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.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Singles in the News: 8/23/09-8/29/09

The stories in this week's "Singles in the News" were overwhelmingly positive toward singles and singleness. In fact, at first glance, you might think that we're in the midst of a seismic conciousness shift toward true acceptance of singles as full-fledged members of society.

This may be true. We may be progressing toward an era in which singlism and matrimania will seem as horrifying yet distant as the days when women couldn't vote and people of color were relegated to the back of the bus.

But don't be fooled into complacency. Every week, there are articles that you don't see here belittling, dismissing, scapegoating, and stereotyping singles in the most hateful ways. These articles usually appear on web sites that have a stated, often right-wing agenda or on personal blogs, and Singletude doesn't publish them because they're biased sources. Of course, many publishers have an unexpressed bias, but their reporters at least pretend to objectivity, so their articles are a reflection of mainstream attitudes. It's this zeitgeist that Singletude tries to capture in "Singles in the News," so it doesn't link to sites that aren't interested in objectivity.

However, you can trust that singlism is alive and kicking at such sites. This week turned up a particularly venomous crop of anti-single writers, so even though they won't get a mention here, I wanted you to know that they exist. They're out there, and they're actively working to spread their singlist rhetoric and keep singles at a disadvantage.

Thankfully, other writers showed singles some love this week and a lot of it! I hope these articles will be as upflifting to you as they were for me.


"Single and Feeling Happy"
By Retno I. Palupi
The Jakarta Post
Summary: This encouraging article finds single women in Indonesia facing the same work-family conflicts as we do here in the States and embracing single living with equal enthusiasm.

"Single Dads in Recovery Deserve Equality"
By Angeline Davis
Summary: The author champions single fathers recovering from addiction or poverty and questions why mothers with similar issues are invariably favored in court and in the array of treatment options available to them.


"Advocates Push to Include the Homeless in Medicaid"
By Pam Fessler
Summary: Most of the homeless are single and child-free, and in some states, that makes them ineligible for health coverage even though they're the most vulnerable to illness and injury. Proposed Medicaid expansion could help them have better lives and be less of a burden on taxpayers.

Singles With Singletude Award
"Sex and the Single Minister"
By Rev. Debra Haffner
The Huffington Post
Summary: The tide is turning for LGBT clergy as more Protestant denominations approve ministers in committed gay and lesbian relationships. However, the author, a Unitarian minister, wants to know why single pastoral staff of any orientation are still expected to be celibate outside of marriage. Although her article will likely elicit protest since premarital sex is a no-no in Bible-based teaching, Haffner's courage in presenting the question has to be admired. Those who've studied theology will know that, despite the Christian church's current prohibition of all things sexual outside of marriage, scriptural and historical support for total celibacy is debatable. Moreover, Haffner is one of the enlightened few to propel the gay marriage debate beyond marriage and confront the double standards that exist for singles. This is even more impressive since she represents a religious community that has made a golden calf out of marriage. Though it was hard to choose a winner from so many pro-single articles this week, this one earns the Singles With Singletude Award for recognizing that the problem isn't who gets to marry; the problem is marriage.


"Motherhood: Is It For Me?"
By Rheba Estante
Summary: California therapist Ann Davidman helps women, single or coupled, answer that question through a 12-week workshop. What's unique about Davidman's philosophy, as presented in this interview, is that it advocates parenting only out of true interest and desire, not out of obligation or societal expectation. Women who choose not to have kids are guided and supported every bit as much as those who do.

"Older Single Women Reinventing Themselves"
By Paul Santonocito
Summary: Although it offers no tips on how to do so practically, this article exhorts single seniors to break out of their holding pattern and go for the goal, whatever that might be, because time is of the essence.

"Single Parent Dating Tips"
By Miranda Krebbs
Summary: Eight excellent tips for single parents flirting with a return to the dating scene promote a non-matrimaniacal approach prioritizing your physical and emotional well-being as well as that of your children.


"Original Feature Documentary 'Single' for DVD Release September 15"
Newswire Today
Summary: Single, a self-explanatory documentary and a prizewinner from the 2008 New York Film Festival, will be available on DVD on 9/15. From the press release: "'Single' provides a timely and comprehensive look into what it means to be single in America and how singles regard marriage...Through thought-provoking interviews with a cast of social experts, performers and singles themselves, 'Single' addresses the complexities of relationships in today's world."

"Take Two: Let Society Hear Women's Cries"
By Dr. Sipho Lombo
Daily Dispatch
Summary: Troubled by the growing rate of female suicides in South Africa, a manager in the Department of Education calls upon the community to support single women, who might otherwise become isolated, overstressed, and depressed.


"Fort Wayne Has New Women's Shelter"
By Scott Sarvay
Indiana's NewsCenter
Summary: A new homeless shelter for single women has opened its doors in Fort Wayne, IN. The executive director was inspired to open the shelter when a previous news broadcast alerted her to the plight of homeless single women.

"Give Women the Right to Ask Bosses for Flexi-work"
By Andy Ho
The Straits Times
Summary: That is, if they have children. If they're single, forget it. And everyone knows men don't need time off or other accommodations to care for kids because men are not caregivers. So says this reporter as he urges Singapore to adopt flexible work arrangements for mothers. How about this? What if we offered everyone a standard amount of time off to use as they wished? What if we recognized that the nine-to-five, chained-to-a-desk work model is outdated and let everyone work from wherever they want for however long they want as long as they get the job done?

"Local, Single Women Embrace a Different Label"
By Mike McGinley
The Times Leader
Summary: That label is "puma," defined as a cougar in training, a woman not yet of a certain age who nevertheless prefers to date younger men. The reporter also wants readers to know that it's not always the woman who's the aggressor in these May-December pairings.

Singleschmucker Award
"Why Poach Another's Mate? Ask an Expert"
By John Tierney
The New York Times
Summary: Here we go again. On the heels of the widely publicized release of a study purporting to show that single women prefer attached men (see "Singles in the News: 8/9/09-8/15/09"), Tierney interviews Dr. David Buss, the social psychologist who coined the term "mate poaching" and whose seminal research is referenced in the current study. Interestingly, his own research showed that it was single men, not single women, who were most likely to pursue coupled partners. As for the women who prefer their men second hand, according to Buss, they are the product of a long human history of polygyny, which was perfectly acceptable when the behavior evolved. Although Buss's attempt to absolve single women is appreciated, neither he nor Tierney directs a critical eye toward the current study even though many commenters were quick to point out its flaws. Also, despite Buss's silly excuse that he couldn't think of anything better, "mate poaching" remains an insultingly singlist term which implies that paired people are property to be stolen and single people are thieves. In a thin field this week, Tierney's article is our new winner of the Singleschmucker.


"Harmless Ogling or Flirting with Disaster?"
By Kiplang'at Jeremiah
The Standard
Summary: In the U.S., an article which admonishes that "staring lustfully at people of the opposite sex with no promise of a relationship" might be "a form of indiscipline" would likely be dismissed as quaint at best or offensive at worst. In Kenya, it made the country's flagship newspaper. Filled with quotes that dehumanize both the gazers and the gazed at, this piece, perhaps unintentionally, reveals an appalling lack of respect for both the personal privacy of singles and the autonomy of married individuals.

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

Don't forget to enter the Singletude giveaway contest for your chance to win over $150 in prizes from!

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, August 26, 2009

Single Edition's "Live the Life You Love" Discussion Panel for Single Women

Single ladies in NYC, I have a treat for you! Single Edition, the sponsor of Singletude's awesome singles gift basket, which could be yours when you enter the Singletude giveaway contest, is partnering with online dating behemoth Spark Networks to host a three-night discussion series entitled "Live the Life You Love" at Saks Fifth Avenue.

You may remember from Singletude's interview with Single Edition founder Sherri Langburt that one of my favorite aspects of the site is its panel of experts, who regularly answer reader questions. Well, this is your chance to ply the experts with queries over cocktails...and meet some of your single sisters in the process. Single Edition's panel of trusted advisers will tackle Money, Home and Security on 9/15; Health, Mind and Body on 10/6; and Cooking, Career, Love and Entertaining on 11/3. And when the Q&A winds down, the evening is just revving up at Saks, which will be closed to the public with its personal shoppers and cosmetics consultants at your disposal!

