Efforts to level the playing field in education typically start at the bottom. They focus on less-privileged students and on figuring out what those students lack that prevents them from getting ahead.

That deficit-based, bottom-up approach is problematic because it ignores how privileged families hoard opportunities for themselves. As I have found in my research, privileged parents teach their children to “be their own advocates” in school. Privileged children learn to ask for resources and support in excess of what is fair or required. They also keep asking until well-meaning teachers give in and grant their requests. As a result, privileged students get the bulk of teachers’ support and attention, even when they are the students who need it the least.

Those patterns were particularly apparent one morning at Maplewood Elementary (all names have been changed), where I spent three years observing and interviewing students, parents, and teachers.

Mr. Cherlin was checking homework on his clipboard.  Lucy, a working-class, white student, sat low in her seat. Stopping beside her, Mr. Cherlin glanced at Lucy’s empty desk and asked: “Do you have your homework?” Lucy shook her head, not looking Mr. Cherlin in the eye. Mr. Cherlin sighed, explaining matter-of-factly: “You’ll be coming in for recess since you forgot.” Lucy nodded, slumping lower in her chair. Mr. Cherlin continued around the room, stopping next to Sarah, a middle-class, white student whose desk was also empty. Before Mr. Cherlin could say anything, Sarah launched into a breathless explanation, telling Mr. Cherlin: “I couldn’t do my homework ‘cuz I couldn’t find my journal.” Mr. Cherlin chided Sarah, saying she should have written her journal entry on a piece of paper and put it in her journal when she found it. Sarah nodded, then asked hopefully: “So, do I have to stay in for recess?” Mr. Cherlin thought for a moment and then conceded: “Just get it done tonight and show me tomorrow.” Ultimately, Lucy stayed in for recess, and Sarah did not.

Privileged students like Sarah (i.e., those with college-educated, professional parents) asked teachers to check their answers on tests. They asked for extensions on assignments. They asked for exemptions from snack policies and playground rules. They asked teachers not to punish them when they ran in the hallways or forgot their homework at home. Privileged students like Sarah also challenged teachers’ authority. Rather than sit patiently with their hands raised, they called out, got up from their seats, and even interrupted with questions. When teachers tried to deny their requests, privileged students kept asking until teachers said “yes,” instead.

If self-advocacy—or what I call negotiating advantages—helps students succeed, is it really a problem? And couldn’t we just teach less-privileged students to advocate for themselves? I would argue that, yes, negotiated advantages are a problem, and no, teaching less-privileged students to negotiate advantages is not the best way to reduce inequalities in school.

First, negotiated advantages reinforce the notion that rules don’t apply to the privileged. School discipline disproportionately affects poor and minority students. Starting as early as preschool, those students receive harsher and more frequent punishments from teachers. Those punishments undermine the success of less-privileged students and create a “school-to-prison pipeline.” It is easy to assume from those disparities that privileged students are just better behaved. What I found, however, was that privileged and less-privileged students both broke school rules—where they differed was in how they responded when they got caught. Less-privileged students accepted the consequences. Privileged students negotiated their way out of punishment, instead.

Second, negotiated advantages are problematic because they are unfair to teachers and other students. Teachers are already burdened by soaring class sizes, scarce resources, and stacks of material to cover. Allowing students to negotiate advantages wastes time and resources. It also ensures that teachers’ support disproportionately benefits students who demand it—and not necessarily students who need it most.

Third, negotiated advantages are problematic because less-privileged students cannot use them to get ahead. In the classrooms I observed, students’ success in negotiating was directly linked to their (and their parents’) privilege. Teachers relied on privileged parents. Through their donations and volunteer efforts, privileged parents supported arts programs, after-school sports, classroom technology, library renovations, and field trips. Privileged parents also advocated for teachers when politicians threatened to cut benefits or teacher pay. For teachers, saying “no” to privileged students meant jeopardizing that support.

Educators and policymakers have tried to level the playing field, but those efforts often start at the bottom. They aim to help less-privileged students by increasing choice or by teaching less-privileged students to act like their more-privileged peers. Those efforts have merit, but they have failed to reduce growing inequalities in school.

If we truly want to level the playing field, we have to start at the top. That could mean limiting privileged parents’ ability to bolster the budgets of their children’s schools, to use public funds for private tuition, or to influence students’ placement in advanced classes.  Essentially, we need clear policies that prevent privileged families from finding new ways to get ahead. Because the playing field can’t truly be level if one side gets to negotiate the rules.

Jessica Calarco, an assistant professor of sociology at Indiana University, is the author of Negotiating Opportunities: How the Middle Class Secures Advantages in School.

Picture by CC0 Creative Commons

Originally published in the Harvard Business Review

Few people today call a doctor when they feel a bout of nostalgia coming on. But for 200 years, nostalgia was considered a dangerous disease that could trigger delusions, despair, and even death. A 17th-century Swiss physician coined the word to describe the debilitating algos (pain) felt by people who had left their nostos (native home). In the U.S. during the Civil War, Union Army doctors reported 5,000 serious cases of nostalgia, leading to 74 deaths. In Europe, physicians anxiously debated how to treat home-sickness and contain its spread.

Alarm waned toward the end of the 19th century, as experts came to believe that “modern industry” and “rapid communications” were making people more open to change and hence more resistant to the disease. And by the 20th century, researchers had begun to recognize a milder form of nostalgia that is actually quite healthy: a longing to reproduce a feeling once experienced with friends or family, rather than to literally return to another place or time. This kind of nostalgia makes people feel warmer themselves and act more warmly toward others, including strangers.

In recent decades, however, we have seen a revival of the more pernicious form of nostalgia, what we might call past-sickness. This is the longing to reproduce an idealized piece of history. When people are collectively nostalgic about their past experiences as members of a group or as inhabitants of an era, rather than individually nostalgic for their personal experiences, they start to identify more intensely with their own group and to judge members of other groups more negatively. They become less optimistic about their ability to forge new connections — and more hostile to people perceived as outsiders. When such nostalgia gets politicized, it can lead to delusions about a mythical, magical Golden Age of the homeland, supposedly ruined by interlopers.

Collective nostalgia invariably involves a denial of the racial, ethnic, and family diversity of the past, as well as its social injustices, creating romanticized myths that are easily refuted by anyone willing to confront historical realities. But the cure to the pathologies of past-sickness does not lie in the equally romanticized vision of modernization and innovation we have been offered for the last 40 years — something that might be called future nostalgia, or modernization-sickness.

For much of the 20th century, it was possible to argue that the inequities of life stemmed from the incomplete expansion of technology, industry, and the market, and would be resolved by further modernization. But for several decades it’s been clear that the gains of modernization for some have produced substantial losses for others. While the innovations of the past 40 years have opened more opportunities for professionals and affluent entrepreneurs than they have closed off, that’s not the case for many working-class, small-town, and rural men and women. The failure of policy makers and opinion leaders to acknowledge their losses has left the pain of the “losers” to curdle into a toxic mix of nationalism, racism, and conspiracy theories across Europe and the U.S.

Despite institutionalized discrimination, working-class Americans of all races made significant economic progress in the 35 years following World War II. While it’s true that white male workers were given preference over minorities and women in hiring and pay, most of the gains made by white working-class men in that era came not from their advantages over minorities but from their greater bargaining power vis-à-vis employers. The greater prevalence and power of unions was a huge factor, and although minority and female workers were only gradually admitted to those, strong unions tend to pull up wages in other sectors of the economy and act as a counterweight to business influence over government policy.

In that environment, labor took home a much larger share of economic growth than it does today. From 1947 to the start of the 1970s, every successive cohort of young men earned, on average, three times as much in constant dollars as their fathers had at the same age. And in every single economic expansion in those same years, 70% to 80% of the income growth went to the bottom 90% of the population. Economic disparities between big urban centers, small towns, and rural areas steadily narrowed.

Since the late 1970s, a very different set of trends has prevailed. Between 1980 and 2007, even before the Great Recession hit, the median real earnings of men age 25 to 34 with a high school diploma declined by 28%. Since 1980 every cohort of young men has earned less, on average, than their fathers did at the same age. Meanwhile, in periods of economic expansion the top 10% of earners have taken 95% or more of income growth. Similar increases in inequality have occurred in Europe and elsewhere. A new Oxfam study reports that the richest 1% of the world cornered 82% of the wealth created in 2017.

The reaction of the “creative classes” to these trends has been cavalier to say the least. Despite the clear signs of working-class distress in the 1980s and early 1990s, most pundits insisted that the real story of the era was “the explosion” of new and ever-cheaper consumer conveniences produced by technological advances and globalization. Economist Robert Samuelson dismissed worries about job losses and wage cuts as “alarmist hype” that had American families “feeling bad about doing well.” Conservative columnist George Will speculated that modern affluence had produced so much “leisure, abundance, and security” that our brains, which evolved to deal with constant hazards, had gotten “bored.” Even the socially conscious Microsoft founder Bill Gates was complacent: “Entire professions and industries will fade. But new ones will flourish….The net result is that more gets done, raising the standard of living in the long run.”

During the Great Recession, pundits briefly discovered that “average” increases in income often mask serious inequalities, but that went out the window as soon as the economy started growing again. Last fall the chief global strategist at Morgan Stanley brushed aside worries about job losses due to automation, arguing that “when new technology destroys, it leaves behind a layer of ash in which new jobs grow.” This January, after yet another year of global job gains without wage gains, a writer in Bloomberg News breezily announced that “brisk growth that’s not shared by all is better than no growth at all.” Besides, “there’s basically no country in the world where the consumer is not doing well,” added Bart van Ark, chief economist at The Conference Board.

As for the people who actually provide those affordable consumer goods and services? In the U.S., the “recovery” exacerbated the 40-year rise in economic inequality and insecurity. A survey of the job and business gains in the U.S. between 2011 and 2015 found that most were confined to the wealthiest 20% of zip codes in the country. The bottom 60% of zip codes together got just one in four of the new jobs created in those years. And the 20% of zip codes that were most distressed before the recession continued to lose jobs and businesses throughout the “recovery.” In 2007 the bottom 90% of the population held 28.6% of America’s total wealth. As of 2016, that had fallen to 22.8%.

