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Scholars have repeatedly shown safe dwellings are essential for children and the entire family to thrive. Thus, for decades, a central objective of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has been the financing of decent and safe rental housing. Yet, our recently released research demonstrates not all families have equal access to these federal benefits.

White families receive higher quality units and pay less per month than their counterparts of color. Racial inequality in public housing is not new, but its persistence is troubling.

A Long History of Racially Separate and Unequal Public Housing

At the start of subsidized housing programs in the 1930s, the federal government ensured units were only available to upstanding, stably employed White families. These units were highly sought after as they were well constructed and affordable.

However, they also became a symbol of the federal government’s ongoing discrimination against residents of color. Citizens of color were paying taxes that contributed to the construction of these new public housing developments but were unable to live within them. Additionally, many communities of color were displaced to make room for the new public housing developments.

These stark injustices became a rallying cry, building momentum for activists calling for racial equity in schools and communities. Fearing desegregation, Congress began privatizing publicly owned housing developments, even before any Civil Rights legislation had passed.

Eventually, Congress passed the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which prohibited racial, national origin, or religious discrimination. However, just four months later, they enacted the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, which defunded public rental units and created new mechanisms of racial inequity.

While We Weren’t Watching

As the remaining public housing developments were desegregated, elected officials used racist dog whistles to deliberately damage the public’s perception of publicly housing. Public housing was no longer discussed as a desirable, decent, and necessary public good. Instead, politicians, journalists, and academics painted public housing as crime ridden, filthy, and a last resort for desperate families.

Even though rigorous scholarship debunked these racist narratives, the public—including academics—embraced the notion that public housing was predominately Black and broken. Thus, citizens and scholars stopped investigating whether public housing was desegregating or providing equitable services for all families, no matter their racial classification.

Granted, many scholars have investigated several other critical questions about public housing, especially the relatively recent and now most common housing subsidy, housing vouchers. Yet, none of these studies specifically investigated the racial equality and segregation of the public housing programs.

Still Racially Separate and Unequal

We combined data from two major U.S. Census Bureau surveys: the restricted American Housing Survey (AHS) and the American Community Survey (ACS). Our research shows that although residents of color are disproportionally poor, White residents are still the largest racial category among low-income renters who qualify for HUD housing subsidies (42 percent). In fact, White residents remain the largest racial category in the public housing developments whose ownership and management were privatized to avoid desegregation. Put another way, Congress’ actions in 1961 to avoid the coming desegregation at least partially worked.

White subsidized housing residents have fewer unsafe and unsanitary conditions compared to their Indigenous, Black and Latinx counterparts. Yet, these White residents pay approximately 100 dollars (or, about 5 percent of their income) less a month than their Asian, Black, and Latinx counterparts. Additionally, White subsidized renters live in less segregated neighborhoods.

In short, all key measures of racial integration and equity demonstrate the publicly subsidized housing programs are still providing higher quality units at lower cost to White renters compared to their counterparts of color.

Moreover, the racial inequality in subsidized housing is larger—on every measure—than the racial inequality among low-income renters who would qualify for HUD housing but are renting market rate units. Thus, it is not merely personal preference or market conditions creating the observed inequality.

The inequalities and racial segregation across public housing programs (e.g., publicly owned housing, privately owned, publicly funded development, housing vouchers, and other subsidies) is a key factor enabling the racial inequality to continue. Specifically, housing vouchers, which are disproportionately given to Black and Latinx renters, are notably more expensive, unsafe, and segregated than the other housing programs. Additionally, segregation across age and the unequal maintenance of developments also contribute to the inequities.

Building Decent and Safe Housing for All

Building off the legacy of activists in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, we need to hold the government accountable to fulfill its own mandate for racially equitable public housing. As the last five decades have taught us, this cannot be accomplished through defunding, demonizing, and privatizing government housing programs. Instead, we need to reinvest and reimagine public housing policies that are built for all.

Given the specific findings of our study, we suggest three immediate interventions: (1) integrating developments across age and family composition; (2) investing in upgrades for Indigenous housing developments; and (3) reallocating resources from tenant vouchers into high quality, well-managed public housing developments.

Yet, we also argue for broader transformations in all governmental housing subsidies (e.g., federal mortgage insurance, secondary housing market, etc.) that recognize the harms that have been caused and build systems that uplift and empower families to live happy and full lives.


Junia Howell is a sociologist affiliated with University of Illinois Chicago and the director of the nonprofit, eruka.

Ellen Whitehead is an Assistant Professor at Ball State University. Follow her on X @EllenMWhitehead.

Elizabeth Korver-Glenn is an Assistant Professor at Washington University in St. Louis. Follow her on X @elizabethkaygee or on Instagram @ekg_writes.

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Adverse childhood experiences are a pervasive issue that affect millions of individuals worldwide. For lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer (LGBTQ+) individuals, the experience of identity-related childhood adversity can be particularly devastating, leading to a range of mental health challenges in adulthood. Our study sheds light on the impact of childhood identity-related abuse on mental health outcomes among 563 LGBTQ+ individuals in Spain. Some examples of LGBTQ+ identity-related abuse by a parent or caregiver include being pressured to act masculine or feminine against their will, or being slapped, hit or physically injured because of one’s LGBTQ+  identity. In our study, we found that nearly 62% of participants indicated exposure to LGBTQ+ identity-related abuse during childhood, and nearly all participants had at least one prejudicial or discriminatory experience in the past year. The study also found that nearly 20% of participants were likely to experience depressive symptoms, and around 46% had suicidal behavior. Furthermore, LGBTQ+ identity-related abuse was linked to experiences of LGBTQ+ identity-related discrimination and harassment, and mental health problems during adulthood. Our study highlights the need for supportive policies that address the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly those who have experienced identity-related abuse during childhood.

