Marriage Stats

Should You Get Married If You Have Debt?

wedding-debtDebating between getting married or paying off your debt can be extremely difficult. The little financial advisor that magically appears on your shoulder will insist, “Don’t do it! Be fiscally responsible so you can properly take care of your beloved,” but the idealistic mini-bride or groom on your other shoulder will say, “Follow your heart! People get married so they can take care of each other.” While it feels better to give into matters of the heart, being money-wise is critical to a healthy relationship too; after all, money woes are the number one cause of divorce. So to live happily ever after, what’s a cash-strapped lover to do?

The State of the Same-Sex Marriage Equality Today

Image: Freedom to Marry

Image: Freedom to Marry

Obama in the State of the Union (#SOTU) hit some unprecedented markers when it comes to civil rights. He spoke of same-sex marriage as a civil right and he spoke of the protection of those in the LGBT community, a first for SOTU. What’s even more exciting is that 2015 could make the final mile for same-sex marriage approval. Here’s a quick breakdown of milestones in the quest for marriage equality and its current status in terms of social and political approval.

Are Facebook Relationship Over-sharers Overcompensating?

facebook meme 6Ever wonder what the deal is behind your social media friends who incessantly post about their relationships? Are they overcompensating for something else or do they really have the best boyfriend/girlfriend in the whole wide world as they claim? Are they truly happy or are the rest of us just curmudgeons and incapable of being happy for someone else’s happiness?

Hey Brides, Harvard Says Your Future Success Depends on Your Future Hubby…

groom-lifting-bride-over-her-head-in-fieldStop for a minute and ask yourself these questions: Do you have an egalitarian relationship? Are you on the path to achieve your career goals? Have you ever put your guy’s career before your own? And does he put forth as much effort as you in the home? Your honest answers, not your ideal ones, are important. (And for the record, no, this article is not about how to ride the coattails of your hubby, as if…)

Harvard Business School study reports that both male and female HSB graduates, who believe in parity in the workforce and in relationships…don’t actually practice it. This is an incredibly important discrepancy because it negatively impacts women’s professional achievements, particularly in top management positions. That’s why answering honestly was so important, most of us believe we have egalitarian relationships, but per the study that’s not really the case.

Is Choosing to Take Your Husband’s Surname Really Feminist?

I winced when I heard Ms. Amal Alamuddin was changing her name to Mrs. George Clooney. She became yet another example of a women choosing for her identity to be represented by a man’s after marrying. Here’s how her decision, one shared by the majority of women, is vastly more complicated than it seems.

The Modern Equation for Getting Married

Tired of winking at people online? Starting to wonder why you’re friends with some Jessa, from HBO's Girls, getting marriedpeople if their other friends are the duds they keep setting you up with? Finding yourself starring over to the kitchen, wondering what type of hors d’ oeuvres they’ll be serving after the wedding ceremony? Focused on your career, grad school or the number of dates you have lined up? Thinking you can have it all and NOT be married? Or are you just holding out for the perfect one and the perfect conditions?

You are not alone my friend.

The Bigger the Engagement Ring, The Bigger the Divorce?

Ever find yourself jelly over someone’s massive diamond engagement ring? o-BAD-ENGAGEMENT-RING-facebookCovet not my friend, because two dudes from Emory University did an online economic study of 3,000 married individuals (from mTurk) to see if the size of an engagement is a correlated to divorce rates. Seems it is…

Show Me the Money! Wedding Traditions without the Wage Gap

When it comes to banking on the perfect wedding no one wants to feel like what business woman with lots of moneythey’re doing is perpetuating wage inequality. Sadly, The Feminist Bride calculated that there are, in fact, wedding traditions that sprung directly from the wage gap and people’s historical lack of faith in women’s economic earning power. Rather than spend your time in traditions that are a bad investment, let’s financially reform them.

The Wage Gap in Wedding Traditions? Say It Ain’t So…

It’s hard to believe wedding traditions could be tied to something so nasty as the wage gap. wedding_moneyThat sparkly diamond is supposed to make you feel like a perfect bride under all those layers of satin and waterproof makeup. How could bringing home less than your fair share from the workplace possibly play into the happy tidings of your wedding day? Sadly, it’s totally true. (This is why we also have to write advice like How to Stay Sane While Planning A Wedding.)

Emma Watson and Men’s Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson Co-Hosts Special HeForShe Event. UN Photo/Mark Garten

UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson Co-Hosts Special HeForShe Event. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Emma Watson’s impassioned United Nation’s speech seeking both sexes to peacefully unite in order to achieve women’s equality has touched a nerve. Inaugurating the HeForShe campaign, Watson went on to explain that fundamental feminism “… by definition is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”

Creating Social Good with Your Wedding Registry

http://www.kiva.org/lend/753659

Image: KIVA. In this Group: Saraswati, Tikeswar, Sapuri, Manorama, Ketaki, Upasi, Sumanti, Jamuna, Sumitra

Feeling like a traditional gift registry is an egregious imposition to ask for more stuff that you already have? Or an archaic gendered tradition? Suspicious that asking for money as a gift throws every etiquette book into a blazing book burning fire? Here’s an option that gives the newlyweds tremendous good karma  - consider a micro finance registry. The beauty of having guests contribute to micro finance loan account is that it generously gives to those in more immediate need and then eventually the newlyweds when their the ones in need. To read more about this idea, check out The Feminist Bride article on Green Bride Guide

Women’s Wage Affects Their Happily Ever After

Brides, what you’re paid will affect your new family’s quality of life. If you want that happily ever after after that perfect wedding, it’s best that you put equal pay on your wedding registry.

