If you have signed up to get notified of all comments posted here, I apologize for all the spam comments that have been posted in the last day or so. I’ve just switched the settings so that I have to approve all comments before they are posted. That means it will take a little longer for your legitimate comments to show up (I’m sorry about that) but at least you won’t be getting all this junk.
Hope those of you celebrating Thanksgiving enjoyed the holiday. Here’s what I posted about it over at Living Single.
The Pew and Time magazine report generating all those headlines (mostly about how 39% of Americans think marriage is becoming obsolete) set out to look beyond just married people to other family members and family forms. One question participants were asked was this:
If you’ve read Singled Out, you know my take on the so-called marriage penalty in taxes – it is actually a bonus. Single people are the one who get penalized. A law review article comes to the same conclusion.
There’s a different sense of the marriage penalty that actually is real, according to sociologists Naomi Gerstel and Natalia Sarkisian. They talk about marriage as a greedy institution, because it wants all of the interpersonal time and attention for itself. As I’ve been discussing at Living Single, people who are married pay less attention to other people in their lives than do people who are single. They are less likely to stay in close touch with their siblings, friends, parents, or neighbors, or to support them in emotional or practical ways.
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.)
Knowing my interest in different kinds of personal communities, a friend recently gave me a copy of Isabel Allende’s 2008 memoir, The Sum of Our Days. She thought I would appreciate what Allende calls her “tribe.” She was right about that. Allende has all manner of important people in her life, including her grown children and the people dear to them, her spouse (the second one, Willie), her grandchildren, a pair of lesbian Buddists who become parents to one of her granddaughters, a stranger she meets in a bookstore, people who work for her and the people around her, a circle of close friends she calls her “sisters of disorder,” and many more. She doesn’t just keep in touch with those people – she wants as many of them as possible living in her own home or nearby.