Our study findings are cast in sharp relief when we consider global backlash to progressive LGBTQ+ policies, and the current political landscape in the U.S. attacking parents and caregivers supportive of trans kids. In some U.S. states, parents supporting gender affirming practices and care—ranging from adopting and using a child’s preferred pronouns or name to medical interventions such as puberty blockers—are embroiled in ongoing legal battles and are being investigated under new law that misrepresents gender affirmation of trans kids by parents and guardians as “child abuse”. Other ongoing legal changes, under the umbrella of “parental rights,” include requiring schools to report youth who self-identify as LGBTQ+ to their parents, and “don’t say gay” bills preventing teachers from discussing, and thus affirming, LGBTQ+ experiences and identities within school environments. Our research suggests that these policies, which claim to be motivated to “protect children,” are likely to lead to adverse childhood experiences that have lifelong impacts on the mental wellbeing of LGBTQ+ young people as they transition into adulthood. These policies prioritize the parental rights of non-affirming parents while actively restricting the parental rights of LGBTQ+-affirming parents. Our research highlights the negative impact of identity rejection by parents and caregivers, but other research suggests that supportive school environments and caring teachers are protective for the mental health of LGBTQ+ youth. Outing kids and restricting support in schools puts LGBTQ+ young people across the U.S. and globally at considerable risk that runs directly counter to the welfare of youth. In a world where parental, teacher, and other adult support of LGBTQ+ youth is being attacked as “grooming” or “abuse”, are we recognizing the very real harm LGBTQ+ young people experience when their identities are rejected by parents and caregivers?

Jennifer Tabler, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Wyoming. Her research and teaching interests include the sociology of health, health disparities, gender and sexuality, and rural experiences. Her current work examines LGBTQ+ erasure in the rural West (U.S.), and seeks to center the lived experiences of multiple marginalized LGBTQ+ people in rural regions. Twitter: @jenni_tabler Bluesky: @jennismovingcastle.bsky.social

Ruby Charak, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Science and Director of the Adversities in Childhood and Trauma Studies Lab (ACT Lab; http://www.utrgv.edu/actlab/) at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg since 2016. Her research interests pertain to childhood adversities, including, child abuse and neglect, family violence, sexual victimization in adolescents and young adults, and posttraumatic stress disorders.

Rachel M. Schmitz, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Oklahoma State University. Her research and teaching interests include gender and sexuality, the family, LGBTQ+ youth and young adults, human-animal interactions, and qualitative methods. Her current work emphasizes the voices and lived experiences of multiple marginalized LGBTQ+ people in rural regions and their understandings of health.

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The built environment, defined as human-made structures where we live and work, ranging from buildings to streets to neighborhoods, and open spaces, is an important determinant of health. The most proximate built environment is, of course, the indoor home environment (IHE). Physical, chemical, and biological aspects of one’s home are potential health risks to all residents, but especially people with disabilities (PwDs). PwDs face even greater risks because they are more likely to be confined at home, possess impairments that impact their ability to detect dangers, and have fewer financial resources to make safety- and accessibility-related improvements.

However, all PwDs are not the same. PwDs are extremely diverse across multiple dimensions, including race/ethnicity. In fact, people of color with disabilities likely experience compounded disadvantages in terms of prolonged exposure to unsafe and unhealthy IHEs because of institutional barriers encountered by racial/ethnic minorities in the U.S., specifically Black Americans and Hispanics. De facto residential segregation through practices such as zoning and redlining have resulted in higher rates of Black Americans living in communities with low-quality housing. Hispanics also live in inferior housing at higher rates than their White counterparts. Coupled with reports of more frequent housing discrimination faced by PwDs, there is strong reason to believe that people of color with disabilities have greater exposure to unsafe and unhealthy IHEs compared to both their non-disabled racial/ethnic counterparts and also compared to their White counterparts with disabilities.

My recent study seeks to answer just that question: are people of color with disabilities experiencing greater exposure to poor conditions in the IHE than people of color without disabilities and White Americans with disabilities? Using nationally representative data of U.S. housing stock, my study considers a wide range of housing characteristics beyond just physical inadequacies of the IHE among Black, Hispanic, Asian, White, and Mixed Race/Ethnicity households. There are nine IHE outcomes – eight distinct IHE problems: five physical deficiencies (low indoor air quality, high indoor temperatures, low indoor temperatures, injury hazards, inaccessibility of water/sanitation), two biological conditions (pests/allergens and dampness/mold), and one chemical condition (lead), as well as a final count of the total number of IHE problems.

I found for eight out of the nine IHE measures, a higher proportion of households with at least one resident with a disability (HWDs) report an inadequate condition compared to their non-disabled racial/ethnic counterparts (households without any residents with a disability, or HNDs). For example, dampness and/or mold is present in 23.9% of Black HWDs compared to 15.8% of Black HNDs, and 15.8% of Asian HWDs compared to 9.2% of Asian HNDs. Furthermore, for Black, Hispanic, and Mixed Race/Ethnicity HWDs, these disadvantages compared to their non-disabled racial/ethnic counterparts persist even after controlling for demographic, socioeconomic, and geographic characteristics.