Four in ten women are the sole or primary breadwinners in their family. While that sounds like great news, women overall still earn less, which means that even that female breadwinner (and her family) are financially disadvantaged in the larger picture.

On This Valentine’s Day: Admit Your Affair (with the Wage Gap)

On this Valentine’s Day with great signs of affection, red roses and confectionary delights, iStock_000014497194Mediummany will declare their love to another. But what if lovers could do something more meaningful beyond the time-honored champagne and strawberries? Like admitting that the biggest misdeed in being partners in crime is that few couples are truly treated as equals and promising to correct that?

13-Year-Old Speaks on Marriage Equality at Bar Mitzvah

An Oregonian boy becomes a man, not only by having his bar mitzvah, but because he chose to take his opportunity to use his d’var Torah, a traditional speech, to speak as a proponent of gay marriage [in Oregon]. Duncan McAlpine Sennett’s words speak volumes to his maturity, his reasoning and use of historical analysis proves his intelligence and his bravery to even address such a topic within a religious setting exhibits immense leadership and kindness. And he’s only 13! Mazal Tov to David, hopefully he will inspire many other people to positively speak on behalf of others.

To learn more about marriage equality in Oregon check out: OregonUnitedforMarriage.org

For more awesome speeches related to marriage equality:

One of the Best Speeches Championing Marriage Equality

Speech! Speech! The History of the Wedding Toast

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Shares How Gov’t Shutdown Affects Women

Zach Wahls Speaking on Marriage Equality in Iowa

To read more: A 13-Year-Old Explains The Religion Behind Marriage Equality. My Head Now Hurts From Nodding Along..

Jesus Recruits Sarah Silverman to Spread his Word on Abortion

There’s a lot of things I’d ask Jesus if I met the guy in person, like why curse some people with not liking cilantro, what would his Cliff game choices be if I gave him Oprah, Psy and Steve Buscemi and what are his thoughts on Lena Dunham’s constant nudity in Girls? But kudos to Sarah Silverman who dared to ask, “Jesus, when does life begin?”

In a random late night bootie call visit, Jesus approached Sarah to be his spokesperson. He was feeling pretty bummed about how people use his name for intolerance and oppression. After a NCIS marathon, seems Silverman took J-Bones up on his request and started to share the harsh reality of women’s access to reproductive rights, i.e. abortion. “Comedy-expert,” Laura Ingraham may not have appreciated the banter with Jesus, but I found Silverman’s straightforward historical context and tell-it-like it is storytelling refreshing and captivating. I also loved how she showed what a double standard it was to legislate vaginas but not penises. And to give our own fun fact, Oklahoma state Sen. Constance Johnson (D) actually tried to get this penis probe added to the “personhood” movement, which gave all eggs and semen the same rights as American citizens to make a point about how skewed legislature controls women’s bodies but not men’s.

What’s even better is that Silverman also asks you to carry on the word of Jesus by signing up with www.LadyPartsJustice.com to keep up to date on the level of personal pussy power in the US. There will even be a series of events through “V To Shining V” throughout the country where women can come together on these issues. So thanks for setting the record straight Sarah, oh and by the way – awesome shirt.

Hillary Defender of Reproductive Rights and Family Planning

Strong. Confident. And accurately informed. Hillary 2016. Need The Feminist Bride say more?

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Shares How Gov’t Shutdown Affects Women

Senator Elizabeth Warren takes to the podium on the Senate floor on September 30, 2013 to remark on the devastating impact this government shutdown will have and how it is basically a ransom tactic for Republicans to get their demands met. If you’ve ever watched Senator Warren speak publicly, you know she’s forthright and likes to rely on facts and decisions (Watch the hearing on the minimum wage as a good example).

What’s awesome about the speech is that she goes into how it affects women and how this shutdown is based on obsolete ideologies and not modern lifestyles. Not only that, they are catering only to their own agenda and not the welfare and benefit of a diverse nation of peoples. Senator Warren explains how a minority  group of Republicans are taking the economy hostage and more or less refusing to participate in the democratic process that America prides itself on.

I think it is safe to say the level of frustration among all Americans and government employees runs at an all time high. While there’s a lot of finger pointing going on in the House right now with simpleminded slamming, it’s nice to hear a congressional leader offer an opinion that is not based on derisiveness or ugly tactics, but on reason and empathy. And as woman and the feminist bride, who is always constantly concerned that my access to reproductive freedoms will be limited or taken away, it’s reassuring to know that someone is looking out for me and women like me.

