Thursday, April 3, 2008

Marriage..... sigh


For the past couple of days, all I keep hearing and reading about is People Magazine's recent release that Jay-Z and Beyonce officially took out a marriage license in Scarsdale, New York.

As nosiness and skepticism uncovered tattoos of the Roman Numeral IV on each of their ring fingers last year, rumors flew around about the couple's engagement, and maybe even that they had already jumped the broom without anyone knowing. Yesterday while reading, I couldn't help but ask myself whether at this point it matters if they are married at all.

I commend Beyonce for her ability to keep her personal life and business out of media, and think that it has played a major role in the success of her relationship with the rap mogul. Celebrity relationships that are front-and-center, loud, and exposed, are usually the companionships that we see sizzle out the fastest, most dramatically, or surprisingly. They are also the relationships with women that I always thought rushed to the altar too soon. It's as if the couples themselves also buy into the media hype of how in love they supposedly are, don't spend enough time together to prove otherwise, decide to get married, and then call it off shortly after.

Now, it seems that a girl (Beyonce), found someone that she seems to love, has been with him for a healthy six or seven years, has established herself aside from him, and is finally getting married!!!...... but no one seems to care anymore. This goes beyond probable dislike or criticism of her. I believe that it is more the contemporary sentiment towards marriage.

In an article by Eduardo Porter and Michelle O'Donnell for phenomenology.org, it states that "More than 70 percent of women ages 25 to 54 are working today, up from about half of such women 30 years ago." Considering that we still live in a male-dominated, largely conservative country, marriage still translates to the tradition of a woman raising and successfully sustaining a household. Some women, like my mother, choose to do both. Others, however, afraid that one must give way to the other, go after the career, and marry after financial and emotional independence are already established.

In the black female community in America, the dichotomy of work and family is even more complex. In an associated press article by Laura Meckler in 2002, Meckler researched and wrote that:

"Across the board, black women were less likely to marry and more likely to divorce. By age 30, 81 percent of white women have been married, vs. 52 percent of black women.....part of the problem is a lack of men in the "marriageable pool," with disproportionate numbers of black men unemployed or incarcerated."

The "marriageable pool" has also narrowed with the increase of interracial marriages and homosexuality among black men. Therefore, a black woman cannot (or does not want to) wait as long to get her career fully established, or else she may not have a "good black man" or a nice wedding left to choose from.... that is if she still considers herself a heterosexual.

While the religious and moral implications of marriage are still held extremely high to some, the view, practice, and tradition of marriage are quickly changing before our eyes. Once an occasion that was everything from a week long feast of two people that are really planning on spending their lives together, to the celebration of the merge of two families, to the deflowering and consequent "adulthood" of a proper and faithful bride, is now just random and misplaced news, full of skeptical and cheerless responses.

Today we see a couple that has been dating for more than five years (which in most of our minds deems them already married), hear of their supposed engagement, and begin to wonder if this one is real, or if it's just another fire waiting to sizzle.

I wonder where the ideal of marriage will have traveled to in thirty more years.

-Wayetu Moore

1 comment:

Wendi Muse said...

"Across the board, black women were less likely to marry and more likely to divorce. By age 30, 81 percent of white women have been married, vs. 52 percent of black women.....part of the problem is a lack of men in the "marriageable pool," with disproportionate numbers of black men unemployed or incarcerated."

The "marriageable pool" has also narrowed with the increase of interracial marriages and homosexuality among black men. Therefore, a black woman cannot (or does not want to) wait as long to get her career fully established, or else she may not have a "good black man" or a nice wedding left to choose from.... that is if she still considers herself a heterosexual.
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re: the above
i think a lot of it has to do with changing relationships in our society. people don't DATE anymore...they hook up. people don't get MARRIED anymore. they cohabitate...forever lol. i don't think black women and men are the only ones experiencing these shifts, either. certainly, the aforementioned stats ring true, but at the same time, i think a lot of the hype is more the result of these changes in how we define relationships, dating, and view marriage. i mean, white female friends of mine complain of the SAME THING lol. . . and then just end up settling, which is just as depressing as being back on the singles market to deal with guys or girls who just aren't ready to commit. as facebook would say, "it's complicated" :-)