Focusing on the population with disabilities, Black, Hispanic, and Mixed Race/Ethnicity HWDs have exposure to a greater number of IHE conditions than White or Asian HWDs, even after controlling for a range of household-level demographic, socioeconomic, and geographic characteristics. Black HWDs remain more likely to be exposed to four out of the five physical IHE deficiencies, pests/allergens, and lead than White HWDs. Hispanic HWDs also continue to be exposed to three out of the five physical IHE deficiencies (low indoor air quality, low indoor temperatures, injury hazards), pests/allergens, and lead than White HWDs. For Mixed Race/Ethnicity HWDs, they more likely to be exposed to four IHE conditions (low indoor temperatures, injury hazards, inaccessibility of water/sanitation, and lead) relative to White HWDs.

These findings support the adoption of an intersectional approach to designing targeted interventions that address specific inadequate IHE condition(s) which are distributed unequally across the U.S. population. Specifically, Black, Hispanic, and Mixed Race/Ethnicity HWDs experience elevated health risks in their own homes. Furthermore, given the increased frequency of weather-related events associated with climate change, identifying ways to mitigate specific unhealthy IHE conditions such as extreme indoor temperatures and poor air quality will become even more critical to the health and well-being of the U.S. population with disabilities. 

Sung S. Park is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Gerontology at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her research focuses on racial/ethnic economic and health disparities among the aging U.S. population. You can learn more about her work here. She is on Twitter @sung_s_park.

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In recent decades, the modern experience of work and family has been increasingly combined with education, which  has been extended over a longer period of the life course, especially for women. Instead of education being the sole responsibility prior to entering adulthood, schooling is often only one of several roles occupied by individuals across diverse backgrounds, whether continuously or as returning students with greater demands of family and work.

But how do women manage to “do it all”? What are the most common patterns that women take to navigate their education, work and family roles over the life course? The complexities that may arise from combining, ordering, or delaying the competing domains of education, work, and family call for a closer examination of how these experiences actually unfold across women’s lives.

To answer these questions, we drew upon data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent and Adult Health, in which we examined the life experiences of women between the ages 18-43 (N=8101). Specifically, we used multiple measures of women’s current academic enrollment status, highest level of education completed, employment status, marital status, and number of children, and conducted a repeated measures latent class analysis. In this way, we were able to identify subgroups of women with distinctly different combinations (i.e. pathways) of education, work and family. Furthermore, we examined how these life pathways vary across women, and the extent to which they are impacted by factors such as race and socioeconomic background.

We identified seven distinct pathways and assigned descriptive names to each of them: Early Mothers with Limited Education (about 13% of our sample), Early Mothers with High School Interrupted (about 13%), Early Mothers with Continuing Education (about 19%), College then Work Focused (about 12%), College then Family Focused (about 9%), Graduate Degree Professionals (about 13%), and Independent with Continuing Education (about 20%).

We note several similarities and differences across these life pathways among women. For instance, we find that the Early Mothers with Continuing Education and Independents with Continuing Education are both likely to continue their college education into their thirties and forties, but they differ in their timing of marriage and having children. The Early Mothers with HS Interrupted and Early Mothers with Limited Education both consist of women likely to become mothers at an earlier age, but only those in the former group are likely to return to school as adults to complete their associate’s degree. Finally, the College then Work Focused, College then Family Focused, and Graduate Degree Professionals are all likely to focus first on completing their college education without interruptions, but they differ substantially in the timing of their work and family experiences.

In terms of sociodemographic differences, we found that socioeconomically disadvantaged women such as Early Mothers with Limited Education, who are likely to have parents with less than a college education or have experienced poverty early in life, are most likely to not be working full-time or at all by their thirties and forties. In contrast, some of the most socioeconomically advantaged women such as the Graduate Degree Professionals are likely to work the longest hours per week compared to other groups throughout their thirties and forties, even after having children. These findings confirm the idea that women’s ability to work may depend largely on their available resources and social environment. Such inequalities echo broader questions about how limited women’s experiences of work-family balance may actually be, and the extent to which U.S. policies and attitudes contribute to these unequal experiences.

Overall, this study provides a thorough illustration of the diversity of pathways that women experience, particularly highlighting important differences within broader categories of life course events such as early parenthood, and distinguishing between different types of higher education. By examining how family, work, and education are configured together, instead of viewing education as an antecedent or separate process from work and family, our study highlights the fluidity of education in many women’s lives, while challenging the notion that completing one’s education and transitioning from school to a full-time job are part of a discrete set of markers defining the transition to adulthood.

Bo-Hyeong Jane Lee is a research associate at the Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research at Duke University. Her research examines inequalities in family, religion, health, and pathways across the life course.

Anna Manzoni (@theitalianna) is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at North Carolina State University. Her research focuses on the life course, labor market, family, and social inequality.

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On December 29 of last year, misogynistic social media influencer, Andrew Tate, was arrested in Romania on suspicion of rape and human trafficking. Later charged, and in ways that mirror former US President Trump’s present legal woes, the “controversy” was very 2020s. First, anyone who had had the displeasure of viewing Tate’s online content would not have been in the least bit surprised by the news. Indeed, the charges were a natural extension of his oft-stated views on women, their role in society, and heterosexual relations.

