never married, over forty, a little bitter

the personal

Economic and social vulnerability only exacerbate this tension: indeed, both models are rendered fragile by the strain of job insecurity and the privatization of risk. Among informants who were single (56), dating (21), or divorced (5), fear—of being deemed unworthy, of losing their selves, of betrayal, of failing and losing what little they have—dominated their experiences in the romantic sphere. For those who were married, the family became a constant battleground where they wrestled with these fears and their longing for solid, lasting ties. In an era when economic and social shocks such as job loss, illness, or disability are the responsibility of the individual alone, intimacy becomes yet another risk to bear, especially for black men and women who carry the additional burden of racism in both the labor and the dating market. The unpredictability, insecurity, and risks of everyday life come to haunt young people within their most intimate relationships, not only by shrinking their already limited pool of available social resources but also by disrupting their sense of security, destabilizing their life trajectories, and transforming commitment into yet another risky venture. Children remain the last bastion of commitment and stability— yet the social institutions in which young parents create families often work against their desire to anchor their lives in connection with others.

the complex

Prime Minister David Cameron described the baby’s birth as an “important moment in the life of our nation” which, as Prince George is third in line for the throne, makes sense if you think the monarchy is important to begin with. (Where would we be without slideshows of the royal corgis?) But for the rest of us who are not subjects of a queen, the answer likely lies with an all too familiar obsession with tabloid-ready infants. As Washington Post reporter Monica Hesse aptly notes, Prince George sits at “the intersection of celebrity worship, royal worship, and the burgeoning baby-industrial complex.”

In The Handbook of Gender, Sex, and Media, Erin Meyers argues that our interest in famous kids is drawn from our desire to see celebrities—who reside in a seemingly unattainable world—in an identifiable situation: motherhood. While we don’t often weekend jet-set to Bora Bora, we have pleaded with a one-year-old to not eat dirt. Meyers says the “celebrity mom profile” grew with the magazines of the 1990s, when celebrity moms began to “embody a highly romanticized and idealized vision” of motherhood as a “pinnacle of ‘natural’ feminine achievement.”