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What if Married People Were Treated Like Singles? August 30, 2009

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought.
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A previous version of this post originally ran on the excellent site Professor What If (PWI).  The Professor is now writing a different (but equally thought-provoking) blog analyzing the Twilight cultural phenomenon from a feminist perspective.  Check it out! You don’t have to be a Twilight fan to understand and enjoy it. And now, back to the music:

Lisa and Christina both identify as white, middle-class, heterosexual women who don’t mind being single. We’re tired of cultural stereotypes that suggest we’re not supposed to be happy with our “relationship status”. Really the only thing we’re unhappy about is that we don’t have all the same rights as married couples.  This discrimination is just plain silly when you consider that in the U.S., a majority of households are now headed by unmarried people

Therefore, below we’ve asked (and answered) a few “what if” questions to highlight the material, social, and legal restrictions habitually placed on adult singles, more often than not in favor of those who are married.

Note: We define “single” as anyone who is unmarried, including: coupled-but-not-married and domestic partners; anyone who identifies as GLBT and are either legally unable to marry or refuse the institution of marriage altogether; those who identify as polyamorous or asexual; divorcees and widowers; single parents; and, of course, anyone else who is just plain single. (When we refer to the social [as opposed to legal] stigmatization of singles below, we’re referring more specifically to anyone who is uncoupled.) And with all that said, now back to the music: 

What if married people were treated by the media, friends, and family like singles (in this case, uncoupled singles)? They would encounter statements such as:

  • “Don’t worry, you’ll get a divorce someday!”
  • “Oh, you’re married? I’m so sorry!”
  • “You’re so great – how come you’re still married?”
  • “It’s okay to be married for a while, but eventually you need to grow up and become single.”
  • “You’re so lucky to be married and not have as much responsibility.”
  • “But don’t you feel bad not having a life, seeing as you’re married?”
  • “When are you going to get a divorce?”
  • “It’s so sad having to come home to a house with someone in it all the time.”
  • “Well, I would’ve invited you to book group, except you’re married and I thought you wouldn’t want to be around all those happily single people.”
  • “What’s a beautiful woman like you doing married?”

What if married people were treated by the government as singles? They would have to: (more…)

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