Out of the Next and into the Red

The Dynamics of Debt in Young Adulthood

In any newspaper or blog these days, you’re bound to find human interest stories of fresh-faced young adults, newly independent from their parents, and saddled by a mountain of debt they can’t even dream of repaying. The media narrative–think the white college student plagued by $120,000 of student loan and credit card debt—often borders on hyperbole. It skews the reality of how much debt the typical young adult owes.

And while youth indebtedness has received rampant media coverage, there’s been very little solid research tackling this emerging social problem. Evidence from a small group of researchers examining how youth debt has changed over time, how youth indebtedness is linked to social stratification and inequality, and the consequences of debt for young people as they advance through their adult lives can give us a glimpse. The research in this area is nascent, and some of it is contradictory, in large part because access to credit and debt carries an array of costs and benefits, and is influenced by social and structural factors, such as race, class, and education. Debt can surely open doors and create access, but it can also close doors by imposing a long-term burden for debtors and their families.

Three Genderations of Debt

Over the past fifty years, the period known as the “transition to adulthood” has changed dramatically. In the 1960s and ‘70s, young people left the parental home, completed education, got married, and had children, in a relatively quick and orderly fashion. Today’s transition to adulthood is much more complex. Young people are extending their education, delaying marriage and childbearing, and some return to live with relatives. They enter and exit college, cohabitate rather than marry, and take longer periods for “self-discovery” if they are able. While youth must now navigate this increasingly complex transition, they also take on unprecedented financial risk. Whether in the pursuit of a college degree, getting married, buying a home, or simply paying bills and making ends meet, young adults often assume great deal of debt as they leave the nest and set out on their own.

The rise of debt in young adulthood has been driven by a potent mix of policy changes, rising costs, and stagnating incomes. On the supply side, young adults have come of age in an era of easy access to credit. Financial deregulation in the 1970s and ‘80s increased the supply of credit and made debt an extremely profitable business for banks. It was aggressively marketed toward consumers—particularly young adults—which led to a massive increase in household debt and problems with repayment. On the demand side, rising costs—such as the skyrocketing price of college—make credit an appealing option. Since their parents already have debt, young people must take on debt of their own.

In a recent study for Social Problems, I used data from the National Longitudinal Surveys to show how debt has changed across three generations (what we demographers refer to as “cohorts”) of young adults. I focused on people in their mid-twenties—The Early Baby Boomers, who were young adults in the late 1970s; The Late Baby Boomers, who were young adults in the late 1980s; and Generation Y, who are currently in their twenties.

The [graphs] confirm what most laypersons and media reports have suggested—debt has risen. I show mean and median total debt across three cohorts of young adults, adjusted for inflation and basic sociodemographic factors such as socioeconomic status, race, and age. Total debt is the sum of everything from home mortgages, credit cards, and student loans to automobiles and personal loans. Comparing mean and median debt across cohorts, we notice the mean has increased much faster than the median. While the median gives us a good sense of debt in the middle of the distribution, the mean is far more sensitive to extremely high and extremely low debt loads. What this reveals is that much of the growth in debt across cohorts is being driven by an increase in the number of severely indebted young adults. In some ways, it seems the media imagery of the young person beleaguered by extremely high levels of debt is more commonplace today than it was thirty years ago.

To finish reading this special feature, see more graphics on generational debt, and view some suggestions to compliment this piece by Jason Houle, Click Here!

Reproduzindo o gênero binário ativo/passivo

"Reproduzindo o gênero binário ativo/passivo na Target"
(título do post original, retirado do The Society Pages, que foi traduzido e adaptado)

Eric mandou um exemplo que ele viu na seção infantil da Target.

A loja em que ele esteve tinha cinco corredores: cada corredor tinha grandes cartazes na parte superior. Três dos cinco eram focados em meninos e todos eles enfatizavam atividades:


“Quando comer com as mãos vale um grande aplauso.”


“As mãozinhas dele fazem grandes descobertas.”


“Seus joguinhos são imperdíveis.”

Então, garotos fazem coisas (brincam, aprendem a se alimentar sozinhos, descobrem coisas) que merecem a atenção e admiranção dos adultos. E as garotas?

