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From the Library: White Blackbirds: conversations with women who aren't married and don't want to be

Our office has been flooded with zines ever since we let y'all in on our new zine library. Before I get started with this week's zine review, I want to take a moment to give a big thank you to everyone who has mailed zines to us. Checking the mail has become quite an exciting activity for me. Please keep 'em coming!

whiteblackbirds.jpg

The newest zine to our library is White Blackbirds: conversations with women who aren't married and don't want to be. This zine was compiled by Katie Haegele, who wanted to write about women who have decided not to be married, but wasn't sure how to approach the topic.

I'm not married and I often feel sure that I don't ever want to be, but the truth is I haven't decided how I feel. A lot of the traditional male-female unions I've observed have been kind of a bad deal for the woman, but I know that's not always the case. It occurred to me that a more interesting approach might be to talk to women who know they don't want to get married and ask them about it.

The title of this zine comes from an old Irish expression that says, "There will be white blackbirds before an unwilling woman ties the knot." The zine features interviews with 11 women who all have something to say about why they don't want to be married. While the women featured are in their 20s and 30s, I was impressed with the array of perspectives presented. Hannah, who is queer and Catholic and would only get married if she were allowed to do so in a Catholic church. Alex, who has been through a divorce once and doesn't want to sign a legally binding contract ever again. Johanna, who is married because she has chronic health problems and needs the health insurance, but she doesn't always disclose her marriage because she feels that it hides the fact that she and her male partner are both queer. Ciara, who got "spinster" tattooed onto her knuckles to remind herself to "continue to be critical of traditional romantic myths" (what a great way to take back the word, right?).

People started using the word "spinster" in the early 19th century, when unmarried women were forced to spin cloth in exchange for housing. When people hear "spinster" today, they think of a childless, frumpy, middle-aged woman who isn't married because no one wanted her. (I also just described the librarian stereotype, but we'll get to that in a later post.) The spinster stereotype is currently being unraveled (get it?) by women who are deciding not to get married and proving that happiness and stability are not exclusive to marriage.

This zine challenges not only the spinster stereotype, but also conventional notions about what it means to be married. I didn't walk away from this zine thinking "marriage is bad!", but was instead reminded that there are as many reasons to get married as there are not to get married. The fact that marriage is constantly being redefined is allowing for healthier and more authentic relationships and identities.

Haegele asked the contributors to answer the following questions: Why don't you want to get married? Are you in a relationship now? If so, have you shared your decision with that person? Do you have children? Do you want to have children? Things you're most passionate about in life? Do you have any unmarried role models? I'd like to end this post by asking commenters to answer the questions above! Feel free to share your opinion, regardless of whether or not you're married or want to be!

Spinster: An Evolving Stereotype Revealed Through Film [Journal of Media Psychology]

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Comments

45 comments have been made. Post a comment.

This looks like a

This looks like a fascinating take on marriage. It sounds balanced and reasonable while still paying attention to concerns of women who have traditionally gotten the short end of the marriage stick.

I found the mention of the queer Catholic who will only get married in her Church to be particularly poignant. It reminds me that our focus should be on reshaping the institution to be more and more inclusive on all fronts. A queer Catholic inserting her perspective makes the prejudiced institution unintelligible and can force us all to be re-think and re-imagine it. Just because the institution has traditionally served ugly purposes or focused on property transaction or sexual reproduction doesn't mean it cant be reimagined with a little activism, as you say to "allow for healthier and more authentic relationships and identities."

And as a lit. student, I'd like to champion Emily Dickinson as the spinster role model for all time.

hmmm

I'm not married and would generally agree with the "don't want to be" part. What I'm not sure of is if I would go all the way to "never want to be." That is, I don't greatly desire at this moment to be part of the institution of marriage the way some folks of my acquaintance do. Like a marriage is this thing that they need to have or an accomplishment they need to check off a to do list. But I am not currently in a relationship and I can (maybe) foresee a day when marriage would be an option. But I can also envision a long term relationship where it would be unnecessary. To me, it would just depend on the wishes of my partner and the way our personalities (and, frankly, finances) meshed. What I don't like is that certain legalities make it necessary in some cases. I do not want to have children, which makes things both simpler and more complicated.

Regardless, I would love to see the day come when everyone has equal opportunity to get married if they so choose.

Well

I'm not planning to get married, per say. What I mean when I say that is that I don't want to have a ceremony. I'm not going to have some big party saying that I am, in fact, committed to someone. Let me explain.