 Despite futurist predictions that the information revolution would lead to the “death of distance,” a few coastal enclaves and political or technical centers have continued to garner a disproportionate share of resources, reversing the 40 years of economic convergence among regions that occurred after 1940. The average per capita income advantage of Washington, DC and New York City over the rest of the country doubled between 1980 and 2013. Average airfares per mile to “loser” regions are now often nearly twice as high as to the “winners,” while many towns have lost rail service altogether.

Like nostalgia epidemics of the past, our recent outbreak was triggered by an understandable sense of loss and disorientation. But there’s an interesting difference between past and present in the groups most vulnerable to the disease. From the 17th to the 19th century, pathological nostalgia was seen most often among people who moved away from the communities in which they had been raised — often bettering themselves materially but feeling lost and isolated in their new surroundings. Today the upwardly and geographically mobile have easy access to new technologies, professional networks, and flexible work and consumption techniques that allow them to navigate unfamiliar territory and make themselves at home wherever they go.

Those same innovations, however, have marginalized individuals whose identity, security, and livelihood depend on their familiarity with a particular place and set of skills, and their placement within long-standing personal networks that involve relations of mutual dependence and reciprocity. These include industrial workers who get jobs at a local factory because a relative puts in a good word with the foreman; farmers, feed suppliers, and farm equipment mechanics who rely on clients or employees who are also neighbors; and local businesses that depend on personal connections with their customers.

Today the most debilitating nostalgia is found among those who cannot or do not want to move — and should not have to — but see the traditional sources of security that their native land, or nostos, once provided being dismantled or relocated, while their habits, skills, and social relationships are devalued. Instead of leaving their homes behind, they feel left behind in their homes.

As always, working-class African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans suffer disproportionately from job losses, wage cuts, and increased volatility. Zip codes where most residents are racial or ethnic minorities are twice as likely as predominantly white zip codes to be in economic distress. Still, whites account for a significant portion — 44% — of the more than 52 million Americans in the most distressed communities. This shared exclusion from the rewards of modernization ought to be a source of solidarity, not division, but division is what happens when one group romanticizes where we’ve come from and another romanticizes where we’re going, instead of carefully examining the gains, losses, and hard trade-offs of the here-and-now.

To cure this outbreak of past-sickness, the winners in this system must stop pretending that the answer is more of the same, with a little more diversity at the top. To make modernization work for all, we must take a more critical look at how we measure economic and technological progress. Self-driving cars and delivery drones may save some people time and money, but they take away other people’s livelihoods. To stem the contagion of pathological nostalgia, we need to inoculate ourselves with a dose of the healthy nostalgia that spurs us to integrate the best values and ideas of the past into the improvements and advances we promote.

One of those values is the traditional democratic belief that the people who grow our food, make our coffee, fix our cars, educate our children, nurse our sick, and pick up our garbage are at least as essential to a healthy society as the people who invent new algorithms for stock trading, social media, and marketing. They deserve to live in thriving communities, send their kids to good schools, earn a living wage, and get home in time to enjoy dinner with whomever they count as family.

Stephanie Coontz is the CCF Director of Research and Education and a Professor of History at The Evergreen State College.

In Time to Join #MeToo, Research Highlights Men’s Growing Support for Gender Equality

Two recent studies, presented to the Council on Contemporary Families, reveal that despite the serious obstacles still standing in the way of achieving full gender equality, progress continues. Married men are expanding their contributions on the home front, and data from the General Social Survey show men at their highest levels yet of support for gender equality.

Dan Carlson of the University of Utah reports on a new study with co-authors Amanda Miller and Sharon Sassler that expands on their earlier research: It had shown that sharing housework now increases happiness for heterosexual couples. The new work finds sharing housework is good news for the bedroom, though how good depends on what you’re sharing.

Carlson’s report on housework underscores what David Cotter (Union College, New York) indicates about trends in attitudes: When looking at men’s and women’s roles at home and at work, a stall in support for gender equality in the 1990s was followed by advances in the 2000s, and mixed results in the 2010s. But in 2016, support for all aspects of gender equality reached new highs. While men have consistently been less egalitarian than women since the 1970s, the gap between their attitudes has narrowed in recent years. “History seldom proceeds in a straight line,” notes Stephanie Coontz, CCF’s director of research and education, “but when you even out the ups and downs, the increase in approval of gender equality, at home and at work, over the past 40 years has been truly dramatic.”


In Not All Housework is Created Equal: Particular Housework Tasks and Couples’ Relationship Quality, Carlson shares a couple of intriguing findings:

  • By 2006, the proportion of lower and moderate income parents sharing house cleaning had nearly doubled, to 22 percent, and the proportion sharing the laundry had risen to 21 percent, an increase of 129 percent.
  • In 1992 the division of tasks mattered little for couples’ well-being. But, by 2006, couples who equally shared tasks demonstrated clear advantages in relationship quality over couples where one partner shouldered the load.
  • Which tasks partners shared made a difference. Men who shared the shopping for their household reported greater sexual and relationship satisfaction than men who did either less or more shopping than their partner.
  • And for women? Sharing responsibility for dishwashing was the single biggest source of satisfaction for women. Lack of sharing in this task was the single biggest source of discontent with their marital relationship.

In Patterns of Progress? Changes in Gender Ideology 1977-2016, Cotter provides four graphics that chart change.

  • Overall, people have become more egalitarian about such issues as support for working mothers, whether men should be in charge at home, and whether men are superior to women in politics. The upward lines in Figures 1 and 2 tell it all.
  • The change has more to do with generational replacement than anything else, as you’ll see in Figure 4. The younger generations—groups referred to as Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers, and Millennials–all trend together towards high levels of egalitarianism.
  • The biggest news is that men are catching up to women, as seen in Figure 3. Men are still less egalitarian than women, but the gap between men and women has declined significantly in the past four years.

Where do we stand today?

Discussions about gender equality tend to invite that “glass half full / glass half empty” response, notes Stephanie Coontz, who reviewed these reports. “As we know from #MeToo, we have a long way to go. But to reach gender equity, we started with a very tall glass that had sat empty for thousands of years. The fact that we’ve filled it this far in just forty years should give us confidence to keep pouring.”

Following the Second World War, fertility in the United States began to rise sharply from a low point established in the Great Depression. During the 1950s and early 1960s, marriage and childbearing began to occur at what now seem to be unimaginably early ages. Aided by a robust economy and an unbridled sense of optimism, half of all women were married by the time they turned twenty, mostly to husbands who were barely older. Most couples had children soon after marriage if they were not already pregnant by their wedding date. The marriage rush, as it was referred to at the time, created a brief era when most young adults marched confidently into adulthood by their late teens or early twenties.

The regime of early adulthood came to an abrupt halt in the final third of the last century. The rapid loss of manufacturing jobs, the decline in labor unions, the rising demand for higher education, the oil crisis of the early 1970s, the rapid spread of new and more effective contraceptive methods, and the emerging movement for gender equality all likely contributed to ending the early schedule of family formation. Young adults began to move more slowly and more deliberately into the economy, restrained by the need to spend more time in school and by the unavailability of well-paying jobs providing enough to support a family.

The most disadvantaged Americans were initially slow to respond to the emergence of a “skills and knowledge” economy. Marriage remained a strong ideal and the practice of early and often unplanned parenthood continued to propel women into wedlock even when they and their partners were ill-prepared to support a family. But by the mid-1960s, African American women who became pregnant in their teens began to eschew marriage, creating a new social problem: teenage parenthood! In the words of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the Black family was becoming ensnared in “a tangled web of pathology” by the pattern of early and unmarried parenthood.

For a brief period, the retreat from marriage was believed to be a special problem for African Americans. Some argued wrongly, that early and unwed pregnancy was a distinctive holdover from slavery or Ante-Bellum discrimination and marginalization.  However, such explanations did not stand the test of time. By the 1980s, marriage was rapidly declining among young whites who, like their African American and Hispanic counterparts, began view early marriage as a bad bargain even in the face of an unplanned pregnancy.  Abortion or even single parenthood appeared like a more promising strategy than marrying an unsuitable partner.

Led by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the research and policy arm of Planned Parenthood, a nationwide effort was launched to expand reproductive health services to low-income, unmarried women, teenagers in particular. In the middle of the last century, contraception had not been legally available to these populations. But as sexual and marriage practices changed and marriage, many policy makers argued that providing unmarried women with birth control services was needed to address the growing number of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. In 1965, reproductive health services first became available to unmarried women. By 1970, a unanimous Senate and nearly unanimous House sent legislation known now as Title X to President Nixon to establish a network of health and reproductive services to low-income women.  Over the years, Title X has been expanded; by 2014, over 4,000 clinics across the nation provided reproductive health care to young women who could not afford a private physician.

After the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 that legalized abortion, Title X explicitly prohibited clinics from offering abortions in publicly funded sites. Accordingly, Planned Parenthood a leading provider of abortions, was compelled to divorce its abortion services from reproductive health clinics that were funded by Title X. This compromise has been under attack by abortion opponents for decades who contend that Title X is covertly supporting abortion because Title X provided many to Planned Parenthood clinics even though they did not offer abortion services. Planned Parenthood contended that its reproductive health care services, in fact, prevent the need for abortion and deserve credit for helping to reduce the rate of abortion in the United States.

This contention may well be tested in the next few years because The Trump Administration, with the backing of most Republicans, has recently proposed to defund Planned Parenthood clinics. Already, states are poised to eliminate the largest national provider of reproductive health services in the nation. Like so many of the Trump policies, this proposed change has largely flown under the radar.

Childbearing to teenagers and women in the early twenties dropped steadily and precipitously over the past 25 years, and so have rates of abortion among younger women. The rate of teenage childbearing is less than half of what it was in 1991. Of course, this result is not only due to the growing availability of effective methods of contraception. Sexuality activity has leveled off if not slightly declined during the teen years. Norms have changed: an early and unplanned birth during the teen years has become anomalous with the later schedule for entering adulthood. Still, the widespread availability of birth control, especially as it comes in more user friendly and effective methods, has made it possible for sexually active teens and young adults to avoid becoming pregnant. If enacted, the defunding of Planned Parenthood would have a disastrous effect, probably reversing the trend of the past quarter of a century.

The state of Texas previewed the hardline policy of killing Planned Parenthood services only to find that pregnancies and health problems immediately soared. Texas was quickly compelled to revise these draconian measures. Yet, it appears that the federal government wants to carry out what happened in Texas on a national level.