Before being banned from the platform, Tate had argued on Twitter that women “bear responsibility” as victims of sexual assault, later describing in violent detail what he would do to a woman were she to accuse him of cheating (he’s OK with male infidelity, by the way). On his decision to relocate from Britain to Romania, he cited what he – ill-advisedly, it turns out – saw as being the country’s more lenient approach to rape, saying that it was “probably 40% of the reason… I like the idea of just being able to do what I want.”
Perhaps most illustrative of his broader outlook, he once bemoaned the “decline of Western civilization” after seeing an airport billboard “encouraging girls to go on holiday as opposed to… being a loving mother and a loyal wife.”

So, as far as arrests go, Tate was “hiding in plain sight” and it had always seemed more a case of “when” rather than “if” to anyone paying attention. However, reporting of the incident – and to a lesser
extent of his banning from various social media platforms in the months leading up to it – also exposed to the wider public the astonishing extent of the influencer’s popularity among the heterosexual boys and men to whom his content is geared. As part of the broader online “manosphere” – a loose network of
antifeminist and reactionary YouTube and TikTok channels, and other social media accounts – Tate remains their Kardashian. Undented by recent events, he enjoys a profile that, were it not for his seemingly beyond-the-pale views, could only be described as mainstream. His videos have garnered countless millions of views, accompanied by all but uniformly supportive comment sections. His Twitter (or “X”) account, reinstated in late-2022 by Elon Musk, now has over 6 million followers. A recent YouGov poll found that approximately one quarter of British young men agree with his positions on women. These are just a few of the many metrics we could share.

What is going on here? How could someone like Tate, so blatantly offensive to some, resonate so powerfully with others? It’s particularly vexing given the numerous studies that show young people, including boys and men, moving decidedly towards more progressive outlooks. Scholarship up to this point –most notably the work of Debbie Ging at Dublin City University – has been very good at making sense of manosphere discourses and the logics of purveyors like Tate. To quote Ging, they represent a “preoccupation with male hegemony” elicited by misdirected anxieties over “men’s position in the social
hierarchy as a result of feminism.” The predominant explanation given for the spread of this phenomenon is a gendered form of zero-sum thinking: the idea that men, while still enjoying disproportionately better socioeconomic outcomes, experience the gains made by women over recent decades as losses.
Baked into this theory of “aggrieved entitlement” – however inadvertent – is an unhelpful dismissal of contemporary hetero-masculine anxieties as a sort of over-privileged “get over yourselves!” whining. While the theory has “bigger picture” validity, it leaves little scope for acknowledging the very real, and
to some extent distinct, contemporary pressures faced by heterosexual boys and young men, and how they increasingly feel ignored by, and disenfranchised from, mainstream society.

We argue that it’s time to shift to a more empathetic investigation of what’s driving boys and men into the arms of the manosphere. For one, we need to be more cognizant of the way in which a concept like “male privilege” renders invisible the wildly complicating dimensions of class and/or race. Indeed, try
telling a young working-class man from the British Midlands or American “flyover country,” with no girlfriend and dubious job prospects, that he’s the beneficiary of undue “privilege.” The realities of male privilege remain true in an overarching systemic sense, as well as in the countless minute ways men
experience the world differently from women. However, it is important to recognize the various socioeconomic factors that prevent many men from experiencing this privilege in any sort of life enhancing way.

As a cohort, heterosexual men in countries like Britain and America are also significantly more likely to be isolated and friendless, as well as involuntarily single and celibate. Along with the rest of youth, they are also entering adulthood in the context of an economy that is offering fewer secure and meaningful jobs. All of this is exacerbated by a set of enduring traditional expectations that measure a man’s worth precisely against these increasingly unattainable sexual and financial markers of success, while also
inhibiting boys” and men’s ability to talk about their failures. Of course, the gender scholarship we’re respectfully critiquing here has long highlighted the link between unattainable masculine ideals, on the one hand, and antisocial behaviors and negative mental well-being outcomes, on the other. However, this
can often veer into an implicit victim-blaming in which boys and men are their own worst enemies and need only shed their “toxic” attitudes to live healthier, more integrated lives. In the context of the abovementioned realities, it’s easier said than done, and somewhat puts the cart before the horse.

Indeed, heterosexual boys and men seem stuck between a mainstream conversation largely (and not unjustifiably) focused on their historical privilege and toxic practices, and manosphere figures like Tate who sell misogynistic delusions of grandeur while painting the world as hostile to their interests. However self-detrimental, it’s not surprising that some choose the latter. Responding to this, a nascent body of scholarship is treading a different path by investigating the vulnerabilities on which the manosphere
feeds, as a way of better understanding its disturbing end-product. To give some examples, a recent study of the notorious manosphere breeding ground, 4chan, coauthored by the first author here, found that many boys and men yet to exhibit reactionary views are drawn into these spaces more for a sense of community and because, alarmingly, they feel safer expressing vulnerabilities here than via conventional support channels. This is presently being followed up by the same team’s study of the similarly notorious Reddit platform, with data suggesting comparable patterns. In their groundbreaking 2023 study, Daly and Reed interviewed members of the “incel” (involuntary celibate) subculture – a subset of the
manosphere motivated by abject failure in the sexual marketplace – and found that they were being driven deeper into this misogynistic community by the misunderstanding and persecution they felt emanating from mainstream society.
Echoing this work, the second author here is presently undertaking a study investigating the ways in which men’s engagement with these subcultures can be considered a form of digital self-harm. Vulnerable men actively engage in toxic online environments that pull them deeper into self-loathing and isolation, and they find curious “solace” in forums where their peers continuously belittle and insult them.

