Category Archives: Stigma

Dual Income Family

Growing up, I always thought that I had a normal family living the American dream.  I had two parents who worked full time, a white house in the suburbs, a baby brother to look after and a golden retriever to play fetch with in our back yard.  I owned decent clothes, went to a decent school and ate a decent diet.  We went on vacations to places like Disney World, Universal Studios and Discovery Cove for breaks during the school year and camping in the summer.  Now we didn’t own a pool, have the biggest flat screen on the block or the nicest cars in the neighborhood.  We hardly went out to eat and if we did it was only on special occasions like birthdays or some other kind of celebration.  I didn’t get my license until I was 17 years old because of the cost of the insurance rates.  I wasn’t given a car for my 16th, 17th, or even 18th birthday.  I had to get a job and save up for two years to afford the vehicle I have now and the phone I now own.  My parents have been married for 30 years and have had the same jobs for the past 20.  My mom works at MSU and my dad AAA Car Insurance.  They tell me that we are considered a dual income middle class family. Everything I had ever experienced I assumed that everyone else did too with their families and it was considered normal.  So that got me thinking, what if your parents aren’t married?  Is marriage really necessary these days to have a dual income?  And if not, what is considered normal?

Over 50% of married couples have a dual income with a wife and husband in the labor force.  Because women now have the chance to pursue job opportunities that had been closed to them for several years, women are now able to help support the household.  With most couples finding it hard to live off of one income, this is, I believe, one of the major reasons why people get married.  People marry so that they have the financial stability amongst each other.  Being married has its pros and cons.  You have your medical and financial benefits, your choice of luxury material goods, and for religious purposes the bond between a man and woman for life.  Of course you have your legal obligations as a spouse.  You made vows to one another to only be with one another.  Your finances should be discussed with each other on how you’re going to distribute the money because you now share each other’s income.  You have to decide what should be spent and what should be saved.   Some couples find this to be too difficult or strenuous for whatever reason and break the marital bond and get a divorce.

With divorce becoming more common since the mid- 70’s, many couples find it easier to split.    In some cases, I feel that divorce is necessary.  If it’s something as serious as your spouse cheating on you it creates a negative atmosphere for the children, a broken trust and a problem within the household and you as a spouse have to make the decision of what to do and what the outcomes will be.    With getting a divorce come’s the split of the family assets, financial and medical benefits, and the possibility of having to move and the stability of the family unit.  You might have to limit your material goods, focus on the necessities with the fact of becoming a single-parent family.  Even though it’s a big change within a household, it could be very beneficial to the children and to the spouse in the long run.  With the media frequently reporting that 1 out of every 2 marriages will end in divorce, many people are questioning the  idea of why we should get married at all if we only have a 50% chance of making it work?

Recently, couples living together without holding that marital status is becoming more and more common.  Statistics show that more than 75 percent of opposite-sex couples are unmarried and cohabitating.  For me this is the case for most of my friends.  They live with their boyfriends/girlfriends in an apartment and share a sexual relationship.  I don’t judge my friends or others for making this choice because it is their own.  I personally don’t think that this is a good idea but I don’t view them any differently.  I view it more as a personal preference.  With my religious beliefs, I think that you should wait until you get married to move in with one another.  Living together should be one of the first journeys you take on as husband and wife and should be a positive one.   Some say you should test the relationship to see if you can handle living with each other before you make that commitment.  I see it more as something to work on with each other so you can find that balance between one another.  I find that trying to figure out where the peanut butter should go is petty, and something like this shouldn’t be the reason why a couple shouldn’t move in with each other; though most of my friends tell me things like this are some of the main reasons.  I find this to be quite funny.

As I ask more and more people about the matter and their views on marriage and what it means they all have their own views.  Some say its old fashioned and expensive and there’s no real need to walk down the aisle.  Others say marriage isn’t really necessary, that if you truly love the person you don’t need a piece of paper to prove it.  The remaining say that marriage is a legal commitment to the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.  Even though they all have different views on the matter their answers are all driven by love.  The stigma once attached to cohabitation is much diminished from the past.  Couples living together can now have that dual income without the pressure of being married.  Nowadays society doesn’t judge as harshly as it once did.  Families who have married parents, divorced parents, or unmarried parents living together it’s all socially acceptable.  It’s all now considered normal.

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STIGMA

SOC1“That’s so gay”. “Don’t be gay”. “No homo”. “What a fag”. All of these remarks can be heard almost daily. It is socially unacceptable or undesirable to be gay. A stigma is a label used to devalue members of certain social groups (Witt). Whether or not these remarks are directed at a gay person, it fuels the stigma against homosexuals and homosexuality.

My mom and dad got divorced in 1997 and my mom came out as a lesbian. Since then she has gotten married (legally in the state of New York) to her partner of 12 years, Lara. I have seen and experienced first hand the discrimination gay and lesbians experience due to the stigma homosexuality has.

Society puts us under immense amounts of pressure not to veer off from the norms.  In order to avoid the stigma many people live their whole lives in the closet, afraid of what might happen if they come out. They will be seen as deviant and will experience negative sanctions for their decision to come out as homosexual. Many people are bullied, beaten, and even murdered or driven to suicide because their sexual orientation violates the mores society dictates everyone should live by.

There is group superiority that extreme homophobic people have, such as Focus On The Family, One Million Moms, and the American Family Association. These groups feel as though being gay is deviant and shouldn’t be shown on television, supported legally, or given any civil rights. These people see being homosexual as taboo.

The family structure in American is changing. There is no longer the ideal husband, wife, 2.5 kids, and dog. There are families with adopted children, single parent households, guardians, and families with gay parents. As a child of a lesbian I had my own experiences with the stigma attached to having a gay parent. People assume that the child of a gay parent will become gay themselves. There is this theory that being gay is somehow contagious or a choice.

http://www.nbc.com/the-new-normal/video/redefining-traditional/n29429/

When traveling to Italy last summer I was in a bit of culture shock when I realized that being gay was more accepted than it is in America. My mom and Lara could walk around holding hands without being stared at. Though as we have seen with each election people are becoming more and more accepting with many states making gay marriage legal. When my mom and Lara got married in New York there was a celebration of love and acceptance. They were finally able to legally declare their love, just as heterosexual couples have always been able to.

Homosexuals have become their own subculture. Since they have been discriminated against and cast as the out group, they have band together. They have their own bars, clubs, vacation spots, and even argot. “Let’s have a kiki”, “spill the tea”, and “throwing shade” all started as “gay lingo” then started spreading to the mainstream media.

There has been a push by the government, media, and people throughout America to take the stigma out of being gay. This will take time and might never happen, but through elections, television shows, music, and people supporting one another the stigma has decreased little by little over time.