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, November 29, 2009

Singles in the News: 11/22/09-11/28/09

This was a big week for "Singles in the News." There were lots of stories, many of them reporting on significant trends of interest to singles and most of them with a neutral or pro-single slant. The Far East was also in the limelight this week with articles about singles in South Korea, Japan, China, and Singapore all making headlines.

You may also notice that there have been some changes to the Singles in the News daily newsreader on the home page. When I originally installed the newsreader, it apparently had the ability to search on multi-word phrases such as "single people" and "single women." However, the powers that be must've wanted to shake things up because, starting a month or so ago, I noticed that it was no longer returning accurate results for those phrases and was instead searching on the terms separately, resulting in a lot of irrelevant links to pop music singles, singles tennis, and single-payer health care! So, I have retooled the newsreader to make sure it provides stories that are on topic every day. Unfortunately, I had to use a different blog gadget that takes up a lot more space, so I also had to cut back on the number of feeds displayed. Right now, you will only see news related to "single people," "single women," and "single men." Still, I think it's much better to feature fewer stories that are all relevant than more stories that have nothing to do with singles. I hope you agree!

With no further ado, then, here is this week's edition of "Singles in the News"!


"iRateMyDate iPhone App Launches in the iTunes Store"
Summary: What is it with these iPhone apps? In last week's "Singles in the News," Apple was plotting to make our lives open books to random strangers, and this week, it wants to help us take notes on the people we meet so we can more easily reduce them to algorithms. Can't decide which date you like enough to ask out again? Just input the sum of their selling points minus their total flaws and...voila! Now you know who you like! It's that simple.

"Obsessed with 'Ugly' Women"
By Philip Brasor
The Japan Times
Summary: Two overweight Japanese femme fatales, who allegedly milked their suitors for all they were worth and then dispatched them with sleeping pills, inspired this article about how unattractive single women manage to "lure" eligible bachelors. If you're looking for some offensive material, there's something here to insult everyone, from the assertion that all obese women are "ugly" to the idea that single men are such slaves to meek, mild stereotypes of "fat" people that they are easily duped by BBWs with hidden agendas.


"Blind Dates, Matching Shirts and 3 Valentines"
By Joanna Fearing
Indiana Daily Student
Summary: An Indiana University exchange student observes dating practices in Korea. Apparently, family and friends are much more instrumental in orchestrating relationships than they are in the States. Korea also has--horrors!--not one but two Valentine's Days. There's a day for singles, too, called Black Day. Thankfully that's not so everyone can don mourning clothes; it's because singles get together and eat a traditional dish with black sauce.

"The Face of Homelessness in Janesville"
By Stacy Vogel
Summary: The first single men's shelter in a Wisconsin town and some of its residents are profiled. The growing problem of homelessness in general is also addressed.

"Govt Moots Action Plan for GRB"
Summary: At first glance, this report is about women's rights, not specifically singles rights. But look closely. In the penultimate paragraph, you'll notice that Nepal starts giving social security benefits to single women 10 years before married women get them. This just might be the first nation ever to officially recognize that singles have it financially tougher than marrieds and take steps to level the playing field by giving singles a privilege instead of a penalty. Wow!

"Income of Single-member Households Falls 10%"
By Lee Hyo-sik
The Korea Times
Summary: Single South Koreans are in trouble. Those who live alone have seen their earnings drop 10% in the last financial quarter. In contrast, households of two, many of them presumably married-couple households, only experienced a decrease of 1.2%. In South Korea, single-headed households are projected to represent 20.2% of all households by the end of 2009.

"We Are Smart, Single, Happy Women"
China Daily
Summary: This brief op-ed speaks out against labelling single women over 30 as damaged goods who are too picky, too career-driven, or too wounded from previous relationships.


"Call of the Cougars"
Evening Herald
Summary: Looks like Ireland has caught the cougar bug. An Irish online dating site survey of 4,500 participants has found that a third of single women in their forties would like to date younger men, while 18% of single men under 40 would be interested in dating older women. Of course, this provides an excuse to reexamine the whole trend, including how it started, who popularized it, which services have arisen to cater to it, and why men and women would be interested in it in the first place. Another day, same old story.

"Home for the Holidays...and Every Other Day"
Social & Demographic Trends: Pew Research Center
Summary: Even though single-headed households have been increasing, a new Pew study of 1,028 respondents shows that one-person households are actually declining slightly, especially among the young. Of single adults in the 18-34 age demographic, 10% said they had been forced to move back in with their parents this year, and another 12% said they had resorted to living with roommates. About 15% said they are delaying marriage due to the recession. Check out this study for a lot more facts and figures that paint a revelatory picture of Americans who live alone.

"Hot Moms Turn on Charm to Help Others"
By Kathy Rumelski
The London Free Press
Summary: Single Women in Motherhood (SWIM), a Canadian organization that "provides positive programming and support for single moms" is using single mothers as calendar girls to raise money.