More work needs to be done to understand the causes, contexts and narratives underpinning the manosphere’s appeal, and it needs to be empathetic as well as critical. If we continue to dismiss the anxieties of heterosexual boys and men as little more than entitled special pleading, we will be guilty of exacerbating the sense of disenfranchisement on which figures like Tate successfully prey.
No one wants this. Loneliness, the psychologist, Carl Jung, observed, “does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself.”

Marcus Maloney, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Coventry University. Follow them on Twitter @MarcusJMaloney

Kate Babin, Doctoral Candidate, Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Coventry University


Family is a basic social institution, and it is in flux. We will need to adjust to the new realities and understand the implications on U.S. society. As each new generation of adults replace the last, the concept of “family” is replaced by new ideas of what constitutes a family. While idealizations of family life may take us back to the mid-20th century historical norm of a husband, a wife, and two biological children, current changes take on more complex, diverse, and dynamic realities of actual family life in the United States. The social changes of the past 100 years have come in waves, creating new family systems. My book, My book, Families and Aging, examines how these social changes in family affect later adult years.

One interview in my book was with a woman in mid-life, concerned about later life consequences for her younger wife. Cathy married and had three children in the late 1970s. By the 1990s, she realized she had always been attracted to women. She had an amicable divorce and shared custody of her children with her ex-husband. Fast forward to the year 2000, she had found a life partner, a woman, and married in an open Episcopalian ceremony in which the congregation technically married the couple, rather than the priest officiating the marriage directly. Cathy’s children participated in the ceremony with responsive readings. Now, she and her wife are empty nesters, concerned about many of the same issues parents are concerned about: will their emerging adults find good jobs? Will she have enough money for retirement? Who will take care of them in old age? She was especially concerned for her wife who does not have a biological bond with Cathy’s children. While they care for her as a person, she does not envision her children taking care of her wife’s health and well-being in late life after Cathy is gone. My book examines how diverse families will experience aging into later life with complicated family situations. It draws upon theories showing that there are fewer norms of obligation in diverse families, which leaves more room for interpretation and negotiation.

Those who were born after the 1950s came of age after the sweeping reforms of civil rights, the women’s movement, and the sexual revolution. They witnessed delayed first marriage, and new widespread availability of birth control. They saw increases in cohabitation, stepfamilies, and a peak in the divorce rate in the early 1980s. More than 70 years later, in the 2000s, these trends continue. New social movements are taking place and further changing our notions of family, gender, and race. Some of these include the 2015 legalization of same-sex marriage and the trans rights movement, both offering a more expansive understanding of sex and gender. The concept of cohort replacement (the process of each new successive cohort of young adults come of age during their particular time in history, and ultimately replace the older generations) is important. As older adults who were born before the middle of the 20th century grow older, the new generations come of age with their more diverse versions of family, gender identity, and sexuality.

Societal Changes in Families

Many older Americans were used to families including a married couple with two to three children on average. Within these families there were adult children, spouses, and more siblings with whom people grew old. While divorce, sexual and gender minority partnerships, and single parenthood existed, they were less common, less public, and not broadly accepted.

Current family circumstances such as divorce, remarriage, and stepfamilies have been common for some time. Remaining single, cohabitation, single parenthood, delayed age of first birth and delayed marriage, and remaining childless are all growing trends. Remaining single is one of the fastest growing trends that is on the increase with currently about 31% of the adult population being single, with large differences by race and sexual identity. For instance, 28% of White, 29% of Hispanic and 47% of Black individuals are single. Furthermore, the lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) community has more single people than those who identify as straight (47% versus 29%). In 2018, about 18% of those older than age 55 remained childless, with an expected large increase in the future. All these trends show increasing individualism, fewer long marriages, fewer children, and more time alone. The ramifications are starting to show among older adults living alone. In the case of Cathy and her wife, a main concern is that her wife, who is younger than Cathy, will not have much support in later life if Cathy dies first. While there are changing social norms and understanding for same-sex couples, the reality of being single and alone with little support remains.

Implications for Family Changes on Older Adults

One major concern with the growing trends of families is that with freedom and independence comes more isolation–especially for older adults. In particular, with the growing trend of singlehood, never married individuals, women having fewer children on average, and single-parent families, the support systems that families traditionally offer will no longer be available for older adults. In addition, as those who remain single and/or do not have children enter old age, there will be fewer family members to watch over those older adults living alone. In these smaller families, the psychological and physical needs of older adults may not be met. Loneliness and social isolation in old age are a growing concern, so much so that the Surgeon General recently called it an epidemic. We as a society should consider how we will adapt to more people living alone, with an emphasis on health and safety of older individuals. There is a loosening of norms and obligations that were present in traditional kinship structures. As the deinstitutionalization of marriage continues, and cyclical marriage and cohabitation increases, family linkages, norms, and obligations must be negotiated in modern families.

Patricia Drentea is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from The Ohio State University. Her 2019 book, Families & Aging includes topics such as family diversity, later life parenthood, health in old age, work and activities in later life, and changes in family and social trends. You can follow them on Twitter @PDrentea

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Why did she wait so long to come forward? She should have known better. Why would she even trust him? She was asking for it.

Phrases like these boil down to victim-blaming, or the insistence on placing the responsibility for systemic societal issues on the individuals who are affected. These phrases become a way people understand sexual violence and interact with victim-survivors within a broader rape culture. Importantly, they can worsen the mental health effects for victim-survivors and keep women from coming forward to disclose their experience. Victim-blaming online is common, but much of the research examines the discourses of posts or the impersonal aspects, where strangers over the internet share their views. But what happens when young women read these phrases from family on social media?