I don't feel that I need a ceremony. I mean, does having a ceremony really make anything different? I've heard people say that the best thing about being married is that they have that person for life. But why would I need a ceremony for that? Is my partner not already committed the day before the wedding? Do I really need a ceremony to show that I am committed? I feel that, instead of having some big public ceremony as a way of showing commitment, couples should show their love, devotion, and commitment to each other every day. Forever isn't something that you decide by saying some vows, it's something you prove and make every day that you are together by being there for each other, sacrificing, working at the relationship, and just showing love. To me, a ceremony could never make that love or commitment more real than just the everyday act of living it could. Of course some people like the idea of a ceremony as something to look back on or a way to make it official, and that is totally up to them. I've been to some very cute, very touching marriages, but I just don't feel the need to have one.

The other reason that I've heard for getting married is the need to be married in the eyes of God. Being an atheist, that isn't going to be an issue for me. My parents and entire extended family might freak out about it because they're all Catholic, but I am not going to have a church ceremony just to please them.

This is all not to say that I won't someday get legally married. I feel that the benefits, like taxes and hospital rights and such, are worth any ensuing legal struggle that might come out of a divorce. I will also be changing my last name when I marry, because I feel that it is easier for parents and children to have the same last name, and because I've grown up with a different last name than my family anyway due to my mom's early divorce and remarriage, so my last name won't be as important to me as it would be to my future husband. Honestly, I'm ready to get rid of it.

Luckily for me, my current boyfriend feels the same way about marriage. He says that he doesn't want a ceremony for the same reasons, and he doesn't like the idea of me being "given" to him in marriage. If we do end up together, which I think we will, then we won't have any issues where that is concerned.

I want to get a copy of this zine

I have looked all over the 'Net but am having no luck. Please email me with information about how I can purchase a copy of this Zine. I very much want to read it. Thanks!

Agreed!

I'd also like information on where I can loan or find a copy on the internetz.

Parcell Press

You can get Katie's zine through her website (La La Theory distro) or through Parcell Press, her friend Taylor's distro. Should have some in stock soon.

Unmarried to each other

I am a genderqueer identified bio-female and have a life partner (we've been together 13+ years) who is biologically male. I mention our percieved genders just to emphasize that it would be very easy and culturally supported for us to marry. We recently went to the wedding of good friends and had a few conversations about marriage in relationship to "us."

I have never been able to figure out what marriage has to do with our relationship (we call ourselves "the infrastructure" lol). It's just completely irrelevant. As for my partner, his satirical perspective is that if we're going to go down the patriarchic path of marriage he should be getting a dowry (some sheep perhaps) and all of those other goodies the privileged male gets when he participates in the transfer of ownership from father to husband. In other words: blech.

Our favorite book - and the best practical resource we've found - on the topic is "Unmarried To Each Other." We lent it to some friends who subsequently go married and have never given it back!

I should finish answering the questions...

Do you have children? I do not have children

Do you want to have children? I really don't want to have children (and I seem to feel more sure of that the older I get...) but I have my animal friends... and my partner occasionally ponders adoption...

Things you're most passionate about in life? art (performance, dance, video, literature, clothing, interior design etc.), gardening, animals, my partner & family etc. etc. etc.

Do you have any unmarried role models? My grandmother on my father's side: her husband died very young, she never re-married and went on to have the most amazing, exciting, admirable life. She's my main role model in life. She also never put any pressure or even dropped any hints that either my sister or I should consider marrying our long term life partners. She just loved and accepted them as members of our family.

I think my problem with

I think my problem with marriage has always been the idea of some person or (worse) some institution outside of the relationship declaring the marriage existent. No matter how progressive, it always seemed odd to me. If I were to get "married," I think my partner(s) and I would have to marry ourselves, and declare ourselves a "married" unit. I feel like we would be the only people really qualified to make that call. That being said, that's just me. A marriage or union, essentially, is a public expression of a private relationship, and so I think that as far as marriage and union are concerned (or not concerned), it should be left to the individuals involved to express themselves as they see fit.

Why don't you want to get

Why don't you want to get married?

I don't want to be a wife. I'd like to get married, but I don't want to have to fulfill the Wife Role that society expects of a hetero woman. I hate cooking and cleaning and I don't want everyone to insist that I'm Mrs. Hisname, and I don't want to be "social director." I've been awful at that stuff all my life, and as long as I stay single I don't have to do it. I'd rather be the husband, but since I can't get interested in women, I'm pretty screwed on that one. I don't have high hopes of finding a guy who won't expect this behavior on some level, since they got raised to expect it and everyone but me does it.

