“White privilege” and “male privilege” are familiar concepts in our cultural conversations. There is, however, another vast swath of unearned privileges that have gone largely unrecognized, even though they unfairly advantage about half of the adult population in the United States. We’re talking about marital privileges. People who marry enjoy social, cultural, economic, and political advantages that single people do not, simply because they are married.
Speaking to the Republican National Convention last night, Ann Romney exclaimed that she loved women. (Well, not that way.) I don’t think she realizes, though, that not all women are mothers. Either that or she thinks that the only women who count are the mothers.
“It’s the moms who always have to work a little harder, to make everything right,” she said.
“It’s the moms of this nation,” she added, “single, married, widowed – who really hold this country together.”
“All Things Single” readers, I’m blogging to you first. My new book, Singlism: What It Is, Why It Matterse, and How to Stop It – written together with 28 other contributors – is now available. You can get it here at Amazon, though as I write this, Amazon has not yet added the description of the book. (They build book pages one or two sections at a time.) You can also get the paperback here, at the book’s own page, where the description does show up.
In my previous post here at All Things Single, I told you about my adventures in traditional book publishing. That’s the route I took with Singled Out. Now let me tell you about my experiences with nontraditional publishing. At the end, I’ll invite you to share your experiences for possible inclusion in two books that are in the works.
In my writing about singles, I’ve often pointed to the big ways that singles are targets of discrimination. Singles are discriminated against in the housing market, in ways that are blatant and yet not recognized as wrong. They pay more than their share in taxes. Single men are paid less than comparably-accomplished married men, and both single men and single women have less access to benefits such as health insurance. That’s unequal compensation for the same work. There are more than 1,000 federal laws that benefit married people. And that’s just the beginning. (Other examples are in Chapter 12 of Singled Out.)
As I’ve been working with Wendy Casper on our chapter about singles-friendly workplaces and reading relevant papers, I keep coming across the phrase “work-life balance.” I do realize that for lots of people, work is something that needs to be ‘balanced’ with the rest of life. Still, an uncritical use of the concept seems to neglect something significant: There are some fortunate people who love their work. They see their work as part of their lives, not something to be set against everything else they enjoy.
Although I only occasionally address political issues head-on here or at Living Single, it is probably apparent to regular readers that I’m a lefty – Democrat, liberal, progressive – call me what you will. I only became a truly engaged and devoted political animal gradually, over time. Now, when I do write about politics (typically, for the Huffington Post), I like to summon and display all of my passion.
I think the progressive perspective is most often compatible with my aspirations for a society free of singlism and matrimania. Still, I always feel a twinge of ambivalence about writing about politics for my singles blogs. You know that slogan, “The personal is political”? Well, I think the reverse is true, too – the political is personal. I worry about offending readers who are interested in singles issues but who do not share my politics. Maybe that’s why I found it so gratifying to discover, when making the case that the government should stay out of the marriage business, echoes of that argument from all across the political spectrum. (I wrote about that in this post with Rachel Buddeberg, and Christian Miller wrote a guest post for this blog.)
Quick follow-up to my most recent post here (“Candidate claims she is superior because she is a mother”). Washington Post opinion writer Ruth Marcus just published a piece titled, “With two women on the ballot, things that should be off limits.” Among those things are
“marital and family status. The unstated premise of Fallin’s comment is: ‘I’m a mom and she’s not.’ And the unstated but barely disguised conclusion is: ‘And that makes me better and leaves her lacking in a material way.’”