Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Some people just shouldn't have kids: Why the focus needs to be less on marriage and more on parenting. (Unit 3)
The facts are very basic.
Separate from the topic of marriage laws, are the marriage trends observed. In the article, The World Historical Transformation of Marriage, by Stephanie Coontz, she provides a list of various different ways in which marriage is different today than it was during our parents' or grandparents' eras. While her list focuses solely on the institution of marriage, I argue that these new marriage trends she lists are creating negative effects for children. I argue, this is due to the lack of focus by the government on restricting who has the right to reproduce or parent.
The issue here, which the government and researchers love to focus on, is not the sexuality or even gender of the parents, but it is the legal gains related to children that are being abused more and more by the newly benefitting unmarried couples. Do not get me wrong, though. For excellent parents who, for whatever reason, are not currently married, these legal gains provided for them are a very positive and necessary resource. Yet, sadly, it occurring more and more that unmarried couples, single parents, or non parents are reversing the system and are illegally collecting government gains intended for people who have children and legitimately have a right to and need the aid.Examples of potential legal gains and rights offered by the government can include food stamps, Cash Aids, medicaid, tax rebates, healthcare benefits, Welfare, and foster care benefits.
An example of this corruption in the system is the news story, Welfare Fraud Crackdown, where a man faced multiple felony charges in New York for illegally receiving food stamps and Medicaid benefits.
Pictures to the right: Movies such as "The proposal" and "License to Wed" show examples of two couples experiencing background checks in order to be able to legally married. If background checks are done on couples before marriage to check their legitimacy, then why are they not done before unmarried couples have a child?
Another solution is to screen benefits more carefully so that government benefits are only going to the families with parents in true need of benefits and that they will use the money, for example, to benefit the child.
The problem with this reason is that if mothers and fathers have the intention of getting married anyways when they reach their mid twenties, wouldn't it benefit the child/children greatly if they grew up in a family with a mother and father now? Now, I am not saying that single parents are bad parents, but rather I am claiming that many single parents struggle to provide fully financially, emotionally, etc to their child. Also, research tells us that majority of single parents end up at or below the poverty level, hence not providing as well as they would be able to if they chose to move the marriage up a few years (Edin).
While I am all for strong women and doing what you need to do for yourself without a man, I am also very passionate about equal visitation rights, especially for fathers. The problem with the above reason is that the focus, again, is not on the children, but rather only is on the mother. It is very possible that unemployed men that make bad husbands, can actually make excellent fathers. There would not be so many legal struggles for fathers fighting for their visitation rights if they didn't legitimately love their children and if it wasn't proven that a father's presence in a child's life is vital.
Bilotta, Larry. "Statistics about Children and Divorce." BBB. Web. 07 Nov. 2011.
Coontz, Stephanie. "The World Historical Transformation of Marriage." Journal of Marriage and Family 66.4 (2004): 974-79. Print.
Dornbusch, Sanford M. "Single Parents, Extended Households, and the Control of Adolescents." Child Development. 2nd ed. Vol. 6. Jstor. Web. 05 Nov. 2011.
Edin, Kathryn. "What Do Low-Income Single Mothers Say about Marriage?" Social Problems 47.1 (2000): 112-33. Print.
"Families and Living Arrangements, Formerly Households and Families." Census Bureau Home Page. U.S. Census Bureau, Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division. Web. 07 Nov. 2011.
"Marriage Rights and Benefits." Lawyers, Legal Forms, Law Books & Software, Free Information - Nolo. Nolo.com. Web. 07 Nov. 2011.
"State by State Government Assistance Programs For Pregnant Women, Mothers and Children." Adoption Services. Web. 5 Nov. 2011.
"Your Path to Government Benefits." Benefits.gov - Your Path to Government Benefits. USA.gov. Web. 07 Nov. 2011.
For centuries, the Roman Catholic Church has prohibited females from getting ordained, meaning females cannot officially become priests. This is a major issue separating liberal Catholics from conservative Catholics. Many liberal Catholics believe that excluding women from priesthood is wrong and somewhat absurd. They argue that there is no difference between men and women Catholics, and that women can be called to priesthood just as men can. Conservative Catholics believe that because Jesus’ twelve disciples were all men, that women should not hold leadership positions in the church.
