“Can Black Women Lead on Rethinking Marriage?”

http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2012/09/17/can-black-women-lead-on-rethinking-marriage/

 

This article touches base on a couple of interesting topics. It is mainly about marriages amongst black women and its political implications. The author Dani McClain (I think it is safe to say that she is a black female, although it isn’t specified), highlights the effects gay marriage has on black women. With the proposition 8 bill in California that was passed (this stated that California deemed it unconstitutional to recognize gay marriage) , the idea that blacks, particularly women, are against gay marriages. This is because when the results were analyzed majority of blacks voted for the bill. Needless to say many right wing supporters jumped on this and ran with it. McClain continues the article by pointing out that black women may indeed be changing the “face” of traditional marriage. She cites the infamous statistic “that 70.5 percent of black women between the ages of 25 and 29 had never been married,” so many of these heads of households are black women. When these women go to the polls they may not be as concerned with others’ inability to marry but rather their own desire to directly access quality  healthcare or tax breaks. Black women and marriage have been the topic and target of discussion for many Conservatives. McClain mentions that conservative rhetoric of Reagan, Nixon, and Rick Santorum has been focused on the demonization of black unmarried women, particularly “welfare queens.” Their driving argument over the years has been the idea that “within the traditional, patriarchal family structure, daddy provides so government doesn’t have to, and that’s a good thing.” McClain sums up her article towards the end with her thesis statement that “unmarried black women are an untapped force for change because we’re more likely to stay that way and so are best positioned to lobby on behalf of the rights of single people and those in non-traditional families.” This is the very reason why unmarried black women have such an effect at the polls politically when it comes to topics such as proposition 8 and other economical topics as well.

 

I thought this article was very enlightening. When I think of Black women and marriage I think of it in a “lack thereof” frame of mind and not in the view that McClain does. She does in fact address that fact that there is a very low rate of Black young women who get married and she addresses some reasons for this. Some of these reasons included the high incarceration rate amongst Black men as well as the high unemployment rate. However, besides all of those things, McClain shows that because of this Black women can and may in fact be a source of change. Marriage and sexuality has been a topic of public discussion since slavery and the fact that Conservatives are using that as an economical ploy (to a certain extent) does not surprise me. Their mentality is that marriage, between a man and a woman, is what is needed to help the economy (in regards to the black community) and solve government aid agency spending. What I got from this is that not only is there an enormous amount of pressure from black women themselves to get married, but there is a great amount of pressure politically and economically as well; not the mention the backlash they got from the gay community after prop 8. It seems to me that Conservatives want marriage to be the answer to the economic struggle of blacks and strategically drive a wedge in between blacks and gays by upholding the idea of the “traditional”, patriarchal family. This goes to show that black women are still under the hand of the government and society. Women still have to fight and deal with concerns towards the disadvantages of not getting married that their white counterparts do not deal with. Also, black women continually fight against the white supremacist standards of beauty formulated by society. Lastly, Conservative views are also insinuating that black women, or women in general, need a man to provide for them or someone to provide for them. If they don’t have a husband who is providing for them, then they are seeking provisions from the government. In reality, black women have been providing for themselves for centuries. Many black women, particularly around the 1930s, embraced the fact that they can provide for themselves and they don’t need a man to do it. I am not down playing the fact that it is hard, it is just Black women have done such a great job in exuding strength and courage in overcoming and enduring a lot of obstacles. So overall, as mentioned before I think this article touches base on a lot of topics that are relevant to black women and shows just how much black women are  under the microscope in society. With the topic of black women and marriage it easy or more prevalent to think of the fact that so many black women never get married. However, what I liked about McClain’s view on it is that, yes this may be true, but black women can use that to their advantage to be a source of change politically and economically one way or another.

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