Advance tickets are $25 or $45 for all three nights. I plan to attend at least one night, so if you live in New York or its environs, maybe I'll see you there!

Fun Link of the Day

Don't forget to enter the Singletude giveaway contest for your chance to win over $150 in prizes from!

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, August 21, 2009

Singles in the News: 8/16/09-8/22/09

Apologies if you looked for "Singles in the News" yesterday without success. I held it till today since the midweek Singletude post was late.

After two weeks packed with stories about singles issues, last week was the slowest in memory. Unnervingly, there continued to be many headlines about "Who's Chasing Whom? The Impact of Gender and Relationship Status on Mate Poaching," the study reported in last week's "Singles in the News," all of them vilifying single women and warning couples to beware. Since the story was already covered here, these additional sources are not listed, but I mention them because it was disturbing to see how the media seized on this story, twisted it, and aggressively distributed the mangled contents to every corner of the Web.

Hopefully, next week will bring fresher content.


Singles With Singletude Award
"The Female Face of Real Estate"
By Ginny Mees
Summary: Over 20% of home buyers are single women, and their numbers are increasing all the time. Find out what's responsible for the growing trend and what defines the single female market. In a very slow week of singles news, this was the only article to qualify for the Singles With Singletude Award. It was disappointing that there was so little competition.

"Single Male Online Daters Would Father Babies for Their Friends"
24-7 pressrelease
Summary: Three online dating sites polled male members, asking if they'd be willing to donate sperm to a single female friend who wanted a child. The "majority" said yes, though 30% wanted a legal guarantee that they'd have no responsibility for the child.

"Single Women's Protest: Contradictions and Possibilities"
By Retika Rajbhandari
Summary: Single women in Nepal have been protesting a federal policy that would financially reward men for marrying widows. This author responds that such protests are misguided because they don't take into account how the new law would affect the most vulnerable women, non-Hindus of lower-class standing.


"State Moots Plan for Women Entrepreneurship Development"
By Bishnu Dash
Business Standard
Summary: Exciting news for single women in India! The government is implementing a program to help single women start small businesses.

"Straight, Single, and Sixty: The Truth About Dating After 55"
By Katherine Anne Forsythe
RH Reality Check
Summary: Between concerns about sexual decline, the shortage of older single men, and scammers in this new electronic Wild West, dating can be daunting for seniors. This article points singles over 55 toward dating services designed just for them and gives some tips to those just re-entering the dating scene in their golden years.


"Poverty on the Rise in County"
By Betty Ridge
Tahlequah Daily Press
Summary: Single men and women in Cherokee County, OK have been deeply affected by the recession, some of them turning to local homeless shelters.

Singleschmucker Award
"What's So Horrible About Needing a Man?"
By Michelle Cove
Summary: The same thing that's so horrible about "needing" anyone to complete us--we're already complete, just as we are. Michelle Cove is the director of the upcoming documentary Seeking Happily Ever After, which Singletude briefly profiled in "Director of Seeking Happily Ever After Seeks Single Women for Book." So I was disappointed to read her take on why single women looked confused and offended when she posed this question to them. It's unfortunate that after interviewing all those single women, Cove doesn't seem to believe that any of them could really be content on their own. Instead, she attributes the desire to be husband-free to a misinterpretation of feminist teaching. In Cove's opinion, single women should be allowed to have "man-free periods in their lives so they know they can make a fulfilling life for themselves." For some reason, it perplexes her that these same women might choose to continue the fulfilling lives they've made for themselves by themselves. Granted, not all single women choose to be single. Nevertheless, some will be single their whole lives, not just during the off season. To imply that all women need romantic partners to be happy, reach their full potential, or whatever overestimates the importance of the spousal relationship compared to other close relationships and does a great disservice to women who will never marry and their contributions to society.

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

Don't forget to enter the Singletude giveaway contest for your chance to win over $150 in prizes from!

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!

No Sex for Singles

This week, Singlutionary has a brilliant post entitled "Sexless Singlutionary Experiment." Casual sex, including one-night stands, friends with benefits (FWBs), and f*** buddies (aka, "just benefits, hold the friendship please"), has been a hot topic in the singles blogosphere in recent months. Maybe it's the steamy weather with its requisite bikini beach days and titillating romcom movies, or maybe it's just the greater visibility of singles issues in general. Whatever it is, the Web is abuzz with opinions about how sex fits into the single life.

All long-term singles with a sex drive must confront this dilemma. Often, it remains the only stumbling block in an otherwise satisfied single's life. Go to any web site, blog, or message board for singles, and you'll see the ubiquitous complaint: "I love being single--the freedom, the flexibility, the self-determination--but I hate not getting any!" Sooner or later, every single has to make a decision about how he or she will channel sexual energy and whether that outlet will involve another person.

Without spoiling the details of the Singlutionary's gem of a post, which you should have a look at before you read any further, she decided to give intentional celibacy a try. Other than discussing the potential fallout of FWB relationships and hook ups in "Friends With Benefits and the Lowdown on Hook Ups, Part I" and "Part II," Singletude has been silent on this issue. That's because it's so personal and wrapped up in centuries of moral, psychological, and religious layers that can be hard to separate from it. However, I'm highlighting the Singlutionary's blog because she perfectly articulated my thoughts about the conundrum that is sex for the single person and chose an undeniably smart, safe, and sensitive solution for this time in her life.

Please keep in mind that I'm not saying any other choice is dumb, dangerous, and insensitive. But, as a single, whenever you add another person to the mix in your sex life, you have an unknown element that could become explosive at any time, so you have to be vigilant. When sex is an activity just between you and yourself, it's totally risk-free. STDs, jealousy, ruined friendship? Out of the question.

Again, I don't want to make a blanket statement implying that all casual sexual relationships go downhill or do damage, physical or emotional. But many of them do. That may not be politically correct, and it may not be popular, but sometimes the truth is neither. I have to call it as I see it, and time and again, I see these relationships beginning with two happy people and ending with at least one of them sad, regretful, or disillusioned. Casual affection turns into unrequited love, "friends" with benefits fail to deliver on the friendship, opportunities to pursue more meaningful relationships are missed. If even one person gets hurt, how can the relationship be considered "successful"? How can a few minutes of pleasure be worth this risk?

As singles, we're so used to living for ourselves that sometimes we forget sex involves someone else. It's an interpersonal experience, whether or not we want it to be. You can ignore the other person's feelings, pretend they're nothing more than a body. Hell, you can even ignore your own feelings and pretend you're nothing more than your body. But our minds and our hearts are an inseparable part of who we are, and we carry them into every interpersonal exchange. Of course that doesn't mean the feelings we bring to a sexual encounter will be love or other warm-fuzzy emotions. There will be feelings, though, of one sort or another, quite possibly intense feelings because sex is a physically intense experience, associated with a powerful physiobiological response as well as with powerful episodes in our personal histories and sometimes powerful beliefs and values. So when we imagine that this kind of interpersonal experience can be casual or only about the body or only about ourselves (as opposed to our partners) just because we're single, we don't prepare ourselves for how emotionally messy it can be.

No one wants to hear that these days, and I'm sure I'll get flak about voicing it. Everyone wants to believe that we singles can have our single serving and eat it, too. But I think this emanates from the flawed belief that life can be perfect, that we can search for and find a lifestyle that is all pros and no cons. That's the same trap that matrimaniacal people tumble into when they fantasize about living "happily ever after." They dream that marriage will give their lives an instant makeover, a quick fix after which there will be no conflict, no hardship, no sacrifice, just smooth sailing into the sunset. Sometimes, singles seem to believe that singlehood can have a similar transformative effect, that if we don't couple, we won't have any conflict, hardship, or sacrifice. That's not true. There is no perfect way to live. Both states, single and coupled, have advantages and disadvantages unique to each. Maybe living without partnered sex is just one of those disadvantages of singleness.