As far as Obamacare goes, having grown up in Massachusetts with a father who’s worked for a major healthcare company for over thirty years I’d like to think I have a unique personal insight into state enforced healthcare. I’ve always been fortunate to have excellent health insurance, but there was a period of about two years when I just chose to opt out. The penalty I paid for not having healthcare each year as a Massachusetts resident was about $41 dollars. Now I understand the arguments against big government, but I had two choices with this mandated tax; I could throw a tantrum, refuse to pay it and shutdown the government or I could just pay the measly $41. When I tried to get independent, private healthcare in the middle of that two year period, I was denied for having Reynauds. If you’re unfamiliar with the disease, I was denied healthcare coverage because my hands get cold. You know how I cure it? I put on gloves. If you want to have an eye opening read on how the current system is horrifically broken I suggest reading Time Magazine’s The Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us. It’s clear there’s a lot Americans need to work on and improve and who’s to say how we’ll need to recover from the shutdown, but I feel like I can rest a little bit easy with Senator Warren in my corner. There have been many times when I’ve been amazingly proud to be from Massachusetts, this is another moment.

 

 

In saying, “I Do,” did you choose wisely?

Stonehill College was nice enough to invite me as the keynote speaker to a panel on gay marriage. As a Catholic school, it had just added anti-hazing based on one’s sexuality to its school charter; and given the recent US Supreme Court decision, same sex marriage was a hot topic on campus. I was joined by two professors one with a law background commenting on the recent US Supreme Court ruling and another who specialized in the gender issues and gay marriage. I decided to talk about choice feminism and how within a hetero framework, women who use the “freedom of choice” to justify patriarchal or socialized gender traditions perpetuate prejudice and discrimination in both sexual spheres. In my lecture, I asked that choice be made not just to the benefit of oneself, but keeping in mind the needs and welfare of others as choice is constraint by many systems, both seen and unseen, and therefore must be made wisely.

A special thanks to Stonehill College. The students and faculty were very welcoming, respectful and engaged; and I appreciate the opportunity to share my ideas and research.

Breaking the Rules Panel. April 2013

The Future of Marriage

In honor of the Supreme Court ruling today defending the legality and support of same-sex marriage, I thought offering insight into the future of marriage would be a salient point. I’m thrilled that many same-sex couples in states that recognize gay marriage can now enjoy the same state and federal benefits hetero-couples do, and I hope that many of those in states behind the curve can start planning their own legal nuptials soon too. However, while today was a huge milestone there is still lots more to accomplish…for all sexual orientations. Everyone should keep marriage equality as their number one wish on their wedding registry.

In the meantime, I predict more scandalous celebrity marriages and divorces that will push the limits of conventional marriages (I’m looking at you Kardashians). Now with California, I foresee one highly publicized gay celebrity marriage sponsored by US Weekly that will help mitigate the fears of same-sex marriage, but also (unfortunately) perpetuate gay stereotypes. I envision a line of new wedding products designed by those briefly married celebrities. I foreshadow more diversity in the couples TLC wedding shows exploit. Rom-coms will continue to define its female lead’s value by the relationship she gets by the end of the movie. After all of this, I hope Hollywood will be a little more conscientious about how it treats marriage and those within it. 

There are more positive things to predict though. I predict, like interracial marriage, gay marriage will be commonplace in the next twenty years and our children (born inside or outside of marriage) will read about this civil rights movement in their history books. In the near future, I anticipate people will come to better understand that mass cultural institutions cannot take precedence over a person’s private rights as protected under the fourteenth amendment. I also hope same-sex marriage naysayers learn that a strict exclusive definition to marriage dilutes its power and meaning, it is stronger when it is all encompassing and embracing. Love does not discriminate and as its formal frame, neither should marriage. I believe gay marriage will help eradicate sexist gender roles in wedding traditions and marriage and we will be better off for it. I predict every person, regardless of their race, age, gender and sexual orientation will eventually access the same rights, the same benefits and the same protection, not because they fell in love with someone, but because we’ve come to respect and love humanity above the private privileges marriage retains for itself. But most of all, I hope the terms same-sex or gay marriage disappear and we can just recognize those forms of marriage as what they truly are, just marriage.

I predict the next big issue when it comes to marriage will be among the permanent, lifestyle singles. With 95% of people trying marriage at least once in a lifetime, the next minority to feel excluded from the special provisions provided by marriage will be singles, and single families. This means that fixing the cracks and dents in our existing family law will be the next reform issue. And it’s a major one. We seldom realize that our existing family law discriminates against almost everyone, regardless of his or her race, sexual orientation, marital status and age. (Sorry, plural marriage participators I just don’t think the US is ready to pull your number for reform next.) I foreshadow that in the effort to eradicate singlism, the next great debate will not be what is marriage, but what constitutes family.

I’m struck by all the happy and celebratory posts on Facebook in light of today’s Supreme Court ruling, particularly by those who do not benefit directly from today’s historic ruling. Their elation shows true altruism. For everyone celebrating though, it proves that marriage is purely enjoyed when everyone can partake in it. And for my final predictions, I foresee a still long walk to the aisle for same-sex couples, but today it got a little shorter; I envision happier and just slightly brighter smiles at weddings, and I expect to get invited to many more weddings now.