Are you in a relationship now?

Hah, no.

Do you have children? Do you want to have children?

No and no.

Things you're most passionate about in life?

Reading, writing, crafts.

Do you have any unmarried role models?

Um.... in real life? Not really.

"I don't want to be a wife."

"I don't want to be a wife." --- exactly!

Being a 'wife'

I will preface this by saying that I have been married less than a year but have lived with my husband for 3 years.

Even if you get married you don't have to 'play wife'. My husband and I share fairly equally in the cooking duties. He probably cooks slightly more than I do because he is better at making certain things but we take turns, or cook together. Same goes for the housework and other typical 'wife' things. We tend to pick the jobs we prefer to do and do those regularly (ex. I like to do the laundry (I teach and can grade papers while I wait to change loads) but hate vacuuming. He likes to vacuum but isn't too big on folding clothes.) So we share the housework again pretty equally.

I have also kept my last name and just added his. I am a PhD student and it was important to me to keep my last name so now on papers I will be firstname mylastname hislastname and in the classroom I will have to decide to be professor mylastname hislastname or just professor hislastname or professor mylastname. This decision is a few years down the road though so I haven't decided. As a graduate student teacher my students just call me by myfirstname.

As for the 'social director' aspect I can't really say too much. We are both still in school and don't have a whole lot of time or friends who would want to have dinner parties and other 'grown-up' social events. Mostly we just hang out with friends watching tv/movies and having a beer or go to a bar for live music. No directing there.

My point is that while many people do maintain this view of husband and wife duties not everyone does. You can be a wife without being the typical wife and doing those duties. You do have to find the right potential husband but honestly I wouldn't have gotten married if our relationship hadn't been equal give and take like it is.

So in my opinion, it's right for some people and not right for others. It's the same with having kids, some people make great parents and some people don't want anything to do with it. We need all sorts of people in this world and all sorts of 'families' be it a single mom, single dad, homosexual couple, heterosexual couple, with kids, without kids, bisexual person with two partners, whatever works for you and yours is perfect!

Healthy marriages are also subversive!

@Chani - Thanks for weighing in. It's important to hear from people who are married and in healthy relationships while having discussions such as this one. I agree with what you said about marriage not having to be about 'playing wife' (I also think that being hesitant about marriage because of the fear of falling into the 'wife' role is valid).

Women who aren't getting married are not the only ones subverting stereotypes. Heterosexual women who are in nontraditional marriages with husbands who share chores are definitely reinventing what it means to be 'a wife'.

Ashley McAllister, Outreach Coordinator
Did someone say Comments Policy?

Why add his name?

@Chani: You said you added your husband's last name to yours. Why? Did he add yours to his? If not, why not?

adding his name

@Bryonyx1, he did not add my last name to his. I chose to add his to mine in case we do decide to have children. I feel like it would be unfair to make children hyphenate (both our last names are long and difficult to pronounce so having two for a kid would be cruel in my mind). I wish there was some way to be 'fair' to both parties but if you want to give a child one last name you have to either chose one of yours or create a new last name (which was an option we discussed but we both really like the history attached with our names and a new name wouldn't have that). For better or worse, our society uses hislastname for this purpose and since his is slightly easier to pronounce we went with that for future progeny (though I do get more veto power in first and middle names). I chose to add hislastname after mine so that as a family we can have a single identity.

Also, I think he would have added my last name to his or as a second middle name however, in our state the man has to pay to change his name. As two grad students we could only afford that if it was really important to us and I didn't really care (since it had already be decided any future progeny would be just hislastname). He may change it in the future when it is not such a financial burden.

This decision was very much thought through and a negotiation. I am happy with it but it won't work for everyone and I wish it weren't so difficult for government agencies to understand. Unless our society as a whole changes how names are transferred it will always be difficult to decide what to do for naming children, however, hopefully it will get easier to process the name change how you want it with less hassle and less questioning from the agencies. Also, if you chose to keep yourlastname, hopefully that will become more accepted as well. I have a friend who does not plan on having children and therefore decided to just keep her name. She is now called Mrs. hislastname all the time by people unfamiliar with this possibility.