Oh, elas dormem.


“Sua canção de ninar preferida é aquela que seu coração canta.”


“Coloque-a para dormir e seja a estrela de seus sonhos.”

Nota do MachismoChato: Quando exposto dessa forma, fica bem fácil entender a dinâmica que cria a passividade ou a atividade atribuída aos gêneros. Não é natural, é aprendido.
International Christmas of Mystery

The Society Pages (nee Contexts.org/socimages) is a feminist/social justice blog that does a lot of articles (guest-written or non-) on economic justice, racism, sexism, rape culture, lots of other stuff. Incredibly edifying material for anyone looking to be more… aware of the contexts in society (get it now?).

Anyway, this week they had a post on Christmases around the world. Multiculturalism!


Oh blessed Father, for Christmas this year I would like peace on earth, and for my mother to become healthy once more, and for father to have a good year, and maybe because I think I’ve been a very good girl this year can you maybe see it in your heart to let the pastor untie my hands, because it’s been like two years and the beads are starting to chafe.


Yo dude I just can’t get over how Govind’s eyes don’t close when he passes out, this is creeping me right up a wall. Oh oh write “Maneesh rules” next, and then maybe draw a penis.


"We wish you a merry Christ-mus, we wish you a merry Christ-mus, we wish we had elec-tri-city, and a happy new year!"


Okay, Gush’narl the Ravenous, just use this joystick here to guide the claw-lamps over the humans you want, and when you press this big red button the claw will drop and pick up hopefully the one beneath it. But you have to be careful bringing the claw back to the slot because sometimes they slip out.



Watch on thesocietypages-blog.tumblr.com

Femininity: Feared and Reviled

The paradox: masculinity is strength, power, and dominance… but femininity is terrifying. Gender rules insist that men must avoid association with the feminine at all costs because, if they do not, they are weak. They are pussies, bitches, women, girls. Femininity is weakness and yet, oddly, it has the power to strip men of their manliness. It is as if, as sociologist Gwen Sharp once put it, “masculinity is so fragile that apparently even the slightest brush with the feminine destroys it.”

Let’s be clear. The reason he’s afraid of femininity is because it’s reviled. It makes you a woman, which makes you worthless. Which is fine for the ladies, but dudes are advised to avoid personal denigration if at all possible.

Thanks Summer’s Eve, you make my job easy.

Vendendo flores com sexismo

Em alguns casos, além do produto, a propaganda vende uma ideia de como os relacionamentos “normais” devem ser.

Esse anúncio sugere que a chateação de uma mulher poderia ser resolvida com flores. Esse tipo de ideia desencoraja outra: que exista um real motivo para essa chateação.


Exatamente quão brava ela está?

As mulheres têm sido consideradas criaturas irracionais (foi uma das justificativas para negar-lhes o voto - que não tinham razão suficiente para fazer boas escolhas no governo), assim como as crianças. A chateação de uma criança é facilmente rotulada de imaturidade, como se não tivesse razão de ser, não precisasse ser discutida e nem fosse causada por qualquer atitude.

Este anúncio encoraja a tratar as mulheres da mesma maneira, como se tivessem acabado de ter seus sentimentos feridos e um pouco de consideração melhorasse tudo.

Isso prejudica o status das mulheres em uma variedade de contextos, comunicando que as queixas das mulheres não precisam ser levadas a sério. Este tipo de atitude torna as mulheres menos capazes de estruturar seus ambientes sociais para atender suas necessidades.

Além disso, essa ideia sugere que não importa os interesses de uma mulher, ela vai abandonar essas posições e princípios se você gastar bastante dinheiro. Isso coloca a mulheres como corruptíveis - outra construção para justificar a falta de mulheres em posições de autoridade. Afinal de contas, você gostaria de alguém que é irracional, materialista e corruptível dirigisse a sua empresa? Ou seu governo?

Traduzido e adaptado deste post do The Society Pages

"One of Gerson’s interviewees, Matthew, exemplifies the egalitarian willing to fallback on a neotraditional family form:

If I could have the ideal world, I’d like to have a partner who’s making as much as I am—someone who’s ambitious and likes to achieve.  [But] if it can’t be equal, I would be the breadwinner and be there for helping with homework at night.