And is it really that much of a disadvantage anyway? Why is it that so many of us think we can't live without partnered sex? Is that really because it's so indispensable or because the dictum that we can't live without it has become as unquestioned as the tradition of marriage? One element of the Singlutionary's post that fascinated me was how she acknowledged her envy of all those nameless, faceless people out there getting it on. As she said, "I'm going to quit thinking that everyone out there doing-the-nasty is happier and healthier and having more fun than me."

For a long time, I felt the same way as Singlutionary. When I had to endure a dry spell without sex, I felt like I was suffering and envied couples who, I presumed, were getting laid on the regular. If I was abstinent for long enough, I started feeling insecure about myself, like I was a "loser" because I wasn't having The Sex. Then, as I was in the process of choosing singleness for myself, I also started reexamining my attitude toward sex.

What I realized was shocking. All my life, American culture had been sending me the message that sex was amazing, stupendous, the best experience that humans could aspire to. When I finally started having sex, I expected it to live up to the hype. I was so sure it would that I kept telling myself and other people how much I liked sex. But the fact wasn't all that. Sex was a hit-or-miss experience. Sometimes, with a partner who knew me well, understood what I liked, and was willing to do what I liked...and at certain times of the month...and when I was into it and not tired, uncomfortable, tense, irritated, was very pleasurable. Other times, it was just blah or downright painful. If I was honest with myself, I had to admit that, more often than not, the sex that really blew my mind was battery operated.

The fact that I have to "admit" that, that it's embarrassing, tells me a lot about how our society pushes intercourse. Why? I don't know for sure, but I'm willing to bet it's tied to the push for coupling and, ultimately, marriage. After all, isn't that one of the supposed benefits of marriage that matrimaniacs advertize all the time? If we get married, we can have better, more consistent sex, or so we're told. We need to reproduce to keep society functioning, so society tells us to reproduce. Even though we can experience as much physical pleasure on our own as with a partner, partnered sex is portrayed as the ultimate experience, like an ice cream sundae compared to a scoop of vanilla. If we're not constantly having sex, thinking about it, or trying to get it, we're pitied, derided, even diagnosed! To be fair, at least part of this is probably a backlash against the repression of previous generations, and it's totally normal to like sex, think about it, and want it. The problem arises when it's considered abnormal to not be that interested in sex.

Once I had separated out the physical aspect of sex, I was able to identify what it was that I really craved--acceptance. Social programming had done it's job, and I'd learned that as a normal, healthy woman, I should want sex and lots of it. So, naturally, I wanted sex just like I'd wanted a Champion sweatshirt and Z. Cavaricci jeans in junior high--so I could have what everyone else had and fit in. There was something competitive about it, too. From women's magazines to talk shows, I started noticing how sex had been commodified. It was like a resource you could accumulate for bragging rights: "I've had more sex than you and for longer and in more positions, too! Neener neener neener!" It seemed like no matter how good your sex life was (with yourself or otherwise), there was always someone out there taunting you with how much better it could be. Under the circumstances, no wonder I'd felt left out! I'd internalized the notion that "winners" have heaps of wild, crazy, earth-shaking sex.

Now that I understood the cultural messages I'd absorbed, I could focus on what really did distinguish partnered sex from single sex. First, there was the beautiful human body, which I had always admired and loved to touch. But was that in itself worth tolerating the trappings of a relationship or undertaking the risks of casual sex? I knew that, for me, the answer was no. Second, there was the personal connection, the closeness, and that's something I do miss about relationships. But it's not something I can get from a casual relationship, and it's not enough to justify a serious, committed relationship.

Perhaps you'll think about it and decide that sex does justify either pursuing a monogamous relationship or accepting the risks inherent in something casual. Just like the decision to get married, though, it should only be made when you can separate what you really want from what mainstream America has taught you to want. You may be surprised to discover how little your happiness really depends on getting off with someone else.

Okay, bring it on! What do you think about the cultural messages we receive about sex? Can you identify some beliefs about sex that you've internalized from society? Why do you think U.S. culture pushes partnered sex so much? Have you had a casual relationship primarily or just for sex? If so, what were the pros and cons as you experienced them? Were the pros worth the cons?

Fun Link of the Day

Don't forget to enter the Singletude giveaway contest for your chance to win over $150 in prizes from!

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, August 16, 2009

Singles in the News: 8/9/09-8/15/09

Encouragingly, "Singles in the News" is heavy on the singletude and light on the singlism this week! In fact, there were several contenders for the Singles With Singletude Award but no strong competition for the Singleschmucker. As much as I love using the word "singleschmucker," I hope the articles worthy of it are on the downslide. Enjoy!


"7 Stress-free Home Maintenance Tips for Single Women"
By Jessica Bram
Summary: In the wake of her divorce, the author admits she can't cut it at the handyman's bench and advises other singles who are daunted by do-it-yourself tasks to take advantage of professional help.

Singleschmucker Award
"As Economy Goes Down, Matchmakers' Market Goes Up"
By Jessica Belasco
Houston Chronicle
Summary: In case you've forgotten since last week, more singles than ever are turning to online dating in this bad economy. Really. It's not just some conspiracy to put more cash in the pockets of dating service bigwigs. After all, as the CEO of OkCupid says, "The last thing you want to do is go home to your lonely apartment and spend the evening by yourself." But you already knew you were alone and lonely, right?...Not the worst example of singlism I've ever seen but irritating enough to earn it this week's Singleschmucker Award.

"One Less Shelter for Families"
By Matt Batcheldor
The Olympian
Summary: A homeless shelter in Olympia, WA is closing its doors to families as it makes way for an influx of singles. Notice the paper's bias toward families, evident in the wording of this headline.

"Phelps, Mom of Olympian, Shares Her Story"
By John Henderson
Rocky Mount Telegram
Summary: Debbie Phelps, single mom of Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps, speaks at a Single Women In Mission (SWIM) benefit, detailing her early life and struggles as a working single parent of three. Interestingly, she mentions that her friends and neighbors became as much a part of her family as her own relatives.

"SMW, Single Women, Single Payer Petition"
Summary: Here's a form letter that you can send to your Congressmen to ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 676, The United States National Health Insurance Act. If you're not already educated about H.R. 676, please take a minute to explore the preceding link to and find out why single-payer health care is vastly superior to private insurance with a public option.


"District Love: More Men Wanted? The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, and the Comical"
By Karen Dickerson
Summary: Though written with the D.C. dating scene in mind, this article could apply to many cities in which single females outnumber males, who are scarce at speed dating and networking events. The author asks why, and although she doesn't reach any definitive conclusions, she suggests an attitude adjustment for single ladies.

"Marriage Incentive Riles Single Women"
By Kanchan G. Burathoki
Summary: Infuriated at Nepal's plan to offer financial incentives to men who marry widows, hundreds of single women stormed Kathmandu. Their message: Help us be financially independent, not dependent on a husband.

"Single Women for Single Payer Healthcare: Sign the SMW Petition!"
Summary: has a goal. They want to get 100,000 signatures on a petition for single-payer health care by Labor Day. It's getting harder and harder for hard-working singles, especially women, to afford quality health care. PLEASE sign the petition and support free health care for everyone. (Married women and men are welcome to sign, too!)


"Broken Vows Part 1: Once the Divorce Is Final, Over-40 Women Discover Unwelcome Challenges"
By Anne Rodgers
Palm Beach Post
Summary: When marriages dissolve, newly single women who sacrificed their individuality on the altar of coupledom must rediscover who they are and learn to enjoy life on their own. The interview subjects give some good tips, such as building a support network of single female friends. Says Pam Jett, a therapist with obvious singletude, "Unfortunately a lot of women are programmed to believe they're not whole people unless they're in a relationship. I try to help them find and reconnect with that sense of self."

"Girl Talk: The Condom Commandments"
By Ami Angelowicz
The Frisky
Summary: The article notes a disturbing trend toward condom-less casual encounters and lays down the law for single women regarding how, when, where, and with whom to use protection.