In last year’s budget resolution, Congress rejected the entreaties of the Administration to remove Planned Parenthood funded services, but the fight undoubtedly will continue into next year’s budget deliberations. Whether this effort succeeds or not will depend— as so many things do— on the elections this year and in 2020.  Reproductive rights for women is just one more reason to join the effort to defeat President Trump and his congressional allies.

Frank Furstenberg is The Zellerbach Family Chair, emeritus, at the University of Pennsylvania where he remains an Associate in the Population Center.   He most recently authored Behind the Academic Curtain: How to Find Success and Happiness with a Ph.D.

Inevitably when I tell people that I study love letters and technology, someone participating in the conversation laments the way that texting and instant messaging have lessened the depth and thoughtfulness of love letters in today’s romantic relationships. A text is not a substitute for a handwritten note that takes time to write and symbolizes dedication to a relationship, they argue. But then another voice chimes into this conversation, offering something like this: “I love that my girlfriend and I can text each other little love notes. It’s quick, it’s in real time, and it makes me feel close to her even if she’s far away.”

A few years ago I was cleaning out a basement cabinet and found a box of old paper notes and love letters from high school, college, and graduate school. I brought the box upstairs and began rifling through the paper. My husband walked into the living room, saying to me as I sat amidst a pile of spiral notebook paper bits, “We started college before there was email and we ended college when the World Wide Web came into existence. I wonder if we’re the last generation of letter writers.” Around the same time I talked with a couple women about their love letters – one woman in her twenties who had saved texts from romantic partners in a memo folder on her smartphone, and one woman in her forties who had saved paper letters from her (now) husband that they had exchanged while studying abroad in college. Because of these conversations, I began to wonder whether gender and generation mattered in how people thought about the role of technology in romantic communication.

It is precisely these varied reactions – lamenting the loss of thoughtfulness, praising the access to real-time communication, and wondering about the role of rapidly changing technology on relationships for people from different groups – that my new book, Love Letters: Saving Romance in the Digital Age (Routledge 2018), dissects.

Through my own survey data, stories, and a rich weaving together of others’ research from a variety of academic disciplines, I tell the story not of the content of love letters exchanged on paper and via digital devices, but rather what people do with the love letters once they have them, and whether their format as digital or paper matters in terms of their meaningfulness to their owners. In other words, I study the curatorial practices of saving, storing, revisiting, organizing, and throwing away love letters. I do this because the objects in our lives – our material culture – not only impact our behaviors (think about how your smartphone shapes your behavior when it rings or dings during a class or concert); they also symbolize what we cherish or despise. More importantly, our actions surrounding these pieces of material culture require different kinds of bodily and emotional work depending on the relationship and on the digital or paper format – labor that I discuss in this podcast from The Verge. To save a thousand texts in a special folder requires not only the physical work of creating that folder by swiping and typing or by folding and stuffing, but also the emotional labor of discerning whether these saving practices are worth it given the type of relationship they symbolize.

My research reveals a few important findings. First, people overwhelmingly prefer saving paper love letters over digital ones, a pattern that spans all age groups (even among younger individuals for whom digital communication is more prevalent). But despite the preference for paper, people are more likely to use digital means to communicate to lovers. Thus, there is a mismatch between what people do and what they prefer their partners do. For people of different ages, this may stem from different causal mechanisms: for older individuals, they may prefer something from their past that they witness lessening; for younger individuals, they may prefer something they imagine as better despite not having experienced it much in their own lives. In both cases, there is a calling forth of a past image of love letters that is used to judge today’s practices.

Second, men and women differ in their love letter curatorial practices, especially with paper letters. Women are more likely to save love letters than men, but men look at the love letters they save more frequently than women. Women tend to store their love letters in, under, and behind things (e.g., in a drawer, under a bed), while men tend to store them on things (e.g., on a desk or bulletin board). Men and women are similar, as are people of varying ages, in the reasons why they may revisit love letters: people are as likely to look at a saved love letter intentionally (to reminisce fondly or remind themselves of what to avoid in the case of a negative relationship) as they are to stumble upon them accidentally (which is what I did when I found my box of old paper letters in my basement). And people across age and gender categories who get rid of love letters may do so for several reasons: to rid themselves of bad memories, to declutter, or to prevent others from seeing what they perceive to be highly private (often sexual) messages.

Most importantly, the underlying message of these and other findings in the book must be understood in light of social inequalities that move beyond individual preferences. In particular, the calling forth of a nostalgic image of handwritten paper love letters sent and received through the mail not only must be historically situated, as lots of epistolary research shows (mail delivery as we know it in contemporary society is not really that old; people have always adjusted to newer and quicker modes of communication exchange), but also must be understood in terms of privilege. To write, send, receive, and read a love letter that looks like those images found in popular culture and the marketplace began among those with tremendous privilege: those who were white, affluent, educated, literate, and geographically located in the Global North. This image of love letters was reserved for those who were among the most elite in Western society. If there’s one thing family scholars know, to mythologize past nostalgic images of family relationships as if they were universal not only fails to be historically accurate, it also becomes the basis for inaccurate and unfair judgment of today’s varied relationships. To label someone as unromantic because they send a text message rather than sitting down at a desk for an hour to handwrite a love letter upholds an image that historically was reserved for those who had plenty of time, money, and education.

When people lament the loss of paper handwritten love letter writing, they are really lamenting the loss of a nostalgic image of romantic love that has never been universal, and that has become part of a collective view of romance that is ahistorical, inaccurate, and was available only to privileged groups. What people do with their love letters – digital or paper – depends not only on individual preferences regarding orderliness, clutter, or sentimentality, but also on people’s access and attachment to powerful cultural values that make up contemporary views of romance such as individualization, taking time in a hectic world, longevity, privacy, and keeping cherished things in a safe place. These values are not accessible equally across groups. Ultimately, I contend, despite acknowledging that digital communication has changed how we view connectedness and the type of work we have to do to manage a huge amount of information, the cultural values that tell us how romantic love should be defined are more powerful than the format our love letters take.

Michelle Janning is Professor of Sociology at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. She studies the intersection between intimate relationships, domestic objects, and spaces and places, usually while cleaning out basement cabinets or looking under couch cushions. She enjoys nice pens and stationery, as well as inside jokes in texts from her husband. She is the author of The Stuff of Family Life: How our Homes Reflect our Lives (Rowman & Littlefield 2017).

Families Belong Together

DATE: June 21, 2018

A deluge of people who study and work with families, many of them among Council on Contemporary Families members, have joined scholars in other organizations (such as the American Psychological Association, Physicians for Human Rights, the American Anthropological Association and others listed here) to express concern and alarm about the family separation policy. We are sharing a statement on behalf of the 926 cosigning family scholars around the country.

Family Scholars and Experts Statement of Opposition to Policy of Separating Immigrant Families


We write as family scholars and experts to express our opposition to the Trump Administration policy of separating immigrant parents and children at the border as they enter the United States to seek refuge. This practice is an inhumane mistreatment of those seeking refuge from danger or persecution, and goes against international law. As scholars and experts devoted to identifying and sharing information relevant to policies to improve individual and family wellbeing, we deplore the Administration’s callous disregard of the overwhelming scientific information demonstrating the harm of separating children from their parents. This practice is known to be extremely traumatic for dependent children who stand a strong likelihood of experiencing lasting negative consequences from the sudden and inexplicable loss of their caregiver. Government should only separate children from their parents as a last resort when children are in danger of imminent harm. We urge the Administration to reconsider and reverse this policy.