"Partnership Creates Help for Homeless"
By Mark Price
Charlotte Observer
Summary: Homeless shelters in Charlotte, NC unite to help each other deal with an influx of homeless single women and single moms.

"Singles Industry Thriving Despite Downturn"
By Jane Han
The Korea Times
Summary: Businesses in South Korea are gearing up for a surge in single customers. Restaurants are adding more tables for solo diners, supermarkets are packaging food for one, department stores are selling downsized appliances...Once again, the rest of the world is beating us to the answers, folks.

"Study: 79% of Single Israeli Women Harassed at Workplace"
By Dana Weiler-Pollak
Summary: Yikes! A nearly unbelievable 79% of single women in Israel say they've been victims of sexual harassment at work as compared to just 15% of married women. Even more frighteningly, only 3% reported it.


"Bag a Bloke by Christmas"
By Ellie White
The Sun
Summary: Can you imagine if the title of this one was "Bed a B**ch by Christmas"? Just sayin'. Matthew (cough) Hussey, a dating coach from the UK, doles out advice to single women with their eyes open for mate material. It's the same old same old--be friendly and approachable, make eye contact and smile, ask him about himself, blah blah blah.

"Choice Moms Announces Survey That Puts a Face on Women Who Choose to Be Single Mothers"
Summary: The Human Fertility Journal has published a study from the University of Cambridge called "'Mom by Choice, Single by Life's Circumstance...' Findings from a Large Scale Survey of the Experiences of Single Mothers by Choice" by Dr. Vasanti Jadva, et al. The survey of 291 intentionally single moms shows that they comprise a distinct group that tends to be Caucasian, highly educated, upper-middle class, and in their mid- to late thirties. The majority (75%) conceived with the aid of sperm donors, and another 12% adopted. All of the single mothers said they were happy they had decided to have children, but half would have preferred to parent with a partner. Nevertheless, 73% believed they were having "fewer difficulties" or "similar difficulties" in comparison to other mothers, and 59% said it was "not important at all" or "not very important" to find a significant other in the future. Most of the single mothers (81%) had provided male role models for their children and thought that this was "very important" or "somewhat important." This is a very rich study and includes a lot of other information about the concerns of single moms by choice and how they relate to their families and communities. So, if you're interested in this topic, you may want to take the time to read the actual paper rather than the press release, which, inexplicably, seizes this opportunity to dredge up old studies that have implied negative outcomes for children of single parents, ignoring studies that contradict those findings.


"A 140-year-old Request from Famous Kingston Native"
By Casey Meserve
Wicked Local Kingston
Summary: Now here's a man who was ahead of his time! When Ichabod Washburn of Kingston, MA died in 1868, he left an endowment specifically for unmarried women that is still covering their winter heating expenses to this day.

"A Two-day Report: Poverty in Augusta"
By Sarah Day Owen
The Augusta Chronicle
Summary: Single mothers are almost three more likely than any other demographic to live in poverty. The state of Georgia's rate is even higher. This story profiles one of them.

"Cougars on the Prowl in Portsmouth"
By Rachel Forrest
Summary: This rather misleading article seemingly promises to question stereotypes about cougars. Are they really all ubersuccessful, gorgeous, confident women who want committed relationships like they want undereye bags? But then the journalist veers into the same territory that's been covered a zillion times. Oh, well.

"Early Influences May Cause Struggle with Poverty"
By Walter C. Jones
The Augusta Chronicle
Summary: In its continuing series, The Augusta Chronicle looks at factors that make single mothers vulnerable to poverty. Growing up in a single-parent or impoverished family, dropping out of high school, and lacking a strong system of familial support are a few of the risks mentioned here.

"Movie Review: Old Dogs"
By Mike Tyrkus
Summary: The Hollywood machine is stepping up its hatred of single men. Now they're not only commitmentphobes, slackers, or playboys but "old dogs." Lovely. Old Dogs stars Robin Williams and John Travolta as a loser-in-love-cum-suddenly-single-dad and, yep, a playboy, who bond while babysitting for Williams' long-lost kids. Of course they're terrible pseudoparents because everyone knows single men are incompetent with children. This review mainly deals with the quality of the film as compared to others in its genre and doesn't address the social questions it evokes. So I'll ask the question: Why are single males once again reduced to these silly stereotypes?

"Prison Abscondee Used to Prey on Vulnerable Women"
By Miranda Newey
this is Cheshire
Summary: Dear readers, this is why you need to be cautious when using Internet dating services. Meet Steven Truswell of the UK, who conned five single women out of tens of thousands in British pounds. He met the women through People, do not give your savings to a new boyfriend (or girlfriend!) who promises to double or triple them through investments. If you want to play the market, take your money to a professional. Do not "lend" your hard-earned cash to a date with a sob story. If you're so inclined, help him or her apply for loans or government assistance, seek out charitable organizations, or find a second job. You are not a bank, and it is not your responsibility to rescue anyone from insolvency.