"New Book Exposes Challenges, Hardships and Joys of Single-man Adoption"
Summary: Well, not quite single. Author Paul Hampsch, who is gay, was in a relationship when he adopted two boys from Ukraine in 2001. However, due to discrimination there, he had to pretend he was unattached, and the adoption was conducted as though he was a single man. His book, A Family of Choice: A Gay Man's Story of International Adoption, should give aspiring single fathers a better understanding of what they're up against and how to play their cards right.

"Retirement and the Single Girl"
By Miriam Goodman
Summary: In the author's experience, even single women who are financially sound don't want to retire. Why, she wonders, are single women not interested in living their lives for themselves?

"Single in the City: The Perfect Partner? These Days That's Just a Fairytale"
By Rym Ghazal
The National
Summary: The West isn't the only place where singles are getting choosier in the dating game. Single men in the Middle East are also pulling out long checklists for their future mates, dashing some single ladies' hopes of a Cinderella-like end to their personal stories.

"Targeting the Homeless: Another Way to Incarcerate Men"
By Robert Franklin, Esq.
Summary: Research indicates that homelessness is on the rise in this recession, especially among single men. The writer is concerned that police departments are trying to help these homeless single men into new housing--behind bars.


"Do Single Women Seek Attached Men?"
By John Tierney
The New York Times
Summary: According to a study called "Who's Chasing Whom? The Impact of Gender and Relationship Status on Mate Poaching" by Jessica Parker and Melissa Burkley, single women are significantly more likely to find a guy attractive when told he's in a relationship. (The article says the difference is over 3o percentage points, a figure echoed throughout the media, but this percentage is nowhere to be found in the original study.) There was no similar effect for single men when told that women were taken. The Oklahoma State University researchers theorized that men become more attractive to women when they show they can commit. However, Tierney has a theory of his own--that these women may be displaying a classic fear of commitment.

"Locals Lead Charge to House, Heal the Homeless"
By Marian Rizzo
Summary: Florida transitional housing and rehabilitation centers are profiled. Two work with single men, one with single women and children. Another is planned for just single women.

"Palo Alto 'Cougar Convention' to Gather Older Women, Younger Men"
Summary: A look at the man behind the National Single Cougars Convention, Rich Gosse of the Society of Single Professionals. In 2003, Gosse was ahead of his time, campaigning for governor of California on a platform of equitable treatment for singles. Here he talks about his inspiration for the convention and why he believes cougar pairings work so well.


"Are You Unknowingly Dating a Married Man Who[']s Cheating on His Wife?"
By Ruth Houston
Summary: It's scary that this web site has a columnist devoted solely to the subject of infidelity in New York! According to her, research shows that 20% of single women are currently dating married men...and don't know their significant others have wives waiting at home. Further, one in five men is a husband pretending he's footloose and fancy-free, and one-third of online daters are married. The author has a number of excellent pointers for any single woman who suspects she's dating a not-so-single guy.

"'Ask the Ladies' Dating Advice for Single Dads"
By Michael Ramos
Summary: A panel of single, child-free gals reveal their thoughts on dating single dads. (Hint: They're cautious but optimistic.)

Singles With Singletude Award
"New York Times Reporter Thinks Single Women Fear Intimacy; I'm Afraid He's Wrong"
By Bella DePaulo
The Huffington Post
Summary: Sociologist Bella DePaulo critiques John Tierney's New York Times article, "Do Single Women Seek Attached Men?" and does a thorough job of it as usual. Not only does she refute Tierney's hypothesis that single women are afraid of commitment by providing the results of attachment studies, but she also questions the claims made in the original journal article. For one thing, the participants were all college students, and the way youths 18-22 date and mate may not be generalizable to how more mature single women operate. For another thing, the study didn't actually measure how likely single females were to pursue men in long-term, committed relationships; it only looked at how they responded to a guy who was in a "current" relationship, suggesting a more casual affair. Finally, the single girls answered questions about how interested they were in the young man, but the researchers didn't ask how interested they'd be in dating him while still attached. This could have created misunderstandings that impacted the results. For a more in-depth look at misleading elements in this study and the New York Times reaction to it, check out DePaulo's rebuttal. Her article is, once again, the winner of this week's Singles With Singletude Award.

"Red Carpet Confidential: Vivica A. Fox Gives Cougar Tips"
By Valerie Nome
Summary: She does, but the actress also talks about how satisfied she is with her single life: "Every morning when I wake up, whatever Vivica wants to do, that's what we do. I don't have to answer to anyone. I'm having a great time in life...Right now, I happen to be single, and I don't have a problem with it. I'm not always searching. A man doesn't validate me because I'm happy with me." Fox's pro-single comments are so refreshing that Singletude can easily forgive her use of the third person.


"The Women DIYers Doing It for Themselves"
By Emma Wells
The Sunday Times
Summary: In the UK, more women than ever before aren't waiting for a man to role up their sleeves and tackle projects around the house. Though this article isn't solely about single women, it mentions the growing number of singles as a motivational force behind the newfound popularity of home improvement courses for women and interviews one unattached female who single-handedly (pun intended) renovated her entire house. Too bad the author can't stop herself from dropping a few singlist comments here and there to remind us that women still have a long way to go.

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

Don't forget to enter the Singletude giveaway contest for your chance to win over $150 in prizes from!

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, August 13, 2009

Internet Dating Is Not Like Ordering a Pizza by Cherie Burbach: A Singletude Review

In case you've been living it up on your summer vacation in Cabo while I've been slaving away over a hot CPU to serve up post after post of relevant, singles-friendly info and not feeling at all bitter about it, you may have missed that Singletude is currently running its first ever giveaway contest! The prize is a gift basket worth over $150 from It also includes a book donated by online dating guru Cherie Burbach, Internet Dating Is Not Like Ordering a Pizza (IDINLOAP).

Burbach, a professional freelancer who is also the Dating feature writer at, knows that of which she writes. After joining an online dating service, she went on a dizzying 60 dates in six months, a figure that defies credulity, memory, and eight hours of sleep a night. She also met her husband.

If you've been reading online dating advice for any length of time, chances are many of the tips and tricks presented here won't be new to you. In fact, Singletude dispensed much of the same advice over a year ago in"Tips for Online Dating Success, Part I," "Part II," "Part III," and "Part IV." However, if the book's strategy isn't totally original, it is solid. The reason you'll find various Internet dating experts parroting this same advice is because it works. What sets Burbach apart from the others is that she conveniently collects all this wisdom in one volume and makes it easy to apply.

How easy? Well, instead of nebulous suggestions to "be unique" or "show off your personality," she offers step-by-step instructions with lots and lots of examples so you can see what that really looks like in a dating profile. Rather than leave you to figure out for yourself what it means to send a reply that's "open" but not "too familiar" or "pushy," she demonstrates several appropriate ways to initiate and respond to messages. In essence, reading IDINLOAP is like shadowing an Internet dating coach as she works the dot-com scene. Whether you've just jumped into the online dating pool or have been swimming in it for awhile without success, you'll benefit from observing how an expert navigates the waters.

Set in big, friendly type with generous spacing, IDINLOAP adopts a conversational tone from the outset, as though the author had stopped by for a casual, one-on-one chat (which is, by the way, the same tone she recommends for dating profiles). Burbach's formula for online dating success can be summed up as the right profile plus the right attitude, and she immediately sets out to show singles how to achieve both. She doesn't skimp; every stage of online dating is covered, from photo selection to first date follow-up.

Drawing on her experience as a professional writer, Burbach reveals the secrets to creating a magnetic profile, which aren't nearly as complicated as you might think. In fact, one of her simplest trade secrets is to write as though you're "describ[ing] yourself alien," someone "who speaks your language but doesn't know anything about your world." Naturally, instead of just rattling off things you like to do and places you like to go, you would describe what those things and places are like, how they make you feel, and why they're important to you. The book's main tenet is that a successful profile isn't one that makes you sound better than you are but one that sounds exactly like you are so it will attract the kind of people who would be interested in you. Burbach's guided questions and examples teach you how to reveal yourself in your headline, profile essay, and multiple choice questions.

