Tuesday, December 13, 2011

We Are Not Alone

I nearly died laughing reading this article. The similarities between the plight of black women and of frum gals is just too much. 

Angela Stanley begins with a familiar grievance: 
Few things in life are more irritating than the unsolicited comments I get that black women, like me, are unlikely to marry. Family members ask, “Are you ever going to get married?” as if I am remaining single purposely to keep them from attending my wedding. Well-meaning married friends try to sell me on the idea that being single is liberating. And then there is my octogenarian aunt whom I love, but who also manages to unintentionally sucker punch me whenever I visit with the comment, “Maybe if you’d just straighten your hair you’d be able to find a man.” 
All areas are covered: the hypothetical, the false pep-talk, and the advice on how changing some minor quality will magically open the door. Then: 
Implicit in some of their comments is the idea that my failure to marry is beyond my control, a function of being born black and female. 
"Failure to marry is beyond her control." Could she mean . . . a crisis? 
Without warrant, black women have been the main focus of the “marriage crisis.” 
Ha Ha! She does! But, as I believe about the frummies, she says it is a figment of imaginations. 
This culturally popular notion that 70 percent of black women don’t marry is just a myth. For the last few years, I have been hearing from every source imaginable that the vast majority of black women will never marry. This never made sense to me because so many black women I know are married. And indeed, eventually, most black women do marry. 
She brings statistics that show black women mostly do marry; just not as young as the white demographic. 

But since the myth involves only black women, it should be assumed that black men are all married, right? Wrong. Actually, the numbers show that more black men remain unmarried than black women in the same age group. 

So why are black women getting all the negative attention? Sexism.

Perhaps one would insist that our community is free of such "ism"s, but I'm starting to wonder. It really is unnatural how much single men are placed on pedestals while women are often mistreated in the search for a mate. If a boy is single at 28, do we hear "Oy, nebach" about him? Uh, no. 
There are logical reasons for black women to marry in their late 30s through their 40s, compared with women of other races who are more likely to marry in their late 20s and early 30s. Significantly more black women than black men are earning college degrees. That means significantly fewer black men are on college campuses, and thus in their 20s are not in the same arenas physically, educationally or professionally, making it more difficult to find black partners of equal footingand the reality is that a lot of black women still prefer black men as partners. With age, the numbers of unmarried black women and men become significantly lower, suggesting that both find themselves at places in their lives where they are ready and able to commit. 
The black men are not going to college. As many frum boys are not. All frum girls are expected nowadays to seek higher education to get a career, but not all frum boys are. It therefore leaves inequities as women seek equally educated men. 
This is not to imply that there are no great single black men out there or that all single black women are the best catches, but the theories behind supply and demand are real. For some women, this dynamic is fine, but many others are opting out. Some black women choose to be single rather than settle, but rarely is this discussed as a real explanation for why some black women are unmarried. When a black woman says she is choosing to be single, most people assume she just can’t get a man. And it’s not as if successful black women are driving black men into the arms of women of other races. The census numbers confirm that black men largely still marry black women over any other race. 
Choosing not to settle obviously leaves one to be single longer, but it's not due to a lack in the female, but rather lack in the available men. But the men aren't going elsewhere; they also want black partners, both sides preferring not to "marry out." Therefore, there is nothing wrong in terms of quantity; it is more an issue of quality.
However, because black men have been disproportionately affected by social inequities, black women have been implicitly conditioned not to add to that burden. Being critical of black men, instead of being supportive and sympathetic, is often viewed as adding to the problems of black men. 
Women are told not to criticize, and in our community, to literally support. Young girls are told that the only way to get a man is to financially keep him in the style in which he has become accustomed. 
In the meantime, I’ll be working on my snappy comebacks for everyone monitoring my relationship status.  
Same here.


Jewish Gal said...

Lol, interesting article!

guyinla said...

"Perhaps one would insist that our community is free of such "ism"s, but I'm starting to wonder. It really is unnatural how much single men are placed on pedestals while women are often mistreated in the search for a mate. If a boy is single at 28, do we hear "Oy, nebach" about him? Uh, no."
The Gemara says "tav lah meisav tan du melimeisav armilu"

Princess Lea said...

It's better to be a couple than be single, or that it is better to be in a troubled marriage than be single?

Ta says it can be translated both ways.

Which way did you mean?

guyinla said...

I meant that "we" say "oy nebach" about a girl at 28 and not a guy, because a girl needs/wants to be hitched more than a guy. The Gemara is mentioning a popular phrase women used to say. Literally it means better to sit two bodies than to sit alone. Usually it's translated as two bodies sitting together, i.e. husband and wife. But taking Rashi's translation literally, it sounds like better to sit WITH two (dead? this makes it sound way more desperate) bodies. Anyways the Gemara brings it as a reason why a woman need not see her husband before marrying him, unlike a man, because she'll settle for anything, whereas presumably a guy won't. Hence, we say oy nebach about a girl at 28 that isn't married, but not about a guy. Better? :)

Princess Lea said...

I think you've succeeded in depressing me even more.

But keep in mind that once, the only way a woman could be in control of her own house or be supported was by a husband. Having an independent means to support herself was rare. If she wanted to get out of her parents' house, she needed a man.

Ah, how times have changed.

I DEMAND that men should feel needy!