"Shakira Sings for the Single Ladies"
By Becky Broderick
Summary: Singer Shakira says her new album is all about searching for a soul mate in an age in which it's harder than ever to find one. She says, "It's very much a common thing for women my age, at least my friends, to be in search for the right man and to be somehow dreaming of the prince who's going to come in and rescue them." Yeah, okay. But why encourage that? The music industry is one of the worst offenders for spreading singlism. When you think about it, probably 90% of songs that get radio play are about love. When are we going to see a musician write a whole album about being single that has nothing to do with dating and romance? Now that would be newsworthy!

"Unfair and Illogical Crackdown"
By Eum Eul-soon
JoongAng Daily
Summary: In the wake of an announcement that South Korea will push into overdrive prosecution of women, most of whom are single, and doctors who participate in abortions, the writer wonders why single men don't also share in the blame when the technology exists to identify them. While Singletude agrees that men and women should be held equally responsible for unplanned pregnancy, this op-ed seems to be proposing the wrong solution. Instead of devising new ways to punish single parents, shouldn't South Koreans promote tolerance toward them and their children? More widespread sex education and support for single moms is all well and good, but sometimes unplanned pregnancies happen, despite the best intentions. Those single parents don't deserve to be permanently stigmatized--or, worse, jailed--because of it. Also, the author has a funny idea that single fathers are more blameworthy than single mothers because men should be the ones responsible for birth control. "It takes two to tango" applies here.


"Bolivia: Women Clamour for Right to Land"
By Franz Chavez
Summary: It's hard for Americans, who weren't alive before women had the right to vote, to imagine that there are still countries in which unmarried females can't own property. Bolivia is one of those countries. Although there are laws on the books that permit single women to be landowners, the reality of discriminatory practices makes it nearly impossible for them to do so. The National Meeting on Women's Access to Land convened to raise awareness and propose solutions. Representatives from different parts of Bolivia are interviewed about progress in their own communities, some of which are faring much better than others. However, the Bolivian government claims that the number of land titles granted to women has increased more than five times over since 2003. An excellent article that is a close runner-up for the Singles With Singletude Award.

Singleschmucker Award
"Chatting with a Signer of the 'Manhattan Declaration'"
By Steven Thrasher
The Village Voice
Summary: Bet you were thinking I forgot about the Singleschmucker, huh? No such luck. Singlist media forces, there is no escape for you! Get ready to jump all over this one, guys, because I know you will. It's an interview with Dr. Ronald Sider, a professor of theology and founder of a group called Evangelicals for Social Action. Sider is against gay marriage. That may or may not be the part that upsets you depending on your own beliefs about marriage in general and gay marriage in particular. The part that will most certainly upset Singletude readers is the reason Sider gives for restricting marriage to heterosexual couples. First of all, according to Sider, the sole purpose of marriage is "to protect making babies." So, naturally, couples who can't "make babies" shouldn't have the right to marry. Sider doesn't explain how he would apply this logic to infertile heterosexual couples or couples who simply don't want children. In conjunction with this, you'll notice some fearmongering about single-parent families. Second, Sider says, "It's not true somebody who is living in a relationship, which is not marriage, should have the rights of marriage." Well, if he thinks long-term couples should be relegated to an underclass of citizens who don't get special privileges, then I guess it's out of the question in his mind that singles should enjoy equality. In his defense, he also has some good things to say about the overblown position of sexual relationships in our lives: "Our culture would be vastly better if we put more effort on friendships, between men and men, and women and women, and men and women, than so much into sex." But that doesn't excuse the other singlist attitudes.

"Retirement and Risks: Heir Wraps"
By Annie Shaw
American Chronicle
Summary: In the US, we have the estate tax. In Great Britain, they have the inheritance tax. By any name, it permits marital partners to inherit from each other freely but penalizes everyone else. This article explores various strategies to help British beneficiaries avoid heavy taxation.

"Thanksgiving Meals Offered to All in the Spirit of Service"
By Nestor Ramos
Roc Now
Summary: The Open Door Mission in Rochester, NY served Thanksgiving dinner to 350-400 needy people, mostly single men.


"Attagirl, Women-only Vacations"
By Anita Aikara
Summary: Girls-on-the-Go, a travel club for Indian single women over a thousand members strong, provides an opportunity to meet new friends, take advantage of group discounts, and rely on safety in numbers. Coupled women can participate too as long as they're willing to leave their mates at home. In an effort to accomodate female interests, the group trips have a different feel to them than mixed tours; the pace is slower, and there are more opportunities for shopping.