Is The Prenup Passé?

The NY Times is having a debate on whether or not the prenup is passé. Whatever you think, I think it’s important to consider who needs to protect their assets the most. With men still earning $1 to women’s measly 77 cents, it is fair to assume that it’s not the women. Prenups highlight the unequal wage and income issues that women still face. If office income is not enough to make you think twice, consider that many women who decide to cut back on office hours part time or completely for family set themselves back considerably financially – in terms of retirement savings, competitive wages, position advancements, etc. Married mothers loose around $11,000 in salary for every year they miss in the workplace and that gap only grows with each kid.  The role of homemake and mom just isn’t appreciated in terms of its economic contributions like a paying job is. If a prenup needs to be enacted and it favors the father, what happens to the women who put aside both her spouse’s assets and her own income earning potential? No matter what the courts decide in terms of alimony, divorced women can expect a 30% decline in their standard of living.

Whether or not a prenup is necessary before you say, ‘I do’ consider the larger social issues it relates to – not just for you but for all women.

See what others had to say in the NY Times debate: The Power of the Prenup – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com.



Debunking Bridal Superstitions

Rain on Your Wedding Day Is Good LuckIt’s raining on your wedding day, neigh  torrentially down pouring with lightening and thunder with potential hail. The swans you ordered are taking refuge in the bathroom, those fireworks specially-ordered from China will have to be 4th of July pyrotechnics, forget about taking that everybody jump photograph at sunset outside and worst of all you’re wearing white. It is true rain can be a downer when what was suppose to be an outdoor wedding is now indoor in a less then ultimate space. The guests sopping wet from their run from the car to the venue, give you a weak smile despite nature’s wrath and offer you their condolences, “At least rain is good luck on your wedding day.”

Discovering the History of Interracial Couples

The fun, quirky and uber-informational podcast How Stuff Works, has a sister Discovery podcast called Stuff Mom Never Told You that focuses on issues of a more feminine and woman-type. Podcast episodes include such titles as ‘Where do all the bobby pins go?’ and ‘Does Queen Bee Syndrome exist?’ And it so happens it covered something we’re of particular interest ourselves over here at The Feminist Bride – interracial marriage or miscegenation.

This particular episode is well done, though I should stress I found the title ‘Why are interracial marriages on the rise?‘ and their treatment of Pew Research’s stats to be overly optimistic. A 2010 Pew Research Center study revealed that 15% of new marriages are between people of different races or ethnicities (compare this to 6.7% in 1980). The total of all existing mixed marriages in 2010 was only 8.4%. The acceptance of such relationships varies, but overall is better than in the 80s; but any statistician will tell you that this growth over a 30 to 40 year period is extremely slow and not the ‘exponential growth’ the podcast mentioned.

In fact only four in ten Americans view such relationships as positive, these people are most likely minorities, college-educated and younger people from the West or Northeast. 63% of Americans say they would accept family members or peers marrying a person of a different race, but in 1986 37% said it would be acceptable for others but not themselves. Even almost a half century after the Loving v. Virginia case went to the Supreme Court, interracial marriage is still not as common as one might think, indicating that we are far from a post-racial society.

But on a whole, give the podcast a listen. It’s full of interesting facts and stories like the Lovings of the 1967 Supreme Court Case of Loving v. Virginia. There’s a new documentary out about the case too. And if you like the podcast’s brief coverage of the biracial children’s identity politics, I highly suggest checking out Adrian Piper’s 1988 video performance entitled, ‘Cornered.’ It covers every angle of her experience as a biracial woman and it’s incredibly provocative and interesting. It’s also really important that we educate ourselves about the history of interracial marriage because the same arguments used to prevent it, are now included in the argument against gay marriage. In addition to that, the measly 15% and the personal lack of acceptance Pew revealed shows that the US has a long way to go before we achieve a purely post-racial society.

For Other Related Feminist Bride Articles, Please Read:

An Interracial Fix for Black Marriage – WSJ.com/

Podcast Episode Description: “Thanks to sociocultural evolution, interracial marriage is increasingly common. Join Cristen and Caroline as they explore Loving v. Virginia, why worrying about children in these marriages is outdated (and likely rooted in racism) and more.”

How Well Balanced Is Your Name Change Decision?

I created this ‘Name Change Cultural Spectrum’ for a lecture I gave at Tufts University this spring. I wanted people to understand where their decisions stand in the broader context of equality. For example, a lot of women who retain their surname but also incorporate their new spouse’s name through hyphenation will defend their decision as being progressive or feminist or seemingly more about equality. If you look on the spectrum, that one-sided name change is not as based on equality as we might like to think, especially since men typically do not join women in this one-sided hyphenation.