And this is what women think of that:

My mother’s such a leftover from the fifties and did everything for my father. I’m not planning to fall into that trap. I’m really not willing to take that from any guy at all.

Alas, what appears to be a happy convergence between men’s and women’s ideals — both are egalitarians — can turn into an intractable situation: a man who won’t give up his role as the breadwinner and a woman who would rather do anything than be a housewife.”


So, I lol’ed. Comments in the post do acknowledge that this post is problematic in its dismissal of housework (implicitly by the author and explicitly by some of the interviewees). With that said, I hardly think the interviewee can be faulted for giving an honest answer about how she feels about the traditional gender norms of married life.

I still haven’t decided what kind of life or relationships I want. I do know that traditional gender norms make it difficult for me to even stand straight cis men sometimes. I may or may not decide that my career isn’t as satisfying as staying at home with my children (because I LOVE BABIES!).

On the other hand, I know I would resent the shit out any dude who tried to convince me to stay home so he wouldn’t have to change the way he sees his role in a marriage. This pisses me off when I see it in my parents, in their friends, every where. I couldn’t stay with someone who disrespected my life choices that way, ESPECIALLY when they benefit directly from them. 

Re-Touching the Consequences of Extreme Thinness

When thinking about the photoshopping process for celebrities, models, and media icons, we’re generally certain that re-touching is used to make models look thinner.
We assume (often correctly) that celebrities really don’t look like they do on the cover of Cosmopolitan Magazine. That they’ve been slimmed down in order to live up to conceptions of beauty.

However, an article written by Lisa Wade, professor at Occidental College in Los Angeles, inverts the re-touching dialogue.

What happens when a celebrity or model is truly and extremely thin? When they’ve ‘succeeded’ in living up to body image standards?


They have to be digitally perfected. Bulkier thighs, hidden rib cages, fuller cheeks…

Read more here.

dan-whites-got-an-issue said:

Blurred lines

I’m sorry but how can you say that this song doesn’t have serious rape vibes in it?

He literally says that he thinks that there is not a definite line between consent and rape. That it is ‘blurred’. ‘He knows she wants it’ how? Well he can’t be because she has emphatically told him that she ‘wants it’ otherwhys he wouldn’t be complaining about this non-existent grey area. And if she has not given an emphatic, consistent and sober yes then it is rape.

This song is presenting all of these ideas of dubious consent as if it’s fine, this is encouraging men to treat women as sex objects for their enjoyment and the womans opinions and feelings are not even taken into account, because ‘he knows she wants it’ so why bother asking. This is really dangerous because so many of the lines in this song have been said by real life rapists (see http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2013/09/17/from-the-mouths-of-rapists-the-lyrics-of-robin-thickes-blurred-lines-and-real-life-rape/ for more information) and presenting it as though it’s not rape at all, presenting it as sexy and his right to do/say these things which it blatantly isn’t.

So yeah, Blurred Lines is a song rife with rape connotations, anti-consent messages and glaring misogyny.    

If you are like most people, you find, perhaps to your own bewilderment, that the first individual seems male despite the female pubic hair pattern and apparent female genitalia and the second individual seems female despite the presence of a penis and scrotum.

Kimmel suggests that this is because, in our daily life, we habitually judge individuals as male or female on the basis of their secondary sex characteristics (e.g., body shape, facial hair, breasts) and social cues (e.g., hair length) and not, so much, their primary sex characteristics (i.e., their genitalia).


If 20th century Futurists loved the race car, Bifo argues, then 21st century technocrats are in love with technologies that augment the body with information: “The bio-info machine is no longer separable from the body or mind, because it’s no longer an external tool, but an internal transformer of body and mind, a linguistic and cognitive enhancer.

The Ape and The Child: A Research Project Conducted at Orange Park Florida; A Comparative Study of the Environmental Influence Upon Early Behavior. (Experiment.) W.N. Kellogg, L.A. Kellogg (1931 – 1932), Indiana University, Hafner Publishing Company, New York and London, 1967.