Another key part of her strategy is to help your potential date envision him- or herself with you, something you probably thought you had no control over. Don't worry. IDINLOAP will show you how to do that, too.

Soon, you may notice that Burbach's pointers for seemingly disparate pieces of your profile are transforming it into a thematic whole, a story of you that sparkles as more than the sum of its compelementary parts. This "big picture" approach is, to my knowledge, a completely fresh idea in the world of online dating advice and should add an impressive luster to any profile.

Thankfully, IDINLOAP doesn't push the online dating newbie out of the nest once the profile is complete. Burbach walks you through the search process, illustrates how to initiate and reply to messages appropriately, and will even hold your hand through the first date and its follow-up. Along the way, she provides a crash course in netiquette and steers readers away from the pitfalls that online daters unwittingly stumble into.

On that note, if IDINLOAP has a downfall, it's that its many "don'ts" may not be flexible enough for some readers. Burbach has very firm ideas about things like what you should and shouldn't show in pictures, the search criteria you should use, and how long your first date should be (exactly 60 minutes and not a second longer). Some online daters may find these rules too confining or not applicable. For instance, IDINLOAP is squarely aimed at singles looking for serious commitments, so those who want to date casually will have to adjust the guidelines to their own purposes.

Furthermore, the book's overriding philosophy is that online dating is a numbers game, so dating site members should make their searches as broad as possible and write to as many other members as they can. In Burbach's eyes, you can't figure out much about people until you meet them in person, so you should try to meet as many as will say yes to a coffee date. In contrast, the Singletude approach is to start searches narrow and work outward so you have the best chance of finding the ideal match for you. But, then, I'm writing from the perspective of someone who knows exactly what she wants, can detect it easily in profiles, and lives in a region with a lot of online daters. Also, I would find it overwhelming to juggle as many online contacts as Burbach recommends. In short, the Singletude strategy is based on what works for me; the IDINLOAP strategy is based on what works for Burbach. Either one may work for you.

If you aren't comfortable with the book's one-size-fits-all method, you can easily adapt it to your needs. However, most of the advice in this volume is not only sound but repeated again and again by Internet dating vets, so you will want to follow much of it to a tee. In addition, part of IDINLOAP's formula for success is a positive attitude that doesn't get much attention in most online dating how-tos. Everyone knows it's bad form to whine about your ex in your profile, but IDINLOAP's definition of a positive attitude is holistic, extending beyond smiling pictures and an upbeat headline to incorporate your expectations for the dating process on- and offline. Throughout the book, Burbach serves this slice of advice straight up to singles who are letting negativity interfere with their dating prospects and helps site members reframe the sometimes brutal online dating process as a light-hearted, experimental adventure.

If you're new to online dating, IDINLOAP is indispensable and could save you from costly errors and discouragement. On the other hand, if you've been around the cyberblock and are frustrated with Internet dating sites, this book may help you identify what you're doing wrong so you can finally meet your perfect match. Even successful online daters may find themselves refining old strategies with Burbach's advice. To win a free copy of Internet Dating Is Not Like Ordering a Pizza, enter the Singletude giveaway contest today!

Have you had success with online dating? If so, what are some online dating strategies that you would recommend? What are some online dating pitfalls that singles should beware of? If you've read Internet Dating Is Not Like Ordering a Pizza, do you have comments on the book?

Fun Link of the Day

Do you have a book or web site for or about singles that you would like Singletude to review? Contact Elsie!

Don't forget to enter the Singletude giveaway contest for your chance to win over $150 in prizes from!

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, August 9, 2009

Singles in the News: 8/2/09-8/8/09

This was another fabulous week for "Singles in the News"! Once again, the media was abuzz with stories about singles. Read on for the latest!


"Malaysian Govt Seeks Cupid Services for Single Women"
Thaindian News
Summary: Malaysia wants to help its single moms become financially solvent and is on the right track with its entrepreneurship program for women. But now it also wants to encourage government-sponsored matchmaking. Is it a step forward or back for single women?

"Photo Gallery: Single Celebrity Working Women"
By Sabba Rahbar
Socialite Life
Summary: A collection of photos of unmarried female celebs is a tribute to Single Working Women's Week.

Singleschmucker Award
"Strong Families, Strong Nation"
By Esther Tyson
The Sunday Gleaner
Summary: In the hands-down winner of this week's Singleschmucker Award, a Jamaican principal blames single parenting for all her nation's woes, claiming, "There is no other single force causing as much measurable hardship and human misery in this country as the collapse of marriage." According to her, most marriages end just because couples have grown bored of playing house, and the consequences to children are dire. For support, she cites an article from the popular media, Caitlin Flanagan's "Why Marriage Matters," published in Time, to claim that "in all cases, the kids living with both parents, drastically outperform the others." Too bad she didn't consult Dr. Bella DePaulo, who refuted Flanagan's pop science in the Huffington Post, before passing such harsh, unwarranted judgment on single parents. She also agrees with Flanagan's bizarre conclusion that divorce equals child abandonment. If, as the author says, Jamaican youth are riding a wave of high crime and academic failure, could it be that this is due to poverty and a poor educational system rather than their parents' marital status? Tyson doesn't admit to that possibility. She also doesn't seem to understand that marriage and parenting aren't synonymous. The answer to poor parenting is to promote good parenting skills, not date nights for parents.


"All Star Inn Rennovation Almost Finished"
By John Reynolds
The State Journal-Register
Summary: Springfield, IL welcomes a newly refurbished apartment complex for low-income singles. The 19-unit building includes a service center that will help residents get back on their feet.

"Happy and Single Step 1: Be Your Own Boyfriend"
By Kaneisha Grayson
Summary: Grayson's Golden Rule is "treat yourself like you want your partner to treat you." To that end, she lists three perfect ways to please yourself.

"Olympian's Mom to Make a Splash at Local Charity Event"
Rocky Mount Telegram
Summary: At a time when single parents are routinely demonized, it's refreshing to see an article about a single mom whose parenting success is unquestionable. Debbie Phelps, single mom to Olympic champ Michael Phelps, has just released a book and will be the guest speaker at an upcoming fundraiser for the Single Women in Mission Network (SWIM). The charity event will support SWIM's transitional housing for homeless single mothers.

"What If It's Not Raining Men?"
By Lee Drutman
Summary: Dr. Daniel Kruger of the University of Michigan confirms the obvious: In geographical regions where males outnumber females, single men are less likely to settle down in their 20s. Where the opposite ratio occurs, they are, of course, more likely to marry. However, this principle only holds true until men hit 30, after which the majority start looking for long-term partners in earnest. Kruger proposes that this is because older men lose the physical attractiveness that would predispose single women to choose them for just casual sex. More interestingly, the article considers how sexual norms may be tied to disproportionate gender ratios and concludes that everything from the sexual revolution to the veneration of chivalry in the South arose from shortages in singles of one sex.


"Accidentally on Purpose: Unexpected-family Comedy"
By Sarah Jersild
Summary: A new sitcom on CBS will follow a single woman who gets pregnant after a one-night stand and elects to keep the baby.

"[Men] More Likely to Seek Help for Debt"
Summary: South African men are more likely than women to approach Consumer Assist, a debt counseling and management agency, but of the women who seek financial help, singles outnumber marrieds.

"Men Who Do the Housework Are More Likely to Get the Girl"
University of Oxford
Summary: A new study out of the UK suggests that--big surprise--women prefer to live with men who contribute their fair share to the household chores. Countries in which couples divvied up the housework had more couples living together, leading the researchers to conclude that unmarried women considering the transition to marriage or cohabitation are asking, "'Will I be better off?' Women in less egalitarian countries are saying no." The ambitious study followed 13,500 participants, ages 20-45, from 12 nations for a period of eight years. The most egalitarian countries with the highest rates of live-in lovers were Norway, Sweden, the UK, and the US. Japan, Germany, Austria, and Australia fared the worst.