In my recent article, I interviewed 33 young women college students about their negative online experiences. Rather than share stories of anonymous trolls targeting women with overt sexism, the young women I talked to more often described family being a primary source of mistreatment. In fact, I heard one example repeatedly: family members’ negative comments about women and women’s issues are frequent and incredibly frustrating. High-profile events surrounding sexual violence, especially in the wake of #MeToo, means young women are seeing lots of content and commentary from strangers, but also friends and family. Respondents shared how family members repost memes and other content that minimize the depth and scope of women’s mistreatment. Notably, they recalled seeing family members, including those they thought were generally more progressive, blame victim-survivors, make fun of children who were kidnapped and assaulted, and claim women who came forward about their assault were lying or simply looking for attention.

Social media has broadened our access to our family’s mundane life events but also their politics, and some family members can feel very comfortable extending their commentary and opinions onto their relatives’ social media posts. Many young women shared stories of family members directly commenting on their posts about feminist issues, such as the pink tax, domestic violence, and sexual violence to attempt to delegitimatize the post as “fake news” or otherwise misinformation. Some family members escalated the situation further, calling and texting young women to address their “political” post or demand the woman delete their post altogether.

While blocking someone seems like a straightforward strategy to avoid this type of interaction, the fact that this involves family complicates the situation. While women of color were most likely to call-out family members for harmful views, many respondents feared defending their posts too aggressively, and were hesitant to block family, since they would have to confront these very people when they went home. The strategy they chose as most useful was silence.

Silence here involves posting less often about social issues women cared about, which has larger democratic costs. But silence also extends to not disclosing their experiences of sexual violence. Victim-blaming and aggressive backlash to their own posts about sexual violence meant young women identified who they could not trust to believe or support them. Twenty-six women in the study had experienced sexual harassment on a selfie, but shared they did not share this with family because it was their fault for posting the picture. Ten women in the study had been raped by men they met online, including four women who were targeted from as young as the age of ten. Seeing their family victim-blame was part of what motivated these respondents to keep their sexual victimization to themselves. This was even true for women who were never assaulted, but nevertheless felt as though their family’s negative reactions to others’ disclosure was enough evidence that they would not have a support system in place.

When the primary advice for navigating harmful interactions online is “don’t feed the trolls,” silence in the forms of not responding to antagonizers or no longer posting at all become not only practical strategies to avoid further abuse, but also strategies that are institutionally encouraged. As my research points out, though, this silence can also extend to not disclosing sexual violence, which has real costs for women college students across race and sexual orientation. Women in college are at an extreme risk for sexual violence; disclosure after victimization can be the first step to recovery as well as seeking recourse. Yet young women’s disclosure is made significantly more difficult when their social media is saturated with victim-blaming narratives from news media, strangers, and family, and when their universities’ continue to have control over the pathway following survivors’ reports of sexual violence. As collective efforts continue to draw awareness to sexual violence, combat rape myths, and demand accountability online, we should be aware of the ways close family members contribute to repression.

Stephanie M. Ortiz (@SmoSaidSo) is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at UMass Lowell specializing in everyday racism and sexism.

Wedding rings. “Untitled” by Master Tux licensed by Pixaby

In a world that is progressively embracing diverse expressions of gender and sexuality, questions surrounding identity and relationships are becoming more intricate. Consider the following: If a man is dating a woman, what is the man’s sexuality? This question may trigger various assumptions in your mind. But let’s dive deeper into the dynamic interplay of identity, relationships, and societal norms, and challenge our conventional understanding.

The Spectrum of Identity

At first glance, it may seem obvious to assume that a man dating a woman is straight. However, as our understanding of gender and sexuality evolves, it’s essential to recognize that an individual’s sexuality cannot be neatly categorized based solely on their partner’s gender. Progressive views acknowledge that a man dating a woman could identify as bisexual, pansexual, or queer (bi+), encompassing a broader spectrum of attraction and orientation. This perspective challenges the traditional binary notions of straight and gay, and encourages us to appreciate the complexity of human identity.

Marriage and Identity

But what happens when we shift the context to marriage? Does the act of marrying someone influence how we perceive their sexuality? Despite society’s increasing acceptance of diverse relationships, marriage is often associated with a certain permanence that can overshadow an individual’s true identity. If a bisexual man marries a woman, does that automatically make him straight? Can a pansexual woman’s marriage to another woman define her as a lesbian? The answer, unequivocally, is no.

The Fallacy of Assumptions

As social beings, we tend to rely on assumptions that have been ingrained in our interactions and cultural norms. These assumptions are guided by a binary way of thinking about gender and sexuality, reinforced by a concept known as heteronormativity, which privileges and normalizes heterosexuality. This dichotomy fails to accommodate the expanding definitions of gender and sexuality, complicating our understanding of identity within the institution of marriage.

