sharing the load

by rantywoman

Is the “going solo” trend starting to head in another direction? I’m still planning on having a roommate in my next place.

Reactionary as it is, reading the original article is a useful exercise. It emphasizes the women’s dire financial straits, ensuring us that they are normal, monogamous schoolteacher-types who’ve just happened upon bad times — and not, God forbid, the sort of Wiccan lesbian coven that keeps a herd of cats in common. We’re told that they are “really busy,” “hardly ever [at home] at the same time” and that they, “share values in order to make things work.” The single advocate cited makes her argument in language that wouldn’t be out of place in a Family Research Council pamphlet: “Taking the stress off of parents in having to do everything for their kids and not sharing the load is really to me the heart of the American dream.”

As one might expect from a CBS news affiliate, the overall impression is hardly one of imminent social catastrophe,but this is a matter of framing. By emphasizing continuities with nuclear family life, the story undersells the subtle, progressive breaks with traditional home life that become possible in group living. And by focusing on baby boomers making tough domestic choices late in their careers, it eschews a much more interesting and potentially unsettling pattern: young, recession-wracked twenty-somethings, fresh into the labor force, foregoing solitary living completely.