HOW MANY MORE DECADES WILL IT TAKE TO ERASE FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLES?
These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.
In the discussion of financial discrimination of singles, it is useful to look at the history of financial discrimination. Two women who were strong advocates of financial equality were Marie Babare Edwards and Vivien Kellems.
Marie Babare Edwards (January 2, 1919-December 31, 2008) , was a psychologist who helped pioneer a “singles pride” movement in the 1970s through her book (co-author Eleanor Hoover), “The Challenge of Being Single,” and workshops she taught died two days before her 90th birthday. Her 1974 book included a “A Singles’ Lib Manifesto” and spelled out the unfair costs of being single in taxes, the workplace, insurance, and housing.
Divorced after 11 years of marriage and rearing her 9-year old son alone, Edwards found herself suddenly in sync with a third of the adult U.S. population that was single — then 43 million people.
Edwards became a zealous advocate for equal social status for the never or formerly married.
Kay Trimberger, a sociologist and author of “The New Single Woman” (2005), called Edwards forward-thinking, “a pioneer, writing about the social issues of singles before it was popular. For that reason, her writing sort of got lost.”
Edwards considered the book and seminars through most of the 1970s, “my most significant contribution as a psychologist,” she later wrote, because she helped “individuals and institutions appreciate singlehood as an alternate and viable lifestyle.” (She was an extrovert who came close to remarrying several times.) (latimes)
Vivien Kellems (1896-1975), tax resister, feminist, industrialist and runner as a senator, fought for numerous causes during her lifetime. While she believed in equality for women (in the workplace and in the home), and she proved an avid supporter of a woman’s right to vote. However, some of her most contentious fights were Kellems’ highly publicized battles with the Internal Revenue Service(IRS).
Already a prominent industrialist in Connecticut, she waded into the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment. In stating her case, she put forward her own brand of individualist feminism. By contrast, many “social feminists” at the time such as Eleanor Roosevelt opposed the ERA because it would strike down “protective legislation” for women. In 1943, Kellems asked “what are you going to do with all these women in industry? If we’re good enough to go into these factories and turn out munitions in order to win this war, we’re good enough to hold those jobs after the war and to sit at a table to determine the kind of peace that shall be made, and the kind of world we and our children are going to have in the future.”
In the years that followed, Kellems continued to battle the IRS. Protesting that tax laws unfairly penalized unmarried individuals, Kellems never filled out another tax return. She, instead, signed blank returns every year and sent them to the IRS. She continued her fight for tax law reform right up until her death in 1975. (connecticuthistory and historynewsnetwork)
MORAL OF THE STORY
Kellems’ fight for financial equality covered several decades, notably the 1940s to the 1970s. Marie Babare Edward’s book in 1974 was published about forty years ago.
So how far have we come in the last sixty to seventy years in eliminating financial discrimination of singles (‘ever’ singles and early divorced)?
In Canada, while we do have equality in taxes being equal for individuals regardless of marital status, we do not have equality in singles receiving benefits equal to marital benefits and equal inclusion in financial formulas with married/coupled persons and widowers.
Much work still needs to be done. The question is how many more decades is it going to take to have true financial equality for singles?
This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles. It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.