Eileen Mazur Abel
Leisy Abrego, University of California Los Angeles
Dolores Acevedo-Garcia, Brandeis University
Katie Acosta, Georgia State University
Luke Adams, LMFT
Britni L. Adams, University of California Irvine
Fenaba Addo
Sarah Adeyinka-Skold, University of Pennsylvania
Janet Afary, University of California Santa Barbara
Ahmed Afzal, California State University Fullerton
Constance Ahrons, University of Southern California
Theresa Aiello, New York University
Brittnie Aiello, Merrimack College
Jennifer Ailshire, University of Southern California
Silke Aisenbrey, Yeshiva University
Randy Albelda, University of Massachusetts Boston
Aayat Ali, University of Michigan
Amanda Allan, University of Michigan
Elaine C. Allard, Swarthmore College
Katherine Allen, Virginia Tech
Adero Cheryl E Allison, Arizona State University
Marisa Allison, George Mason University
Rachel Allison, Mississippi State University
Rene Almeling, Yale University
Olga Alonso-Villar, Universidade de Vigo
Julie Alonzo, University of Oregon
Laura Alston
Jennifer Andersen, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Donna Anderson, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Elaine A. Anderson, University of Maryland
Abigail Andrews, University of California San Diego
Sophia Angeles, University of California Los Angeles
Elizabeth A. Armstrong, University of Michigan
Rachel Arocho, The Ohio State University
Bruno Arpino, Pompeu Fabra University
Angela E. Arzubiaga, Arizona State University
Marysol Asencio, University of Connecticut
Nina Asher, University of Minnesota
Sagiv Ashkenazi, Psychologist
Lori Askeland, Wittenberg University
Ragui Assaad, University of Minnesota
Javier Auyero, University of Texas at Austin
Kate H. Averett, University at Albany SUNY
Patricia G. Avery, University of Minnesota
Melanie Ayres, University of Wisconsin – River Falls
Maria Aysa-Lastra
Betsy W Bach, University of Montana
M V Lee Badgett, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Roksana Badruddoja, Manhattan College
Regina Baker, University of Pennsylvania
Radhika Balakrishnan, Rutgers University
Nina Bandelj, University of California Irvine
Pallavi Banerjee, University of Calgary
Nina Banks, Bucknell University
Katherine Barko-Alva
Medora W. Barnes, John Carroll University
Ashley Barr, SUNY Buffalo
Veronica R. Barrios, Miami University
Phillip J Barrish, University of Texas-Austin
Bernadette Barton, Morehead State University
Professor Emerita Leslie Baxter, Univ of Iowa
Megan Doherty Bea, Cornell University
Brigitte Bechtold, Central Michigan University
Sam Beck, Cornell University
Jonathon Beckmeyer
Rebecca Bedwell, University of Arizona
Andrea Beller
Lourdes Beneria, Cornell University
Ellen C. Berg, California State University Sacramento
Suzanne Bergeron, University of Michigan Dearborn
Catherine White Berheide, Skidmore College
Debra Berl, University of Southern California
Danielle Bessett, University of Cincinnati
Amy Best, George Mason University
Jennifer L. Bevan
Amy Bhatt, University of Maryland
William T Bielby, University of Illinois Chicago and University of California
Carole Biewener, Simmons College
Martha Bigelow, University of Minnesota
Sharon Bird, Oklahoma State University
Abigail Bishop, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Consuelo Biskupovic, Chile
Margunn Bjørnholt, Policy and Social Research Norway
Tim Black
Maylei Blackwell, University of California Los Angeles
Sherry Blair
Mary Blair-Loy, University of California San Diego
Dee Blinka, LCSW, ACSW, BCD
Katrina R. Bloch, Kent State University at Stark
Linda Blum, Northeastern University
Chris Bobel, University of Massachusetts Boston
Arthur Bochner, University of South Florida
Deborah A. Boehm, University of Nevada
Catherine Bolzendahl, University of California Irvine
Jennifer Bouek, Brown University
Christine Bowditch, Lehigh Carbon Community College
Dr. Christie Boxer, Adrian College
Elizabeth Boyle, University of Minnesota
Jen Bradley, Swarthmore College
Amy Brainer, University of Michigan-Dearborn
Dawn O. Braithwaite, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Jenifer Bratter, Rice University
Caroline Brettell, Southern Methodist University
Karin L. Brewster, Florida State University
Tristan Bridges, University of California Santa Barbara
Tanya Broesch, Simon Fraser University
Elizabeth Levine Brown, George Mason University
Michelle Brown
Melissa Brown, Texas Woman’s University
Jason Brownlee, University of Texas at Austin
Emily Bruce, University of Minnesota–Morris
Angela Bruns, University of Michigan
Leah E. Bryant, DePaul University
Linda Lausell Bryant, New York University
Xiana Bueno, Harvard University
Bonnie Bui, University of California Irvine
Renee Bullock, IITA
Tina Burdsall, Portland State University
Thomas Burton, University of Alberta
Kevin Bush, Miami University
Erika Busse, Macalester College
Rachael Byrd, University of Arizona
Kate Cairns, Rutgers University
Jessica Calarco, Indiana University
Rebecca Callahan
Kristina Callina, Tufts University
Esther Calzada, University of Texas at Austin
Richard Carbonaro, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Emily Carian, Stanford University
Daniel L. Carlson, University of Utah
Laura M. Carpenter, Vanderbilt University
Deborah Carr, Boston University
Dianna Carrizales-Engelmann, University of Oregon
Megan Carroll, University of Southern California
Dr Julia Carter, University of West England
Monica J Casper, University of Arizona
Yasemin Besen Cassino
Mari Castaneda, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Diane T Castillo, Trauma Psychologist Independent Practice
Shannon Cavanagh, University of Texas
Olivia Celis
Andrea Gómez Cervantes, University of Kansas
Debadatta Chakraborty, Univ of Massachusetts – Amherst
Elizabeth Chambers
Paul Chang, Harvard University
Robin K. Chang, York University
Constance Chapple, University of Oklahoma
Maria Charles, University of California Santa Barbara
Charusheela, University of Washington
Anna Chatillon, Univ of California, Santa Barbara
Sergio Chavez, Rice University
Vanessa Chavez, Professional Counselors of El Paso
Janet Chavez
Leo Chavez, University of California Irvine
Ann Cheney, University of California Riverside
Kristen Cheney, International Institute of Social Studies
Melissa Cheyney, Oregon State University
Alberto Minujin, The New School and Equity for Children
Nancy J Chodorow, Cambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical School
Jaehee Choi, University of Texas at Austin
Esther Chow, American University
Savvina Chowdhury, Evergreen State College
Kimberly Christensen, Sarah Lawrence College
Heidi Cisneros, University of Southern California
Karen St. Clair, LCSW
Samuel J. Clark, Ohio State University
Mariah Clegg
Philip N. Cohen, University of Maryland
Avis H. Cohen, University of Maryland
Joshua Coleman, Council on Contemporary Families
Marilyn Coleman, University of Missouri
Jessica Collett, University of Notre Dame
Caitlyn Collins, Washington University in St. Louis
Tanya Cook Community, College of Aurora
Kelly Condit-Shrestha, University of Minnesota
Dalton Conley, Princeton University
Daniel Cook, University of Nevada Reno
Claire Cook, Middle Tennessee State University
Jeff Cookston, San Francisco State University
Marianne Cooper, Stanford University
Hector Cordero-Guzman, Baruch College-CUNY
Madeline Cordle, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
David A. Cotter, Union College
Carolyn Pape Cowan, UC Berkeley
Philip A. Cowan, University of California Berkeley
Kathleen Cramer, Faulty Emeritus University of Minnesota
M.A. Gabriel Crespo, The New School
Ana Croegaert, University of New Orleans
Robert Crosnoe, University of Texas at Austin
Christina Cross, University of Michigan
Elizabeth Culatta, Augusta University
Mick Cunningham, Western Washington University
Miranda Cunningham, Portland State University
Sarah E. Cunningham, Oregon State University
Jessica Daily, University of Oregon
Heather Dalmage, Roosevelt University
Sarah Damaske, The Pennsylvania State University
Colin Danby, University of Washington Bothell
Samuel David, University of Minnesota
Elsa Davidson, Montclair State University
Laura Davidson, Washoe County School District
Dr Laura Davies, Leeds Beckett University
S Davies
Rebecca Davis, University of Delaware
Shannon N. Davis, George Mason University
Leslie Davis, University of Maryland
Elizabeth Davis, University of California Riverside
Georgiann Davis, University of Nevada Los Vegas
Melissa Day, University of New Hampshire
Michelle Miller Day, Chapman University
Natalia Deeb-Sossa, University of California Davis
Carmen Diana Deere, University of Florida
Monica DeHart, University of Puget Sound
Lorraine Demi, University of Southern California
Vasilikie Demos
Anne Dempsey
Elizabeth DeMulder, George Mason University
Melinda Denton, University of Texas at San Antonio
Bella DePaulo, Social Psychologist
Brittany Dernberger, University of Maryland
Heather Dillaway, Wayne State University
Amy DiNoble
Julie Dobrow, Tufts University
Danielle Docka-Filipek, Christopher Newport University
Héctor Domínguez-Ruvalcaba, Univ of Texas at Austin
Robin Donath, LCSW
Kira Donnell, San Francisco State University
Rachel Donnelly, University of Texas at Austin
Jennifer Doty, University of Minnesota
Maria Duenas, University of California Merced
Lynn Duggan, Indiana University
Maria Duggan, University of Southern California
Catherine Dunn, Swarthmore College
Elizabeth Dunn, Indiana University
Kathleen Dyer, California State University
Margaret Van Dyke
Gary Dymski, University of Leeds
Nancy E. Dowd, University of Florida
George Earl
Ann Easterbrooks, Tufts University
Kim Ebert, North Carolina State University
Heather Edelblute, UTSA
Brad van Eeden-Moorefield, Montclair State University
Fabiola Ekleberry, LPC-S, NCC
Bert Eliason, University of Oregon
Kyla Ellis-Sloan, University of Brighton
Paula England, New York University
Laura Enriquez, University of California Irvine
Holly Straut Eppsteiner
Norman B. Epstein, University of Maryland
Joyce L. Epstein, Johns Hopkins University
Julia Erhart, Associate Professor, Flinders University
Jennifer Erickson, Ball State University
Stacy Ernst, University of Minnesota
Juan Raul Escobar, Observatorio Javeriano de Juventud
Gosta Esping-Andersen, Pompeu Fabra University
Ivan Evans, University of California San Diego
Lilia Fabila
Rick Fantasia, Smith College
Rebecca Fauth, Tufts University
Ann Fefferman, University of California Irvine
Cynthia Feliciano, University of California Irvine
Kathryn Feltey, University of Akron
Abby Ferber, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
Geri Ferber
Myra Marx Ferree, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Tina Fetner, McMaster University
April Few-Demo, Virginia Tech
David Fields, University of Utah
Jessica Fish, University of Maryland
Mona Fishbane, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist
Tobi Fishel, University of Southern California
David FitzGerald, University of California San Diego
Terence Fitzgerald, University of Southern California
Eugenie Flaherty
Erin K. Fletcher
Elizabeth Fogarty, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Paula Fomby
Nanette Fondas, DBA., M.Phil.
Clare Forstie, Farmingdale State College SUNY
Bonnie Fox, University of Toronto
Kimberly Fox, Harvard University
Shawn Fremstad, Center for American Progress
Karin Friederic, Wake Forest University
Dr. Friedman, New York University
Frank Furstenberg, University of Pennsylvania
Michael Gaddis, University of California Los Angeles
Manuel G. Galaviz, University of Texas at Austin
Josie Gall, Viterbo University
Sally K. Gallagher, Oregon State University
Joshua Gamson, University of San Francisco
Lawrence Ganong, University of Missouri and CCF
Justin Garcia, Indiana University
Lorena Garcia, University of Illinois at Chicago
Myrna Garcia, Northwestern University
Michael Alexis Garcia, University of Texas at Austin
Rocío R. García, University of California Los Angeles
Pamela Garner, George Mason University
Betsie Garner, Tennessee Tech University
Sandy Gartin, LMFT (EMDR therapist)
Lauren Gaydosh, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Noni Gaylord-Harden, Loyola University Chicago
Claudia Geist, University of Utah
Susan Gerbino, New York University
Kathleen Gerson, New York University
Naomi Gerstel
Vawnee Gilbert, Eastern Michigan University
Alicia Girón, UNAM-MEXICO
Antonio Gisbert
Kalina Gjicali, Graduate Center CUNY