Though many women do hold leadership positions in the Church, they are not as powerful as the positions that men are able to hold and practice. This enforces and creates patriarchy within the Church. In the article “Women Studies: Perspective and Practices” patriarchy is defined as a “system where men dominate because power and authority are in the hands of adult men.” It is this system that so many first, second, and third wavers fought against. So why is it still so widely accepted in the Catholic Church? Women are simply not allowed to become priests, even if they are more suited for the job than a man. Yet there are still some Catholic women who do try to become ordained priests. This, however, results in excommunication. The video below shows some of these women and their beliefs.
In the video, the women explain that they cannot hold higher positions in the Church merely due to the fact they are female. Not because they are less holy, not because they are impure, not because they are less qualified, but simply because of their sex. This completely enforces patriarchy, not even giving women a chance to prove that they can hold higher positions. To dedicated Catholics, this oppression is the equivalent of not allowing a women be in, or even run for, an office higher than the state level of government. This would create extreme outrage to both women and men today, so why have Catholics, men and women, accepted this oppression for so many years?
In Anna Quindlen’s “Still Needing the F Word,” she explains feminism as “belief in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” Keeping women out of priesthood goes against every aspect of feminism. How can Catholics who call themselves feminists accept this oppression of women in the Church? Feminism is something that was formally introduced with first wave feminism in the 1800’s. We are now over 10 years into the 2000’s and this concept has yet to be accepted or even recognized in the Church. As a Catholic myself I have seen all sides of the spectrum. More progressive Catholics see no problem with women as priests. Many right-winged Catholics, however, come off as plain sexist rather than conservative. Someone once said to me: “Women can’t be priests, that’s men’s work.” This is exactly the kind of talk feminists need to fight against.
It seems old-fashioned and wrong that there is such gender inequality in the Church today. It seems like there should be some sort of global uproar against this wide-spread oppression. There’s no reason why women cannot and should not be priests.
Many people look back at the 1950s and think that it was an ideal time period. When you look more closely at the 1950s it is clear that women were not treated fairly at all. Women basically had to be married to have a life. They had to depend on their husbands to be the breadwinner while they stayed home and took care of the family and the home. Many of these ideas are still present in today’s society but at the same time many women have broken the mold and become independent.
In some cases women are marrying men for financial stability and becoming less independent. I come from a family where my mother is the breadwinner and my parents are separated. My entire life my mother has told me to go to college and get educated. She has instilled in me the values of being an independent woman and never having to be with a man because he can financially support me. I use her as an example because she has always been financially independent and has never had to depend on a man. Sadly this is not the case for many women. There is a link between the life of women in 1950s and women today. Work, family and marriage dependency and issues are and were present today and in the 1950s.
Marriage was a status symbol for women in the 1950s. In Stephanie Coontz’s article “What we really miss about the 1950s,” she discusses demographic issues such as the rising birth rate after the war and the lower educational rate as issues that led women to become dependent on marriage. The gender roles of the time period were that “nearly 60 percent of kids were born into male breadwinner-female homemaker families” (Coontz 7). Even today women are staying with men because they can support them financially. In “What do low income mothers say about marriage?” by Kathryn Edin, many women believe “the total earnings a father can generate is clearly the most important dimension for mothers” (Edin 357). Money is a huge factor for most marriages. Women are willing to let men be the breadwinners, which leaves themselves with very few options. This choice mirrors the lives of women in the 1950s. They got married because of financial stability that marriage offers to most women.
Not only is it finances that make women stay in a marriage but respect. Today many women believe “that respectability is greatly enhanced by a marriage tie a routinely employed partner” (Edin 359). Women are willing to stay in an unhappy marriage because of money and respect. This just doesn’t seem right when they can earn respect for themselves elsewhere and be financially independent. Without a husband in the 1950s “women were unable to take out loans or even credit cards in their own name and… they were excluded from juries in many states” (Coontz 15). Husbands were the key to many “luxuries” of the time. Today taking out loans and getting personal credit cards seem normal to women but back then it was not going to happen unless you were married. Women did not have options outside of marriage and they were stuck because they had to raise the family and did not receive education beyond high school.
