I was watching the 20/20 episode "Wedding Confidential" about a week ago which was supposedly about insider tips for wedding planning; the hook was to save engaged couples money. What caught my attention the most with this exposé was the focus on grooms. Even though my research on wedding books for grooms was published in 2008, this episode continued to depict many of the findings 5 years later.
What was lauded as a creative new tool for grooms, turned out to be a website that was mostly just about consumption: The Man Registry. They promoted it as a site with advice for grooms, such as what colors are trendy. Take a look at the website: it's hard to get past the commercial ads to get to the advice. I guess that makes it the equivalent to websites for brides.
The framing was consistent with what was found in the books targeted to grooms. The increase in the grooms interest in the wedding is explained as a "Battleground for the Sexes". Whereas the voice over labels the wedding planning as the "first challenge in marital compromise", they go on to divide the tasks by gendered stereotypes: she picks her dress, they compromise on the food and venue, and the groom is in charge of entertainment and transportation. Everything else can just be doubled: the registry, the cake, etc. And, as demonstrated with Evan and Erin, the groom ultimately has veto power over a lot of the decisions ("Evan, won a lot of things"). This veto power is then repackaged as "chipping in" and as a "major contributor" because, in case you missed the quick reference, "he's paying for the it (wedding)".
Now, I am so for groom involvement in wedding planning. But, does it have to be gendered? And, what if we could envision actual compromise and collaboration through the process, rather than constructing gender differences in the tasks and dividing them up. Also, it's not a big win for equal partnerships to just double the consumption (his and her registries, his and her cakes, etc.).
Read this NYT article, Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?, published last Friday, highlighting one family's experience with the Restorative Justice process. Generally, I'm a fan, as incarceration doesn't seem like it brings closure to victims of crimes and I have strong doubts about jail as a one-size-fits-all societal solution.
However, in the case of domestic violence, particularly murder, I am uneasy and less convinced. Domestic violence (DV) is not like other crimes. It may seem compelling to think of DV fatalities as similar to drunk driving fatalities and it is certainly tempting to offer justifications, meaning, and forgiveness such as the murder being an especially bad night, a lapse in judgment, or a disease. Yet, a pattern of power and control is almost always present in DV fatalities and contrary to popular belief, it is not an anger management issue. Underlying domestic violence are issues of entitlement, power, and exploitation. I am concerned that if the parents featured in this NYT article had been connected with a domestic violence expert, they may have made a different decision regarding sentencing. The article implied that they were surprised that violence had been present in the relationship, "Conor was prone to bursts of irrational rage. Ann never told her parents that he had struck her several times." I'm not saying it certainly would have made a difference, but it's important to the process of restorative justice that they have full context and relevant information in making their recommendation about sentencing, and it doesn't sound like they received appropriate domestic violence education.
I am also curious what role race is playing in this outcome. What if the defendant was black? The incarceration rates in the US are disproportionately skewed to be a consequence for black men who have not graduated high school. (If you're looking for a book to read on that topic, I highly suggest the new book by Beth Richie, Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America's Prison Nation.) Restorative justice certainly has a role to play in addressing this social epidemic. However, I am very skeptical that this process would have been offered to a young man of color. It could be that this case example seems like one more instance of white men not being held accountable to their actions and adding to the narrative that when men murder their female partners, it must be a "senseless tragedy" rather than an epidemic of men's violence against women.
Note: The only mention in the article of seeking a domestic violence expert was with the prosecutor, when he was seeking consultation regarding a sentence, "Campbell would consult with community leaders, the head of a local domestic-violence shelter and others before arriving at the sentence he would offer McBride." This article could have been significantly strengthened if the reporter had also sought a DV expert. The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence has an excellent resource for journalists.
I have moved into my data "generating" phase for my research analysis of online news coverage of celebrity and sport's figures in the headlines for domestic violence. As part of my sample, I am trying to document the race of victims and perpetrators, which has led me back into my data challenges of race as a social construct. Oh the complications- do I document what their race actually is (according to the official interwebs)? Simplify the data to overarching categories based on assumed public perception? What about people of mixed-race? Oh, how I dislike quantifying race.
Anyway, while plugging along hating this process, looking for the race of a girlfriend of a former MLB player (I'm looking at you Andruw Jones) I found this website: www.athleteswives.com. The purpose of the site is for “A 10 star rating system (which) allows visitors to rate the hottest wives and girlfriends of professional athletes.” Really?! What a despicable website. I am not sure why this surprised me, but I am flabbergasted that someone created the virtual equivalent of a high school ranked hot list for the partners of sports figures. They even have a twitter account @athleteswives.
So, I typed “athletes wives” into google to see if there were other sites like it, and sure enough!
Pro Athletes' Wives & Girlfriends (NBC New York)
Pro Athletes' Wives & Girlfriends (NBC Chicago)
Pictures: Hottest Sports Wives and Girlfriends (Chicago Tribune)
http://www.examiner.com/article/beautiful-wives-and-girlfriends-of-new-york-yankees-players (The Examiner)
30 Hottest Athletes' Wives and Girlfriends (Zimbio)
Now, these are NOT mostly websites created by high school boys and drunk and immature college students. These are on actual news sites! What a terrible statement about our culture, rape culture if you will. Instead of using the platform to hold up healthy, respectful and equal relationships, websites are being created to judge and rank women, which somehow reflects her worth as a person and his fame and status as an athlete. At best, it is a missed opportunity to model healthy relationships, at worst, it contributes to the objectification of women and the culture of violence against women. And, if you think it’s harmless fun, start noticing how many college and pro sports athletes are arrested for domestic violence.
UPDATE: Related Blog Post
Athletes' Wives: Less of This, More of That
I saw two different articles today on internet dating. One had a liberal take and the other a conservative bent, yet both portrayed an ugly view of internet dating (I would argue one is more concerning than the other).
First, Jezebel posted an article with an analysis of the site "Nice Guys of OkCupid", (OkCupid is on online dating site). In the article, Jezebel discusses the disconnection of men complain about how women don't want to date them, despite their self-described label as a "nice guy". They seem to miss the contradictory information provided on their profile which are often homophobic, racist, sexist and otherwise entitled attitudes, directly in contrast to their identity as a "nice guy".
On the other hand, the Atlantic posted a piece on how online dating sites have made dating so easy that it's a threat to monogamy and the institution of marriage. Their basic thesis is that by decreasing the barrier of access to multiple potential partners, individuals will be less likely to settle in a relationship and will otherwise continue to try to upgrade their partnerships. It's a little difficult to believe their premise, let alone empirically show the association between online dating and the end of marriage.
With these two articles in contrast, I have to wonder if the advantages of more potential partners might skew more towards an advantage for straight men than any increase of potential "upgraded" possibilities for heterosexual women. Then again, if they are posting they think women have an obligation to keep their legs shaved, gays and lesbian couples shouldn't be allowed to have children, men should be heads of their households, and interracial marriage should be illegal, maybe their dating pool isn't getting all that much larger after all.
In any case, regardless of your political leanings, internet dating doesn't look too good for anybody based on today's commentary. Although, I have to admit I'm way more concerned that these men feel it's okay to post their entitled and ignorant attitudes these days than I am about the so-called demise of marriage.
Update: Jezebel's take on the Atlantic article.