Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles

Singletude is a positive, supportive singles blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Win a Gift Basket from A Singletude Contest

Hear ye, hear ye! The first ever Singletude giveaway contest begins today! In partnership with, Singletude is offering a singles gift basket valued at over $150! This assortment of fab items for on-the-go singles includes:

1. GO SMiLE Go Travel Kit
(GO SMiLE products also available at Amazon)

Everyone wants bright-white pearlies to flash, especially at sexy summer hot spots. But who can remember to pack whitening strips or gel trays? I know I'm lucky if I can find room for my toothbrush! More importantly, who has time to sit around a hotel room chomping on what looks and feels like a great big horse bit? GO SMiLE eliminates the waiting around and lets you get out and about so you can enjoy your vacation. All you have to do is squeeze the contents of an ampoule onto your teeth and brush! No mess, no hassle, and GO SMiLE says it's completely pain-free for sensitive teeth. This GO SMiLE Go Travel kit makes it more convenient than ever to keep your smile sparkling no matter where you go. The compact travel case with buckle and zipper includes:

*Mint-licious, Peach-licious, & Pear-licious Touch Ups (6 Ampoules)
--Six deliciously flavored ampoules to discreetly and quickly apply after a morning coffee or afternoon tea.
--A minty-fresh mouth rinse that contains antioxidants for a healthy mouth as well as fluoride and CPC to wash away bad breath and the threat of cavities and gingivitis.
*Lemonade Smile Toothpaste
--A fluoride toothpaste that whitens teeth as it relaxes with aromatherapy oils.
*Travel Toothbrush
--Small enough to carry with you anywhere for fast touch-ups.
*Compact with Mirror
--You don't have to ask your dinner companion if there's anything in your teeth when you have this compact at your side.

(B1 Whitening System not included but fits in travel case.)

2. Internet Dating Is Not Like Ordering a Pizza by Cherie Burbach
(Also available at Amazon)

For every online dating success story, it seems there's a web site full of grumblers ranting about the evils of eHarmony and Match. Here's a thought: maybe success is all in your attitude...okay, and your technique. Burbach, who met her husband online, will help you get both back on track. Look out for Singletude's review of this book next week!

(Book provided by Cherie Burbach.)

3. Revolution Variety Tea Samplers (2 Samplers)
(Revolution Tea also available at Amazon)

There's no time like the summer to kick back with a glass of iced tea. Or wait till fall blusters in and nurse a hot cup while wrapped in your favorite blanket. Whether you're an Earl Grey traditionalist or an organic devotee, if you're a tea lover, you'll find your favorite blend at Revolution. Many of their products are singles-friendly, perfect for one serving. Each sampler pack contains five single-serving flow-through infusers. (Say that five times fast!) The rainbow of flavors includes Earl Grey Lavender Tea, Tropical Green Tea, Golden Chamomile Herbal Tea, Sweet Ginger Peach Tea, and English Breakfast Tea.

4. Table Topics Dating Topics To Go
(Also available at Amazon)
Looking for a fun way to lessen the awkward factor on a first date? Introduce your date to this pack of 40 icebreaking questions and learn something you never thought to ask. Or, if card games aren't your style, use them at home to prep for the big night, then wow your date with your brilliant conversational starters.

"What's the most unusual thing you know how to do?"
"Where is your dream home located and what does it look like?"
"Who are your closest friends and what do you most enjoy about them?"
"How would your last girlfriend or boyfriend describe you?" (There's a loaded question!)

5. Intimate Wipes

This blog's PG-13 content policy prevents me from revealing the brand name of these--hee hee--post-coital quick pick-me-ups. These nonalcoholic, hypoallergenic moisturizing wipes contain aloe and vitamin E to keep sensitive areas soft and smooth even as they swab away stickiness. For use in all the conventional locales (on the road, on a plane, at the beach, in bed), as well as some you may want to think twice about, as the package illustrates!

6. Babeland Babelight

It's a keychain! It's a flashlight! It's a...vibrator? Yes, indeed, this versatile gadget does it all when you're dancing in the dark. It's also the perfect size to slip into a travel bag. This blog doesn't link to adult sites, but if you found your way here, you should be able to make it to Babeland without a problem if you want to buy one for yourself.

(Does not include AAA battery.)

7. Naked Winery Merlot or Chardonnay Coupon (1 Coupon)

Cap your next evening out by inviting a date or some friends back to your place to get Naked--Naked wines, that is. Based in the Pacific Northwest's wine country "Fruit Loop," Naked Winery will sweeten your night life with a FREE bottle of your choice of merlot or chardonnay when you order online with this coupon. Naked Winery describes its merlot as "aging in both French and American oak barrels integrated smoothly with its plum and earthy cherry flavors," while the chardonnay is said to have "a soft butterscotch finish" with "notes of pear and melon...accented by some caramel and toasted coconut aromas." Mmmm, a feast for the senses!

8. Fruit2Day 2-pack Coupons (2 Coupons)

Fruit2day fruit snacks defy definition, combining the best of both worlds--juice and whole fruit. I should know--I've tried them. Available in Strawberry Orange, Mango Peach, Pineapple Banana, and Cherry Grape, they bear no resemblance to either smoothies or pulpy breakfast drinks. Instead, they are pure, smooth fruit juice servings overflowing with chunks of fresh fruit. Yep, chunks. Not those annoying shredded pieces in OJ that get stuck between your teeth. Not those grainy bits of V8 that leave a weird residue on the inside of your cup. Imagine dicing up a peach or strawberry, then squeezing its juice over the slices. Now you get the idea! These healthy fruit juice snacks contain just 110-120 calories each but pack two servings of fruit per drink. Their convenient hourglass shape makes it a snap to gauge how many servings you've had. If you're busy--and who isn't?--it's hard to find time to eat five to nine servings of fruit, but if you drink one Fruit2day on your way to work, one at lunch, and one at home, you're all set for the day. Each of these coupons entitles you to a FREE two-pack of Fruit2day!

I have to confess that I was tempted to keep this gift basket for myself, but I really want to reward my loyal Singletude readers. I just wish there were enough baskets for all five of you! Just kidding. I check Singletude's traffic stats and see that there are a lot more of you following along than want to make yourselves known in the comments section! Now is your chance to step out of the woodwork and be recognized for reading faithfully!

To enter the Singletude contest for a chance to win the Single Edition gift basket, worth over $150, you can do any of the following:

1. Write about the Singletude contest on your blog, web site, or social networking profile and link to this post with the text "Singletude giveaway contest."

2. Add Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles to your permanent blogroll or link page.

3. Write about any Singletude blog post that you like on your own blog, web site, or social networking profile, linking back to the post with its title in the link text.

4. Submit any three Singletude posts that you like to your favorite social bookmarking site(s).

5. Submit a rant or rave about the single life that you would like to see appear on Singletude. Your rant or rave of approximately 300-1,500 words can be about any aspect of the single life and can take any tone (eg., humorous, nostalgic, inspirational, sarcastic, etc.), but it should be an original piece of writing that has not appeared elsewhere. All rants and raves will be considered for future publication in "Singletude Sound-off," regardless of the contest winner. Singletude reserves the right to edit submissions before publication.

6. Submit a question that you would like to see answered on Singletude. Questions can be about any aspect of the single life but must be suitable for a general audience. If the question is personal, sufficient background to answer the question should be provided. All questions will be considered for future publication in "Singletude Q&A," regardless of the contest winner. Singletude reserves the right to edit questions before publication.

There is no limit to how many times you can enter the contest. You may enter as many times as you want, in as many ways as you want.

Next, tell Singletude that you entered the contest! Send an email with the subject line "I entered the Singletude contest," point Singletude to your linkback (if relevant), and include your name, city and state, and email address. Submissions to "Singletude Sound-off" or "Singletude Q&A" obviously do not need linkbacks but must still include name, city and state, and email address in order to be entered in the contest. Any Sound-offs or Q&As published on Singletude will not include personally identifying information unless approval is given by the author.