Jennifer Glass, University of Texas and CCF
Rebecca Glauber, University of New Hampshire
Miriam Gleckman-Krut, University of Michigan Sociology
James P. Gleeson, ACSW
Jennifer E. Glick, The Pennsylvania State University
Patricia Goedde, Sungkyunkwan Univ. Law School
Kristen Goessling, Penn State University Brandywine
Alice Goisis, London School of Economics
Rachel E. Goldberg, University of California Irvine
Jessica Goldberg, Tufts University
Jess Goldstein-Kral, University of Texas at Austin
Pilar Gonalons-Pons, University of Pennsylvania
Roberto G. Gonzales, Harvard University
Melinda Gonzales-Backen, Florida State University
Gonzalez-Lima, University of Texas at Austin
Gloria Gonzalez-Lopez, University of Texas at Austin
Kim Goodman, University of Southern California
Joan Goodman, University of Pennsylvania
Paul Goodman, Green Party
Elzbieta M Gozdziak, Georgetown University
Theodore N Greenstein, North Carolina State University
Elizabeth Gregory, University of Houston
Scott T. Grether, Longwood University
Lisa Gring-Pemble, George Mason University
Diane Grodney, New York University
Zoya Gubernskaya, University at Albany SUNY
Debra Guckenheimer, California State University East Bay
Jhumka Gupta, George Mason University
Sanjiv Gupta, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Vanessa Gutierrez, University of Chicago
Karen Benjamin Guzzo, Bowling Green State University
Nora Haenn, North Carolina State University
Jacqueline M Hagan
Darcy Wente Hahn, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Nafisa Halim, Boston University
Robert D. Hall, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Macy Halladay, University of Tennessee
Pansy Hamilton, IAFFE Member
Laura Hamilton, University of California-Merced
Anna Hammersmith, Bowling Green State University
Karen V. Hansen, Brandeis University
Mary Beth Hanson, Women’s Foundation of Minnesota
Jennifer Hardesty, University of Illinois
Jessica H. Hardie, Hunter College
Michael P Harney
Scott Harris, Saint Louis University
Corey Harris, Alvernia University
Tracie Harrison UT Austin
Megan Haselschwerdt, University of Tennessee
Jennifer Haskin, Arizona State University
Anna Haskins, Cornell University
Elizabeth Y. Hastings, University of Texas at Austin
Angela Hattery, George Mason University
Orlee Hauser, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Robert L. Hawkins, New York University
Daniel Hawkins, University of Nebraska Omaha
Lindsey Haynes-Maslow
Melanie Heath, McMaster University
Rachel Heiman, The New School
Suzanne W Helburn
Lori Helman, University of Minnesota
Heather Helms, University of North Carolina Greensboro
Natalie D. Hengstebeck, Scholars Strategy Network / Duke
Joan Hermsen, University of Missouri
Rosanna Hertz, Wellesley College
Heather Hewett, SUNY New Paltz
Leah Hibel, University of California Davis
Jacob Hibel, University of California Davis
Marianne Hill
Lacey J. Hilliard, Tufts University
Emily P. Hoffman, Western Michigan University
Joan Hoffman, City University of New York
Prof. Heather Hofmeister, Goethe University Frankfurt
Dr. Bryndl Hohmann-Marriott, University of Otago
Elizabeth Holdsworth, University at Albany
Amanda Holman, Creighton University
Elizabeth Holt, Robert Morris University
Pierrette Hondageneu-Sotelo
Jennifer Hook, U of Southern California
Barbara E. Hopkins, Wright State University
Rodney Hopson, George Mason University
Sidney J. Horton
Kristen A Hostmeyer
Jason Houle, Dartmouth College
Leah Houtman, Community Doula Program
Aaron Hoy, Minnesota State University Mankato
Kathleen E. Hull, University of Minnesota
Audrey Hurley
Heather McKee Hurwitz
Diana Iglesias
Natalie Ingraham, California State University East Bay
Dorene Isenberg, University of Redlands
Patrick Ishizuka, Cornell University
Dr Maureen Ittig, Penn State Fayette
Crystal Jackson
Spencer James, Brigham Young University
Tyler Jamison, University of New Hampshire
Michelle Janning, Whitman College
Jonathan Jarvis, Brigham Young University
Daniela Jauk
Robert Jenkot, Coastal Carolina University
Carole Joffe, University of California Davis
Katherine M. Johnson, Tulane University
Wendi L. Johnson, Oakland University
Ben A. Johnson, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Monica Kirkpatrick Johnson, Washington State University
Lesa Johnson, California State University at Chico
Barbara Rose Johnston, Center for Political Ecology
Kelly Jones, American University
Meredith Jones, Univ of North Carolina at Wilmington
Allen Jordan, Utah Valley University
Terry Jordan, University of Southern California
Shareen Joshi
Rachel Kahn-Hut, San Francisco State University
Jennifer Kam, University of California Santa Barbara
Dr. Sophia Kanaouti, Hellenic Open University
Emily W. Kane, Bates College
Erika Kaplan, LICSW, Psychotherapist working with families
Matt Karush, George Mason University
Barret Katuna, Sociologists for Women in Society
Gayle Kaufman, Davidson College
Dr. Emily Kazyak, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Douglas Kelley, Arizona State University
Sheela Kennedy, University of Michigan
Oshin Khachikian, University of California Irvine
Mushira Khan
Farida Khan, Unversity of Colorado
Kalpana Khanal, Nichols College
Jill Kiecolt, Virginia Tech
Elizabeth Kiester, Albright College
Anna Killmeier, Oregon State University
Rachel Kimbro, Rice University
Mary C. King, Portland State University
Kendall A. King, University of Minnesota
Loni Knudsen, Brigham Young University Idaho
Sally A. Koblinsky, University of Maryland
Karen Kocher, University of Texas at Austin
Andrew Kohen, James Madison U
Ebru Kongar, Dickinson College
Dr. Jeanne Koopman, Boston University
Tanya Koropeckyj-Cox, University of Florida
Sherrie A. Kossoudji, University of Michigan
Barbara Koziak, St. John’s University
Evan Kraft, American University
Alena Křížková, Czech Academy of Sciences
Rhiannon Kroeger
Amy Kroska, University of Oklahoma
Laura Krull, UNC-Chapel Hill
Jaime Kucinskas, Hamilton College
Arielle Kuperberg, UNC Greensboro and CCF
Demie Kurz, University of Pennsylvania
Katherine Kuvalanka, Miami University
Kuldip Kuwahara, North Carolina Central University
Kim de Laat, University of Toronto
Melissa LaGraff, University of Tennessee Knoxville
Alison Landsberg, George Mason University
Barbara Larsen, Social Psychology
Louise Laurence
Nathanael Lauster, University of British Columbia
Erin Lavender-Stott, South Dakota State University
Vanja Lazarevic, San Diego State University
C.N. Le, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Karen W. Leaf, MSW, LCSW
Amy Lee, University of Minnesota
Robyn Lee, University of Alberta
Jennifer Lee, Columbia University
Catherine Lee, Rutgers University
Evelyn Lehrer
Mara Leichtman, Michigan State University
Mušić Lejla, Sarajevo University
Winnie Lem, Trent University
Lora Bex Lempert, University of Michigan-Dearborn
Eileen B. Lemus, University of Southern California
Jenny Lendrum, Wayne State University
Richard M. Lerner, Tufts University
Leigh Leslie, University of Maryland
Jaime Lester, George Mason University
Bethany Letiecq, George Mason University
Tama Leventhal, Tufts University
Jessica Leveto, Kent State University at Ashtabula
Judith A. Levine, Temple University
Deborah Levison, University of Minnesota
Ricci Levy, Woodhull Freedom Foundation
Amy Lewin, University of Maryland
Anne Lewis, University of Texas at Austin
Kevin Lewis, University of California San Diego
Cynthia Lewis, University of Minnesota
Joellen Lewsader, Central Michigan University
Caroline Lim, University of California Los Angeles
Lynne May Lim, Eliot Pearson Children’s School
Carol S Lindquist, Texas Tech University
Nathan Wong Link, Rutgers University
Margaret Linn, Swarthmore College
Adam Lippert
Noah De Lissovoy, University of Texas at Austin
Roseann Liu, Swarthmore College
Jeni Loftus, University of Memphis
Diertra Lomeli, University of Oregon
Linda Long, University of Southern California
Kristina Lopez, Arizona State University
Judith Lorber, City University of New York Graduate Center
Judith Lorber, City University of New York
Amy Lucas
LInda E Lucas, Eckerd College
Virgen Luce, New York University
Shelly Lundberg, University of California Santa Barbara
M.Brinton Lykes, Boston College
Dr. Gertrude Lyons
Norah MacKendrick, Rutgers University
Michael MacKenzie, Rutgers University
Erin Madden, University of Texas at San Antonio
Cari Maes, Oregon State University
Deanne Magnusson , University of Minnesota
Katheryn Maguire, Wayne State University
Sarah J Mahler FIU
James W. Messerschmidt University of Southern Maine
Shannon Malone, University of Texas at Austin
Emily Mannheimer, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Jimmie Manning, Northern Illinois University
Alex Manning, University of Minnesota Sociology
Valerie L Manusov, University of Washington
Diane Rothbard Margolios, University of Connecticut
Rachel Margolis, University of Western Ontario
Susan Markens, City University of New York
Melinda Stafford Markham, Kansas State University
Jaclyn Marsh, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Nancy Marshall, Wellesley College
Megan Marshall, QMHP
Lauren Jade Martin, The Penn State University
Molly Martin, The Pennsylvania State University
Patricia Yancey Martin
Blake Martin, North Carolina State University
Alberto Martinez, University of Texas at Austin
Claudia Masferrer, El Colegio de México and McGill Univ
Thomas Masterson, Levy Economics Inst. of Bard College
Jordanna Matlon, American University
Jordan Matsudaira, Teachers College Columbia University
Caitlin Maudlin, Community Doula Program
Laura Mauldin, University of Connecticut
David J. Maume, University of Cincinnati
MJ Maynes, University of Minnesota
Edwin Mayorga, Swarthmore College
Joan Maya Mazelis, Rutgers University-Camden
Chad McBride, Creighton University
Janice McCabe, Dartmouth College
Linda C. McClain, Boston University School of Law
Lauren McClain, Western Kentucky University
Katherine McClelland, Franklin and Marshall College
David McClendon, Children at Risk
Elizabeth Aura McClintock, University of Notre Dame
Jill McCorkel, Villanova University
Kelly McDonough, University of Texas at Austin
Kent McIntosh, University of Oregon
Emily McKendry-Smith, University of West Georgia
P.A. McManus, Indiana University
Pamela McMullin-Messier, Central Washington University
Hannah McQueen, North Carolina State University
Julia McQuillan, University of Nebraska
Christine M. McWayne, Tufts University
Prof Caryn Medved, Baruch College
Sancha Medwinter, Uinversity of Massachusetts
Mona Mehdy, University of Texas at Austin
Ann Meier, University of Minnesota
Anna Meigs, LICSW
Rashid Memon, Lahore Univ of Management Sciences
Cecilia Menjivar, University of Kansas
Chadwick L. Menning, Ball State University
Marina Merrill
Melissa Mesinas, Stanford University
Michael D Metzler, MD, PhD
Jess Meyer, Northwestern University
Ann Miles, Western Michigan University
Melissa Milkie, University of Toronto
Amanda Miller, University of Indianapolis
Monica K Miller, University of Nevada Reno
Daniel Millimet, Southern Methodist University
Stella Min, Florida State University
Skye Miner, McGill University
Marcelo Miño, Centre Maurice Halbwachs
Deborah Minter, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Diane Mirabito, New York University
Amanda Mireles, Stanford University
Joya Misra, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Tara Misra, School Psychologist
Jayanthi Mistry, Tufts University
Kerri Modry-Mandell, Tufts University
Stefanie Mollborn, University of Colorado Boulder
Veronica Montes, Bryn Mawr College
Margaret V Moore, LCSW
Mignon R. Moore, Barnard College-Columbia Univ
Sara Moore, Salem State University
Katherine A. Moos, UMass Amherst
Richard Mora, Occidental College
Zitlali Morales, University of Illinois at Chicago
Kari Morgan, Kansas State University
Dr. Mark T. Morman, Baylor University
Emily Morris, University of MN
Kent Morris
Jeylan Mortimer, University of Minnesota
Alison R. Moss, Indiana University South Bend
Eva Moya, University of Texas at El Paso
Anna Mueller, University of Chicago
Kate Mukungu, University of Cumbria
Melanie Munden
Christin Munsch, University of Connecticut
Colleen Murray, University of Nevada Reno
Kelly Musick, Cornell University
Ellen Mutari, Stockton University
Kit Myers, Roanoke College
Adina Nack, California Lutheran University
Lourdes Gutiérrez Nájera, Drake University
Laura Napolitano, Rutgers University – Camden