"Rich Dad Hawaii Offers Opportunity to Attend Rich Woman Event for Free"
Summary: No, it's not some tawdry speed dating event for sugar mamas. It's a seminar that teaches single women how to become financially independent. The seminar is led by real estate millionaire Kim Kiyosaki, author of Rich Woman: A Book on Investing for Women. Five winners of an essay contest will be admitted free of charge.

"Sexy Bachelor Pad: Designing for the Single Male"
By Tisha Leung
Cool Hunting
Summary: What's cool about this article is that it showcases an interior design firm that specializes in working with single men who want to spruce up their bachelor pads from college cheap to professional chic. The firm caters to single guys who don't have the time, desire, or artistic sensibility to pick out color schemes, curtains, and lighting fixtures. What's not as cool is that it supposes single men only want high-end digs to attract prospective partners. Isn't it okay for a guy to want to live in the lap of luxury by himself?


"Bittersweet Secular Wedding Ceremony on Jewish Day of Love"
By Xu Gang and Deng Yushan
China View
You may want to think twice about living in Israel if you're a Jewish single. Unless you can prove you're Jewish, the state might not let you marry legally. It happened to this couple.

"Blog Details Shooter's Frustration"
By Sean D. Hamill
The New York Times
Summary: On Aug. 4, 2009, a single, 48-year-old man named George Sodini walked into a women's aerobics class, turned the lights off, and opened fire with a semi-automatic, killing three and wounding nine before taking his own life. His blog reveals that he pinned all his hopes on finding a mate and, when that didn't happen, nursed a growing resentment toward women. The gunman said, "A man needs a woman for confidence. He gets a boost on the job, career, with other men, and everywhere else when he knows inside he has someone to spend the night with and who is also a friend." This tragic story is a perfect example of what can happen when a single person puts too much stock in matrimaniacal values and fails to develop a sense of singletude. Our society isn't blameless, either. Although nothing justifies Sodini's violent actions, his observations about singlism are accurate. It's unforgivable that Americans contribute to the loneliness, self-doubt, and depression that some singles face by continuing to reward only those in relationships.

"Dating: A Competitive Sport?"
By Katie Freeman
Elk Grove Citizen
Summary: The columnist ponders what reality dating shows teach young singles about picking partners.

"Keith Olbermann: Follows the Money in Healthcare Hang-ups"
By Josie Brown
Summary: This fall, Congress will vote on single-payer health care. Find out why a single-payer system is better for singles and everyone else, too. Then, find out how you can voice your opinion to your representative!

"Kudos to Women But Low Birth Rate Worries PM"
By Lee Hui Chieh
asiaone news
Summary: The prime minister of Singapore congratulates single women on their career advancement but worries that the corresponding decline in marriage and the birth rate will drastically reduce the country's population.

"Perpetually Single People Want What They Can't Get"
By Carolyn Bushong
Summary: Self-help author and professional counselor Carolyn Bushong says that too many singles are searching for partners who are out of their league. Her prescription for relationship success is to find someone who's your equal in every way. I wonder if she's ever heard of social exchange theory, which explains such iconic pairings as the Playboy bunny and the rich old-timer, the brainiac and the jock, and the artist and the muse as trade-offs in which one person fulfills a need that the other has. None of us is a 10 in every category, and it would be extremely difficult to match another person exactly on every measure, so many relationships involve give and take. Moreover, we tread in dangerous territory when we start rating ourselves and others as "better" or "lesser" catches. In dating, one man's Lady Macbeth, the woman scorned, is another man's Juliet.

Singles With Singletude Award
"Single and Running Out of Time to Have Children"
By Rachel Lehmann-Haupt
The Times
Summary: A 39-year-old single woman from New York recounts how a failed relationship forced her to confront the social pressure to raise a child within the confines of marriage. In this clear-eyed article, she wrestles with the unrealistic demand that singles "have it all" by 35, explores the many reproductive options available to single women, and refuses to believe that married women have it any easier. Through it all, she learns to respect and remain open to familial arrangements that defy the norm. In conclusion, she says, "I have discovered that women think about family in fundamentally different ways. Some see it through the lens of biology and genetics, and others see it through the lens of socially constructed patterns and taboos...As I've worked toward figuring out my own life, I've tried on all sorts of potential scenarios for size: single motherhood, co-parenting with a friend, adoption, and yes, even settling for something less than perfect love...I hope my experiences and my research will provide insight for others into how some of these different choices look and feel." Lehmann-Haupt's willingness to embrace a variety of paths to motherhood coupled with her rejection of matrimania earn this article the Singles With Singletude Award.


"Getting Naked, Getting Nervous?"
By Rita Charleston
The Jewish Exponent
Summary: Author Judith Sills talks about her new book, Getting Naked Again: Dating, Romance, Sex, and Love When You've Been Divorced, Widowed, Dumped or Distracted. The self-explanatory title makes it almost unnecessary to say that Sills writes about how to overcome the contemporary challenges facing singles dating at older ages, often after periods of long-term monogamy or celibacy.


"America's New Single Girl: In No Rush to Marry"
By Courtney Bee
The author speaks out in support of singles who put themselves first and marriage second.

"Friends With Benefits: A Primer"
By Tania Boghossian
Summary: FWB arrangements continue to spark unanswerable questions and debate.


"Balkans: Civil Society Plays Matchmaker"
By Vesna Peric Zimonjic
Summary: Mass emigration has left the Serbian single population unbalanced, males outnumbering females. In response, matchmaking organizations have sprung up to import single women from surrounding countries like Russia, Ukraine, and Albania. However, not everyone is eager to marry. Breaking with tradition, more Serbian singles are deciding that they "simply do not want to share their life--and income." Of course, a psychologist chimes in to explain why shunning marriage and child rearing is supposedly a poor decision.

"What Makes Short Men Attractive?"
By Alisa Chagnon
Summary: The results of a poll of 150 single women shows that a man's personality is more important than his height.

"The Women Behind 'Mad Men'"
By Amy Chozick
The Wall Street Journal
Summary: The WSJ goes behind the scenes to cover the making of Mad Men, an AMC original TV series that examines the complexity of gender relations and the repressive traditional family structure in the 1960s.

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

Don't forget to enter the Singletude giveaway contest for your chance to win over $150 in prizes from!

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, August 5, 2009

Single-payer Health Care Works Best for Singles...and Everyone Else

Today, Singletude was going to feature a review of Internet Dating Is Not Like Ordering a Pizza by Cherie Burbach, part of the gift basket giveaway contest ongoing till Sept. 28, 2009. However, with Congress in recess and the fate of the American health care system still up in the air, I feel compelled to address how our current options will affect the single population.

Unless you've been living in a cave and eating grubs with Geico actors, you know that President Obama has introduced health care legislation that would allow the private insurance industry to coexist alongside a so-called public option, which may amount to nothing more than a private co-op that could claim non-profit status but still behave like a for-profit company. (Don't believe me? Kaiser Permanente and a number of Blue Cross Blue Shield franchises are registered not-for-profits.) The proposal might accomplish a number of admirable things. It might make preexisting condition exclusions a thing of the past, forbid companies from dropping policyholders, cap rate hikes and out-of-pocket payments, eliminate gender-based discrimination, and insure single young adults for longer. It might provide a more affordable plan that would be subsidized for those earning up to 400% above the poverty line. But for all the good it promises, this "reform" is just as likely to make a bad situation worse. Especially for singles and, in particular, single women.

Singles are more likely to be uninsured than married couples are, and 49% of single women have no insurance. It's not a coincidence that single adults are also, on average, worse off financially than their married counterparts. Many if not most of these singles simply can't afford health coverage. Yet a main component of the health care reform under discussion would be an individual mandate to obtain insurance.

Although the aforementioned subsidies would help, they would phase out for singles making a little over $40,000 a year. In some areas of the country, a salary of $40k is just scraping by. Certainly in New York, an individual wouldn't even qualify for a studio on that income. What makes the government think that people in that position can afford to pay several thousand dollars a year toward health care? Some may argue that no one needs to live in a metropolitan region, but that's where the jobs are.