Singletude regrets that links from sites promoting adult, illegal, hateful, or otherwise objectionable content cannot be accepted as entries.

The winner of the giveaway will be drawn at random on 9/28/09. That means you have exactly 60 days to enter the contest, so enter right away!

Singletude will contact the winner at the email address provided to request the winner's shipping address. If the winner does not respond to claim the prize within 10 days, he or she will forfeit the prize, and another winner will be randomly drawn. Once the winner has claimed the prize, the winner's name, city, and state will be announced on Singletude.

Remember, you have just 60 days to enter the Singletude giveaway contest for your chance to win $150 in prizes for active, fun-loving singles, so enter now!

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have a rant or rave about singlehood? Write in, and you just might see your question in a "Singletude Q&A" or your rant or rave in a "Singletude Sound-off"!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Singles in the News: 7/19/09-7/25/09

Single women were a major focus in this week's headlines. Find out why in this Sunday's edition of "Singles in the News"!


Singleschmucker Award
"Online Dating for Single Women: Are You Safe?"
By Robert Siciliano
Summary: While online dating safety could be a wonderful topic for an article, this disjointed piece jumps from the threat of pedophiles to Maslow's hierarchy of needs to a weird blame-the-victim stance on crimes against single women. However, if you skip the page-long introduction, you may find the 10 red flags for online daters worth a read. There's some good advice here about avoiding men who come on too strong too soon, taking self-defense courses, and using Intelius. On the other hand, some of the recommendations are so extreme, they could be straight out of a primer for stalkers: Ask him for his license plate and Social Security numbers? Whip out your camera phone and tell the guy you're emailing his picture to your entire address book? Come on! Even a genuinely nice guy would try to escape out a bathroom window after a date like that. This isn't the worst example of singlism I've ever seen, but in the absence of any horribly offensive articles this week, I'm awarding this one the Singleschmucker if for no other reason than it bashes single women who fall prey to Internet criminals and all-around abusive jerks. "Healthy, conscious, right minded people...can sense bad from a mile away"? Please. Singles aren't automatically unhealthy because they're not human bloodhounds.

"Single Women Ditch Men for Dogs"
The Daily Telegraph
Summary: Voices from the Australian dog fancy propose reasons why more single women than ever before are becoming dog owners. Warning: Some of the suggested reasons have singlist undertones.

"Union Mission's New Campus Gets First Residents"
By Debbie Messina
The Virginian-Pilot
Summary: Union Mission Ministry in Norfolk, VA expands its homeless shelters to accommodate more singles. Single women ages 18-25 are said to be "the fastest-growing segment in the homeless community."

"Women's Media Watch Members Have 'Singular' Viewpoints"
By Mel Cooke
The Sunday Gleaner
Summary: Members of Women's Media Watch, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of gender equality and violence against women, attempt to define "single" and discuss how men, sex, education, and social norms fit into and influence a single woman's life.


"'Dating in the Dark' Better Than It Sounds"
By Tom Conroy
Media Life
Summary: Dating in the Dark is a new reality show with a creative twist--dates are conducted entirely in the dark and shot with infrared cameras. Participants are given clues about each other and even the chance to work with a sketch artist to commit their imagined partners to paper. The question, of course, is whether these would-be couples will like what they see when the lights are on. The reviewer provides an honest take on reality dating cliches and evaluates what this show brings to the table without unwarranted hype.

"Really Happy and Single"
By The Soloist
The Gleaner
Summary: One columnist lists 10 ways to tell if a single woman really has singletude or is more of a matrimaniac than she lets on. Although not everyone will agree that loving the single life means one has to crave alone time more than company or shun the desire for children, the author's reminder that there are single women who are completely content in their singleness is a welcome validation for those of us who are happily single.

"Romance Is Back for Single Britain"
Summary: A study of 16,000 Brits cloyingly titled the LoveGeist Report 2009 finds that despite a sharp increase in the number of singles, which is expected to continue through 2011, 95% of participants say they are looking for twu wuv. Although more than half say they are now "more fussy" when choosing love interests, 84% intend to "work harder to fix problems" in their personal lives, and 63% say they are no longer interested in casual dating and that finding a significant other has become more important over the last year.


"Recipe for Disaster: Babies Raising Babies"
By Robin Cain
Summary: Single parenthood is an expensive proposition, especially for uneducated, underemployed teenage moms. This article collects some stats on teenage birth rates and the cost of child rearing. Unfortunately, it lumps unwed teenage mothers and their "accidental" pregnancies together with responsible single adults who are prepared to raise the children they choose to have.


"Contra Costa County Dragging Feet on Welfare Payments to the Poorest, Lawsuit Claims"
By John Simerman
San Jose Mercury News
Summary: A lawsuit against Contra Costa County, CA contends that the local government is intentionally delaying welfare payments to child-free, single applicants in an effort to discourage them from applying.

"In US, Homelessness Grows as Families Join the Ranks"
By Chris Simkins
Voice of America
Summary: Homeless single-parent families are sadly on the rise across the U.S. This article catches up with directors and residents at several transitional homes and shelters in the Washington, DC area.

"Single Over-60 Men Throw the Question Back: Where Are All the Women?"
By Regina Brett
Summary: In answer to the column's plea for single male seniors to round out speed dating events overflowing with single widows and divorcees, older men fire back that they either don't like the meat market atmosphere of speed dating or are turned off by anti-male attitudes in ladies their age.

"Sudden Change of Plans"
By John Keilman
Chicago Tribune
Summary: Following massive cuts in state aid, Harper College is the only college in Illinois still offering single mothers financial assistance for higher education.


Singles With Singletude Award
"Koreans Learn from Parent/Child Center to Aid Unwed Mothers"
By John Flowers
Addison County Independent
Summary: Despite South Korea's advanced industrialization, it remains a nation trapped in time where single mothers are concerned. Out-of-wedlock pregnancy is still such a stigma that many South Korean single women would rather take their chances on illegal abortions than give birth, and 70% of those who carry their babies to term give them up for adoption. Now, the Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network (KUMSN), founded by Dr. Richard Boas, an American who adopted a South Korean baby, is visiting the nationally renowned Addison County Parent/Child Center in Middlebury, VT to learn how to serve this unrecognized segment of their population. They will also stop off at the Korean consulate in New York City to raise awareness about the plight of unmarried mothers. The Addison County Parent/Child Center's South Korean counterpart is AeRanWan, which provides medical care, counseling, parent education, job training, and housing to single moms. Of KUMSN's visit to the USA, Boas says, "For me, this is a demonstration that this can be done, so that I can go to Korea and say, ‘You know, it’s been done in the States, I hope that Koreans, in their own way, do what they can to treat all its citizens equally. Here is the Vermont example, what can you, in Korea, do, based on the example in the States?’” For highlighting international cooperation toward the advancement of single mothers, this article wins this week's Singles With Singletude Award.

"Movie Review: The Ugly Truth"
By Matthew Huntley
Summary: The film critic wonders why singles feel compelled to change themselves for the sake of coupling and why Hollywood upholds this myth in his candid review of The Ugly Truth.

"Single Women Flock to Denmark to Get Pregnant"
The Copenhagen Post Online
Summary: As one of just a handful of countries in Europe to permit artificial insemination of single women (the others are Belgium, Great Britian, Holland, and Spain), Denmark is playing host to an influx of singletons trying to get pregnant.


"Call of the Wild: Cougars in Palo Alto, CA"
By Stephen Robert Morse
Mother Jones
Summary: The first ever National Single Cougars Convention will be held in Palo Alto, CA on Aug. 28, 2009. This article previews what attendees can expect.

"Most Austrians Like to Flirt"
By William Green
Summary: Well, duh. People the world over enjoy the sexually charged repartee known as flirting, including 78% of Austrian men and 81% of Austrian women, according to a survey of 787 Austrians. Other stats about the role of flirting in relationships won't surprise you, either, but it may disturb those of you with singletude to hear that 86% of Austrians refuse to travel alone.

