The Shriver Report Serves Up Compulsory Marriage and Mothering. That was the claim I made in my previous post. The report, I argued, seemed simply to assume that just about every woman wants to marry and have children and just about every woman does. It then puts those women at the center of its report, marginalizing - or not even recognizing the existence of - women who neither marry nor have children.
I ended Part 1 with this:
It is the year 2009. It is past time to accord single women and women who do not have children a place of recognition and respect in our society, our universities, our policies, our politics, our workplaces, our marketplaces, our media, and in reports with the title, "A Woman's Nation." We should do this not just for the women (and men) who are single and do not have children. We should do it because until staying single, or deciding not to have children, are valued options, then marriage and parenting are not options, either - they are compulsory.
In this post, I will back up my claim with reams of quotes and survey questions drawn directly from the Shriver Report. I'll also point to the implications of all that we miss in women's (and men's) lives when we focus too myopically on marriage and family. I'll highlight some remarkable and conventional-wisdom-defying findings from the report that were published but never headlined. Along the way, but especially at the end, I will also credit many of the strengths in the report, and the authors here and there who were not so taken by the Ideology of Marriage and Family.
In addition to a preface by John Podesta, an introduction by Maria Shriver, an executive summary, and an epilogue by Oprah Winfrey, the Shriver Report includes 13 more chapters. Scattered throughout are 20 brief essays (typically just two pages). It is in some of the essays, and a few of the chapters, that some enlightenment shines through.
Because this post is longer than usual, I'll begin with an outline of what is to come:
I. Oops, We Never Even Thought to Include You! Actually, We Didn't Even Realize You Exist!
A. The Survey Questions
B. The Writings
II. It's Hard Out Here for a Couple. Then Isn't It Hard for a Single Person, Too?
III. What We Miss When We Maroon Women on a Nuclear Family Island
A. A Marooned Mentality Misses Out on Friends and on Three Degrees of Connection
B. A Marooned Mentality Misses Out on Work that Is Passionate
IV. Ring the Doorbell and Run Away:
The Remarkable Findings that Did Not Make Any Headlines
V. Saving the Best for Last
VI. Final Word