@Ashley, I totally agree about fear of falling into the 'wife' role as being a valid reason to hesitate when getting married. I feel like living together (gasp!) beforehand helped me assuage my fears but it is tough. One of my friends recently asked me if being scared to get married meant she shouldn't be with her current boyfriend. From my experience, if you aren't scared about a huge life decision like that then you aren't mature enough to be making that decision.

I'm all for each woman redefining what it means to be in a relationship, be married, be a mother, be a sister, be a daughter, be an aunt, etc. It is important to keep challenging traditional gender roles by our example and teach young women (be they little sisters, students, nieces, etc.) and young men that they can be whoever they want to be. Go subversive ladies!

married with my name

I think all this name stuff comes down to what each person is comfortable with. I've kept my name - my husband's has about 5 syllables and I've never been down with hyphens. We like the way having our own names symbolises our individual identities within the union. Plus I lost my grandfather not so long ago and I just didn't feel like giving up the link with my family (aside from the fact that it doesn't represent my mother's side...is there any way to really win?). But it's all about what resonates with the person making the decision.

I'm not pro-marriage in any way - it works for us, but I don't think it does for everyone and it's these kinds of differences that make this world interesting. I hate when having a partner is presented as an end goal to an early-adulthood-well-lived.

The awkward part comes when someone asks "Oh, you got married! What's your name now?" It's tempting to just say "Lydia."

I agree!

Just wanted to weigh in and say I'm in a very similar marriage. I've been married two years, and I am pretty much the anti-wife. I can't cook, but the husband is magic in the kitchen, enjoys it, and makes 80% of our meals. Neither of us are compulsive with the cleaning but between the two of us we keep a very neat home. We have overlapping friend groups and pretty much make social decisions together.... I have a career that keeps me busy and I have just as much time as he does to plan outings, which is to say not much.
To top it all off, we do NOT, ever, EVER want children. We have one fur-baby that is quite enough for us.

Just wanted to say, it's easy to stereotype what "marriage" is, just as it is easy to stereotype those who don't want it.

No kiddos, ever!

We too, do NOT, ever, EVER want children. In fact, one of my conditions for marriage was that he get a vasectomy. Oh the horrified faces when I tell people that one!

"Hannah, who is queer and

"Hannah, who is queer and Catholic and would only get married if she were allowed to do so in a Catholic church."

that is me, too! where can I get my hands on this zine?

where to find the zine

There is currently 1 copy available through the author's etsy: http://www.etsy.com/listing/49330152/white-blackbirds?ref=em

I will contact her and find out if she has more available. I'm glad so many people are interested in buying it!

Ashley McAllister, Outreach Coordinator
Did someone say Comments Policy?

More!

Looks like she's got 18 or so, so nobody can hate on me for just buying one :)

Hey everyone. I'm Katie, the

Hey everyone. I'm Katie, the lady who made this zine. Thanks to Ashley for such a thoughtful review, and thanks to you all for your interest. The zine has been carried by distros in the past but right now I think the only place it's available is at my own etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/thelalatheory. There's really no limit on the number of them I can make so don't worry about that. I'll also accept a dollar through the mail if you don't use or like Paypal, or a trade for your own zine in place of money.

I also want to tell you that enough people have responded to this zine by telling me their stories that I've thought maybe I should do a second edition. If you'd like to be interviewed please email me at katie at thelalatheory dot com, and if I hear from enough folks I will make White Blackbirds Number 2!

Thanks and zine love to you all, Katie

Katie Haegele

Katie Haegele has loads of awesome zines! I just read a couple issues of White Elephants, her zine about rummage and yard sales. I definitely plan on checking out some of her other stuff when I get a chance.

Agreed!

White Elephants is a great zine. We've also got that one available at the Bitch Library.

Ashley McAllister, Outreach Coordinator
Did someone say Comments Policy?

Marriage is archaic and

Marriage is archaic and useless - if I plan to stay with someone forever, I can do that without the government's intervention. Marriage is a prerequisite for divorce, too - two people can separate much more cleanly without making it legal business.
I'm in a relationship and have shared my opinion, as well as my decision to avoid having children, and it conflicts with the life my partner wants to have, but we're young yet so it hasn't caused much conflict. We avoid it as a subject, but it's clear we wont be together forever.
I'm passionate about art and music and english and math and learning and exploration. Just a whole lot of intellectual and creative pursuits. I don't really have any role models, I'd rather be my own!

the thing is...

