“First Comes Love, then Comes Marriage, then Comes the Baby in the Baby Carriage.” #NWNW

October 8th, 2010 § 1 comment

So Amber,

I was reading the latest post on The Crunk Feminist Collective, a call for a “No Uncle No Uterus” campaign, and was thoroughly confused for a good minute till I realized it was a critique on another campaign, “NWNW.” And I had no idea what that was.

Thank goodness for Google. Turns out it means “No Wedding, No Womb” and is a campaign of 100+ bloggers writing in support of marriages before pregnancies in black communities.

And it’s apparently created a stir (I love the blogosphere). In my googling discoveries, I’ve found various critiques: one reporter writes, “Regardless, the bloggers associated with “No Wedding, No Womb” aren’t focused on the outcomes for children. The campaign is instead telling black women how they should act sexually. Reducing women to their childbearing capacity is right there in the title: Wombs are blocked off until matrimony.” Another writes, “While Karazin’s heart is in the right place, I have to agree that equating marriage with familial and economic stability is wistfully wrongheaded….I think what Karazin’s trying to get at, in our sound-bite culture, is that poor women, all women, need to value themselves enough to protect themselves from the avoidable pitfalls in their already difficult lives.”

Here I think are the critiques: having a campaign for marriage does not solve poverty; it does not address the institutional and historical causes for persistent poverty; it shames women and promotes a narrow view of family.

So first off, yes to all of the above. Making marriage the solution to poverty and violence is not a good solution. Marriage alone can not solve the inequitable policies hurting families (whatever those families look like). Nor does placing the responsibility solely on women solve anything. There is an element of “slut-shaming” to this, mostly because where are the men in this solution? What’s their responsibility?

But with all that said, I don’t necessarily want to jump on the “oh hell no!” bandwagon against NWNW. I wouldn’t sign up to blog for them, but when criticizing their campaign, neither do I want to deny that there is something going on when 72% of African American children are born out of wedlock. That “something” is not just one thing (or two or three), but I am hesitant to completely dismiss a discussion on marriage and relationships.

I don’t like it when ten year olds ask me “do you have kids?” before asking me if I’m married (or even have a boyfriend). I’ve written before about teenagers’ views on relationships and the brokenness of their understanding. Many of these teens come from families that do not have a solid two parent relationship – whether married or unmarried. In order to understand how to relate to one another, they need to see other strong relationships.

Let me be clear: there are hundreds of issues flying and dancing around this statistic. I think NWNW is too simplistic, lets men off the hook and ignores wider social and political problems. And really, it’s just another tired story about what black women need to do that CNN will probably run with analysis from a panel of “experts” (yay Steve Harvey!). And then there’s the whole issue of it being heteronormative…

But I do think it’s okay to ask (along with a million other questions), how do we solve gender/relationship/family issues on a personal and social level?

Let’s have a holistic approach to understanding the problems facing our children, young people and families. Let’s understand that marriage is only a good solution if it is healthy and stable – and fighting against that health and stability is sexism, racism, classism, all those damn “isms” and the policies that go with them.

And there are fantastic single moms and dads (aunts and uncles and grandparents) who raise healthy, supported children in this world. And there are married couples who don’t. For a variety of reasons. But, how do we address all those reasons? Is there just one campaign or solution?

No. It’s complicated. And so deep. I don’t know how to unravel it all….

My disclaimer: I’m posting this without feeling entirely comfortable with it. With every sentence I write, another sentence pops into my head that problematizes the one before. But since this blog is really a conversation, I’ll consider this post only the beginning.

§ One Response to “First Comes Love, then Comes Marriage, then Comes the Baby in the Baby Carriage.” #NWNW

  • Anonymous says:

    You say that “Let’s understand that marriage is only a good solution if it is healthy and stable” but that's too high a standard to hold marriage to. Marriage has never been perfect but guess what? Being single has never been perfect either! And being a single mother is an even more “imperfect” situation. People have this idea that it's better off being single than in a bad marriage. That's true but they often forget that being single is not so great either. Take it from me, a single man!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

What's this?

You are currently reading “First Comes Love, then Comes Marriage, then Comes the Baby in the Baby Carriage.” #NWNW at That's So Deep.

meta