"Travel Agents: A Healthy Long-distance Relationship"
By Melanie Nayer
Summary: Speaking of travel, this article aimed at single women is packed with tips on how to find and work with the right travel agent.


"What Women Want in 2009"
By Josette Compton
Summary: Five women dish about what they look for in a date, although, strangely enough, not all of them are single.

Do you have thoughts on any of the stories above? (When commenting, please reference the title of the article.)

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have a rant or rave about singlehood? Write in, and you just might see your question in a Singletude Q&A or your rant or rave in a Singletude Sound-off!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Quotes for Singles

This has been a crazy-busy week, so despite good intentions, there was no juicy midweek post on Singletude. Next week, however, Singletude kicks off its first ever giveaway contest, so be sure to tune in then to find out how you can win over $150 in prizes! And, of course, this Sunday "Singles in the News" is back with more links to the best and worst of world headlines concerning the single state.

Today, though, I've rounded up some quotes that I think are particularly inspirational for those living the solo life. So pour yourself a glass of lemonade, head out to the hammock, and ponder these words of wisdom:

"If we value independence, if we are disturbed by the growing conformity of knowledge, of values, of attitudes, which our present system induces, then we may wish to set up conditions of learning which make for uniqueness, for self-direction, and for self-initiated learning."
--Carl Rogers

"I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude."
--Henry David Thoreau

"You do not need to be loved, not at the cost of yourself. The single relationship that is truly central and crucial in a life is the relationship to the self. Of all the people you will know in a lifetime, you are the only one you will never lose."
--Jo Coudert

"Solitude is such a potential thing. We hear voices in solitude we never hear in the hurry and turmoil of life. We receive counsels and comforts we get under no other condition."
--Amelia E. Barr

"I want out of the labels. I don't want my whole life crammed into a single word. A story. I want to find something else, unknowable, some place to be that's not on the map. A real adventure. A sphinx. A mystery. A blank. Unknown. Undefined."
--Chuck Palahniuk

"No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings."
--William Blake

"I may climb perhaps to no great heights, but I will climb alone."
--Cyrano De Bergerac

"What a lovely surprise to finally discover how unlonely being alone can be."
--Ellen Burstyn

"You alone know Yourself by Yourself."
--Bhagavad Gita

"One of the greatest necessities in American is to discover creative solitude."
--Carl Sandburg

"In solitude the mind gains strength and learns to lean upon itself."
--Laurence Sterne

"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do."
--Helen Keller

"A human being is a single being. Unique and unrepeatable."
--Eileen Caddy

"I like being single. I'm always there when I need me."
--Art Leo

"Being solitary is being alone well: being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your own presence rather than of the absence of others. Because solitude is an achievement."
--Alice Koller

"Self-reliance is the only road to true freedom, and being one's own person is its ultimate reward."
--Patricia Sampson

"I would rather be a beggar and single than a queen and married."
--Elizabeth I, Queen of England

"All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone."
--Blaise Pascal

"It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers. The more solitary I am, the more affection I have for them. It is pure affection, and filled with reverance for the solitude of others. Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say."
--Thomas Merton

"A man is born alone and dies alone; and he experiences the good and bad consequences of his karma alone; and he goes alone to hell or the Supreme abode."

"To dare to live alone is the rarest courage; since there are many who had rather meet their bitterest enemy in the field, than their own hearts in their closet."
--Charles Caleb Colton

"Hail! Independence, hail! Heaven's next best gift, To that of life and an immortal soul!"
--James Thomson

"Conversation enriches the understanding, but solitude is the school of genius."
--Edward Gibbon

"You only grow when you are alone."
--Paul Newman

"The thoughtful soul to solitude retires."
--Omar Khayyam

"It is only poverty that makes celibacy contemptible. A single woman of good fortune is always respectable."
--Jane Austen

"Inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that is where I renew my springs that never dry up."
--Pearl S. Buck

"Be yourself; no base imitator of another, but your best self. There is something which you can do better than another. Listen to the inward voice and bravely obey that. Do the things at which you are great, not what you were never made for."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

"I lived in solitude in the country and noticed how the monotony of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind."
--Albert Einstein

"Be able to be alone. Lose not the advantage of solitude, and the society of thyself."
--Sir Thomas Browne

"But while I breathe Heaven's air and Heaven looks down on me, And smiles at my best meanings, I remain Mistress of mine own self and mine own soul."
--Alfred, Lord Tennyson

"I would be married, but I'd have no wife, I would be married to a single life."
--Charles Bukowski

"It is better to travel alone than with a bad companion."
--African proverb

"Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self."
--May Sarton

"You cannot be lonely if you like the person you're alone with."
--Wayne Dyer

"Solitude, though it may be silent as light, is like light, the mightiest of agencies; for solitude is essential to man. All men come into this world alone and leave it alone."
--Thomas De Quincey

"A great revolution in just one single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a society and, further, will enable a change in the destiny of humankind."
--Daisaku Ikeda

"Independence I have long considered as the grand blessing of life, the basis of every virtue; and independence I will ever secure by contracting my wants, though I were to live on a barren heath."
--Mary Wollstonecraft

"The surest way to be alone is to get married."
--Gloria Steinem

"Do not allow yourself to be imprisoned by any affection. Keep your solitude. The day, if it ever comes, when you are given true affection there will be no opposition between interior solitude and friendship, quite the reverse. It is even by this infallible sign that you will recognize it."
--Simone Weil

"I restore myself when I'm alone."
--Marilyn Monroe

"Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist...Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Whoever starts out toward the unknown must consent to venture alone."
--Andre Gide

"Solitude is strength; to depend on the presence of the crowd is weakness. The man who needs a mob to nerve him is much more alone than he imagines."
--Paul Brunton

"Independence--is loyalty to one's best self and principles, and this is often disloyalty to the general idols and fetishes."
--Mark Twain

"He who lives in solitude may make his own laws."
--Publilius Syrus

"I was never less alone than when by myself."
--Edward Gibbon

"A creation of importance can only be produced when its author isolates himself, it is a child of solitude."
--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Nothing is more precious than independence and liberty."
--Ho Chi Minh

"When I'm alone, I can sleep crossways in bed without an argument."
--Zsa Zsa Gabor

"When I am alone I am happy."
--William Carlos Williams

"I feel the same way about solitude as some people feel about the blessing of the church. It's the light of grace for me. I never close my door behind me without the awareness that I am carrying out an act of mercy toward myself."
--Peter Hoeg

"It is far better to be alone than to wish you were."
--Ann Landers

"I think that one of the things that has changed the perception is that there are so many more single people. In New York City, it's 47 percent. When you have that many people who are single, they have a bigger voice and they're more willing to speak and say, 'We're not miserable, we're not sitting at home waiting for Mr. or Ms. Right, we're having a good time.' And I think single people have better friendships."
--Candace Bushnell

"Solitude is often the best society."

"A man is never completely alone in this world. At the worst, he has the company of a boy, a youth, and by and by a grown man--the one he used to be."
--Cesare Pavese

"Only in solitude do we find ourselves; and in finding ourselves, we find in ourselves all our brothers in solitude."
--Miguel de Unamuno

"I care not so much what I am to others as what I am to myself. I will be rich by myself, and not by borrowing."
--Michel de Montaigne

"To be adult is to be alone."
--Jean Rostand

"Solitude is independence."
--Hermann Hesse

"If you are blessed, you are blessed, whether you are married or single."
--Greta Garbo

"Voyager upon life's sea, To yourself be true, And whate'er your lot may be, Paddle your own canoe."
--Sarah Bolton

"One travels more usefully when alone, because he reflects more."
--Thomas Jefferson

"If you are alone you belong entirely to yourself. If you are accompanied by even one companion you belong only half to yourself, or even less, in proportion to the thoughtlessness of his conduct; and if you have more than one companion you will fall more deeply into the same plight."
--Leonardo da Vinci

"It's better to be healthy alone than sick with someone else."
--Phil McGraw

"Nothing can bring you peace but yourself."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Solitude is the place of purification."
--Martin Buber

"He never is alone that is accompanied with noble thoughts."
--John Fletcher

"The first of earthly blessings, independence."
--Edward Gibbon

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."
--Henry David Thoreau

Which of the above quotes speaks to you as a single person? Why? Do you have a favorite quote not mentioned here that inspires you as a single?