I always sort of thought that queer marriage was a red herring. I figured, 'why get married? Why would you want to support an institution that is so exclusive and archaic?' And I still agree to some extent - that marriage doesn't make much sense. It harks back to the days where you needed to have a union between some people so that your children could survive and thrive. But, in the midst of overpopulation and child-care and school, and being able to travel large distances with relative ease and buy food from shops, it's kind of unnecessary. Especially since I don't know if I want kids or not.

But! Then (as you do) I met someone who I can see myself getting married with, and I want that. For whatever reason, I want to get married eventually. Not any time soon, I'm 20 years old, I don't feel the need to rush. But yeah, eventually. And why shouldn't all people have the same opportunity to take part in a ritual that is senseless, but somehow nice and comforting?

Your review really hit this home for me, "Hannah...is queer and Catholic and would only get married if she were allowed to do so in a Catholic church." That makes so much sense. Marriage is at least as relevant to Hannah as it is to hetorosexuals, maybe moreso because of her religious background.

So, I now think that despite its history, we need to open marriage up for more people, and not just close it down as irrelevant, or relevant only to a very small section of the population. Marriage needs to reflect the diversity of couple-types (ad 'couple' is the wrong word because polygamy, where consensual and so on, should be fine too), and the possibility that the union might not last forever, but mark it as an important union for whatever reason that might be. I'm beginning to see marriage as just another way to represent close relationships we can have with others, even if legislation is slow to admit it.

re: "marriage doesn't make much sense"

My cousin is an American citizen. Her significant other of 6+ years is a citizen of Brazil. Last year my cousin's significant other had to return to Brazil, after staying in the states for a few years, because she could no longer legally live in America (she didn't do anything wrong, she'd simply exhausted all of the legal ways to stay). If they were not a same-sex couple, this would not be a problem ... they could marry and my cousin's significant other could then legally stay in the country. As things are now, my cousin will probably be moving to Brazil when she finishes college, because civil unions are allowed there, and unlike in this country one can sponsor one's same-sex partner for citizenship. My cousin is not the only person this applies to.

In answer to the questions

In answer to the questions at the end of the article-

1. I don't want to get married because I think that it doesn't make a relationship any more likely to succeed, and I think marriage is a religious institution, and I am an atheist.

2. I am in a relationship of about 2 years.

3. He knows that I don't want to get married, and neither does he.

4. We don't have any children.

5. I would like to have children at some point, but not for a very long time.

6. I am passionate about equal rights and preventing homelessness, and about science and evolution. I suppose I am very anti-religion and anti-conservatism.

7. My parents are unmarried and have been together for about 30 years.

I am one of those women. I

I am one of those women. I do not want to marry because I value my aloneness, my individuality, and my space. I need hours of a quiet, empty house without someone else's presence all over everything. I don't believe that people have to be part of a couple to be complete. In fact, if you're NOT complete on your own, you really have nothing to offer another person. I'm 31, I have a child who was not planned, but who is dearly loved. I give my child love and intimacy but also independence and respect. Sharing my home and world with my child is pure joy, but I wouldn't have enough space in my life for marriage as well. However, I do have a relationship with the father of my child that is intimate and satisfying without being co-habitating and intrusive. I love it this way. We were in a more traditional defacto relationship before, and it suffocated my personality. I think marriage is a tool of the the white, male elite, a building block of social stratification, and it's on its way out.

Kylie's "I am one of those women"

Nicely put.

I am 50 years old, and have been married, briefly, twice - once at 20, and once at 40.
I am an introvert, with a need for quiet, and for respite from other human beings. I simply like living alone. I realize this may cost me as I age.

The only kind of relationship I'd be interested in at this time would be "friends with benefits."

I like my life. People who don't understand/accept that, people who think I need to "find someone," are clearly people who don't know or understand me. I have been miserable in marriage; much happier alone.

I never had children and never wanted them; I seriously doubted my ability to care for a child and therefore was extremely careful with birth control.

full agreement

julia-
reading your post was like reading something I might have written myself. I am in my mid-30's, and was married once. It is not something I ever want to do again, and in the past three years have realized that I am a much happier person when I live alone. My friends simply can not understand this; they seem to better understand the fact that I don't want children, but don't comprehend my need to be alone in my personal settings. As you stated, "I like my life,"- could not agree more.

Awesome article and

Awesome article and comments...I just ordered a copy of the 'zine (I adore PayPal).