Navigating Bisexual Erasure

Coauthored with Meagan Pendleton, our recent publication “Doing Sexuality: How Married Bisexual, Queer, and Pansexual People Navigate Passing and Erasure,” delves into the experiences of bi+ individuals within marriages. By analyzing in-depth interviews with 23 bi+ married individuals, our study sheds light on the challenges faced by those who openly identify as bi+. The commitment of marriage sometimes reinforces binary perceptions of sexuality, leading to the erasure of bi+ identities. Morgan, a bisexual woman married to a man, explained:

I’ve gotten a lot of really awful questions that are like “Oh, so you’re married to Emanuel, so does that mean you’re straight?” I’ve gotten that so many times… I think that with the misconceptions about bi people not being able to make up their mind and all that, I think that when one of us ‘makes up our mind’ [laughs], or it seems like we’re making up our mind by getting married, right? I think the misconception that we’re now straight or we’re now gay depending on who you’re married to, it definitely is a little bit stronger because of marriage and commitment.

This erasure, perpetuated by misconceptions, marginalizes bi+ individuals and has detrimental effects on their mental well-being.

Marriage as a Privilege and a Challenge

Interestingly, our study also uncovers another facet of this complex narrative: the privilege of passing as straight. Many bi+ individuals in man/woman marriages shared how this arrangement grants them the choice of when to disclose their identity. Some saw this as a privilege, while others used it as a defense mechanism to protect themselves and their families from potential stigmatization. Nathan, a bisexual man married to a woman, explained:

I will tell you I am more out at work than I am where I live. Not because I personally have issues with it, but I have two high school aged boys that still have to get through a football locker room, and kids can be mean. So, I’m a little bit more protective of my orientation as it were … at least until such time as my boys graduate from high school, and then it’s all ok. Then at that point, it’s like, then I don’t care. But I’m being sensitive to how they might be treated by their friends if their friends knew. So, like I said, I’m more out here.

This dual experience of privilege and concealment highlights the intricate ways in which societal expectations and personal choices intertwine.

Challenging Perceptions and Doing Sexuality

Our study’s findings lead us to ponder the nature of sexuality as an achieved status, influenced by societal interactions and institutions like marriage. Just as West and Zimmerman’s concept of “doing gender” suggests, sexuality is intricately woven into how others perceive us, regardless of how we identify ourselves. To truly challenge the normative boundaries of marriage and the binary understanding of sexuality, bi+ individuals need visibility. This calls for outward expressions of queerness within marriages, thereby increasing awareness and understanding of diverse relationships.


As we strive for a more inclusive society, we must recognize the complexity of human identity and the challenges faced by bi+ individuals within the context of marriage. The intertwining of societal expectations, personal choices, and fluid identity necessitates a shift in how we perceive and interact with each other. By embracing the diverse tapestry of human experience, we move towards a future where the full spectrum of gender and sexuality can be celebrated, understood, and respected.

Daniel J. Bartholomay (he/him) (@Dr_Bartholomay) is an assistant professor of sociology and co-coordinator of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. His research examines inequalities, health disparities, and family dynamics within the LGBT+ community. He has a book under contract with Rowman & Littlefield titled The Future of Marriage: The Changing Landscape of Gender, Sexuality, and Family. You can learn more about Daniel’s work here.

Unpacking the Romantic Histories of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Young Adults

Queer couple kissing. “Untitled” by Artificial Artist licensed by Pixaby

Relationships of all types take work, but what we learned from interviews with lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) folks was how to create relationships that allow you to bring your whole self – and shedding the expectations and limits of others along the way.

Our study, Resilience through relationship experiences: A qualitative exploration of lesbian, gay, and bisexual romantic development arose from our curiosity about how lesbian, gay and bisexual people build relationships characterized by strengths in communication, intimacy, connection, and stability in spite of the negative health outcomes and discrimination they experience. We wanted to know: What happens in between those two realities? How, even when the cards stacked against you, do you find and keep meaningful, positive relationships? What do those “successful” relationships look like for LGB folks?

A Note About the Science

To answer these questions, we analyzed relationship history interviews from 10 LGB young adults. Ten may seem like small number, but our in-depth interviews provided nearly 17 hours of contact with participants. Researchers can gain a surprising amount of insight from a small number of people if we have rich data about their experiences. In this study, interviewees detailed every sexual and relationship experiences they could recall throughout their lives. This gave us enough information to analyze how romantic development might unfold for LGB folks.

In this type of research, we do not suggest that our findings generalize to the whole population, or even to all lesbian, gay, or bisexual people. However, when we find common threads across people’s lived experiences, we venture to say that what we see in the data may be meaningful. In this case, we found three themes that helped us understand romantic development for LGB people.


We found that some LGB folks hid their early relationships from family and friends, and they did so primarily in two ways. We called the first type “concealment through silence,” which described how LGB participants avoided conversations about their same-gender partners or sexual identities. Specifically, folks paid close attention to negative messages about homosexuality that came through their religious and cultural communities. Remaining “silent” was a response to the feeling that it was risky to be openly LGB.

We defined the second type of concealment as “overemphasizing heteronormativity.” Participants hid their sexual identities and relationships by dating different-gender partners and “acting” straight to throw others off the idea that they were LGB. One participant described acting “boy crazy” as a teen when she started to suspect that she was attracted to women.

Concealment was not universal. A few folks didn’t have to hide their early relationships or identities at all. Those who had families and communities which were accepting and open-minded were able to grow up more openly in their sexual identities.


Another strategy that LGB participants used to navigate early relationships was to try and blend in. The two ways we saw folks conforming in their relationships was through heteronormative conformity and homonormative conformity. Heteronormative conformity happened when participants followed the scripts and expectations that are common in heterosexual relationships. For example, in addition to seeking different-gender partnerships (which ultimately felt disappointing or incomplete for lesbian and gay folks), some participants felt pressure to legitimize their same-gender relationships by having big, traditional weddings.