Fun Link of the Day

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have a rant or rave about singlehood? Write in, and you just might see your question in a Singletude Q&A or your rant or rave in a Singletude Sound-off!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Singles in the News: 7/12/09-7/18/09

The topic du jour in this edition of "Singles in the News" appears to be intentionally single mothers, also called SMCs (Single Moms by Choice). Find out what all the fuss was about along with a smattering of the usual singles advice columns, opinion pieces, and international news stories. (Please note that Singletude is not omitting 7/12 or 7/18. There just weren't any notable headlines on those days!)


"24 Hours in Eden"
Summary: Eden Village and Eden Village II are homeless shelters for single moms and single women, respectively. Read about how the single residents are benefiting from their stay.

"Best Places for the Rich and Single"
Summary: Are you single and well-heeled? Then you may be interested in moving to Hermosa Beach, CA, Money Magazine's top pick to meet like-minded neighbors. Arlington, VA ranked second, and Coronado, CA came in third. Check out all 25 to see if your city made the grade.

Singles With Singletude Award
"Donor Conception: The Mother of All Decisions"
By Emily Caston
Summary: One intentionally single mom opens up about why she decided to seek out a sperm donor, chronicles the ups and downs of the IVF process, and reflects on the growing movement of intentionally single parents who are changing both demographics and cultural norms. With the sensitivity of one who has been there, Caston confronts the pain of her failed search for a committed partner, the singlist public policy that forced her to fund the entire procedure privately, and myths about single parenting. A fair, intelligent, and honest look at a difficult process with very rewarding results for single women who want children, this story wins this week's Singles With Singletude Award.

Singleschmucker Award
"Seduced by Stories of Stars Giving Birth Later, and IVF Myths, Career-obsessed Lucy Believed Children and Love Could Wait"
By Lucy Edge
Mail Online
Summary: In contrast to the previous story, this article bemoans how the author postponed parenthood until her biological clock stopped. Edge's story elicits a mixed reaction. On one hand, I think it's important for people, both women and men, who want to have kids to prioritize that and realize they may have to start before they've achieved that next promotion, taken that trip around the world, or finally learned to play guitar. But Edge is too insistent that her own transformation from career woman to aspiring stay-at-home mom is everywoman's path. Not all women consider a child "the most precious prize of all." Some women grow in the opposite direction, having children early on and then wishing for the freedom to pursue personal passions. Other women never want to have kids at all. Unfortunately, happily single women don't make for dramatic headlines. So, instead, we only hear from the ones who regret their solo days. There's also more than a hint of singlism here as Edge insinuates that all child-free women are immature, calling her and her other single friends "big kids in shoulder pads" whose lives could be reduced to "working, shopping, drinking and having fun." This is by no means the most offensive article I've reviewed for "Singles in the News," but the pickings were slim this week, so it's singlist enough to earn it a Singleschmucker.

"Single Women Left Out of NREGS: ILO"
By Himanshi Dhawan
The Times of India
Summary: The battle for equality continues in India, where single women, who are a growing component of the workforce, have been excluded from the provisions of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS).

"Singles Celebrating All Things French: Bastille Day 2009, Tour de France, and Video De'Lamour"
By J.C. Russell
Summary: The author muses about French attitudes toward dating and the single life and concludes that Americans may not be so different--the media just pretends we are.


"Hit Hardest by the Job Crisis"
By Sid Patel
Summary: Wall Street may be laughing all the way to the bank, but the joke is on poor and minority workers, who aren't seeing any signs of economic recovery. Single women are one of the at-risk groups discussed here.

"Marriage Rates Go Down"
Summary: The recent explosion in the single population isn't unique to the USA. In traditional Armenia, marriage is declining even as divorce gains a stronger foothold.

"Places to Meet Single Women"
By Tye Green
Summary: Although written for a lesbian readership, most of these tips on where to troll for dates could just as easily apply to straight folks. Too bad none of them are places you haven't tried before.

"Single Men Over 60: Where Are You?"
By Regina Brett
Summary: The columnist laments the trouble older women have when looking for dates their age.


"Educating Women Priority for Head of Commission"
By Jen Beasely
Summary: The youthful new president of Maryland's Montgomery County Commission for Women is spearheading an initiative to get single mothers educated and out of poverty.

"Nepal's Women Organizations Reject Gov't Bounty"
By Zhang Jianhua
Xinhua News Agency
Summary: After centuries of abuse, Nepalese single women aren't taking it anymore. They're fighting mad, and they're banding together to let the government know it. Their latest beef is with a state policy that would give widows money to remarry. But these women don't want financial incentives to be enslaved to a succession of men. They want more rights and protections for single women.

"Oldest Woman to Give Birth Dies, Leaving Twins"
By Daniel Wools
Associated Press
Summary: She was 66 when she deceived a a fertility clinic into thinking she was 10 years younger and gave birth to twins by IVF. The single Maria del Carmen Bousada of Spain had devoted her adult life to her chronically ill mother, and now she wanted to raise children of her own. Despite her own faith in her longevity, not three years later, she has sadly passed away, leaving the twins motherless. This tragedy sparks debate over age limits for intentionally single parents.

"Single Women Can Freeze Eggs in Netherlands"
Summary: The University of Amsterdam's Academic Medical Centre is now giving single women under 40 the opportunity to freeze their eggs for future insemination. The procedure is already available in the U.S., with varying success rates, but is generally not covered by medical insurance. It was unclear whether the Dutch procedure, called vitrification, would be offered for profit or as part of the country's socialized health care program.

"So Romantic! As Economy Stutters, Hearts Flutter"
By Laura T. Coffey
Summary: The economy's down, but dating site subscriptions are up. This article tries to uncover why but stalls with singlist quotes such as, "Finding a relationship you're going to spend your life with--this is the most important thing you can have." Luckily, the "reevaluating your priorities" theory isn't the only one presented. "Misery loves company," "joint bank accounts," and "the infatuation high" also make an appearance.


"Jon and Kate Split Results in Dating Challenges for the New Single Parents"
PR Newswire
Summary: Don't be fooled. This press release has next to nothing to do with the disastrous reality show Jon & Kate Plus 8. Instead, it's about a poll sponsored jointly by,, and The results show that about 80% of single Americans polled would be willing to date a single parent, but almost 50% say the limit on kids from a previous relationship is two or three. The prospect of unlimited children reveals a sharp divide along gender lines; 19% of women would date a single father no matter how many children he had, but only about 3% of men would feel the same about a single mother.

"Where the Guys Are"
Marie Claire
Summary: Based on male-female ratio, here are the top 20 cities for single women on the prowl for a date or a mate. The top three contenders are Seattle, WA, Denver, CO, and San Jose, CA.


"9 Ways to Meet 'Mr. Right'"
The Times of India
Summary: These alternatives to a meet cute out on the singles scene range from tried and true to hip and fresh.

"The Midtown Man Hunt"
By Tamara Franklin
Summary: Remember the article from 7/14 that tried to tell you where to meet single women? Well, this one tries to tell you where to meet single men with the same predictable results. This one is geared toward residents of Atlanta, GA but, again, could apply to anyone.

Do you have thoughts on any of the stories above? (When commenting, please reference the title of the article.)

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have a rant or rave about singlehood? Write in, and you just might see your question in a Singletude Q&A or your rant or rave in a Singletude Sound-off!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"Marry Well for Better Health" by Dr. Christopher Lillis: A Singletude Response

Those of you who perused last Sunday's edition of "Singles in the News" may remember the article "Marry Well for Better Health" by Dr. Christopher Lillis, which sent me into spasms of singlist-inspired horror. To quote from the Singletude summary:

Written by a doctor who is a self-described "very biased" newlywed (and takes pride in his prejudice, too), it trots out unidentified research studies to "confidently make this claim. Married men survive longer and live healthier lives than their single or divorced counterparts." Although the author admits those results were contingent on how happy the marriage was and cautions single men not to grab the nearest woman and drag her to the altar, he'd still rather advance his pet theory about the miracle drug of marriage than present hard evidence.