Stephanie Nawyn, Michigan State University
Megan Tobias Neely, Stanford University
Brooke Neely, University of Colorado
Margaret K. Nelson, Middlebury College
Andrew Nelson, University of North Texas
Ruth Nemzoff, Brandeis University
Rhonda Nese, University of Oregon
Joseph F. T. Nese, University of Oregon
Jan Nespor, Ohio State University
ChorSwang Ngin, California State University Los Angeles
Laura Nichols, Santa Clara University
Arthur Nielsen, MD Northwestern Medical School
Tanya Nieri, University of California Riverside
Jenna Nobles, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Kei Nomaguchi, Bowling Green State University
Donald Nonini, University of North Carolina
Sonny Nordmarken, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Audra Nuru, University of St. Thomas
Lynn Nybell, Eastern Michigan University
Judith Nygren
Jamie O’Quinn, University of Texas at Austin
Abigail Ocobock, University of Notre Dame
Maureen O’Dougherty, Metropolitan State University
Wendy Olsen, University of Manchester
Jay Oppenheim, City University of New York Graduate Center
Mirranda Willette University of Oregon
Taylor Orth, Stanford University
Judy Osborne, Stepfamily Associates
Chinyere Osuji, Rutgers University
Coral del Rio Otero, Universidade de Vigo
Berkay Ozcan, London School of Economics
Anthony Paik, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Emily Pain, University at Albany SUNY
Angela Palmer-Wackerly, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Nina Palmo, University of Texas at Austin
Sung S. Park, University of California Los Angeles
Ashvina Patel
Lisa Pearce, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Matthew Pearce, University of California Irvine
Susan C. Pearce, East Carolina University
Susana Peña, Bowling Green State University
Anna Penner, University of California Irvine
Clayton Peoples
Joanna Pepin, University of Maryland
Christine Percheski, Assistant Professor Northwestern University
Cole Perry
Maureen Perry-Jenkins, Univ of Massachusetts Amherst
Léa Pessin, The Pennsylvania State University
Rebecca Todd Peters, Elon University
Elizabeth Peters, American University
Lacey Peters, Hunter College, CUNY
Richard J. Petts, Ball State University
Carla A. Pfeffer, University of South Carolina
Kaitlin Phillips, Utah State University
Sarah D. Phillips, Indiana University
Katy M. Pinto, California State University Dominguez Hills
Joy Rayanne Piontak
Mari Plikuhn, University of Evansville
Ania Plomien, London School of Economics
Julie Poehlmann-Tynan, University of Wisconsin Madison
Gabriela Polit, University of Texas at Austin
Ivan Polk, University of Oregon
Sarah Potter, University of Memphis
Marilyn Power, Sarah Lawrence College
Christine Proulx, University of Missouri
Allison Pugh, University of Virginia
Isaura Pulido, Northeastern Illinois University
Stephanie A. Pullés, University of California Irvine
Karen Quek, Bethel University
Pamela Anne Quiroz, University of Houston
Elise Radina, CFLE Miami University
Sara Raley, McDaniel College
Kelly Raley, University of Texas
Delma Ramos, University of Denver
Jennifer Randles, California State University
Katharine Ransom, California Institute of Integral Studies
Rebecca Rasmussen, MSW, LCSW
Geoffrey Raymond, University of California Santa Barbara
Lisa Reber, Arizona State University
Megan Reed, University of Pennsylvania
Ande Reisman, University of Washington
Nicholas Reksten, University of Redlands
Rachel R Reynolds, Drexel University
J V Reza
Dr. Aimee Rickman, California State University Fresno
Barbara J. Risman, University of Illinois at Chicago
Christine Rittenour, West Virginia University
Andrea Roach, California State University Fresno
Judy Robinson, Castleton University
Brandon Andrew Robinson, Univ of California Riverside
Eden Hernandez Robles
Elizabeth Robles, LPC
Yana V. Rodgers, Rutgers University
Nicole Rodgers, Family Story
Nestor Rodriguez, University of Texas at Austin
Abigail Rombalski, University of Minnesota
Mary Romero, Arizona State University
Akos Rona-Tas, University of California San Diego
Sonia Roncador, University of Texas Austin
Ashley Rondini, Franklin and Marshall College
Michael Rosenfeld, Stanford University
Amelia Roskin-Frazee, Columbia University
Maya Rossin-Slater, Stanford University
Jennifer Rothchild
David Rothwell, Oregon State University
Kevin Roy, University of Maryland
Mérida M. Rúa, Williams College
Sharmila Rudrappa, University of Texas at Austin
Stephen T. Russell, University of Texas at Austin
Anna Acosta Russian, Indiana University Bloomington
Roberta Rutigliano, University of Groningen
Virginia Rutter, Framingham State University
Krysti Ryan, Stanford University
Nancy Rydberg, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Ellen Irwin Saal-Patterson, Medical Social Worker
Albert Sabater, University of St Andrews
Awa Kebba Saidy, University of Minnesota
Prof. Josefina Saldaña-Portillo, New York University
Cesar A. Salgado, University of Texas at Austin
Sharon Sassler, Cornell University
Liana C Sayer, University of Maryland College Park
William Scarborough, University of Illinois at Chicago
Anne Scheer, SIU School of Medicine
Shelley Scheffler, LCSW, NDRI
Samantha M. Schenck, Central Connecticut State Univ
Mary Kay Schleiter, University of Wisconsin-Parkside
Leah Schmalzbauer, Amherst College
Mary Beth Schmid
Rachel Schmitz, Oklahoma State University
Barbara Schneider, Michigan State University
Danny Schneider, UC Berkeley
Ozlem Omer, The New School
Lauren Scott
Eleanor Seaton, Arizona State University
Marcia Texler Segal, Indiana University Southeast
Stephanie Seguino
Ruchira Sen, Binzagr Institute of Sustainable Prosperity
Barbara H. Settles, University of Delaware
Kevin Shafer, Brigham Young University
Willa Shaffer
Gershon Shafir, University of California San Diego
Nasrin Shahinpoor, Hanover College
Harriet Shaklee, University of Idaho
Darren Sherkat, Southern Illinois University
Jessica Holden Sherwood, Johnson & Wales University
Kristy Shih, California State University Long Beach
Snehal Shingavi, University of Texas at Austin
Rebecca Shlafer, University of Minnesota
Susan Short
Nicholas Shunda, University of Redlands
Tim Sieber, University of Massachusetts Boston
Judith Siegel, New York University
Jane Siegel, Rutgers University-Camden
Karin Astrid Siegmann, International Institute of Social Studies or Erasmus University Rotterdam
Sydney M Silverstein, Emory University
Kimberly Simmons, University of Southern Maine
Robin Simon, Wake Forest University
Valerio Simoni, Graduate Inst of International & Development Studies
John Simons, Licensed psychologist
Kathy Simons, Retired child development specialist
Ray Sin, Morningstar
Sharmistha Sinha, NILERD, India
Arlene Skolnick
Roz Slovic, University of Oregon
Michelle Smirnova, University of Missouri – Kansas City
Carrie Lee Smith, Millersville University
Cynthia Smith, Tufts University
Pamela Smock, University of Michigan
Lisa Smulyan, Swarthmore College
Lauren Smyth
Katie Snider, University of Nevada Reno
Monica Snowden, Wayne State College
Jordan Soliz, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Stephen Sonnenberg, MD UT Austin
Sophia, University of Waterloo
Andrea South, Northern Kentucky University
Joan Z. Spade, State University of New York Brockport
Elizabeth Sparks, Boston College
Brian H. Spitzberg, San Diego State University
Susan Staats, University of Minnesota
Tara Stamm, Virginia Commonwealth University
Sophia Stephens, Community Doula Program
Betsey Stevenson, University of Michigan
Amanda A. Stewart, University of Illinois at Chicago
Karla Stone, University of Minnesota
Fatima Suarez, University of California Santa Barbara
Sandy Sufian, UIC
Jooyeoun Suh, Institute for Women’s Policy Research
Timothy E. Sullivan, Towson University
April Sutton, University of California San Diego
Tara Sutton, Mississippi State University
Teresa Swartz, University of Minnesota
Rebecca Swartz, University of Illinois
Kathryn A. Sweeney, Purdue University Northwest
Elizabeth Sweet, San Jose State University
Charles Swift, Asst Prof–CUNY
Jaclyn A Tabor, Indiana University
Kara Takasaki, University of Texas at Austin
Alex A G Taub, Wenatchee Valley College
Tiffany Taylor, Kent State University
Brittany Taylor, Georgia State University
Marshall A. Taylor, University of Notre Dame
Diane J. Tedick, University of Minnesota
Martin Terry, Sul Ross State University
Martin Terry, Sul Ross State University
Marie Thoma, University of Maryland
Stephen B Thomas, University of Maryland
April Thomas
Mieke Beth Thomeer, Univ of Alabama at Birmingham
Saranna Thornton, Hampden-Sydney College
Trisha Thornton, PCEP
Charles Thorpe, University of California
Allison R. Thorson, University of San Francisco
Laura Tilghman, Plymouth State University
Kathryn Tillman, Florida State University
Castelline Tilus, Middlebury Inst. of International Studies
Julia Torquati, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Stacy Torres, University at Albany–SUNY
Mayo Toruño, California State University San Bernardino
Natalicia Tracy, University of Massachusetts Boston
Heike Trappe, University of Rostock
Bernadette Trevizo
David Trimble, Boston University School of Medicine
Danielle Triplett, University of Oregon
Jessica Troilo, West Virginia University
Kristin Turney, University of California Irvine
Debra Umberson
Megan R. Underhill, University of North Carolina Asheville
Nancy C. Unger Santa Clara University
Sandra Bailey Montana State University
Jennifer Urban, Montclair State University
Luis Urrieta, University of Texas at Austin
Amy Vachon, Equallysharedparenting.com
Isabel Garcia Valdivia, University of California Berkeley
Angela Valenzuela
Sara VanDonge
Kelcie Vercel, University of Notre Dame
Ashton M. Verdery, Pennsylvania State University
Colleen Vesely, George Mason University
Roberta Villalon, St. John’s University
Luna Vives, Université de Montréal
Heather L. Voorhees, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Jeannette Wade
Lisa Wade, Occidental College
Tina Pittman Wagers, University of Colorado-Boulder
Sara Wakefield, Rutgers University-Newark
Alaka Wali, The Field Museum
Alicia Walker, Missouri State University
Maureen Waller
Leslie Wang
Catherine Wanner, Pennsylvania State University
Jennifer Ward, University of Tennessee
Jane Ward, University of California Riverside
Natasha Warikoo, Harvard Graduate School of Education
David F. Warner, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Tara D. Warner, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Kelly Warzinik, Instructor at University of Missouri
Alisse Waterston, City University of New York
Alisse Waterston, City University of New York
Marc Weigensberg, University Southern California
Matthew Weinshenker, Fordham University
Eva Weiss, Temple University
Abigail Weitzman
Suzanne L. Wenzel, University of Southern California
Kathleen Westman
Lorey Wheeler
Rebecca M. B. White, Arizona State University
Andrew Whitehead, Clemson University
Sarah Jey Whitehead, University of Texas at Austin
Tanya Rouleau Whitworth, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Elizabeth Wildsmith
Karin WIlkins
Annie Wilkinson, University of California Irvine
Sarah Willen, University of Connecticut
Kristin J Wilson, Cabrillo College
Tamar Diana Wilson
Howard Winant, University of California Santa Barbara
Diane L. Wolf, University of California Davis
Nicholas H. Wolfinger, University of Utah
Jaclyn Wong, University of Chicago
Marleen Wong, University of Southern California
Hyeyoung Woo, Portland State University
Braedon Worman, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Rev. Dr. Jean Wright, AAMFT Clinical Member
Colleen Wynn, University at Albany SUNY
Alison Wynn, Stanford University
Jenjira Yahirun, University of Hawaii
Michael Yarbrough, John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY)
Emily Yates-Doerr, Oregon State University
Jill E. Yavorsky, University of North Carolina Charlotte
Nora S Yerena, Central Coast Doula Services
Lecinda Yevchak
Youngmin Yi, Cornell University
Betty Yorburg, City University of New York
Christina Yoshimura, University of Montana
Natalie A.E. Young, University of Pennsylvania
Brigitte Young, University Muenster
Gay Young, American University
Linda Young, Ph.D. Psychologist
Kristen Zaleski
Pilar Zazueta, University of Texas at Austin
Elizabeth Ziff, New School for Social Research
Anisa Zvonkovic, East Carolina University
Cynthia Zwicky, University of Minnesota