Switching gears to the lower end of the income spectrum, unless the government subsidy represents the full cost of the premium, how will people who already can't pay their bills bear the burden of yet another monthly charge? Some low-income adults, especially young, healthy singles, forgo insurance because it's a financial burden that doesn't pay off for them. They can save more money by paying out-of-pocket the few times a year that they need care. An individual mandate would force them to pay full price for a product they underuse. But, as we'll see, the suggested mandate is the least of our possible woes under this new system.

The reason universal health care works in other industrialized nations is because they have single-payer systems. That means there aren't any competing, profit-driven insurance companies, just one organization that covers health care expenses in each country. The people of these nations pay a tax for this, but they don't have to pay premiums, deductibles, or co-pays. Ever. There is no annual maximum on their benefits, after which they'd have to go into debt to pay out-of-pocket. They never have to get pre-approvals, authorizations, or referrals before they can receive the care they need. They don't have to worry that the best physician in town might be out of network. They're not kicked out of their hospital beds the day after surgery or told they can only have 10 treatment sessions, so they'd better hurry up and get well. Perhaps best of all, their health care decisions are made by their doctors, not some overpaid bureaucrats in an office far away. Good single-payer systems put the decision-making power in the doctors' hands because they're public services and, as such, are beholden to taxpayers, not Wall Street investors. To keep costs down, they reward doctors for improving preventive care rather than rewarding faceless managers for denying it. Sounds like utopia, doesn't it?

Single-payer health care works because it creates one enormous risk pool. The bigger the risk pool, the less any individual has to pay. It also works because it eliminates the tremendous expenses incurred by for-profit insurance providers and the medical personnel who have to deal with them, both of whom pass on these expenses to consumers. In other Western countries, the pharmaceutical industry is regulated, too, which prevents price gouging. That's why Americans can get such good deals on drugs from international pharmacies.

Unfortunately, Obama's health plan will do none of these things. It will just add another insurance option to the mix. He's betting that this lower-cost option will force private companies to reduce their premiums. A more likely and frightening outcome is that anyone who can't afford private insurance because they're high-risk (the poor, the unemployed, the unhealthy, and the elderly) will flock to the public option, which will go bankrupt before you can say "bailout." Meanwhile, the insurance industry and big pharma will keep on keepin' on, finding ways to circumvent the law and deny consumers coverage because these are businesses. They run on a business model. That means they can't make a profit unless they take in more consumer dollars than they pay out. That's why 77.9% of bankruptcies due to medical expenses are filed by insured Americans. For-profit insurance is an illusion of protection at best.

In 2000, the last year that the World Health Organization ranked the world's health care, the U.S. health system placed 37th, scoring behind countries like Andorra, Oman, Iceland, Colombia, and Morocco. Isn't that embarrassing? Meanwhile, the rest of Western Europe outlives us and loses fewer infants at birth. It's not because they drink wine with dinner, either. It's because they have access to free health care for everyone. Contrary to what fear mongers would have you believe, single-payer health care wouldn't mean extending the clunky Medicare program to everyone. It would mean totally revamping what we now call Medicare and remodeling it based on proven programs in other progressive countries. Yes, the government would have a hand in it. Just like it does education, law enforcement, the postal service, public transportation, and other services which--fancy that--work pretty well.

At this sensitive moment in time, we singles, both insured and uninsured, have a precious chance to speak up for health care for ourselves and everyone else. That's a big part of what we elected Obama for. Let's not sit by and watch a few greedy, self-centered politicians ruin it for the rest of us! When the House reconvenes, our representatives will finally be voting on H.R. 676, the United States National Health Insurance Act, which would create a single-payer health care system for all Americans. A health care system that doesn't discriminate based on marital status! No longer would any of us have to feel pressured to get married or stay married for access to medical care. No longer would our salaries subsidize the health benefits of married employees. What a monumental breakthrough a single-payer system would be, not even just for health care but as a precedent for dismantling legalized discrimination against singles!

Here's what you can do to spread the word about H.R. 676:
--Call and/or write to your representative.
--Write to President Obama.
--Write a letter to the editor of your local paper.
--Distribute flyers at a busy place in your town.
--Canvas door to door or on the phone.
--Write about it on your blog or web site.
--Leave comments about it on political web sites and blogs.
--Talk to your friends and family about it.
--Sign petitions.

To find out more about H.R. 676, including what you can do to help raise awareness about single-payer health care, check out these links: Free Single Payer Health Care
Dennis Kucinich: Universal Health Care Blog
John Conyers, Jr.: Healthcare
SiCKO: What can I do?
PNHP (Physicians for a National Health Program)
Unions for Single Payer Health Care

What kind of health care system would you like to see the U.S. adopt? Why? How do you think the system you prefer would benefit 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, August 2, 2009

Singles in the News: 7/26/09-8/1/09

This was such a fantastic week for "Singles in the News" that I worked on this digest until the eleventh hour! There are lots of meaty topics to be explored, so jump right in!


"Best Cities for Singles 2009"
By Lauren Sherman
It's that time of year again--time for Forbes' annual Best Cities for Singles list. This year, New York has reclaimed its throne despite its particularly miserable financial figures in the past 12 months. However, its nebulous "coolness" factor and active online daters propelled it to the top, with strong scores for nightlife, culture, and number of singles boosting it to a solid first-place finish. Boston trails the reigning champ, mainly on the strength of its culture and singles population, and Chicago rounds out the top three, scoring big points for its online daters. Seattle, Washington, DC, Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Milwaukee (a surprise newcomer to the top 10), and Philadelphia complete the elite of singles-friendly cities. Dallas, Minneapolis, Orlando, and Phoenix, which all had strong showings last year, have fallen out of favor, and poor Jacksonville still sits dead last. Of course, how much we can infer from this "study" is questionable to begin with. But if clubs, theatre, online dating, and that certain je ne sais quoi float your boat, you may want to pay attention to this list.

"Why Is Development Work So Straight?"
Institute of Development Studies
Summary: Great Britain's Institute of Development Studies (IDS) reports on its recent workshop addressing heteronormativity in its many facets. More questions are raised than answered, but that appears to be a start for the IDS. Division of labor, alternative family arrangements, singlism, and LGBT rights are some of the issues raised.

Singleschmucker Award
"Why People Get Married"
By Samantha Brett
Summary: I knew it couldn't be good when the article opened with "Something snaps inside single women when they hit 30, actually more like chimes. Like church bells..." I wasn't disappointed. Over the next few paragraphs, I was assured that a) my solo social life is "boring," "immature," and "pointless," b) I am lusting after blood diamonds and Vera Wang, and c) I must be doing something wrong since I'm still prince-less with my biological clock about to chime midnight. The subject of this article is supposed to be why we get married, and the Australian columnist arbitrarily suggests that turning 30 might be the magic factor. Thankfully, her readers actually invested some thought in the question, although most of the men quoted spout stereotypically cynical plums, while the women are all sap and saccharine. (One smug married even boasts that she suffered through the ceremony so her love could inspire her single friends! To give her high-end gifts, I suppose.) About three quarters of the way through the article, a survey pops up to inform us that Australians marry for happy, pre-approved reasons like love, companionship, and the demonstration of commitment. At least Brett throws singles a bone at the end, quoting a reader who says, "I don't believe you need a piece of 'legal' paper to keep a couple together." Still, one line can't save this article from...the Singleschmucker! Dum dum dum!


"Cancer Group Bids for Younger Demographic"
By Jennifer Gibson
Athens Banner-Herald
Summary: The American Cancer Society of Athens, GA is luring young singles to its latest fundraiser by auctioning off 29 eligible bachelors, ages 23-56. The single men, who range from a firefighter to a banker to a county commissioner, will take their high bidders out, all expenses paid, for fun activities such as dinner, kayaking, and wine tasting. The goal is to raise $5,000 and attract more single volunteers in their 20s and 30s.