Here's my answers to the Q's:
Why don't you want to get married? I really don't see the point culturally, religiously, politically, or personally. I'm not religious, I never fantasized about wedding day/bridal gown/etc, I don't see how registering my relationship with the state makes it any more valid, and when it comes down to it, I feel like you decide to commit to being together and you do that on an ongoing basis or you don't and decide to go your separate ways. I see too many people focusing more on throwing a wedding than building a marriage or thinking that a marriage contract will "fix" things permanently when a real relationship is a work in progress. As other commenters have said, I also loathe the role/script of "wife" and all the cultural baggage that goes with it.

Are you in a relationship now? If so, have you shared your decision with that person?
Yes, for the last 3 years I've been with someone who shares my feelings/beliefs on this subject.
Do you have children? Do you want to have children?
No and no. It's just not for me, though I am a devoted aunt to my siblings' and friends' children. There are many ways to contribute to the next generation...I teach/coach/mentor and find that kids need and want non-parent adult figures in their lives to provide another perspective.

Things you're most passionate about in life? Do you have any unmarried role models?
My work (science), my activities (sports, dance, reading/writing, volunteering, travel), and my friends/family. I was lucky to have a very interesting extended family that included unmarried women and men, people who got married late in life after doing other things (post 40s/50s), gay/lesbian partnerships, and traditional families. My personal benchmark for a "good relationship" is one where both people share respect, egalitarian values, love/passion, good communication, and together form a large wider foundation that gives both people the opportunity fora more expansive and nuturing life. It has nothing to do with roles, gender/genitals, children, living arrangements, labels etc...just a mutually loving relationship in which the sum is greater than its parts :)

Marriage has always had zero

Marriage has always had zero appeal to me because to me the history of marriage has been the history of women-as-property. But discrimination has even less than zero appeal, so I definitely fight for the right to same-sex marriage for all those who do want marriage.

Yes!

@Anonymous: Very nicely put!

Ashley McAllister, Outreach Coordinator
Did someone say Comments Policy?

Marriage for health

I'm would like to get married someday. My boyfriend and I have been living together for 3 years and we're both just getting our feet planted financially. What I'm experiencing now is great pressure from both our families to get married for health insurance reasons. He just graduated, lost his insurance and is starting a business. In this time of uncertainly, our families feel like we might as just rush the inevitable in order to extend my health coverage to him.

This is making me feel like we have to somehow legitimize our relationship in order be healthy. What a choice! I now want to get married less and less because it would be for someone else's reasons....the government's, and not my own.

Thanks for commenting! White Blackbirds 2?!

Thanks to all of you who have been commenting on this post! It's been great reading through all of your thoughts about marriage and why you do or don't want to be married. I think that the comments in this post really speak to how complicated marriage is. It's wonderful to hear from so many unmarried and married people who have really similar ideas and concerns about marriage and relationships.

Just in case you didn't notice the comment from Katie Haegele, I want to make sure everyone sees that she is interested in making White Blackbirds Number 2 and would like to interview you through email if you're interested:

"I also want to tell you that enough people have responded to this zine by telling me their stories that I've thought maybe I should do a second edition. If you'd like to be interviewed please email me at katie at thelalatheory dot com, and if I hear from enough folks I will make White Blackbirds Number 2!"

And again, this zine is available through her etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/thelalatheory

Ashley McAllister, Outreach Coordinator
Did someone say Comments Policy?

Giving this a go!

Why don't you want to get married? When I was younger (like, first grade), I was really attracted to the idea of American individualism and working for yourself to achieve your life goals. I decided my life goals, which I've more or less adhered to were to be an author, and I would live by myself. I didn't want to depend on anyone, and later, witnessing the disintegration of my parents' marriage added fuel to the fire. Eventually, I met resistance and substantiated my argument with statistics (my favorite: one out of every two marriages end in divorce), and learning about the marriage as chattel system has also been enlightening (or disheartening?). But, in all honesty, I have no desire to get married, I never have, and I never will.

Are you in a relationship now? If so, have you shared your decision with that person? I am, and it was actually something I divulged on our second date! My current SO has been through many divorces, so I think he's arrived at the same conclusion that marriage is bullshit.

Do you have children? Do you want to have children? I do not, and, like marriage, I have no desire to have children. Too expensive, and the world's kind of too fucked up to bring kids into, in my honest opinion (will the Earth even be inhabitable in a generation or so?).

Things you're most passionate about in life? Writing, food, and social justice.

Do you have any unmarried role models? I can't think of any! Every person that's come to mind is married!

Why don't you want to get

Why don't you want to get married?