In contrast to the 1950s more and more women are going to college and graduating today. This is completely opposite of women in the 1950s. The education rates of women in the 1950s decreased while a man’s increased (Coontz 6). Today women “have closed the college education gap and their graduation rate now eclipses men’s” (Stone 324). Women are high achieving and want to work to support themselves. In short they want it all. That includes a family and children. Compared to today very few children “had mothers who worked in the paid work force” in the 1950s (Coontz, 7). Women did not work as much or at all compared to women today. Now women are combining work and motherhood “in greater proportions than ever before: 77 percent in 2004. Over all, these trends show little sign of women reverting to 1950s stereotypes” (Stone 327). Women are showing that they do not need a man to support them and thus they can get married because they want to and not because they feel they have to. An example of the working mother is Miranda from “Sex and the City.” Miranda is a very successful lawyer in New York City and at the same time she is also a mother. She shows how women can have it all and make it work. Women deserve to be able to be mothers and have a job. It comes down to choice for these women.
Independence in all aspects of the word is what I have been taught by mother and what I will teach my future daughter. My mother does not have to depend on anyone and she wants the same for me. Women should want to be successful and independent. They need to know that they can change their lives if they have the want to do so. We can have it all if we work for it. It is sad to think that even today some women are living the life of women in the 1950s. That time period may look ideal but when you look under the surface you see how unfairly women were treated and how they were trapped. It seems that the actions and steps women are taking today show how they do not want to go back in time. They do not want the “cookie cutter” life like many of their parents had. Women have worked hard to gain independence and why should we give it up?
Coontz, Stephanie. "What We Really Miss about the 1950s." (1997).
Edin, Kathryn. "What Low-Income Single Mothers Say about Marriage?" Social Problems 47.1 (2000).
Stone, Pamela. "Getting to Equal: Progress, Pitfalls, and Policy Solutions on the Road to Gender Parity in the Workplace." Pathways Magazine. Spring 2009.
by Nick Jones
Kalyn Heffernan, or MC T-minus Kalyn. is perhaps not who would expect to be taking the stage at Cervantes Ballroom for a typical Friday night hip-hop show. Even amongst the fellow underground acts that filled out the bill, Heffernan's local band Wheelchair Sports Camp stood out as unique. The only female-fronted group of the evening, they opened it up with blisteringly fast flows and infectious retro beats. The short set not only succeeded in getting the crowd dancing enthusiastically, but also challenged the gender expectations of modern hip-hop. While Wheelchair Sports Camp may sound like a tasteless joke, it is worth noting that Heffernan herself is confined to a wheelchair due to a rare birth defect, Osteogenesis Imperfecta. In a genre sorely lacking feminism, this 3' 6” lesbian is using her passion and talent to challenge stereotypes that have long been ingrained in hip-hop.
It shouldn't come as any surprise that hip-hop has perpetuated hegemonic masculinity, and often put female performers into strict molds. While underground artists make a point to be subversive of the status quo, mainstream chart-toppers demonstrate that heteronormative behavior is what sells best. This week, for example, places male performers in the top 4 spots of Billboard's Top Hip-hop/R&B Songs charti. Even Beyonce's song “Party”, number 5 on the charts, demonstrates cartoon-like gender relations. Belting out lines like, “I’ll give it all away/Just don’t tell nobody tomorrow/So tonight/I’ll do it every way,”ii she sings a total of 201 words in her most feminine voice, while her male guest stars rap 258 lyrics in lazy, masculine vocal timbres. Yet this single is the only of the top 10 attributed to a female performer. Of the other 9 tracks, women are rarely mentioned outside of connection to sex or their physical appearance.