Homonormative conformity usually happened in LGB folks’ early same-gender partnerships, as participants tried to figure out and follow expectations in the queer community. Some participants described falling into LGB stereotypes or going through the motions of a relationship according to what they thought same-gender relationships should be like. Bisexual participants recalled feeling pressure to conform to a “monosexual” identity (lesbian, gay, or straight) in order to fit in with either queer or heterosexual standards. Regardless of the kind of conformity, it typically did not lead to the most satisfying relationship experiences.


Even though most of our participants had experiences with concealment and/or conformity, nearly all of them managed to build relationships which were “authentic” meaning they were grounded in participants’ needs, boundaries, and hopes for the future. The people in our study were able to shed both hetero- and homonormative expectations of what relationships should look like to evoke queer resistance, confidence, and joy. For some participants, finding authentic relationships involved some growing pains: ending limited or constrained earlier relationships, engaging in self-reflection, and shifting priorities. Authentic relationships were a process, not an end goal, and were rooted in folks’ ability to self-define and direct their own relationships.


Being authentic in your relationships means directing the development of the relationship in line with your goals. Regardless of a person’s identities, authenticity seems worth pursuing, even if there are challenges along the way.

Mari Tarantino (she/her) is currently a Ph.D. student at Virginia Tech studying Human Development and Family Science. Her research focuses on sexually and romantically marginalized individuals in partnerships and family contexts. Prior to starting her graduate career, Mari earned her BS in Human Development and Family Studies at the University of New Hampshire and minored in Queer Studies and Interdisciplinary Health Education. Her most recent work titled, “Queering LGB+ Women’s Sexual Scripts,” addresses how heteronormativity influences LGB+ women’s sexual partnerships and STI-pregnancy prevention efforts.

Twitter: @mari_tarantino

Tyler Jamison (she/her) is an associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of New Hampshire. Her research focuses on romantic relationship development and dissolution during adolescence and emerging adulthood. Her most recent work explores singlehood in the context of romantic life and narratives of love in long-term relationships. She writes about love and relationships for Psychology Today on her blog page Assembly Required.

Twitter: @drtylerjamison

1.) What causes women to acquiesce in the workplace?

Cover of Glass Walls

Of the six gender bias barriers Dr. Leanne Dzubinski and I discuss in Glass Walls, acquiescence is the last. It may be a consequence of all the other barriers—male privilege, disproportionate constraints, insufficient support, devaluation, and hostility—that women experience at work. Instead of fighting a system that is setup for them to fail, women acquiesce. And it is a very rationale choice. No individual woman can win when fighting patriarchal work environments alone.  Acquiescence consists of work-life conflict, self-blame, self-silencing and self-limited aspirations. Each of these is often framed as individual women’s choices, such when a woman must figure out how to maintain her career with a new baby or when a woman chooses not to try for that big promotion. This framing leads to pressure on the woman to accept these inequities as justified and to find her own way to manage them. But they are actually derived from workplaces that are setup to retain male control and power. The cause is not a failing of an individual woman, it is the male-normed system.

2.) What are the top strategies for men to fight against gender bias?

The place for men to start is to learn about gender bias. Learn how to identify it. Then avoid behaviors that marginalize women. The next strategy is to call it out when you see it within your own workplace. For example, if you are in a meeting, and your female colleague is being “hepeated” (when a man repeats a woman’s idea and he gets the credit), redirect the conversation back to her and note that it was her idea: “Melanie just said that. Let’s hear more about what she thinks.” Keep in mind that women are often not in the room when bias or discrimination happens. If you are part of a hiring or promotional conversation, be sure to call out if women are being overlooked or held to different standards than male candidates. Like if a woman is considered “too young” for a certain position, ask if a man of the same age would be considered too young and redirect the conversation to the candidates’ skills. In Glass Walls, we offer lots more strategies for men to fight gender bias, whether those men are leaders or colleagues.

3.) What can women do to shatter the glass walls of their workplace?

Women should know that they are not responsible for fixing a male-normed system all on their own. As mentioned, it’s not a fight individual women can win. We all—leaders, allies, men, and women— have a role to play in shattering the glass walls of gender bias. And we all must work together to advance gender equity and inclusion. That said, there are some steps women can take to improve their own situation. First, women should depersonalize any bias they experience. This can be hard because bias often feels personal. But it is not. It is happening to so many of us women. Second, women should focus on building a support network of individuals inside and outside their organization.  This quote from one of my dissertation participants is so true: “It is really important that you have a group of people that you can talk to, get advice from, believe in, understand, and who understand you.”  Third, be persistent. Recognize that there will be roadblocks. Not everything comes easily. Changes may be small and seem slow but that is often how progress is made. Perhaps you had a conversation with a male colleague who regularly talks over you, and you helped him understand how his behavior keeps you from doing your job. If your colleague was receptive to your feedback, consider that a win. Last, have alternatives. Some workplaces are just plain toxic, and the only good solution is to leave your role. Think about your options, like a new role in a different department, a job in a new organization, or even working for yourself. There are lots of jobs, lots of opportunities. Make positive change where you can in your present workplace, but don’t let one person or workplace block your personal fulfillment and advancement.

Amy Diehl is the Chief Information Officer at Wilson College, a Gender Equity Researcher, and author of Glass Walls: Shattering the Six Gender Bias Barriers Still Holding Women Back at Work https://amy-diehl.com Follow Amy on Twitter @amydiehl