The only reason I would get married would be for the legal benefits available once you enter into the contract. This is the reason I won't write the concept off completely... At the moment, my partner and I are able-bodied and generally healthy. But the future isn't known. And I am, admittedly, in a place of privilege (cis, het / in a het partnership) so I could take advantage of legal marriage if it seemed necessary.

However, I don't want to get legally married because the entire concept is discriminatory.

The government (speaking from a US perspective) elevates one type of relationship ("romantic," heterosexual, two people) over all others by affording them a variety of legal benefits in one fell swoop. While people in other types of relationships can fill out the necessary legal forms, such an action is not nearly as "respected" either socially or legally as a marriage contract; (it can also get pretty expensive).

In my ideal world, any person would be able to choose whomever they wish to share these legal benefits--friend, romantic partner, sibling, etc.--and have that choice be legal, accepted and respected.

Are you in a relationship now? If so, have you shared your decision with that person?

Yes; 7 years and counting. And we're on the same page with thinking marriage is discriminatory. I do have a feeling that if the institution were legally more open, my partner would be more inclined toward marriage than I am. (That whole "women as property" baggage rears its head...)

Do you have children? Do you want to have children?

No and no. If I did, I'd probably be more inclined to want to take advantage of legal marriage in order to protect the kids. But I'm still not sure I'd do it.

Things you're most passionate about in life?

Writing, social change, living my life on my own terms.

Do you have any unmarried role models?

None that I can think of...but then, I don't really have that many role models in general.

Why I don't want to be married

I really love the idea of this zine, and it makes me so happy there are other women who don't wish to be married. To answer the questions:

There are so many reasons why I don't want to be married...For example, I don't agree with the emphasis that our society places on marriage; I don't like the cultural obsession with it, and I don't want to be part of it. It seems so irrelevant to me - the relationship is the important thing. Although I really don't want to offend anyone who's decided that marriage is for them, and I want these people to have a great time at their weddings, I don't enjoy weddings at all, and I would hate to be at the center of attention at that kind of an event. It would feel so wrong, so awkward, and so fake to me. Also, even if I identified as a "partner" instead of a "wife", people outside my immediate social cirlce would still refer to me as "wife" by default, and I don't want to be identified with that word. I'm not a fan of the historical origins of marriage, or the connotations of the word "wife". There are other reason too, and, as you can see, they range from "I disagree with the origins of the institution" to "I really hate big parties, or any place where there's lots of people".

I am a straight female, and I am in a relationship right now. My partner was quite keen on marriage at first; he felt that it was something very important and that having a wedding was a desirable experience. Right now, not only does he respect my lack of a desire to be part of the whole marriage institution, he's also become very critical of marriage, and all the social things that go with it. He never pressured me to get married, but it took a bit of time before he really understood my point of view, and even decided to adapt it. He's the one who initiated our calling ourselves partners instead of boyfriend and girlfriend, to show that it's a committed relationship. With straight couples, the words "boyfriend and girlfriend" so often imply either a casual relationship, or something people are before they are married. We do not have children, and it has always been clear in our relationship that we do not want them. Unfortunately, there has been some social pressure to get married and/or to have children from some people we know, but, for the most part, our social circle is very supportive of our decision not to marry, and to remain childless.

Things I am passionate about? Well, it's feminism, gender, writing, and music. My dream is to bring strong female characters back to the young adult fiction section. I can't think of any specific unmarried role models, but none of my close friends have been married thus far. If they do decide to marry, I would, of course, support them, even if I might get a bit bored at the wedding.

White Blackbirds #2!

It's Katie again, the maker of this White Blackbirds zine. Thank you all for your responses. What an interesting week this has been. Over the last several days I've heard from so many women in response to this post that I now plan to do a second edition of the zine for sure. I want to invite the people who posted answers to the questions on this blog, rather than emailing me, to please do so if they'd like them included in the new zine. katie at thelalatheory dot com. I'd also like to bring up a few new points.

A few people have told me they'd be interested to hear from women older than the ones I interviewed in the first zine. (They were all in their 20s and 30s.) Happily, this week I've heard from a few women in their 50s and 60s who'd like to be interviewed for the second one! I think this is an exciting development, and one that will make the second issue more robust.

@Mr. Kitka - thank you for bringing up the subject of perceived gender and how that might have an impact on decisions regarding marriage. This is a really interesting point and one I think I should probably address in my revised, second set of questions. Also, I found Unmarried to Each Other at a library near me and I'm looking forward to reading it - thanks for the suggestion.