Special help from Philip Cohen, Frank Furstenberg, Joanna Pepin, and Virginia Rutter.

Reposted from Psychology Today. 

The majority of Americans today believe in equality. Nearly three-quarters of American adults (73%) say the trend toward more women in the workforce has been a change for the better. And 62% of adults believe that a marriage in which the husband and wife both have jobs and both take care of the house and children provides a more satisfying life than one in which the husband provides for the family and the wife takes care of the home. But despite real progress in men’s participation in family life, Moms usually remain the default parent while Dads help out but do not take charge. Women’s income, not men’s, is often seen as what pays for the childcare. Another recent study of American families shows that mothers multi-task more than fathers, do it more often at the office, and feel more burdened than men by having to always be doing two things at once time.

So what is going on here? Is there an international plot to maintain patriarchy, as conspiracy theorists might argue? Or are women naturally suited to housecleaning and men are just not up to the task, as so many anti-feminists claim? Are today’s husbands really Neanderthals that come home from a long day’s work, drink beer, and expect their wives to wait on them?

Perhaps my own experience loading the dishwasher a few months ago can provide some clues. I don’t do housework very often. As a university professor, researcher, and author who always has writing deadlines looming while I travel to conferences and lectures, both in the US and overseas, I’m ridiculously over-scheduled. My husband is semi-retired, works from home and so with his flexible schedule, spends a lot of his time following me around the world. He doesn’t pick up the slack in our home; he runs our household. One Saturday morning after being served fabulous French toast, I insisted on cleaning up for a change. Within minutes, I was lecturing him on how the dishes already in the dishwasher weren’t rinsed well enough, or stacked neatly. He smiled at me and said, “So when was the last time you ate on a dirty dish?”

If I can find myself, without thinking twice about it, lecturing my husband on how to load a dishwasher, when I haven’t touched a dirty dish in months. How hard must it be for women who’ve been doing the dishes and the meals and taking care of the kids to accept their husbands as competent partners? Or even as partners who might become competent once they were responsible for the tasks?

I have no doubt there are men out there who are simply sexist self-serving narcissists who want wives to do the second shift so they drink beer, play golf, and watch TV. But are there not also some women who just cannot stop themselves from lecturing our partners on how to launder clothes, stack the dishes, put away the groceries and dress the children. Many moms I have talked with even leave lists of what to put into the lunch box when they travel for business–as if their husband isn’t smart enough to figure out what to put between two slices of bread. Why would these successful women have married men they can’t trust to make a sandwich or pick out a toddler’s outfit? The assumption of male incompetence at home has the same result as expecting women to be incompetence at work. It makes the recipients less likely to take on responsibility, to do the job well, or to show initiative.

Perhaps part of why men aren’t stepping up to the plate as equal partners is because women don’t let them. It’s not that women don’t want their husbands to share the job and the joys of parentingResearch shows clearly that they do, and that there are even benefits in the bedroom when people feel their marriage is fair. But we women have set the rules for how housework is done for so long, and often take so much pride in our mothering identities, that we don’t leave enough room for fathers to be equal players. Perhaps mothers are worried about what the neighbors will think if their son’s outfits are not matching, or their daughter’s shirts have stains? Is such shame worth undercutting men’s responsibility for domestic labor? Surely, if a man was worth marrying, he’s talented enough to wash dishes, make play dates, and clean the toilet.

So for Father’s Day, let’s show dad’s some respect. The best gift might just be to respect your partner enough to let him load the dishwasher without comment, and take care of the kids without fearing his your evaluation. Here ’s a gift idea for wives on this Father’s Day: stop giving directions, stop running the show and then resenting that you carry the load of the family work. Give Dads a break this year for Father’s Day. Trust them enough to lean out at home. And if you have to occasionally eat from a dirty plate, as I do, it’s worth it. Let your guy lean in for a change.

Barbara J. Risman is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She is also a Senior Scholar at the Council on Contemporary Families.

Even in the most affluent societies, many young people grow up in families that are poor and/or unstable in some way, and the evidence is clear that this experience can lead to behaviors that put their futures at risk. That risk, however, is not necessarily going to be same across societies, and figuring out where it is most and least pronounced is an important task for family researchers.

The U.S., as is often noted, has a much less generous social safety net for families and children than many other countries; less generous than Scandinavian countries, of course, but also compared to the other wealthy, English-speaking countries that it is often grouped with in the broad category of “liberal welfare regimes”. As a result, children who grow up in the U.S. are much more likely than their peers in these other countries to experience some key risks to positive development, such as family poverty and instability. There is just not enough protection for their families and communities, and so they are more likely to enter adolescence in dire straits. Indeed, based on research from a range of interdisciplinary scholars, including Timothy Smeeding, Jane Waldfogel, Barbara Bergman, and Patrick Heuveline, we know that kids in the U.S. are worse off, but is being worse off worse in the U.S.?

My students and colleagues in the U.S., U.K., and Canada have been trying to provide some answers to this question. This research reflects some key lessons of contemporary family and developmental research. Specifically, we are viewing family poverty and family structure not as single and static states but rather as a long-term pattern of continuity and change. We also are focusing on adolescence, a period in which complicated patterns of brain development, parent-child relations, and peer orientation lead to behaviors with heightened potential for harm. Doing so has revealed that, although the odds of growing up in poor and/or unstable families and engaging in adolescent risk-taking are both generally greater in the U.S., the link between these two things is not always stronger in the U.S.

For example, in a study that came out this year in the journal Social Science and Medicine, Michael Green, Haley Stritzel, Chelsea Smith Gonzalez, Frank Popham, and I compared longitudinal population datasets in the U.S. and U.K. to examine adolescent health and health behavior. We categorized young people in terms of their histories of family poverty since birth (e.g., early poverty only, persistent poverty, later downward mobility). The results clearly show that the accumulating experience of poverty over time is much more prevalent in the U.S., that this accumulating experience is associated with smoking and health limitations in both countries, but that this association does not really differ across countries.