Also to show that existing name change culture does not encourage equality, I had to invent the term Neutronymics. Neutronymics is the adoption of a new name or combination of names created using the names of married individuals or the retention of separate surnames. It is meant to be a solution to those wishing to participate in neither patronymics nor matronymics and to increase name equality. Mutual hyphenation, the Scrabble Name Game and Surname Retention are all options people are aware of, but had never been grouped before or labeled. Labeling it gives it legitimacy and really puts into perspective the other options that favor one sex over another.

So when it comes time for you to get married and you’re not sure if you’re making the right decision that honors yourself and/or your partner – take a look at the Name Change Culture Spectrum. See where your decision places on the map and you’ll get a better sense as to whether you are helping to buck the dominating patriarchy, are alone in your name change decisions or are making a healthy decision that really promotes equality in your relationship and teaches women to value their name too. And if you’re a lady getting married, don’t forget to make the groom put in the same type of name change consideration you are putting in yourself!

Why Women Change Their Last Names After Marriage

 

Wedding Invitation Name Etiquette

The Lucy Stone League: Crusaders for more name equality!

Are You Sexist? Take The Test

Women — you can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them.” 

‘This male quip captures something essential about the face of sexism: an ambivalence, or doubled-edged way of thinking, in which women are sometimes treated with contempt and sometimes adored.’

‘How can adoration qualify as sexism? To answer this question, you are invited to take the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory and explore the dual nature of prejudice toward women. The inventory takes roughly 5 minutes to complete, and afterward you can compare your level of sexism with the scores received by people from around the world’

The following is an excerpt from UnderstandingPrejudice.org. The test is for both men and women. Take the test by clicking the link and following directions to see how you score. UnderstandingPrejudice.org: Ambivalent Sexism Inventory.

 

Understanding the Past, Present and Future of Marriage

This is my most recent lecture at the Tufts University GSC Research Symposium. It was me and a bunch of Ph.D. candidates lecturing on mostly science, but alas my speciality is in marriage culture. Here’s a breakdown of how marriage’s past, present and future effect our quality of life. It’s an interesting overview about how our time-honored traditions are totally irrelevant to Western lifestyles, which in itself makes a case for why it’s really important we respectfully modernize them! Enjoy.

Opinion: On Denying Birth Control Coverage and Not Inviting Women to the Table

By Guest Writer Wendy Allen

This news of a Republican panel of five men and NO women convening to discuss denying birth control coverage struck a sour chord. It saddens me because I don’t want men dictating how I treat my body, and we women are not second-class citizens who are unable to think for ourselves. (One woman did show up to testify, but was shown the door.) But it also saddens me because denying this coverage commits an entire sector of our population to an endless cycle of poverty. It’s amazing how making a little pill (or other more reliable options) available to all, regardless of income, can make a difference in the educational level and the standard of living of our entire country.

Washington House Passes Gay Marriage Bill

Washington state passed legislature to legalize gay marriage today! Washington is slated to become the seventh state to support marriage equality.

It follows New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington D.C. New Jersey lawmakers should be voting on the measure next week and Maine might revisit it again in November. However in the same month as Maine, Minnesota might ban gay marriage, along with North Carolina in May.

Washington fought for equal civil rights for the LGBT community for over 30 years without success, except the last 4-5 years. Washington passed a domestic partnership law in 2007, after it has passed its own Defense of Marriage Act.

The house passed the bill 55-43. It should be signed into law next week and will be active in 90 days. However, if opponents gather enough signatures these plans will be put on hold as law requires the issues to go to the ballot box in November. The Huffington Post reported that 55 percent would support upholding the law.

Democratic Rep. Jamie Pedersen, a gay lawmaker from Seattle referred to Tuesday’s ruling by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found Prop 8 unconstitutional, “The court addressed the question of why marriage matters directly,” he said, and read a section from the ruling that stated “marriage is the name that society gives to the relationship that matters most between two adults.”

To read more about the news: Washington House Passes Gay Marriage Bill.

Other related Feminist Bride gay marriage articles:

Washington State Revisits Gay Marriage Equality Law

A Testimonial on the Families Gay Marriage Builds

Diane Savino On NY Gay Marriage Bill: ‘We Have Nothing To Fear From Love And Commitment’ (VIDEO)

Religion and Marriage

Chilean President Proposes Rights for Unmarried Partners, Still Opposes Gay Marriage though

Petition Asks Bert And Ernie To Get Married On Sesame Street

Michele Bachmann Gets “Flippy-Floppy” on Addressing Gay Rights Debate

Military gay couples still won’t enjoy benefits

NJ Has A New Situation for Gay Marriage Rights

Maryland’s Gov. Martin O’Malley Pushes for Gay-Marriage

Hold the Happy 39th ‘Roe vs. Wade’, Political Anti-Abortion Talk Rampant

As an artist, I’m usually caught in a conversation with patrons over the stories related to specific pieces of work. A few years ago, I found myself talking to a 50 or so year-old woman about my photo of Havana, Cuba. Both having traveled there we positively swapped stories of the people, the climate and the culture. Any American in Havana is rare these days, I was lucky enough to travel down there legally in 2002 on an academic visa while studying abroad (Fidel even spoke to us at an assembly and then he threw a party for us at a compound). So I was curious why this other American was there.