So, Dr. Lillis tosses out a few health measures on which married people score well while failing to mention the measures on which singles score better. (Oh, sorry. He mentions one such measure--obesity--but dismisses it since he's sure his new bride will nag him to lose weight. Let's catch up with him in 10 years and see how that's working out, shall we?)

He also neglects to inform his impressionable readers that, in many cases, the differences that do exist between marrieds and singles who have never married are marginal. If anything, he exaggerates the differences by lumping in people who have always been single with those who are divorced or widowed, two groups that sometimes do show a marked difference on health measures as compared to marrieds. (Singletude's information, by the way, comes from the CDC study "Marital Status and Health: United States, 1999-2000" by Charlotte A. Schoenborn and "Is There Something Unique About Marriage? The Relative Impact of Marital Status, Relationship Quality, and Network Social Support on Ambulatory Blood Pressure and Mental Health" by Julianne Holt-Lunstad, et al., discredited here by Dr. Bella DePaulo. Lillis doesn't say where his comes from.)

Even worse, Lillis takes some of these correlations and makes causal statements about them, asserting that married couples are "healthier" because they have a sense of responsibility to each other or because "getting married reduces depressive symptoms." The fact is we have no way to measure whether marriage causes any of these minor health differences or, if it does, how or why. If studies of singles and marrieds do show significant differences in, say, risk taking, perhaps that's because single people tend to be younger, and youth is associated with risky behavior. If singles do have slightly higher resting blood pressure than marrieds, maybe that's not because they're alone in their beds but because they worry more about things like health care or social security, which are more accessible to married couples.

No matter what, we can't talk about what marriage causes or doesn't cause because marriage is not a variable you can manipulate like an electric shock to get an experimental result (though some would say divorce gave them quite a jolt). See, marital status is similar to traits like age, ethnicity, religious affiliation, and sexual orientation in that the researcher can't change them. In order for a researcher to claim that something causes an effect, he or she has to be able to add or remove it at will to demonstrate that it was solely responsible for the outcome of the experiment.

To use a nonsense example, if a researcher wants to prove that everlasting gobstoppers turn kids blue, then she has to take two groups of kids that have never eaten everlasting gobstoppers and make sure that one group eats them and the other doesn't. In addition, she has to make sure that there are no other dietary, environmental, genetic, or medical differences between the two groups that might explain why some kids look like they fell in a blueberry bush. If, after determining that there are no differences between the groups except that one is getting gobstoppers, the researcher finds that the kids who eat gobstoppers turn blue, then she can tentatively state that gobstoppers may cause kids to turn blue. Why tentatively? Because, as careful as she was, maybe there was some other difference between the groups that she missed. That's why studies are repeated over and over again for confirmation and why most scientists are very, very careful when they talk about causation.

However, let's say the researcher is faced with two groups of kids, one that's already blue and one that's not. She wonders why some kids are blue, and she asks all the kids a bunch of questions and notices that the blue kids all used to eat gobstoppers. Well, that's interesting, and the researcher can say that she found a relationship or correlation between gobstoppers and blue kids, but she can't know with any certainty that the gobstoppers caused the kids to turn blue. Maybe the kids who turned blue were also eating snozberries, and maybe it was actually the snozberries that did the damage. Or maybe the kids who turned blue were suffering from a rare, unknown sugar deficiency that affects skin tone, so they craved lots of sweet gobstoppers.

Saying that marriage causes anything is like saying that kids who are already blue definitely got that way because they ate gobstoppers. We just don't know. And even if we could randomly assign some people to be married and some to be single and observe the results, it would still be hard to make causal attributions because, just like the researcher in the first example, we might've overlooked something.

For some reason, though, when marriage is the subject, researchers and clinicians fall all over themselves with eagerness to make causal statements. I'm not sure why that is. Maybe it's because marriage is popular and relatively easy to enter into, so it encourages people to hear that something they perceive as desirable and ubiquitous is good for their health. It's also possible that the reasons are more sinister and revolve around a research agenda that favors the status quo for economic or political reasons. Whatever it is, medical professionals like Lillis are highly irresponsible when they jump on the bandwagon and repeat these fallacies to patients and readers who don't know any better.

Towards the end of the article, Lillis plays devil's advocate for a minute, but even his counterargument, which posits that healthier, "more genetically appealing" people are more likely to get married, is insultingly singlist. No, Dr. Lillis, the problem is not that we singles are all Quasimodos compared to you strapping, married bombshells. It's that we singles are less likely to have health care. It's that we can't take time off work to heal from illness or injury because we have no second income. It's that we have more financial woes in general because we earn less and pay more than you marrieds do, and that's stressful. It's that we face a lot of social discrimination (the kind of discrimination you're guilty of right now), and that's stressful, too.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure Lillis can understand this logic because in the most presumptuous statement of his presumptuous article, he demonstrates an appalling lack of it. Check out this statement in all its singlist glory:

There is no real way to prove this [that marriage does not cause better health]; it is just a bitter, jealous theory of a loveless set of scientists who spend too much time in the lab to find true love.

Oh, dear, dear, dear. Doesn't Dr. Lillis realize that the burden of proof is on him? The scientific method always assumes no cause-effect relationship until one is proven. To return to our blueberry bunch, the researcher must assume that gobstoppers don't turn kids blue unless she can prove conclusively that they do. In direct contradiction to universally accepted research practice (and logic), Lillis says the exact opposite--that gobstoppers must turn kids blue unless we can prove that they don't. Good news for quack researchers everywhere! Now you can assume Santa Claus, the Loch Ness Monster, and spontaneous human combustion exist until someone proves that they don't!

Lillis's lapse in logic might be forgiveable if it wasn't laced with all that singlist rhetoric. I'll tell ya what, Dr. Lillis, let's invert your statement so that it's both logically valid (instead of fallacious) and anti-marriage (instead of singlist) and see what we get:

There is no real way to prove that marriage causes better health; it is just an ignorant, narrow-minded theory of a codependent set of scientists who spend too much time at home to get out and see what the real world is like.

Here's another good one:

There is no real way to prove that marriage causes better health; it is just a desperate, envious theory of a bored-stiff set of scientists who spend too much time tied to the old ball and chain to have any fun.

Just gotta do one more! Here we go:

There is no real way to prove that marriage causes better health; it is just a sad, pathetic theory of a lonely set of scientists who've wasted too much time in loveless marriages to admit they'd be happier alone.

Now, do any of those statements sound appropriate to make to a married patient? Would you, Dr. Lillis, want someone to make such a statement to you? Then why, I wonder, do you believe it's appropriate to talk that way to your single patients and readers?

Even if Lillis's interpretation is right on the money and marriage is the fountain of youth (which I don't think it is), I'm not sure what would be the point of saying so. A marriage certificate is not a drug that you can dispense when a single person straggles in with the flu, and if it were, it would have a pretty poor track record. If you think of marriage like a drug (thanks, Bella DePaulo, for this analogy), it doesn't work for at least half the people who try it (those who divorce), not to mention the unknown percentage who stay married unhappily. What doctor recommends a drug that's effective for less than half the people who take it?

In conclusion, I want to state for the record that I am single and in good health. I don't smoke, drink heavily, or have other substance abuse problems. I'm not a risk taker. I am not depressed. My blood pressure is so low that it actually causes problems occasionally. Despite what Lillis says about singles who don't take care of themselves, I go to the doctor when I'm concerned that something's wrong.

Interestingly, my dad, who is married, does not. In fact, when I noticed a worrisome skin lesion on his back awhile ago, my mom, his wife, said that she'd been after him to get it looked at for months. You know who convinced him to go to the doctor?

Me. His daughter.

What do you think about Dr. Lillis's article? Do you think married people are really healthier than singles?