"FP Financial Services Recognized by Leading Financial Advice Industry Media as a Top Wealth Management Firm"
By Danielle Ackerman
PR Newswire
Summary: Wealth Manager and Financial Advisor have both named FP Financial Services, Inc. a top provider of wealth management services. Why is this news on Singletude? Because this Illinois firm specializes in financial planning for singles.

"'More to Love,' Not Worth the Weight"
By Tom Conroy
Media Life
Summary: This review of More to Love, the new reality dating show for plus-size singles, questions the producers' motives. Are they really trying to prove that all people are worthy of love or cash in on stereotypes of overweight single women as no-life losers?


"How Do Canadian Men Define Infidelity?"
CNR Group
Summary: This press release for, which sounds like the Canadian version of AskMen, details a poll of 489 Canadian men, who responded to questions about what constitutes infidelity and whether they had ever been unfaithful. More than half the respondents drew the line at physical contact, while less than half thought cheating extended to hands-off pleasures like flirting, viewing porn, and attending strip clubs. Slightly over 50% of those surveyed reported that they had been unfaithful by their own definitions. Interestingly, married men had looser definitions of infidelity than single men did.

"How to Be Single in a Couples' World"
By Jennifer Benjamin
San Francisco Chronicle
Summary: This pro-singles article drops a few tips for getting in the right mindset for the single life after a break-up. There's nothing really fresh here, but you may want to check it out for a little pep talk if you're not happy about being single. (Anyone? Anyone?)

"Is There Even ONE Straight, Kind, Solvent Man in His 40s Left in Britain?"
By Anna Pasternak
The Daily Mail
Summary: The single British 40-something author complains that more and more English chaps her age just wanna have fun, and those who claim to be serious about settling down raise the bar so high that only Liz Hurley could meet it. This is a difficult article to review evenhandedly because although it's predicated on singlist assumptions about everything from why men remain single to the glorification of marriage in the States, it also takes issue with the very real phenomenon of predatory dating, which, I hate to break it to Pasternak, isn't confined to the British Isles. Unfortunately, Pasternak doesn't seem aware that there are lots of reasons men choose to be single other than unquenchable lust, immaturity, or stratospheric standards. However, I appreciate her point that there is a growing segment of the population that takes advantage of its single status to toy with, mislead, and sexually prey on those who are looking for relationships. (Whether the predators are most often male and their prey female may vary depending on whether you ask a man or a woman, though.) Singletude supports the single life and those who live it but also proposes that those who date should date responsibly, with regard for the feelings of all those involved. In other words, dates should be treated like people, not disposable items in a catalog. Because Pasternak calls irresponsible daters on their behavior, I'll let her off easy on the singlist comments, which I found more sad than offensive.

Singles With Singletude Award
"Newsweek's Misleading Account of Latest Marriage Study"
By Bella DePaulo
Huffington Post
Summary: I caught the tail end of CBS's coverage of this report and immediately headed to their web site to find out which latest study they had twisted into headlines of "Married Couples Healthier Than Singles." To my surprise, the report was nowhere to be found on the site, and I did conduct a pretty thorough search. So I was relieved when it surfaced a day or so later with the incomparable DePaulo at the ready to refute it. The bottom line is that the study looked at four different measures of health, and on all four measures, singles outranked the divorced and the widowed, and single women scored as well as married women. With the men factored in, singles lagged behind marrieds a bit on three measures but ranked the same on the fourth. In addition, for married men, there was an inverse correlation between number of years married and health scores; the longer they had been married, the more their health deteriorated. The truth is that without DePaulo's incisive commentary, most of us would probably just be nodding our heads blankly at the TV, absorbing whatever lies about singles the media cared to serve us. Due to her consistent effort to debunk falsified claims from the pro-marriage crowd, the word is out that marriage is not a miracle cure and singlehood isn't second best. It was only a matter of time before one of her articles won the Singles With Singletude Award, and today is that day.

"Single Women, Listen Up! You Have the Most to Lose in the Single Payer Healthcare Debate"
Summary: Horrifyingly, 49% of single women in America are uninsured. This article will slap you with some other hard facts, too: in many states, single women are forced to pay higher premiums than men of the same age and health status, and lots of plans don't provide maternity coverage, bankrupting pregnant single women at the very time they most need the money. Here you'll find an extensive analysis of the Blue Dogs who oppose Obama's public health option as well as a video from Heal Health Care Now, a physician organization dedicated to health care reform. But, disappointingly, SingleMindedWomen never really explains why a single-payer system is the best option. For that, Singletude urges you to visit the Blog.

"Take the Single Guy's Pledge"
By Phil Amylon
Summary: The pledge would be cute and worth taking if it weren't so misogynistic.


"China Sees 13 Million Abortions Annually, Most Done on Young Single Women"
By Steven Ertelt
Summary: In the U.S., pro-choicers and pro-lifers spend so much time debating that we forget to be thankful that debate is even an option here. In China, 13 million abortions are performed every year, and 62% of the women who undergo them are single. One wonders how many of those women would've chosen to keep their babies in an environment more hospitable to single mothers...and how many would never have ended up having to make such a choice if China provided better sex education and access to contraceptives.

"Do Single Women Like Taken Men?"
By Emma-Kate Dobbin
Summary: The author's answer is yes, but not for the reason you might expect.

"Ladies Motorbike Rally for a Noble Cause"
Summary: The Napalese organization Women for Human Rights has come up with a creative way to raise support for a single women's homeless shelter--a motorcycle race for biker chicks! Gnarly!

"The New Face of Home Caregivers"
By Akiko Kashiwagi
The Japan Times
Falling Japanese marriage and birth rates add up to more single men abandoning the workforce to become primary caregivers to their elderly parents.

"Suit to Stop Upper West Side Special Needs Housing Dismissed"
By Christine Lin
The Epoch Times
Summary: A neighborhood organization in New York City has failed to stop construction of supportive housing for mentally ill singles.


"Health Insurance Reform: Feast or Famine"
By Patrick Glenn
Summary: The article critiques mandated health coverage, which stands to hurt young singles the most. Again, this is why Singletude supports a true single-payer system for all. No one in this country should be paying premiums for health care, period.

"SWWAN, Inc. and the SWWAN Foundation Announce the First of Their Annual Women's Empowerment Conference"
Newswire Today
Summary: (Really itching to fix the grammatical error in that title! Fighting it, fighting it!) The Single Working Women's Affiliate Network (SWWAN) invites members and non-members alike to attend their annual teleconference, Secrets You Wish Your Mom Told You, conveniently accessible by computer or phone. Of course, in my opinion, half the fun of a conference is meeting new people, so watching from home sort of defeats the purpose.

"Set Up Condom Vending Machines"
By Lara Pickford-Gordon
Trinidad & Tobago's Newsday
Summary: Trinidad and Tobago's National AIDS Coordinating Committee (NACC) wants to increase HIV awareness and condom use among young singles. Most single men in this Caribbean island nation don't understand the value of condoms and don't use them. Even more shockingly to those brought up in American culture, this study of sexual customs found that the single youth of Trinidad and Tobago view sex as primarily a transaction for which some kind of payment should always be made.

"Sperm Bank Rejects Single Women"
By Cai Wenjun
Shanghai Daily
Summary: So now we find out why so many single Chinese women are aborting their babies. Apparently, single mothers are fined for giving birth. So it should go without saying that despite its looming population crisis, China will not allow elective single mothers to be impregnated by sperm donors. That would create "social problems," says Dr. Li Zheng of Renji Hospital.


"AMA Head Dr. Andrew Pesce in IVF Row"
By Eleni Hale
Herald Sun
Summary: Angry Australians are already calling for the resignation of the new president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) after he argued that single women and same-sex couples shouldn't have access to reproductive assistance because it's contrary to the "natural order." He has since retracted his statement.

"Singles Ministries Cut Back"
By Jennifer Garza
Sacramento Bee
Even as the singles population has exploded, churches in the Sacramento, CA area are ending their singles programs. Church leaders contend that singles groups facilitate a church pick-up scene, while singles express disappointment and head for other churches.

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!