“Oh,” she nonchalantly replied, “I was there in the 60s to get an abortion.”

Having spent all but five minutes with this woman, I was taken aback by her candidness. I didn’t press the story much further, but it told me 1. at the time abortion was illegal in the US and 2. her presence in Cuba was probably even more illegal. So dire her need for an abortion, she sought the help from one of our countries most notorious enemies because the service was legal there and because it would be performed safely by a surgeon (they do have excellent healthcare there). Making abortion illegal creates a lot of unsafe procedures that put women’s lives at risk. And I have to admit I had no clue about home-abortion kits until I watched Revolutionary Road with Kate Winslet. Hollywood drama aside, no health class or any other source had bothered to inform me as to what life was like before Roe vs. Wade. (Read Mother Jones 2004 “The Way It Was” by Eleanor Cooney for a really good account of pre-Roe).To get an idea on current global statistics when abortions are illegal, “Nearly half of all abortions worldwide are unsafe, and nearly all unsafe abortions occur in developing countries. In the developing world, 56% of all abortions are unsafe, compared with 6% in the developed world,” [Guttmacher Institure].

Roe vs. Wade just celebrated its 39th birthday but it’s still under contention. As the 2012 presidential elections come closer, the politicians’ stances on topics such as abortion come into the spotlight. GOP candidate Rick Santorum opposes abortion in the strictest sense, even in cases of rape and incest. He claims his stance is not religious based, but in a recent interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan he eventually mentioned the big “G.” He argued a woman should, ” ‘accept this horribly created’ baby, because it was still a gift from God, even if given in a “broken” way.” Santorum was also part of the “Partial Birth Abortion Ban bill” passed by Bush #2 in 2003. Characterized as almost zealous in his anti-abortion lobbying and protection of human life, he somehow finds it reasonable to support the death penalty in absolute cases of guilt. Seems his belief in the value of life is conditional. He is just one of the hour GOP candidates that believe Roe vs. Wade should be reversed. Even Michelle Bachmann is claiming that abortion will be made illegal after the 2012 elections.

While it is not hard to understand how religion has influenced these politicians’ abortion views, the Guttmacher Institute release worldwide abortion statistics that suggests that making abortion illegal actually increases the rate of abortions. If the GOP candidates using reasonable deduction skills, fulfilling their goal of making abortion illegal would not solve their problem at all. In fact, between 1995 and 2008 abortion rates have lowered in developed nations, which can be explained by better access to sex education, general education and access to healthcare. And countries with more liberal laws on abortion actually have lower abortion rates.

Obama had this to opposing view to share, “As we mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must remember that this Supreme Court decision not only protects a woman’s health and reproductive freedom, but also affirms a broader principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose and this fundamental constitutional right.” Santorum accused Obama of being “radical and extreme” when it came to women’s reproductive births.

I remember an interview with Sarah Palin around the 2008 elections talking about how she was so happy that Bristol chose to keep her baby and made the right decision in her book. The reporter nailed Ms. Palin, anti-abortion supporter, on her choice of words, i.e. “chose.” The irony of the comment was not surprisingly lost on Palin, which goes to show that no matter what your view is, it’s the right to choose that makes a difference. It’s not a really happy birthday for Roe vs. Wade if people are at great odds almost 40 years later on the morality of the issue. We have yet to understand that personal beliefs should not dictate public direction. My personal choice when it comes to my body is my own, but I should have the right to have access to any possible options and not have someone predetermine what they think is the right course for me. Only I can decide that.

 

 

 

 

 

Rick Santorum On Opposition To Abortion In Cases Of Rape: ‘Make The Best Out Of A Bad Situation’.

15 Year Old Afghan Bride Beaten for Refusing to Enter Prostitution by In-Laws

Dahiney Ghuri in Pul-i-Kumri, Baghlan Province, Afghanistan: Afghanistan’s neighbor, Pakistan, outlawed forced marriage and acid throwing on December 11, 2011.  Unfortunately for Afghanistan, a similar story has gained huge international attention as well, but for opposite reasons. 15-year old bride, Sahar Gul, who after refusing to become a prostitute by her in-laws was severely beaten and locked in a dirty basement bathroom for several months with barely enough necessities to survive. Her in-laws of seven months pulled out her nails, clumps of hair, burned her with cigarette butts, and tore pieces of flesh from her body. Gul, in critical condition, will be transported to India for serious treatment and recovery.

Acid Throwing and Forced Marriage Now Illegal in Pakistan

A historical moment for Pakistan, whose Senate passed two new bills: The Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill 2010 and The Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Law Amendment) Bill 2008. This makes the following illegal in Pakistan. 

Hillary Clinton United Nations Speech: ‘Free and Equal in Dignity and Rights’

An amazingly powerful speech that should be shared and heeded. Hillary Clinton speaks to the United Nations about how LGBT rights are human rights. Clinton explained that LGBT legitimacy does not differ from the civil rights issues that other groups experienced throughout history. She stresses that to make sure LGBT members are not discriminated or abused we all need to recognize the need to accept and protect – that they should be as free as the rest of us to live in peace, expression and lifestyle without condition.