Fun Link of the Day

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have a rant or rave about singlehood? Write in, and you just might see your question in a Singletude Q&A or your rant or rave in a Singletude Sound-off!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Singles in the News: 7/5/09-7/11/09

It's a bird...It's a plane...This joke's a little lame........It's "Singles in the News"!

Singles were making a big splash on the international scene this week, as our third news digest reflects. Unfortunately, there was a paucity of really insightful or inspiring articles about singles. On the other hand, it was a terrifitastic week for Singleschmucker candidates, which can only be a mixed blessing.


"An Unfair Standard"
By Caren Matzner
Summary: Nice opinion piece examines how single female public figures in entertainment and politics are judged differently than their married and/or male counterparts.

"Marry Well for Better Health"
By: Dr. Christopher Lillis
Summary: This article was so infuriating that I had to walk away from the computer to cool down at several points. Written by a doctor who is a self-described "very biased" newlywed (and takes pride in his prejudice, too), it trots out unidentified research studies to "confidently make this claim. Married men survive longer and live healthier lives than their single or divorced counterparts." Although the author admits those results were contingent on how happy the marriage was and cautions single men not to grab the nearest woman and drag her to the altar, he'd still rather advance his pet theory about the miracle drug of marriage than present hard evidence. I have so much to say on this subject that I think it's worthy of a response of its own, which will be posted in the next few days. Suffice it to say, this article was the front-runner for the Singleschmucker Award until--believe it or not--an article came along that made this one look open-minded.


"Ekal Naree Shakti Sangathan to Hold Public Hearing"
Summary: About 120 Indian single women are gathering to petition their government for the right to social security, inheritance, land ownership, better medical care, and a smoother divorce process.

Singles With Singletude Award
"Homeless, and on a College Path to Independence"
By Amanda M. Fairbanks
The New York Times
Summary: In conjunction with New York's Department of Homeless Services, St. John's University offers Advantage Academy, an associate's degree program designed for the homeless, most of whom are single mothers. Their partnership is an historic first. Fairbanks talks to several participants about how they balance school with their daily lives. The program assists them with childcare and transportation and projects that all of them will find housing by the end of the summer. None of the articles this week blew me away, but this one was uplifting and concerns a landmark advancement for homeless singles in New York, so I'll give it today's Singles With Singletude Award.

"Homeless Labrador Man Still Out in the Cold"
CBC News
Summary: Single men bear the brunt of a low-income housing shortage in the Canadian province of Labrador.

"The Single Woman's Resource Guide"
Jamaica Observer
Summary: Where to start with this mixed bag? It begins disastrously, reading like Jamaica's rendition of the infamous Atlantic feature "Marry Him," its favorite word "settle." Is your man a bum who can't earn a living? Settle. Does he kick back with a beer while you do the dishes? Settle. Your family can't stomach him? Settle. Why would an incredible man with everything going for him want you? Settle, and maybe he'll improve with time, the unnamed author urges. As if this wasn't bad enough, (s)he then does a 180, insisting that a single man is only a good catch when he's good and truly enmeshed, living his whole life for his partner at his own expense. The author's criteria? Try "he feels it is more important that your needs are met rather than his" and "he is always buying things he feels you will like rather than spending money on himself." I don't think I need to comment on what's wrong with that scenario. However, Singletude can't give this article a Singleschmucker because soon after this nonsense, it gives solid advice to single women regarding financial planning, child rearing, and leisure time. Unfortunately, it caps this off with a section that only applies to those of the Christian faith and eight "warning signs you're doomed to be single forever." I feel sorry for Jamaican singles if this is what their major publications consider newsworthy!


"Single Minded"
Fort Wayne Journal Gazzette
By Devon Haynie
Summary: Singles from Fort Wayne, IN discuss what it takes for a city like theirs to become a singles magnet and identify five key factors--a bustling downtown scene, a public transportation system, employers who recruit the young, an emphasis on the arts, and sports teams to root and play for.


"Pakistan: Women Struggling to Get Help"
Summary: The charitable organization Oxfam International provides needy Pakistani refugees with water survival kits. This article focuses on the plight of single women, who find it especially hard to seek help in a region that is hostile to unaccompanied females.


"Dating When You Don't Have a Job"
By Gary Wynn and Taryn Winter Brill
ABC News
Summary: Out of 2,700 members surveyed, 71% said they would consider dating someone who was unemployed. So Good Morning America interviewed eight single women about their dating preferences, and most of them agreed that ambition and a long-term game plan were more important than current job status. (They also weighed in on a variety of other first date questions with answers that probably won't surprise you.) A video clip accompanies the article, which gives tips to single men looking to put a positive spin on their job loss. Singletude's question for the writers is why they ignore unemployed single women. Men aren't the only ones who find the dating scene a challenging environment for the jobless.

"Ladies, Do You Want to Dance?"
By Annie Gleason
Summary: Dating coach Annie Gleason is the one asking the question, and if you're a single woman, she advises you to turn to the nearest man and ask him the same thing if you want to hit the dance floor. Those who aren't so bold may want to follow her tips for communicating interest through body language.

"Money vs. Job Satisfaction: How to Choose"
By Paula Santonocito
Summary: This is a somewhat thin piece on weighing the importance of income against personal happiness. Directed at single women, it could easily apply to men, as well. This may be nitpicking, but I found one statement troubling: "For single women, especially those without children, the workplace may be the only place where they feel a sense of belonging to a group on a daily basis." Well, it may be. But lots of single women have a daily awareness that they belong to their families, their friends, their clubs, teams, churches, or volunteer organizations. We shouldn't underestimate how much singles identify with all of these groups. I say this because there's a tendency to assume that singles have no life outside of work, and that's just not so.

"Oh, For Their Own Barack"
By Matt Flegenheimer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Summary: This report details how the Obamas' idealized marriage has raised the bar for single men, especially in the African-American community.


"The 'Dirty Little Secret' That Is Online Dating"
By Christiana Stevenson
The Urban Coaster
Summary: It's hardly a secret, nor has it really been "dirty" for the last five years or so. The author argues that it's a better route than all those tried-and-true options, but in the year 2009, is there anyone left to argue with?

"Homeless Vets on the Rise in City"
By Tish Butts
Vicksburg Post
Summary: Homeless vets in Vicksburg, MS are in trouble. Every year their ranks increase, and available beds are running out. Most of them are single men, the article says.

"Men Can't Converse? Well, Pickup on This"
By Jeff Kaley
Waurika News-Democrat
Summary: On a lighter note, Jeff Kaley introduces us to some of the world's worst pickup lines and reminisces about his own fumbled flirtations. Wish he hadn't concluded the article with that timeless mantra of marrieds, "I'm really, really glad I'm not single," though. Can you imagine how an article would be received if a single writer ended it with "I'm really, really glad I'm not married"?

Singleschmucker Award
"Want to Get Married? Plan on Having 12 Kids"
By Kobi Nahshoni
Summary: Just when you thought the singlism couldn't get any schmuckier, Rabbi David Batzri spreads a frightening message to Israeli single women, exhorting them to dedicate themselves solely to motherhood. "A girl who wishes to marry must take upon herself already on the first date an obligation to have no less than 12 children," he says. According to Batzri, a woman should become a brood mare--err, mother--as soon as possible after marriage and should keep popping out babies until well after 40 with no breaks in between. (That is, provided she doesn't break.) If a woman waits three years between pregnancies, she must be using birth control, deducts the clever rabbi, which is a no-no. So is listening to medical advice if it would dissuade her from having a litter--err, baby. "Doctors are liars. Don't believe them," Batzri scoffs. "They are all just like that evil American, Dr. Eeeeeevil," he said. (No, not really, I made up that last sentence. But he might as well have said it.) Rebbetzin Yemima Mizrahi pipes up with some more singlist rhetoric, but it pales in comparison. I smell a Singleschmucker!


"Local Business Donates Furnishings to Peace House"
By Mark Gunderman
Loudoun Times-Mirror
Summary: Businesses in Loudoun County, VA have banded together to support the Good Shepherd Alliance Peace House, a transitional home that shelters up to 40 homeless single women rebuilding their lives.

