Double standards for widows and widowers.

(13 Posts)
carernotasaint Sat 14-Apr-12 01:05:38

Christina Schmid has been criticised (unfairly in my view) for finding love again and getting engaged. (she is the widow of bomb disposal expert Olaf Schmid) who was killed three years ago.
Coronation Street actor William Roache also found a new partner 18 months after the death of his wife. He has not been criticised for finding someone "too soon"
While i wish both couples well it really annoys me that in these instances a widow gets slated for it but a widower doesnt.

I do know what you mean.

A really sobering point (IMO) is that some of this double standard seems to be about the fact that people will say a widower 'can't look after himself' or 'it's good he found someone to look after him'. There are stats showing married men are far happier than single men and divorced men are far unhappier than all other groups (single/married/male/female), and that they tend to remarry fast. I wonder if the same is true of widowers?

It's not just a stereotype, either - there are still a lot of men have grown up unable to look after themselves in the simplest domestic sense, not knowing how to cook, not knowing how to plan a meal or clean up hygenically. There are also men who can do those obvious things, but never mastered social interaction skills because these are often seem as the wife's 'side' of the marriage. So they end up, I think, lonelier than women or less able to cope with it.

In fact, I think this double standard is a perfect example of how men can be the collateral damage of misogyny.

It is a really disgusting thing, IMO, to judge anyone for getting remarried after a berevement, but maybe another manifestation of the 'women don't really deserve to be happy' crap.

skrumle Sat 14-Apr-12 09:00:06

i think some of it is about the idea that all women desperately want to be married whereas a man who marries a woman is really doing do it for her - so a widow who's had a good marriage shouldn't be so selfish as to go find another husband, whereas a widower is really doing the next woman a favour by being kind enough to marry her.

ErnesttheBavarian Sat 14-Apr-12 09:13:13

My fil was widowed about 4 years ago. The neighbours in his street have been fantastic. The woman next door to him was widowed about a year before him. She still, after 4 years, cooks dinner for him several times a week and passes it over the fence/leaves it in the porch. He is more than capable of sorting out his own dinner. And he never reciprocates. And she is in exactly the same position as him!

He started going on singles holidays/clubs (for mainly older, widowed people rather than 18-30 type affairs!) and he said it was often a ratio of 10 women to 1 man and he was beating them off with a stick! ( hmm)

I'm not aware of the double standard of remarrying after, though it makes sense and is surely linked with the d-s of sexual activity in general?

But def. seems to be a huge perception in widowed men being unable to cope, while widowed women get on with it (and indeed take over the caring role of others despite their loss).

Yama Sat 14-Apr-12 09:21:09

Or is it that the dead man was an actual person so to replace seems disrespecful, whereas a wife is just a wife?

MrsMcEnroe Sat 14-Apr-12 09:31:14

Wow, what an interesting thread.

I started reading Wifework last night and I think I'm with Yama on this one.

My dad died 3 years before my mum and her widowed years were dreadful. Most of her still-married friends simply stopped inviting her to "couply" events and arranged to see her in women-only groups. There was a definite feeling that she was now a threat to all their marriages. A female guest at my dad's funeral actually said this to me!!

In my experence there is a lot of suspicion, mistrust and utter bile levelled at widows by other women. So much for the sisterhood eh.

carernotasaint Mon 16-Apr-12 16:28:53

Sorry i havent been back on this thread till now.
Ever since i joined mumsnet and started using these feminism boards ive started to notice these differences more and more.
What made me start this thread is i saw 2 newspaper reports,one about Christina Schmid and the other about William Roache.
The comments under the Roache article were congratulatory.
But the comments under the Christina Schmid article were all "oh shes betraying the memory of her husband" shes being unfaithful to him" etc.
My God we really do live in a woman hating society.

KRITIQ Mon 16-Apr-12 16:34:38

Yes carer, I think it's yet another manifestation of the sexist values that permeate our society. And Yama, your comment at 09:21:09 is quite stark, but I think sadly a reflection of the different values placed on women and men in society, as human beings.

Yes, women can be atrocious to other women in situations like this. They feel they can carve out their own best advantage by playing along the rules of the "game" that they haven't invented and don't control.

BabsJansen Mon 16-Apr-12 16:39:58

Actually I read a really positive article about Christina so I disagree. Can you post your link?

meditrina Mon 16-Apr-12 16:40:53

This article doesn't exactly address the question, but it gives an interesting light on how widows are seen, written by Esther Rantzen (herself widowed) and might be worth a glance.

Sunnywithachanceofshowers Mon 16-Apr-12 18:59:22

Yama what a succinct way of putting it.

Bue Mon 16-Apr-12 21:02:48

Hmm, I haven't seen any criticism of Christina Schmid (even the comments on the Daily Fail are overwhelmingly positive and pleased for her). It's definitely possible that there is more sympathy and help for widowers as opposed to widows, but I don't think a remarriage double standard really exists.

There is also sheer demographics: women tend to live slightly longer than men so above a certain age, there are simply more women than men, which partly explains why so many social clubs etc for older people have a lot more women than men attending them.

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