Archives for General

General

Radically New Families and How They Are Becoming More Ordinary

Family. It used to seem so simple: mom and dad, married, with their kids, all living under the same roof. That's the nuclear family model. It is our idea of tradition, even if "it was dominant only for a brief period and only for some people."

Now all the standard criteria for what counts as family have become optional. Families do not need married parents (they can be cohabiting), families do not need one mom and one dad (there are same-sex parents), families do not need two parents at all (there are single-parent families), and families do not need to live in the same household (after divorce, separate households are often set up but the people in the different households still consider each other family). Even households that do not include kids are often perceived as family by other people, especially if the households are comprised of a married couple.

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General

Only Legally Married People Get These Benefits and Protections

When same-sex couples won the right to marry everywhere in the U.S., with the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court ruling, they got access to many benefits and protections they did not have before they could be officially, legally married. Single people, regardless of their sexual orientation, are still left out of all of those special privileges under the law.

I have often mentioned that there are more than 1,000 federal laws that benefit and protect only those who are legally married. The SCOTUS ruling noted that, too, and also listed some of the ways in which married people are typically privileged at the state level.

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Creating a Community of Single People

All sorts of people get in touch with me, hoping that I can put them in touch with other single people who want to live their single lives fully (and not just escape them). Others want me to point them to helpful resources. A few of the many examples are listed below in the next section, "What Are People Looking For?"

Every time I get one of those requests, I try to generate names or resources offhand. That's not very efficient. Plus, I only know a very tiny fraction of the single people (or scholars of single people or professionals who work with single people) who might be interested in helping out or who might also want to be in touch with other single people (for friendship, discussion, workshops, or just about anything else except dating).

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General

Hector’s Search for Happiness Ends with a Cliché

Fair warning: This post includes a spoiler and the spoiler (about the end of the movie) is the whole point. I'm talking about "Hector and the Search for Happiness."

I stumbled upon the movie when I was browsing Netflix for something to watch. I didn't know that before the story became a movie, it was an "international bestseller with more than two million copies sold." I had never heard of the book or the movie before. I don't know if the movie is faithful to the book. I sure hope not.

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Amidst All the Matrimania, the Power of Friendship Endures

We've heard a lot of flowery prose about marriage lately, both within the Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide and in the ensuing commentaries. I don't think marriage is the key relationship of the 21st century, though – I believe it is friendship.

Somewhere around half of all American adults are single. Many who do marry cycle in and out of coupled life (as, for example, when they get married and then divorced). This is the big picture of our lives today: Americans now spend more years of their adult life unmarried than married – and that's been true for years.

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SCOTUS Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage: Wiser Views Than Those of the Justices

"We need to have a conversation." How often have we heard these words when some controversial issue is broached? The Supreme Court ruling that made same-sex marriage legal across the nation has launched countless conversations.

Many of the conversations are celebratory. To activists, the ruling is a huge step forward on a long path to social justice. I'm all for social justice and civil rights. But the ruling lets more people into marriage while all single people are still unjustly left out of all of the benefits and protections awarded only to those who are legally married. It is a broader conceptualization than we had before the ruling, but it is still a very narrow view of the people and relationships and life pursuits that matter.

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Kate, Kay, and the Single Ladies, Part 2: Experiments in Living Outside of a Nuclear Family Household

[From Bella: This is Part 2 of E. Kay Trimberger's two-part guest essay. Part 1 is here.]

Kate, Kay and the Single Ladies, Part 2: Experiments in Living Outside of a Nuclear Family Household

Guest post by E. Kay Trimberger

In our late 20s, Kate and I both lived in New York City, worked hard, and had few women friends. In my early 30s, however, I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, a place that had beckoned me since I was a teenager, when I’d learned about the Beats and seen San Francisco for the first time. Attracted by the proximity of urban culture and natural beauty, and by its reputation for unconventional life styles, I had always wanted to live there. The communal living experiments I found in the Bay Area in the 1970s differentiated my life from Kate’s.

Three years after completing my PhD, I gave up a tenure-track job in the City University of New York for a temporary lectureship at a state university an hour’s drive from San Francisco and then found a permanent position in another state institution the same distance away. Colleagues in the East criticized me for not searching for a more prestigious academic appointment, but I wanted to find a personal life that would anchor me. As a feminist, I now believed I could have satisfying work and a family life, but both the impact of the 1970s counterculture and my continuing fear of being swallowed by the nuclear family, led me to look for alternatives to living as a couple. I was lucky that academic jobs were still plentiful in the 1970s and housing was inexpensive. Thirty years later, Kate and other young women would not be so fortunate. I soon moved to Berkeley to join a group of academics some of whom taught at the famous university there, but more of whom commuted to teach in less prestigious colleges. Berkeley too attracted all kinds of left, feminist and counter cultural activists. I was soon ensconced in a community of leftist and feminist intellectuals, a community that I never had in New York.

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