"Single Moms Need a Date Too!"
By Carissa Chesanek
Summary: This writer has a few ideas about where to find one. She raises some other questions about dating as a single parent, too, but doesn't attempt to answer them, unfortunately.

"VH1's 'Tough Love' Host Doesn't Sugarcoat His Message"
By Ellen McCarthy
Summary: Steve Ward of VH1's reality dating show Tough Love is single but doles out dating advice on TV. Some of his observations, such as that women care more about dating than men do, may sadden you. It was particularly unsettling to read that, in his experience, single women would rather date their friends' picks than their own.

Do you have thoughts on any of the stories above? (When commenting, please reference the title of the article.)

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have a rant or rave about singlehood? Write in, and you just might see your question in a Singletude Q&A or your rant or rave in a Singletude Sound-off!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ms. Taken: The Fake Engagement Ring for Single Women

While combing stories for Singletude's last "Singles in the News" feature, I stumbled across an article called "Fake Engagement Rings Marketed to Single Women," which alerted me to a new bauble on the market that Reality Bling calls "a little bright lie." In case the headline I just linked to didn't tip you off, it's a fake engagement ring that's being marketed to single women. Cutely called Ms. Taken, the ring promises to help you pub 'n' club happily ever after unmolested by barflies. Just slip it on when you want to discourage a loser walking your way, then tuck it into its keychain fob when the coast is clear. It's the perfect on-again/off-again relationship.

Ms. Taken's home page is dominated by an embedded video commercial that should amuse those who like their fake wedding humor bawdy. You're also prominently invited to "Become a fan on Facebook" in case you care to advertise that your engagement is fake. That way if you really want to pull a fast one on a rejected suitor, you can flash him your faux diamond but whisper in his ear to look you up on Facebook, and then--gotcha! Suckerrrr! Neener, neener, neener! At the top of the page, a pic of the big sparkly is captioned, "On the dance floor or at the bar, nothing says 'I'm taken' like a fake engagement ring."

A click on "Product Details" reveals that Ms. Taken is a 2-carat Austrian crystal (congratulations--your pretend fiance is an investment banker!) set in a stainless steel band. It comes with the aforementioned keychain fob, a jewelry case, and, for some reason, 20 "Playaz" cards bearing images of classics like "Neal Anderthal" and "Jamaall That." If you order now, these timeless treasures will be yours to collect, trade, and preserve for generations to come. Or I guess you could pull them out if you and your friends get bored waiting for losers to leave you alone.

The ring and its accoutrement can be ordered for a grand total of $50.00. Frankly, you can buy a crystal or a cubic zirconia for half that in most department stores, though you'll have to drop it in your purse or your pocket instead of a custom-tailored keychain fob. And, of course, you'll have to do without the Playaz.

More interesting than the ring itself is the message it sends to singles. A quick scan of reviews of Ms. Taken shows that that message has been hotly debated. The article mentioned at the beginning of this post argues that Ms. Taken demeans single women, implying that they can't handle unwanted social interaction without relying on lame excuses or, worse, that they need the suggestion of a mate to prove they're worth more than lewd stares and cheesy pickup lines. Others, like "Ms. Taken = Puke in My Mouth," claim that Ms. Taken sends the wrong signal to men, communicating that it's a-okay to harass women who are unattached, that only a man's protection makes a woman worthy of respect.

Admittedly, I've donned a cubic zirconia with intent to deceive more than once, and I've never given a thought to it being singlist before. My motivation has usually been to avoid unwanted attention while out for a girl's night or when I want to run errands in peace, and now that I'm single by choice, an easy way to advertise my unavailability is even more attractive. It's not that I'm incapable of fending off punchless pickup lines with my rapier wit, but sometimes I'd rather not have to. Men in pursuit can be aggressive, especially in the metro area I call home, and some of them interpret a polite "no, thank you" as code for "you-have-three-minutes-to-convince-me-to-give-you-my-number-starting-now-GO." When I'm trying to have a good time with my friends or--God forbid--shop for groceries, drop a bill in the mail, or read in the park unmolested, the last thing I want to do is argue with Insert Random Guy about why I won't have a drink with him. A strategically placed rhinestone speaks for me (and hopefully says, "Game Over"). But, according to the bloggers above, the very fact that I expect a ring to exempt me from these exchanges proves to men that they can harass me with impunity if I'm not some other guy's property. Is this true?

I think not. I think it's unfair to men to assume they're all Neal Anderthals who view women as chattel, ripe for the plucking unless some other cowboy has left his stamp first. Today, an engagement ring is a visible sign of a woman's choice as much as a man's. In contemporary society's language, it says, "I have chosen to be in a monogamous relationship with someone. I am not interested in anyone else." Men who steer clear of an engaged woman are respecting her choice as much as the man she chose. If a single woman could wear a ring that was universally recognized to mean she wasn't open to dating, I suspect a lot of men would respect that, too. Of course, there would always be some who would see it as a challenge, but these would probably be the same cavemen who hit on women wearing engagement rings the size of the Hope Diamond. These male chauvinist oinkers don't respect anyone or anthing except the notches on their own belts and are just out to add a few more whenever they can.

Single men are susceptible to enculturation just like everybody else, and I won't claim that singlism never colors their interactions with single women. Undoubtedly, there's a man out there who won't take no for an answer because he believes that any woman should prefer his 5 AM Concerto in Snore Major to a lifetime of waking up to nothing but birds. But my guess is that most men have no such illusions when they present themselves to be chewed up and spit out on the nearest bar. Instead, they're just doing what successful hunters have always done--aiming for the most likely targets (women who are single) and shooting as many arrows as they can, hoping one will hit. If some of those arrows fall flat, miss the mark, or veer toward our chests instead of our brains or our funny bones, then the hunters have poor technique, not a special contempt for deer.

I'm not saying this to excuse inexcusable conduct. Like most people, I believe that women who are subjected to unwanted comments or contact should take steps to let offenders know their behavior is unacceptable, whether that means walking away gracefully or reporting them to management. But I don't think the majority of men set out to use Borat as a role model, and those who do don't care whether their sexytime partner is wearing a ring or not unless it's in her tongue. For the rest, a ring is simply shorthand for "no chance in hell." You could use a scowl, a slap, or puke in your mouth to get across the same message, but with a ring you can still be pretty. ;)

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe those bloggers weren't overanalyzing, and I'm unwittingly supporting singlism every time I resort to a fast, one-size-fits-all excuse rather than a nuanced rationale of why I prefer to be single while I scan the room for an exit.

What do you think? Do fake engagement rings promote singlism? Do they send a message to single women that they are "less than" or that they can't fend for themselves in social situations? Do they send a message to single men that women who aren't taken are free to be harassed? If you're a single woman, have you ever worn a make-believe engagement ring, and, if not, would you? Why or why not? If you're a single man, what do you think of women who, um, engage in this practice?

Fun Link of the Day

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have a rant or rave about singlehood? Write in, and you just might see your question in a Singletude Q&A or your rant or rave in a Singletude Sound-off!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Singles in the News: 6/28/09-7/4/09

It's time for this week's edition of..."Singles in the News"! Feel free to browse the links to this week's crop of singles-oriented articles, read those that interest you, and comment on what caught your attention here at Singletude!


"Area Shelters Lack Facilities for Women, Families"
By Kym Klass
Summary: Once again, single women and mothers are left out in the cold, this time in Montgomery, AL.

"Recession Bringing Families Together, for Good or Worse"
By Steve Campbell
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Summary: In an economic crunch, single adults cobble together alternative families with parents, relatives, friends, and roommates.


"A Single-minded Savings Plan"
By Paula Santonocito
Summary: Do you shop till you drop too much money? This article gives sound advice on how to save at the store.

