that lasting social change takes place over a very long period of time, the vast majority of changes to family law over the last 70 years–starting with the advent of Social Security and the benefit for widows–has been created with the explicit purpose of reducing the serious economic disadvantages that women have suffered. Social Security alone led to a massive 65% drop in elderly female poverty from 1935 to 1997, and together with Medicaid is 100% responsible for the shuttering of the poor farms (and good riddance).

          Again, this is all 101 stuff and you should really head over to those blogs and do some reading.

    4. JBL55
      JBL55 February 4, 2013 at 4:23 pm |

      Sexism negatively affects everyone, male and female.

      Apparently you have missed that aspect of the last who-knows-how-may years of discussion by countless feminists, some of whom are men who recognize that simple fact.

      1. Man
        Man February 4, 2013 at 4:43 pm |

        I’m sorry JBL, I’ll be honest, I haven’t really had much experience with feminist doctrines or websites, so I’m making assumptions about how people will react to what I’m saying.

        1. Ismone
          Ismone February 4, 2013 at 5:02 pm |

          Maybe check out a feminist 101 blog, then.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 4, 2013 at 5:14 pm |

          Man,

          Dude, you’ve got some good ideas. You also have some cruddy ones. If you want to check out a simple and relatively easy-to-chew primer on what most feminists actually think (note: it’s not that men have no problems at all), try Finally Feminism 101.

        3. Man
          Man February 4, 2013 at 5:33 pm |

          Thank you Ismone and macavity, I’ll check it out :)

        4. RichardVW
          RichardVW February 4, 2013 at 6:06 pm |

          This is the first time (in a number of years paying attention to this sort of thing) that I have ever seen an apparent anti-feminist admit the obvious about their level of non-imaginary engagement with feminist ideas. I feel like I’m dreaming. There is hope for Man yet.

          Yes, Man, you may get something out of some intro-to material.

          Advice you won’t get at a feminist-101 space because it’s more like “how is this not common sense?” material: it’s literally never a good idea to come into a conversation and explicitly state your expectation of being received in an irrational manner. It’s an especially bad idea in a feminist space (are you seriously not familiar with the sexist trope of the irrational woman?).

          Also, any obviously male username like “John2112″ or “RichardVW” identifies the commenter as a man without the problematic aspects of a username like “Man”.

        5. Elegans
          Elegans February 4, 2013 at 6:22 pm |

          Ok due to popular opinion (:P) my new name is Elegans. I recognize that last line up there about the furiousness was stupid. Im pretty opinionated and on certain issues which I actually am very informed on (healthcare, and the middle east), posting comments to people I disagree with usually lands me in a hotbed of fury and anger, so I expected the same here. I truly wasn’t trying to stereotype.

        6. klaym0re
          klaym0re February 5, 2013 at 2:47 pm |

          for the record, FF101 does an entirely shitty job of accurately pointing out which arguments are actually held by the majority of feminists vs ones that are pretty seriously contested on the global scale.

          Also their general concept of privilege is highly over simplified IMHO.

    5. shfree
      shfree February 4, 2013 at 7:47 pm |

      Yo, I’m a person who came into a relationship in a vastly poorer economic situation than my ex. I got pregnant, and stayed home with our daughter until she hit kindergarten, because any money I would have earned would have gone straight into a substandard daycare, my job was just that shitty. We moved twice for his career, with the last move not only giving him a HUGE jump in salary, but I also quit my last awesome job and severed me from my familial and social support network. As we moved from the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest. I broke up with him after this last move, because our relationship was no longer tenable. I went back to school, and after getting my associate’s, with the plan to have access to jobs I couldn’t get without some sort of degree. However, I was only able to get a crappy job at a deli, not something I remotely wanted, because I had been unemployed for years, with my last job in the Midwest. We share custody of our daughter, who is now in her teens.

      So, despite the fact that I made sacrifices that clearly were detrimental both my future career choices and personal life to further my ex’s career path, something that people in relationships often do, I’m supposed to suck it up and leave the relationship with next to nothing because I brought in so little financially? Fuck that noise. I am one of the fortunate people in that my ex sees it the same way I do, and he knows that if nothing else if I’m struggling at home, so is our daughter.

      It isn’t so simple as to say one person is leeching off another. I felt a ton of guilt over the fact that I wasn’t bringing in much financially, because in this society we tie in so much worth with how much money we make. And I still have to remind myself that I did make sacrifices for his career, so I am entitled to share in the rewards of it. And it really sucks that I have to do that, because it’s been so ingrained that unless I’ve been out actually earning money, I haven’t done anything worthwhile in the relationship, so people think I don’t “deserve” anything.

      1. Asia
        Asia February 5, 2013 at 2:33 pm |

        I think the expectation that one partner has to sacrifice their career goals/future financial stability for the other is a problem that primarily effects women. Young couples need to be encouraged to plan for both peoples financial futures before making long term commitments or having children.

    6. Aydan
      Aydan February 5, 2013 at 6:55 pm |

      “And while I totally support gay marriage and tend to disagree with social conservatism, there is something to be said about the poor outcomes of children raised by a single parent and not 2 parents; statistically speaking they are involved in a lot more crime, drug use, poverty, etc”

      Of course a child growing up in a home with one breadwinner is more likely to live in poverty than a child growing up in a home with (the potential of two) breadwinners. This isn’t societal commentary, it’s basic math. If we want to change that calculus, we need to pay people living wages.

  11. Rhoanna
    Rhoanna February 5, 2013 at 11:25 am |

    A marriage can be economically beneficial insofar as its partners share expenses, like a mortgage, rent, and health insurance – but that’s only the case if there are two incomes, and a partner with a stable income isn’t a given in our current economy.

    This isn’t entirely true. In the US, marriage is economically beneficial, thanks to our tax code, with two disparate incomes, or only one income. In addition to health care benefits, which might not be available to one’s unmarried partner or might be more expensive. Also, financial benefits in case of death (easier inheritance, survivor’s benefits), or even divorce (Social Security), which while larger the larger your partner’s income, don’t require equal incomes, or even necessarily current incomes.

    Generally I feel like the article glossed over the fact that what needs to be compared is unmarried committed relationships to married committed relationships, not unmarried uncommitted to married committed. The downsides of “marriage” seem to be as much to committed relationships (with certain situations), and not as much any of the legal consequences of marriage.

    1. McMike
      McMike February 6, 2013 at 7:58 am |

      But the article said that divorce is particularly hard on women. Is that true for women in the UK, seen as its an article in the guardian and not true for women in America?

      1. EG
        EG February 6, 2013 at 7:25 pm |

        Unless something has changed drastically in the past fifteen years, generally speaking in the US, women’s and children’s standard of living drops quite precipitously after a divorce, while men’s goes up.

  12. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll February 5, 2013 at 1:36 pm |

    Don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve just about had my fill of d00ds popping in here and mansplaining the hell out of things, claiming they’re not really familiar with feminist theories (yet they found themselves here fairly easily….*eye roll*) and using this as their testing out the waters site. BWATM never fails to be the first words they utter.

    Seems like a bunch of them just showed up recently.

  13. McMike
    McMike February 6, 2013 at 7:52 am |

    With the way divorce rates are today, you have to ask yourself before you get married, can I afford a divorce? A poor husband might get by, a poor Ex-husband will not if he has to pay child support.

    Also even if the relationship is happy in America poor couples lose a lot of benefits if they marry or even name the babies father.

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