Female vocalists and rappers aiming for the top spots are placed at the mercy of the gender conventions installed by their male peers. As Helen Kolawole observes, “A female rapper must be seen as conventionally attractive, and maintain an accepted degree of sex appeal, in order to avoid being branded a man-hater or lesbian.”iii Even when female lyricists address sexism, it is commercial disadvantageous to, “Cross the threshold into full-blown feminism, as their sexuality always remains their major selling point.”iv. Obviously, this cycle has created a stagnate view of gender relations, that hasn't changed much since the early 1990's.
Luckily, the diverse and progressive world of underground hip-hop has responded to this with heart-felt performers who sharply contrast the sexualized commercialism seen elsewhere. Wheelchair Sports Camp is a prime example, as Kalyn Heffernan has embraced her own individuality and received national recognition for her unique music. They have been noted by The Boston Pheonix as one of 25 hip-hop acts not to be missed at the 2011 SXSW music festivalv, and featured as a rising artist by Spin Magazinevi. Heffernan and her accomplices' talents and originality have routinely impressed those who come across their music. Her lyrics range in topics from social issues to poking fun of people's reactions to her wheelchair. As Westword Magazine has noted, “She is, at the core, a rapper first and foremost. She uses her rhymes and affliction together in a way that challenges the status quo”vii. Writing rhymes ever since she was 12, Heffernan has defined a musical style and social identity unlike anyone else, lending a unique perspective to her music. “I've been like addicted to hip-hop,”viii she told Westword, despite the prejudices she has confronted along the way:
“Not just being a woman, but being a handicapped woman, being a lesbian woman, there's always obstacles, but I think I get treated equally very well. I think I have to go out of my way to do it. I'm assertive and up front.”ix
“When rap first appeared on the music scene, it was hailed... as a vehicle or social comment,” states Helen Kolawolex, and thus underground rappers like Kalyn Heffernan have risen to critique views of gender and sexuality. Dubbed queer-hop or homo-hop, a growing number of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered hip-hop artists have become increasingly popular in cities across the country. The magazine Colorlines described this trend as, “Crop of openly queer rappers who have been making music for years. They’re talented, proud, but when it comes to mainstream media, they’re often ignored.”xi However, now these artists are finally getting the recognition they deserve and bringing an alternative attitude into hip-hop that doesn't rely on hegemonic masculinity as its central pillar. These performers are opening, or sometimes re-opening, avenues for musical artists of different sexualities, genders, and body-types. Much of what makes Wheelchair Sports Camp so refreshing, along with many other acts in this sub-genre, is that they offer the possibility of hip-hop coexisting with feminism. Perhaps some day soon, this grass-roots movement will influence mainstream media to adjust its heteronormativity and finally catch up with the times.
i "Top Hip Hop and R&B Songs." Billboard.com. Billboard, n.d. Web. 6 Nov. 2011.
ii West, Kanye, Bhasker, Jeff , Knowles, Beyoncé, Benjamin, André Lauren , Mills, Dexter, Davis, Douglas, and Walters, Ricky. “Party.”Lyrics. 4. Columbia, 2010.
iii Kolawole, Helen. "Sisters Take the Rap... But Talk Back.." Girls! Girls! Girls!: essays on women and music. New York: New York University Press, 1996. 8. Print.
v Heffernan, Kalyn . "SXSW Travelogue: Wheelchair Sports Camp ." The Denver Westword Blogs. Denver Westword, 19 Mar. 2011. Web. 6 Nov. 2011.
vi Dodero, Camille. "Wheelchair-Assisted MC: 3 Feet High & Rising." SPIN.com. SPIN Media, 18 July 2011. Web. 6 Nov. 2011.
vii Johnson, Ru. "Kalyn Heffernan of Wheelchair Sports Camp on rockin' the mike and making people think twice." The Denver Westword Blogs. Denver Westword, 30 Nov. 2010. Web. 6 Nov. 2011.
x Kolawole, Helen. "Sisters Take the Rap... But Talk Back.." Girls! Girls! Girls!: essays on women and music. New York: New York University Press, 1996. 8. Print.
xi King, Jamilah. "Eight Openly Queer Rappers Worth Your Headphones." COLORLINES. ARC, 11 May 2011. Web. 6 Nov. 2011.