Singles With Singletude Award
"Over 40, Single and Loving It!"
Summary: A San Francisco ABC affiliate interviews Jane Ganahl, editor of Single Woman of a Certain Age: 29 Writers on the Unmarried Midlife--Romantic Escapades, Empty Nests, Shifting Shapes, and Serene Independence. Ganahl chats about the emergence of the happily single older woman, the dissolution of stereotypes, and dating over 40. She also promotes her book, which addresses such diverse dimensions of single life as solo travel, friendships fit for Sex and the City, the companionship of pets, and changing relationships with parents. My favorite quote: Host Janelle Wang asks, "Why do you think a lot more women are choosing to stay single?" Ganahl answers, "Because they've been married!" Ms. Ganahl, you have real singletude, and this interview gets this week's Singles With Singletude Award!

"Why Are Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston and Diane Keaton Single?"
By Erin Demchak
Summary: This article takes some guesses, but the stars themselves don't seem interested in the analysis. Diane Keatons puts it best when she says, "I don't think that because I'm not married it's made my life any less. That old maid myth is garbage." Although the author indulges in some singlist rhetoric, she too finally seems to get the point.

"Volunteers Gather for Day of Good Deeds"
By John Higgins
Summary: This heartwarming article follows volunteers as they work on the grounds of a homeless shelter for single women and mothers.

"Who Goes Abroad for Fertility Treatment and Why?"
Summary: Who ever said Europeans were so open-minded? Proving that singlism is alive and well across the Atlantic, a press release from the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology reveals that countries which prohibit singles and other individuals from seeking reproductive assistance are driving aspiring parents across international borders in search of more tolerant policies.

"Why Do Some Women Still Think It's Okay to Rely on Men to Pay Their Way? Real Freedom Is Having Your Own Bank Account"
By Linda Kelsey
Mail Online
Summary: A divorcee cautions women against financial dependence on men.


"Advocacy Publishes Guide to Long Term Care Insurance"
Summary: An overview of the American Association of Long Term Care Insurance's new guide for women with specific tips for singles, who are most likely to need long-term care.

"Single Women in Today's Workplace"
By Paula Santonocito
Summary: Unmarried women in the workforce face the compound challenge of overcoming both marital status- and sex-based discrimination. Find out about the obstacles to their success and what's being done to combat them.


"Singled Out"
By Rich Kushman
The Sacramento Bee
Summary: Winetasting events draw lots of single ladies, but where are their male counterparts?

Singleschmucker Award
"Who Marries and When? Age at First Marriage in the United States: 2002"
By Paula Goodwin, PhD, Brittany McGill, MPP, and Anjani Chandra, PhD
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Summary: The 2002 National Survey for Family Growth, which somehow took seven years to analyze, proving that we do indeed spend way too much money on big government, finds that men have an 81% chance of marrying by 40 years of age, while women have an 86% chance of doing the same. (Note: As the CDC says, these statistics "do not represent the actual percentages of individuals who have married by each age shown; instead, they represent how likely it is that an individual will marry by a specified age." This is an important distinction, which has been blurred already in some online sources.) A decreased likelihood of marriage was associated with African-American ethnicity and financial poverty. The survey sampled 12,571 Americans. And guess what? This data brief about it wins the Singleschmucker Award! Yes, you, our U.S. government, are responsible for the most egregious example of singlism on this week's list! Shame on your for presenting this research as a response to "concerns over a decline in marriage" because "married persons tend to exhibit greater physical, emotional, and economic wellbeing"! Those claims are misleading because 1) they inflate minute differences between married and unmarried people and 2) attribute them to marriage when we actually don't know what is responsible for them. On top of that, they ignore the effects of divorce, which are far more detrimental than remaining single. Although I detest it, I understand why the media invents stories like this to sell papers and documentary specials. However, when the government does it, it's beyond reprehensible--it's irresponsible.


"32% of Singles 'Prefer Prudent Men'"
The Press Association
Summary: A third of British single women surveyed by say they like savers more than spenders.

"Cougar Party"
By Melinda Maximova
Summary: The author urges older women to buck the May-December trend.

"Dating Scene Disaster Is All Our Own Fault"
By Jennifer Jones
Summary: A single female bemoans how Australian women let men play them for sport and take them for granted.

"Newly Divorced and Searching for Love? Try a Wedding"
By Shari Albert
Merced Sun-Star
Summary: We keep hearing that weddings are fertile breeding grounds for relationships in the making, but this article explains how to give that potential wedding day match some Miracle-Gro. One of the better articles on this subject that Singletude has seen.

"Single Black Women Choosing to Adopt"
By John Blake
Summary: Rising rates of infertility and dissatisfaction with a small pool of eligible men are leading more African-American women to adopt. This profile of one such woman advises readers on how to prepare for single-parent adoption. (Note: This was a runner-up for this week's Singles With Singletude Award.)

"What Men Should Learn from Michelle"
By Khadijah White
The Chronicle Review
Summary: This article blew me away. This is the first time I've heard it suggested that Michelle Obama might have given up opportunities of her own to become first lady. People always seem to take for granted that any wife who ends up in the White House must have fulfilled her lifelong dream the moment she stepped over the threshold. Amen to White's acknowledgement that a smart, successful woman stands to lose as much as she gains in a high-profile marriage! This article isn't about a single, but because it takes a stand against matrimania in an instance in which it would be especially tempting to buy into the fairytale, it was the other runner-up for this week's Singles With Singletude Award.


"Single Women, Think You Have It Tough Here?"
By Steve Penner
Summary: Israel promotes itself as a forward-thinking country among closed-minded neighbors. But it seems Israelis have a long way to go before they reach gender equality. "Israel is still very much a macho society," says one concerned citizen.

"WWII Vet Receives Medals 65 Years After War"
By Russell Jones
Summary: This story isn't really about singles, but it turned up in search results, and Singletude includes it because of a disturbingly singlist quote. In "Singlism in the Military: Discrimination Against Single Servicemen," we got an eyeful of how the armed forces devalue single men. Worse, here is a verteran devaluing himself! Recalling his self-sacrificial action under attack at an American evacuation hospital, World War II hero Warren Blaylock says that he volunteered to stay behind with the injured soldiers because "I was a single man." He goes on to say that he "found five other single men to stay...One of them I had to drag, he didn't like me very much after that." Blaylock's efforts, which earned him a Bronze Star and four other medals, are, without question, highly commendable. But his comments highlight an upsetting attitude that men's lives are worth less if they're not married. In other circumstances, this article might've gotten a Singleschmucker, but I didn't have the heart to do that to a vet whose recognition was long overdue.


"Fake Engagement Rings Marketed to Single Women"
By Kate Spethmann
Summary: The author is livid that Reality Bling is selling a faux diamond ring called Ms. Taken to single women who want to ward off lecherous bar leeches. Find out why.

"Heightened Sense of Security With Women Guards On Board"
By Devjyot Ghoshal and Saikat Ray
The Times of India
Summary: Single women in India can breathe a sigh of relief when traveling alone. Female security personnel will now be required on trains.

"Just a Bus Ride From a Hot Shower"
By Raymond Castile
Suburban Journals
Summary: Homeless single men in the St. Louis metro area find shelters scarce.

"Many Women Think Being a Single Mom Is the Easier Way to Go"
By Kate Powalski
Orlando Sentinel
Summary: Well, this is a first. I have never heard a woman say that she would prefer to be a single parent, saddled with all the work and expense of child rearing on her own. However, Babytalk Magazine reports that two-thirds of single moms surveyed said they thought it was easier to parent alone. And lest you imagine these single women were just rationalizing, married mothers also wished they didn't have to hash out childcare disputes with their partners (76%) or worry about the quality of their marriages (69%). The author, a single mother herself, reflects on her own attitude toward spouse-free parenting.

"We the Bachelors"
By John G. McCurdy
The New York Times
Summary: If you think contemporary America is singlist, you may be surprised to learn just how much prejudice single men endured when this country was in its infancy.

Do you have thoughts on any of the stories above? (When commenting, please reference the title of the article.)

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have a rant or rave about singlehood? Write in, and you just might see your question in a Singletude Q&A or your rant or rave in a Singletude Sound-off!