Tuesday, October 11th, 2011 at 1:46 pm
Fortunately/Unfortunately I always joke around about the #SlutWave, and while I do use it to sensationalize things I also feel like their is some validity to the points I was making. Kate Bolick wrote this really phenomenal piece on the evolution of romance, relationships, and if the idea of traditional marriage is dead. There are less and less institutional and economic reasons for marriage. Now marriage is a “pure relationship, in which intimacy is sought in and of itself and not solely for reproduction.”
Basically it’s kind of looking like women are f*cked if they want the traditional marriage. The pool of “deadbeat” men who smoke dope and blog about rap music is currently overflowing in modern American society. The successful men have huge pull on women thirsty for someone who is marriage material. However due to the limited pool of those men, the men who are marriage material are just swaggin’ with broads and stay getting their wee wee’s wet. Like the old saying goes, don’t hate the player…hate the game. So what’s a woman to do? I think Kate Bolick’s opinion is that women need to find value in the relationships and bonds outside of the intimate ones. Embrace their single identity and acknowledge the existence of singlism which is “the stigmatizing of adults who are single [and] includes negative stereotyping of singles and discrimination against singles.”. Also she suggests women acknowledge “This marriage myth—“matrimania,” DePaulo calls it—proclaims that the only route to happiness is finding and keeping one all-purpose, all-important partner who can meet our every emotional and social need.” I would suggest women acknowledge they aren’t a Sex In The City girl, and that Mr. Big ain’t pulling up in that Lincoln Continental. Then again I’m part of the “deadbeat” pool so what would I know. The thesis statement of the article is pretty much this:
Recent years have seen an explosion of male joblessness and a steep decline in men’s life prospects that have disrupted the “romantic market” in ways that narrow a marriage-minded woman’s options: increasingly, her choice is between deadbeats (whose numbers are rising) and playboys (whose power is growing). But this strange state of affairs also presents an opportunity: as the economy evolves, it’s time to embrace new ideas about romance and family-and to acknowledge the end of “traditional” marriage as society’s highest ideal.
Another interesting section of the article is when Bolick concentrates on the institution of marriage within the African American community, and why people need to stop pretending that phenomena is isolated to African Americans.
But the non-committers are out there in growing force. If dating and mating is in fact a marketplace-and of course it is-today we’re contending with a new “dating gap,” where marriage-minded women are increasingly confronted with either deadbeats or players. For evidence, we don’t need to look to the past, or abroad-we have two examples right in front of us: the African American community, and the college campus.
In August I traveled to Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, a small, predominantly African American borough on the eastern edge of Pittsburgh. A half-century ago, it was known as “The Holy City” for its preponderance of churches. Today, the cobblestoned streets are lined with defeated clapboard houses that look as if the spirit’s been sucked right out of them.
I was there to spend the afternoon with Denean, a 34-year-old nurse who was living in one such house with three of her four children (the eldest is 19 and lived across town) and, these days, a teenage niece. Denean is pretty and slender, with a wry, deadpan humor. For 10 years she worked for a health-care company, but she was laid off in January. She is twice divorced; no two of her children share a father. In February, when she learned (on Facebook) that her second child, 15-year-old Ronicka, was pregnant, Denean slumped down on her enormous slate-gray sofa and didn’t get up for 10 hours.
“I had done everything I could to make sure she didn’t end up like me, and now this,” she told me.
It was a clear, warm day, and we were clustered on the front porch-Denean, Ronicka, and I, along with Denean’s niece, Keira, 18, and Denean’s friend Chantal, 28, a single mother whose daughter goes to day care with Denean’s youngest. The affection between these four high-spirited women was light and infectious, and they spoke knowingly about the stigmas they’re up against. “That’s right,” Denean laughed, “we’re your standard bunch of single black moms!”
Given the crisis in gender it has suffered through for the past half century, the African American population might as well be a separate nation. An astonishing 70 percent of black women are unmarried, and they are more than twice as likely as white women to remain that way. Those black women who do marry are more likely than any other group of women to “marry down.” This is often chalked up to high incarceration rates-in 2009, of the nearly 1.5 million men in prison, 39 percent were black-but it’s more than that. Across all income levels, black men have dropped far behind black women professionally and educationally; women with college degrees outnumber men 2-to-1. In August, the unemployment rate among black men age 20 or older exceeded 17 percent.
In his book, Is Marriage for White People?, Ralph Richard Banks, a law professor at Stanford, argues that the black experience of the past half century is a harbinger for society at large. “When you’re writing about black people, white people may assume it’s unconnected to them,” he told me when I got him on the phone. It might seem easy to dismiss Banks’s theory that what holds for blacks may hold for nonblacks, if only because no other group has endured such a long history of racism, and racism begets singular ills. But the reality is that what’s happened to the black family is already beginning to happen to the white family. In 1950, 64 percent of African American women were married-roughly the same percentage as white women. By 1965, African American marriage rates had declined precipitously, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan was famously declaring black families a “tangle of pathology.” Black marriage rates have fallen drastically in the years since-but then, so have white marriage rates. In 1965, when Moynihan wrote with such concern about the African American family, fewer than 25 percent of black children were born out of wedlock; in 2011, considerably more than 25 percent of white children are.
This erosion of traditional marriage and family structure has played out most dramatically among low-income groups, both black and white. According to the sociologist William Julius Wilson, inner-city black men struggled badly in the 1970s, as manufacturing plants shut down or moved to distant suburbs. These men naturally resented their downward mobility, and had trouble making the switch to service jobs requiring a very different style of self-presentation. The joblessness and economic insecurity that resulted created a host of problems, and made many men altogether unmarriable. Today, as manufacturing jobs disappear nationwide (American manufacturing shed about a third of its jobs during the first decade of this century), the same phenomenon may be under way, but on a much larger scale.
Just as the decline of marriage in the black underclass augured the decline of marriage in the white underclass, the decline of marriage in the black middle class has prefigured the decline of marriage in the white middle class. In the 1990s, the author Terry McMillan climbed the best-seller list (and box-office charts) with novels like Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back, which provided incisive glimpses of life and frustrated romance among middle-class black women, where the prospect of marrying a black man often seemed more or less hopeless. (As she writes in Waiting to Exhale: “[Successful black men have] taken these stupid statistics about us to heart and are having the time of their lives. They do not hold themselves accountable to anybody for anything, and they’re getting away with murder … They lie to us without a conscience, they f*ck as many of us at a time as they want to.”) Today, with the precipitous economic and social decline of men of all races, it’s easy to see why women of any race would feel frustrated by their romantic prospects. (Is it any wonder marriage rates have fallen?) Increasingly, this extends to the upper-middle class, too: early last year, a study by the Pew Research Center reported that professionally successful, college-educated women were confronted with a shrinking pool of like-minded marriage prospects.
“If you’re a successful black man in New York City, one of the most appealing and sought-after men around, your options are plentiful,” Banks told me. “Why marry if you don’t have to?” (Or, as he quotes one black man in his book, “If you have four quality women you’re dating and they’re in a rotation, who’s going to rush into a marriage?”) Banks’s book caused a small stir by suggesting that black women should expand their choices by marrying outside their race-a choice that the women of Terry McMillan’s novels would have found at best unfortunate and at worst an abhorrent betrayal. As it happens, the father of Chantal’s child is white, and Denean has dated across the color line. But in any event, the decline in the economic prospects of white men means that marrying outside their race can expand African American women’s choices only so far. Increasingly, the new dating gap-where women are forced to choose between deadbeats and players-trumps all else, in all socioeconomic brackets.