Hi, my name is Michelle, I’m currently studying towards my teacher qualifications and will graduate end of 2013, majoring in English and ICT. You can find me blogging sporadically at Blundermum.
Generic introduction statement, right? The uni forums and unit Facebook groups are full of them at the moment and there’s something that’s been bothering me and I can’t quite figure out why it should. It’s not that they’re all bland examples of compulsory non-graded course forum interactions, it’s that the women preface their introductions with their marital status.
Married mum with 3 kids. Single mum with 1 child. Married with 3.5 kids (counting the husband).
Why do women seek to primarily identify themselves by that one marker – single or married? I take no issue with identifying as a mother, just the marital status of one, as it’s safe to say the word ‘mother’ alone has infinite symbolism.
I’m quite open with my single parent-ness on this blog, because this is a personal space. It explains certain things about my life and my behaviour, and acknowledging it so openly allows me to embrace the permanency of my status while at the same time questioning the general rush of separated women to find a new man. At least, that’s what I intend.
Do I disclose my marital status professionally? Absolutely not, unless they need to know. For example, on my teaching pracs I do casually tell my mentors, because they need to acknowledge, however cursorily, that I don’t have the tag team childcare backup and this may affect my availability at times. As someone who is only temporarily working full time, my arranged childcare is limited and just as temporary. Can I come to a networking event with them next week? School function on Saturday? No, I’d love to, but it’s not an option right now.
Do I disclose my marital status to a group of students who I will engage in academic and professional discussions with, via purely electronic means and without expectations of rapid response? No. Why would I? They don’t care. It doesn’t affect them in any way, shape or form. To be honest, I suspect it damages my chances of being taken into the more demanding study groups.
Which brings me to the next question: if single parents can justify disclosure through ideology or established limitations, what reasons do married women have?
Is it a competition? Seeking public acknowledgement of their success at being female? Acknowledgement they are obliged to have regular sex?
Or is it just so deeply entrenched that ‘married’ is now who you are, akin to those who identify as ‘single mother’ having a common sisterhood of struggle and pride? Or is ‘married’ just used as a marker of differentiation, as in ‘not a single mother’?
What about the women who are married AND single parents? How should they identify themselves?
I don’t know. You certainly never see a male identify himself as married online, though that raises a whole other set of questions.
How do you introduce yourself?