There's another interesting angle I'm thinking about now, brought up to me by a woman who contacted me over email. She asked about the race/ethnicity of the interview subjects, which by and large I don't know, since I didn't ask them about this and no one I talked to brought it up herself. Her question brought up the possibility in my mind that a woman's cultural heritage might have a significant impact on her feelings about marriage. Certainly the subject of religion plays into it, and several of the interviewees did address that. But what about ethnic identity, and culture? I think I'll plan on asking that specific question this time around - Do you think your racial/cultural heritage has informed your decision not to marry, and if so, how?

What do you all think about this?

Zine love, Katie

I don't want to be a wife.

Why don't you want to get married?
I don't want to be a "wife". I don't even like thinking the word... it has too much baggage attached to it. And I don't mean in the way that I might be expected to do household chores and stay home all day and rot; it's more than that. I mean that I don't want to be property, I don't want to be perceived as a lesser being than my partner.

I also hate how much it permeates our society... it's generally accepted that you get married so your life can continue "properly". I don't think that the government declaring you a couple should make it any more real, or that you should get any special benefits over anyone who chooses to take a different path in life.

And surprise! I'm not religious. Since marriage is (or at least originates from, for those who are married and not religious) a religious practice, it has many themes I do not agree with.

I am also very stuck on the whole last name issue. I would never want to change my name to someone else's. (I would be up for a mutual change to a combination, if it worked out). And I wouldn't want my children to "just" take my partner's name... if they're going to room in my uterus for 9 months, I think I deserve a little more credit! ;)

Are you in a relationship now? If so, have you shared your decision with that person? I am in an almost-three-year relationship. I've mentioned a few times that I don't want to get married. I'm embarrassed to say I'm not sure what my boyfriend wants to do (I'll be asking!). But if he does want to get married, I'm pretty sure he would fall under the "it's the thing to do" category.

Do you have children? Do you want to have children?No, and eventually. Not at that stage of my life yet, but I know I would like children one day.

Things you're most passionate about in life? Feminism, health (specifically women's and children's health), my family, imagination, creativity.

Do you have any unmarried role models? My older sister.

Why don't I want to be

Why don't I want to be married?

I am asexual, meaning the thought of even kissing, much less sex, repulses me. Let's face it, the reason most people get married has to do with sex, & even when it's not you still have to put out to keep the guy satisfied. So unless I find another asexual, marriage is out.

I am also extremely independent, so marriage would make me feel tied town - you have to consult the other person any time you want to do anything. I love being able to do whatever.

As for kids? No, I do not want them. My kitty cats are my babies. If I did want children, I would prefer adoption over natural birth any day (having bio kids seems quite narcissistic to me when so many kids around the world need homes).

Once I graduate college I will be very involved with my work as a wellness/nutrition consultant. I am very passionate about fitness & the outdoors, I love running more than any other activity, & biking is a close second. I would like to do more road/trail races when I have more time & money. Traveling is wonderful as well.

Unmarried role models?

I AM my own role model! I haven't come across any women who can manage to be happy on their own, so I decided I would be the exception to the rule.

Not to nitpick, but as

Not to nitpick, but as someone who also identifies as asexual I sort of object to it being defined that way. Some asexuals are indeed repulsed by the thought of kissing or sex, but not all are. An asexual is defined as a person who does not experience sexual attraction, not as a person who is repulsed by kissing/sex. Personally I don't experience sexual attraction or repulsion.

I only mention it because there are still a lot of people who have never heard of asexuality before, and I'd rather not have my experience invalidated anymore than it already tends to be simply because the first time someone read a definition it was excessively narrow.

Yep, I'm a Spinster

Why don't you want to get married?
-It seems really hard and not that much fun. I can't imagine staying with and living in the same house with the same person for 15 years.

Are you in a relationship now? If so, have you shared your decision with that person?
I am in a relationship now. We don't really talk about "the decision". Both of us are past the usual age of marriage. I don't really know why he never got married. I don't really care.

Do you have children? Do you want to have children?
No kids. I want kids even less than I want to be married.

Things you're most passionate about in life?
I love my life, my friends, my dog, my family (not in any particular order). My hobby is traveling near and far. I have a vacation home that is a joy to get away to. I live in NYC and love that as well.

Do you have any unmarried role models?
Absolutely. Marital status is not a factor in who my role model is; her sense of self is.

I blog about being single and loving it: www.TheSpinsterliciousLife.com