“It proclaims a simple, powerful idea: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. And with the declaration, it was made clear that rights are not conferred by government; they are the birthright of all people. It does not matter what country we live in, who our leaders are, or even who we are. Because we are human, we therefore have rights. And because we have rights, governments are bound to protect them.”

“I am talking about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, human beings born free and given bestowed equality and dignity, who have a right to claim that, which is now one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time. I speak about this subject knowing that my own country’s record on human rights for gay people is far from perfect. Until 2003, it was still a crime in parts of our country. Many LGBT Americans have endured violence and harassment in their own lives, and for some, including many young people, bullying and exclusion are daily experiences. So we, like all nations, have more work to do to protect human rights at home.”

“It is violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave. It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished. It is a violation of human rights when lesbian or transgendered women are subjected to so-called corrective rape, or forcibly subjected to hormone treatments, or when people are murdered after public calls for violence toward gays, or when they are forced to flee their nations and seek asylum in other lands to save their lives. And it is a violation of human rights when life-saving care is withheld from people because they are gay, or equal access to justice is denied to people because they are gay, or public spaces are out of bounds to people because they are gay. No matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we are, we are all equally entitled to our human rights and dignity.”
Click to here to read full transcript.

More Feminist Bride articles related to gay rights:

A Testimonial on the Families Gay Marriages Builds

Religion and Marriage

Diane Savino On NY Gay Marriage Bill: ‘We Have Nothing To Fear From Love And Commitment’ (VIDEO)

Petition Asks Bert And Ernie To Get Married On Sesame Street

Michele Bachmann Gets “Flippy-Floppy” on Addressing Gay Rights Debate

Military gay couples still won’t enjoy benefits

NJ Has A New Situation for Gay Marriage Rights

Woman’s Pro-Gay Shirt Deemed Offensive at Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s Theme Park

Miley Cyrus Inks Wrong Symbol In Support Of Gay Marriage

Maryland’s Gov. Martin O’Malley Pushes for Gay-Marriage

Hair’ Celebrates Same-Sex Marriage With On-Stage Weddings

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full Lecture: The Sexy and Sexist Layers of the Wedding Cake

Katrina Majkut, founder of TheFeministBride.com, speaking on “The Sexy and Sexist Layers of the Wedding Cake

West Meets & Marries East: The Mail Order Brides Industry

Religion and Marriage

This chart has been circling the Internet. What’s interesting about wedding tradition today is that it is mostly shaped by pop culture and media, whereas back in the day it was influenced mostly by religion. This chart lays out the various verses that relate to marriage, sex and women’s issues. While a lot of these practices are not as commonly practiced, I thought I might address ones that are:

Man + Women (Nuclear Family) bride who could not prove her virginity was stoned to death – this still happens in the middle east and sub-Sahara in what is justified as an honor killing. Honor killings are not limited to stoning but can also include burning, acid burning and other forms of abuse. For example, in Iraq 2007, a 17-year old girl, Du’a Khalil Aswad, was stoned to death in an honor killing because she fell in love with someone outside her religion. She was from a minority Kurdish religious group called Yezidi, and the boy was a Sunni Muslim. Iraqi Security forces stood by and watched as she was dragged into a square and publically flogged until her death. Pools of her blood collected around her body in the middle of the street. Not one person in the crowd tried to save her. The entire event was captured on camera and released on the Internet (Warning: Graphic Violence)

Man + Woman  + Woman’s Property – This was called coverture and wasn’t outlawed until 1933.

Man + Woman + Woman + Woman – An estimated 30,000 to 50,000 people live a polygamist lifestyle in the US.

Rapist + His Victim – While no one forced a victim to marry their rapist, one parallel issue that could be drawn is how state abortion laws treat pregnant victims of rape. First, states that outlaw abortions outright are leaving little choice for its constituents, along with the states that limit the victim’s freedom to chose the outcome of their pregnancy and have control over their own bodies.

Male Slave + Female Slave - The Department of Justice estimates that more than 250,000 American youth are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Each year an estimated 800,000 to 900,000 human beings are bought, sold, or forced across the world’s borders [2003 U.S. State Department estimate]. Among them are hundreds of thousands of teenage girls, and others as young as 5, who fall victim to the sex trade. in 1999 that more than 200 international matchmaking services operated in the United States, arranging 4,000 to 6,000 marriages annually between American men and foreign women, mostly from the Philippines and former Soviet Union.

The Young and the Betrothed – Child Brides

While many of us fret over unimportant issues related to our own weddings or believe that our freedom of choice on how to marry is a sign of progress, we must remind ourselves that equality and humanity in marriage is seldom enjoyed in other parts of the world. From the denial of gay marriage to the following issue of child bride, we must remember that  many existing forms of marriage violate basic human rights. It is up to us who are privileged enough to enjoy healthier forms of marriage to not turn our backs on those who still need help.