 Americans’ Views on Origins of Homosexuality Remain Split, (Article) McArthy, J.  May 28th 2014, GALLUP Politics, last updated/viewed September 10 2014. URL:http://www.gallup.com/poll/170753/americans-views-origins-homosexuality-remain-split.aspx

Transcending the Nature/Nurture Debate. (Article) PhD Wade, L. Aug 3, 2010, at 10:10 am, Sociological Images. W.W. Norton & Company.Inc. Indepedant Publushing since 1923. Last updated/viewed September 9 2014. URL: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/08/03/transcending-the-naturenurture-debate-fallons-brain/

 Season One: Hjernevask (Brainwash), (Documentary) Harald Eia, Ole Martin Ihle, 2010. Viewed on Vimeo. URL: http://vimeo.com/19869748

for anyone who might want to take a look

Welcome to the Feminist Blog-o-sphere!

Here you will find a (by no means comprehensive) list of some blogs, websites, twitter feeds, Tumblr accounts, and other social media sites that you may begin to look at as you approach the Tumblr component of this course. Please feel free to email me suggestions to add to this list, which I will periodically update and re-post to Sakai.








Sociological Images: thesocietypages.org/socimages/







@feministtswift (Feminist Taylor Swift)

@SignsJournal (Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society)

@Jessica Valenti



@Maddow (Rachel Maddow)










"Normative" Marriage in the Fourth Grade Classroom
From Sociology Lens

When I picked my friend’s nine year old daughter up from school last week the first thing she said to me was, “We had to do something really weird in class today. The teacher paired all the girls with a boy and we had to be a married couple.” It turns out the teacher was having her students work on writing dialogue and since it was right before Valentine’s Day she thought it would be cute for them to write dialogue about love and marriage.

“Not all girls want to marry a boy. It was so lame,” my friend’s daughter told me. ‘Lame’ was not really the word that came to my mind; I was more thinking about heteronormativity and how it is reproduced through our social institutions.

My friend’s daughter might not understand the term ‘heteronormativity’ but she is quite aware that not all marriages take place between a man and a woman and there was something short-sighted in only pairing up boys and girls to represent married couples. We live in New York, where gay marriage is legal. She attends a progressive school in a liberal area. One of her best friends has two moms and she has been exposed to a diversity of family arrangement. Therefore, it is not surprising to me that she found the assignment odd. In addition, she’s nine and romance in general is gross.

Within the academy it seems so easy to spot how heteronormativity, racism, classism, and other forms of inequality continue to be produced and reproduced in society. We have read Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” (1989). Many of us have had our undergraduate students do the Power Shuffle exercise. And we have heard countless students share painful and difficult experiences of their personal attempts to challenge the status quo. Inside the ivory towers, especially in disciplines like sociology and gender studies, there is often a safe space to highlight, discuss, and question how institutions reproduce normative behaviors even if they are discriminatory.

Like many individuals living in academia, my social circle is not representative of the larger world. Even so, my mother thought the dialogue exercise was endearing. My sister, an elementary school teacher, told me about dozens of similar exercises where young children were taught math, grammar, spelling, and science while also being socialized to see heterosexual romantic pairs as normative. And my friend, the girl’s mother, agreed that there was something limiting about the exercise but told me she would not have been completely comfortable if the teacher had paired girls with girls and boys with boys and told them to write out romantic dialogue.

At first I felt defeated. How can we ever create an egalitarian society when inequality is so deeply embedded in our cultural institutions? Then I felt motivated. I would focus more on exposing spot how heteronormativity, racism, classism, and other forms of inequality continue to be produced and reproduced in my work, my teaching, and my interaction with other people. Finally, I felt hopeful. My friend’s daughter told me the dialogue exercise was ‘weird.’ She did not say it was ‘gross’ or ‘embarrassing.’ It was weird. And it was weird because she knew that heterosexual marriage was not the only kind of marriage. She knew that family was not necessarily a nuclear family. The world is changing. I could never have imagined an alternative to heterosexual marriage as a fourth grade student but today there are nine year olds who do and that inspires me.

For further reading, click here!