As another example, in a forthcoming study in the Journal of Marriage and Family, Chelsea Smith Gonzalez, Lisa Strohschein, and I compared longitudinal population datasets in the U.S. and Canada to examine teen pregnancy. We counted how much of girls’ lives since birth they had spent in poverty and how many family structure changes they had experienced.  Similar to the other study, the results clearly reveal more long-term exposure to poverty and instability in the U.S. and that such exposure is associated with greater odds of a girl getting pregnant as a teen. This study, however, also revealed a country-level difference in this association. In the U.S., prolonged experiences of family poverty and family structure were associated with teen pregnancy, but, in Canada, any experience of family poverty and family structure change was. In other words, there was a dosage effect of family poverty and instability in the former and a threshold effect in the latter.

To be clear, we are not saying that family poverty and instability do not matter to adolescent behavior. They do. We are also not saying that social policies do not protect young people from harm. They do. We are also not saying that the circumstances of young people in the U.S. are the same as those in the U.K. and Canada. They are not. What we are saying is that the ability of social policies to buffer against the risks of family poverty and instability—once they have arisen—is not as neatly straightforward as one might assume.

Our work represents the comparison of three relatively similar countries, only two family variables, and only three adolescent outcomes.  As such, it is just a drop in the expanding bucket of population research comparing family contexts of child and youth development across countries. There is more to know here. How is family poverty and instability experienced by young people across countries in which it is more or less normative? Which domains of adolescent development are most and least reactive to family disadvantages across countries? Are there differences in patterns for children, adolescents, and young adults? Expanding the comparison pool to countries with much more generous welfare regimes than the U.S. and much less economic development than the U.S. is also important. What we offer here, therefore, is encouragement to keep this conversation going.

Robert Crosnoe is the Rapoport Professor of Liberal Arts and Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin and President of the Society for Research on Adolescence.

Picture by Pexel

Reposted from Psychology Today 

Enough already. Aziz Ansari is not a rapist nor necessarily even a liar. Nor is “Grace” the woman who had the worst night of her life either a victim or a vixen. They are both casualties of our gender structure. Let me explain.

Most people think that gender is an identity, some authentic knowledge about the self. But identity is really only a small part of how gender structures our lives, our society. If we want to understand what happens in heterosexual hook ups, we have to understand the gendered meanings of the hook up culture. Every society has an economic structure, and so too every society, including ours, has a gender structure which has implications for our personalities, our expectations of others, our ideology about what should be, and our acceptance (or rejection) of sexual inequality.

Gender is part of how we define ourselves. Most of us are still raised to be good little boys and girls.  Good boys don’t cry, but they do get notches in their belts from peers for objectifying women, and pursing them sexually.   Girls are told they can be anything they want to be, you go girl, but when it comes to their bodies, they should accessorize fashionably and please men. Girls may ‘rule’ but they are still expected to be nice when doing so.  And of course, women remain the sexual gatekeepers, deciding when boys get that notch on their belt. There is strong evidence that gender gets inside us, that socialization helps create feminine girls and masculine boys.  Socialization shapes how we behave. Girls like “Grace” are taught to be nice, to be subtle and polite in their rejection of men, to give off non-verbal cues rather than causing a scene or using a four letter word. Boys learn that they are entitled to get what they want, but only if they go for it.  They are taught to tackle, to score. No one has to do anything to encourage women and men to behave this was as adults, gender is internalized into who we are.

But that’s only the beginning of the explanation for the he said/she said sexual drama, the overt and covert coercion that the #MeToo movement has illuminated. Gender isn’t only how femininity cripples women, nor how toxic masculinity empowers men. It is also the expectations we take for granted, when we interact, and the unconscious scripts that have problematic outcomes, including  during heterosexual casual sex. Erotic imagination in male-centric. Take this date in question.  The woman spent time discussing an outfit with friends; she is attempting to appear desirable. Aziz controlled the very existence of the encounter (doing the asking) and orchestrated it (choosing the wine, the restaurant, and paying the bill). Without conscious reflections, cultural expectations and scripts are followed: the man’s agency creates the date, the man is the sexual aggressor, the woman sought after, and paid for. This is still the lay of the land in 2018, the script that “Grace” describes of her evening with Aziz. Has he bought just dinner, or the expectation of sexual intercourse?

What men and women expect from one another is not just a part of their relationship, but part of a societal story  about sexual desire, desirability, nudity, and power. Does a woman who goes to a man’s home, undresses, and acquiesces to receiving  oral sex providing non-verbal cues that she intends to have penetrative sex? No woman should ever be pressured into any kind of sex. And yet, the narrative of heterosexual seduction at the core of our romantic myths includes  a reluctant woman won over by a persistent suitor. Pair that with the material wealth and status advantage most men have over their dates (and the super star quality of this particular man) and you get an explosive potion for coercion, under the cover of erotic play. And a prescription for male privilege: research shows clearly that men are far more likely to orgasm in a hook up then are their dates. Our heterosexual script has desirable women seduced by powerful, sexual men.  If you disagree, explain how the movie 50 shades of grey made such a fortune.

Sexual coercion, non-consensual sex, is always wrong. Any form of assault is a crime. And still, there are shades of grey, beyond 50, when women and men are confused by a changing gender structure. In today’s world everything is in flux. As my forthcoming book suggests, some young adults totally reject their socialization as feminine male-pleasing women and chauvinistic men and instead try to incorporate both masculinity and femininity into their personalities.  Others fully endorse a world where men are expected to be the pursuers of feminine woman.   Our gender structure is changing, but unevenly, and without any clear guidelines.  When it comes to casual hetero sex, gender is embedded in our own desires, our expectations for partners, and acceptance of cultural norms, and power differentials. And desire, expectations of acceptable norms may contradict one another.

Perhaps half way thru the encounter a woman decides she’s had enough, and doesn’t care any more about being desirable for a powerful man she does not desire.  She can, and should, dress and walk away. But her socialized internal gendered self, however, may scream: be nice.  And so she politely tries to indicate non-verbally, she’s not into it. He should get the hint.  But then again, his training for masculinity, toxic as it may have been, screams keep trying, that she’ll get into it eventually, if he is just seductive and persistent enough. She feels pressured, he becomes a predator. Neither plans on the transformation of a date into a #MeToo moment.

The only way out is to smash the gender structure entirely. Let’s stop arguing about whether she should have been more assertive (less girly) and walked away earlier, or whether he should have understood her signals.  It’s both/and not either/or.  Let’s stop raising masculine boys and feminine girls. Stop teaching girls to be nice, even to men who pressure them.  Stop raising boys who feel entitled to sex even if their partner is not enthusiastic. Let’s raise boys to have empathy for others, to cry when they feel pain.  Let’s raise good people, not women and men.  We must shatter gender stereotypes, including those about dating and sex. All people experience desire and arousal, seek orgasms, and love. No one should wait to be desired, nor be expected to give more then they get, whether sex or love.  Can this happen when men still hold the power outside of the bedroom? Probably not.  The male privilege deeply embedded in our gender structure must end everywhere: how we raise our children, what we expect from one another, and the distribution of power and prestige at work, in government, in Hollywood, including between the sheets.

Barbara J. Risman is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She is also a Senior Scholar at the Council on Contemporary Families.

Will Meghan Markle be welcomed in the royal family? The recent wedding of Markle, a biracial woman of Black and White heritage, and Prince Harry, a White male member of the British royal family, marks a social milestone. More than fifty years out from the Supreme court decision that legalized interracial marriages across all 50 states in the U.S., this wedding has inspired a new conversation about racial inclusivity infusing “bicultural Blackness” within a traditionally white elite. The celebratory tone makes sense as mixed-race couples represent 17 percent of recently married couples in the United States. This increased demographic prominence also coincides with broad based approval. According to the Pew Research Center, 88 percent of millennials say they would be “fine with a family member’s marriage” to any racial group.

But is true acceptance solely being “fine” with a racially different in-law? While crossing racial lines has reached broad-based acceptance, do mixed-race families have access to the same supports from kin as their single-race peers? Families also routinely provide a range of vital resources, such as financial help, sharing residence, or child care.

The story on this front is considerably more complicated. A new short report, authored by myself and Ellen Whitehead and recently published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, reveals that White mothers of biracial infants are less likely than White mothers with White infants to report that they can rely on friends or family for help if needed. Interestingly, differences were not uncovered for either Black or Latina mothers.

How can interracial couples experience nearly universal acceptance and be more likely to perceive isolation from family resources? First, sociologists often note that approving of something in principle does not always translate into practice. This extends to interracial marriage, as sociologists Mary Campbell and Melissa Herman identify clear differences between Whites approval of interracial marriage and their likelihood of forming interracial relationships. Whites therefore may continue to hold, while not explicitly disclosing, negative attitudes toward interracial coupling.

Beyond, the broader context of race and class inequality needs to be more central to how we talk about and understand the dynamics of racial mixing. Differences in support between Whites with biracial and single race infants reveal the endurance of a white/non-white divide that can be found in nearly every social sphere – where we live, whom we call our friends, and where we go to school. How can interracial couples seamlessly traverse boundaries that remain intact?

In addition, race does not solely divide our associations, it also divides our access to resources, significantly influencing what families may be able to give. According to Pew, Blacks and Latinx families are more than twice as likely as Whites to be poor as of 2014. This broadly aligns with findings on absent resources. While a large share of White mothers of biracial infants reported having absent resources, their levels were quite close to perceptions reported by Black and Latina mothers, nearly 30 percent of whom report that family and friends could not help them in some way if needed. White women with white (single-race) infants were the most privileged, with only 10 percent reporting lack of support.

Experiences of interracial families lie at the nexus of race and class divides. While the expansion of mixed-race family formation signals the growing normalizing of interracial coupling, how families fare is more telling in how, or if, barriers are truly crossed.

Jenifer Bratter is a full professor of sociology at Rice University.  She is a sociologist and demographer whose research explores racial mixing and its implications for unequal racial outcomes.  She has recently published articles in Journal of Marriage and Family, Ethnicity and Health, Social Science Research, and Race and Social Problems. Email her at jbratter@rice.edu