Chilean President Proposes Rights for Unmarried Partners, Still Opposes Gay Marriage though

An interesting turn by a conservative leader, Chile’s president, Sebastián Piñera, is proposing a law that would give unmarried partners many rights now enjoyed only by married couples. Singlism is a new concept which addresses concerns that laws, employers, etc. discriminate against those who are not married by providing special benefits to those that are. If Chile’s president manages to pass this type of legislation is gives singles and unmarried partners important rights that are currently being unmet. Unfortunately though, Pinera is still against gay marriage, meaning this law would then only hinder and delay it ever being approved. 

An Interracial Fix for Black Marriage – WSJ.com

While everyone is focused on gay marriage rights these days, we forget that the institution of marriage still has a lot of it’s old broken and quirky issues. While the right for interracial couples to marry passed in the 1967 in the case of Loving vs. Virginia (the last state to remove its ban on interracial marriage was South Carolina in 1998).

It seems the relationship battle for black women is still on going. In a WSJ article had an eye-opening account of the black women’s dating prospects, 

Facebook Blamed For Underage Marriage And Teen Pregnancies

It seems Facebook is causing a stir amongst Indonesia’s youth

, by facilitating liasons between very young users, which result in unplanned pregnancies and therefore marriages. Officials from the Gunung Kidul region are claiming the increase in teenage pregnancies align with Facebook’s inception in the country. Interestingly, 66% of divorces caused by social networking, specifically blame Facebook too.

“Facebook is easy access, even in rural areas, and leads to teenage girls getting pregnant outside of marriage,” Gunung Kidul Religious Court junior legal secretary Siti Haryanti told The Jakarta Post.

via Facebook Blamed For Underage Marriage And Teen Pregnancies.

Are Childless Couples More Likely to Divorce?

Since the 1950′s studies show that childless couples are more likely to divorce then families with children; and the more children decreases the chance of divorce. It seems that the emerging books on this topic, scrutinize over the childless couples a little bit more unfairly then those with kids – because they don’t have kids how could they possibly be as fulfilled compared to those who have them? Creating the notion that kids and a classic family and white picket fence is still the preferred cultural push.  But for those who don’t want kids the article had this little ray of hope to share…

Feds Order Insurers To Cover Birth Control Free Of Charge To Women

Everyone’s got an opinion on how us women should treat our uteruses. With a recent push by the fed to make insurers to cover birth control, the most widely used prescription drug by women 18 -44, most women are pretty happy. Catholic institutions and other conservative religious groups that provide health insurance, however, are not. They are looking for religious exemption, except the concern is that this would exclude female non-followers who work or access benefits under these institutions. An umbrella approach to religious exemption doesn’t work for the fed and Department of Health & Human Services who want to make sure all women get the fair services they need and want, especially since some of the free services are not just pregnancy prevention medication. For now though, it’s a step in the right direction and further away from the legacy Comstock laws women have been plagued by for over a century.

For More: Feds Order Insurers To Cover Birth Control Free Of Charge To Women : Shots – Health Blog : NPR.

Military gay couples still won’t enjoy benefits

Despite the recent repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” gay service members still face considerable discrimination. While other states are providing equal marriage benefits to gay couples as we speak, the US military and Pentagon will maintain its stance on gay marriage based on the “1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act — which defines marriage for federal program purposes as a legal union between a man and woman” Meaning legal gay marriages will not and can not access the same rights as straight married couples through the Defense Department such as subsidized costs of medical care, travel, housing and other living expenses.

NJ Has A New Situation for Same-Sex Marriage Rights

New Jersey is D.T.A.G.M.!  In Jersey speak that’s “Down To Approve Gay Marriage.” In a recent poll by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, found 47% of voters wanted to legalize marriage between same-sex partners, while 42% wanted to keep it illegal. It’s pretty great that Jersey’s neighbor to the north, New York, just approved gay marriage andJersey’s neighbor to the south is also jumping on board so that Jersey should feel the squeeze to do the same. 

Wedding Contract by Males and Dowry Dispute Leaves Bride in Poverty

Yes, Virginia [Woolf] dowries so still exist! The writer who insisted women must have their own income would be upset about this law decision and the culture leading up to it in all capacities. Our Canadian neighbor’s B.C. Supreme Court turned down a petition for payment of a dowry under a marriage contract authorized in a sharia court of Amman, Jordan. Seems that the dowry and sharia were contracted by the bride’s uncle, leaving her to live in poverty after her divorce. 

Young adult dating trend slows road to marriage | Reuters

Tired of overnight bags? Arguing with your partner that you need a drawer for your toothbrush or tampons?A couple sits at the seafront in Mumbai in this December 11, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe Chances are if your relationship is somewhere between dating and cohabiting you’re doing all these things.  If the monotony of schlepping your crap from work to your boy/girlfriend’s house is getting old or if you can’t stand the thought that you’re wasting a lot of money on rent for a place you in never sleep in, don’t worry academia nerds have created a name for spending more time at someone else’s apartment than your own, you’re having a “Stayover Relationship” So next time you’re irritated about doing the adult walk of shame, feel better, there’s a better name for it now!

To read more of the Reuters article, click on link - Young adult dating trend slows road to marriage | Reuters.