Single Ladies–Ruining It For Everyone

Rachel’s talking about the annual Women’s Health Report  Card and I noticed that, in the Barriers to Health section, passed along without commentary, women in our state are given a “c” in the “Percentage of Households Headed By Women.” As if it is obviously bad healthwise for women to head households and obviously good for women’s health for men to head them

This in the very same report that acknowledges that a third of female homicide victims were killed by their intimate partners. Yes, a third, and yet, somehow, it’s still not very good that 20% of households are headed by women.

It just pisses me off, these moral judgments given a sheen of respectability because they’re put forth by doctors. I mean, really, when you’re talking an infant mortality rate in this state of 8%, double that among African Americans, would we really feel like women’s health in our state was better, all things considered, if we all were married?

And when they ask “What will you do for a healthier you?” is marriage really one of the easy steps they think we can all take?

Get your heterosexist, morality policing busybodying nose out of my business, Tennessee healthcare providers.

I’ve already got the Southern Baptists sticking their nose in there, to make sure I know how bad I’m ruining it for everyone, I don’t have room for you.


I’m sorry. I guess I’m more livid about this than I realized. But when you count the number of women in this state who can’t get married because we’re lesbians and the number of women in this state who are actively in physical danger from our male head of household and should not be with them for our own health, putting out any grade that, without nuance makes it sound like women are contributing to our own ill-health bu not being married? Just fuck you, assholes.


5 thoughts on “Single Ladies–Ruining It For Everyone

  1. I can’t actually seem to parse what that line is intended to mean, because 15.5% women-headed households gets a D for Hispanic women, but 14.6% for white, 49.1% for AA, and 19.8% for all women each get a C. So I’d almost think higher was better by this ranking, except for the white women group. Will have to ask about that.

  2. Alright, had a chance to speak to one of the people who worked on the report, and confirmed my suspicion that female-headed households is being used as a marker for a higher risk of poverty.

    So the intent is not to convey that male-headed households are objectively better, or that having a husband is necessarily a goal for everybody, but that there is a higher risk of poverty and a lack of two adult incomes, with the added issue that women tend to earn less than men, further aggravating that poverty risk. It’s not a perfect measure, and that’s something we talked about, and the meaning of it has changed over time, depending on whether you’re talking about women-headed households in the early era of no-fault divorce, women with children not marrying at all, or social conservative conspiracies about women making babies just to get welfare or some such.

    Hope that helps. It’s definitely not meant to suggest “women should get married as a way to improve their health.” It does sort of ignore households with two or more adult women, and I have a suspicion that the list of measures might be altered somewhat in future editions.

    [I forgot to get clarity on how the grades were specifically assigned and my confusion over that].

  3. Thanks for looking into it, Rachel. It just really bugs me (obviously). In some ways, it seems like this is being used like “obesity” as if a potential symptom of ill-health is actually the thing causing the ill-health.

    But I’m hoping you’re right that that metric, especially, will be changed.

  4. I would have guessed that it was meant as an indicator of the risk of poverty (in addition to actual income levels, single-income households are more vulnerable than double-income households to the effects of potential job loss). But that’s a poor way of phrasing it; I give them a D on language usage.

  5. Everyone else already said what I’d say. I saw it as a metric of income, but a very poorly worded one at that. The authors seemed like they were trying to use one metric to make multiple points (single-income families are at higher risk for poverty; women tend to earn less than men; poverty is a health risk) that they failed to communicate any one of those ideas effectively and instead ended up “saying” a completely unintended fourth thing.


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