Singles With Singletude Award
"Great Indian Marriage Obsession"
By Vijay Nagaswami
The Hindu
Summary: Sometimes you have to save the best for last. A lot of fantastic articles about singles come out of India. Because the unmarried have been oppressed there for so long, Indians are sensitive to singlism in ways much of the West is not. This one starts with the question "Why do even 'liberal' parents sometimes find it difficult to accept that their children may not want to get married at all?" and only gets better. The writer, a psychiatrist, continues, "I'm always astonished that even the most hitherto broad-minded and free-spirited Indians change dramatically when their children approach ‘marriageable' age....As a result, bemused 20-somethings are rushed into an institution they are as yet ill-prepared to engage with and end up in increasing numbers in over-crowded and under-staffed Family Courts..." Nagaswami calls for an end to this "marriage obsession" that subjugates equally important facets of a single's life, such as education and career, to the almighty wedding ceremony, urging parents not to force their children into marriage for the sake of tradition. Drawing on professional experience, the article makes a case for freedom of choice as the foremost predictor of a happy marriage. But it doesn't stop there. Ultimately, Nagaswami argues that marriage isn't necessary at all; singles who want to remain single should be allowed to do so: "There are enough single people who lead perfectly comfortable lives to testify to the fact that marriage is not the be all and end all of adult life. Sure, they may get bored and lonely at times, but then, so do married people." Amen to that!

"Number of People Opting for Anonymous HIV Testing Jumps 20% from 2008"
By Hoe Yeen Nie
Summary: Singaporeans requesting HIV tests have increased by 20%, partly due to the fact that more clinics are offering the service. However, this suggests that more Singaporeans may also be engaging in irresponsible sexual behavior. So far, nine out of ten new cases of HIV occur in single men, but diagnoses appear to be on the rise in women, too, most of whom are married.

"Personal Finance Through Life's Stages: Singles and Money Matters"
By Nimi Akinkugbe
Summary: Too many singles procrastinate about financial planning, sure that they'll get around to it someday only to find that someday has arrived sooner than they expected. This article suggests setting long-term financial goals early on and saving towards them from a young age; creating a budget; setting aside an account for crises; protecting yourself with health insurance, even if it's a high-deductible or hospital-only plan; planning for retirement as soon as you start working; and drawing up a will.

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 a Kalorik Sunny Morning Stick Mixer from! Time is running out!

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have an unpublished 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"! Singletude makes every effort to republish submissions in their original form but reserves the right to edit your submission for length and clarity.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Win a Kalorik Sunny Morning Stick Mixer from A Singletude Contest

As promised, Singletude has a new giveaway contest beginning today! Just consider this a Christmas (or Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.) gift to you for your loyal readership.

In partnership with, Singletude is offering a Kalorik Sunny Morning Stick Mixer with a suggested retail value of $24.99. (You can also order it for just $14.41 from Amazon.) The two-speed, 200-watt, hand-held mixer is billed as the perfect solution for blending soup, sauce, batter, milkshakes, smoothies, and really anything else you can think of. It has a detachable stainless-steel blade and is heat resistant and dishwasher safe.

The Kalorik Sunny Morning Stick Mixer is a thank-you gift to Singletude readers, so you don't have to do anything special to enter this giveaway contest. All you have to do is one of the following:

1. Leave a comment on this post telling Singletude why you're thankful to be single. Be sure to mention that you want to enter the giveaway! You won't automatically be entered in the drawing unless you specify that you want to be.

2. Write to Singletude explaining why you're thankful to be single in as many words as you want. Again, be sure to mention that you want to enter the giveaway! Also, please specify whether or not you would like your submission to be published on Singletude.

If you want to inform others about this giveaway contest on your own blog, web site, or social networking profile, your help in getting the word out is appreciated, but it's not a requirement for entry.

Entrants must reside in the United States to qualify for free shipping. Entrants outside the United States must pay all shipping charges. (Sorry! The box is heavy, and I can't afford to ship it outside the U.S.)

The winner of the giveaway will be drawn at random on 12/23/09 at noon and announced on the same day. That means you have just over three weeks to enter the contest, so enter right away!

If the winner has submitted an entry by email, Singletude will contact the winner to request a shipping address. If the winner has submitted an entry in the comments section of this post, it will be his or her responsibility to contact Singletude with a 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.

Remember, you have just 25 days to enter the Singletude giveaway contest for your chance to win the Kalorik Sunny Morning Stick Mixer, 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"!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving: Singletude Gives Thanks for Readers and Progress

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! You know what I'm thankful for today? Singletude readers! You've doubled since this time last year, and I'm so thankful to all of you who stop by, whether for just one post of interest or to keep up with the latest twice a week. I'm especially grateful to those of you who add your voices to the discussion, commenting on the posts and sharing your own opinions and experiences. In the coming year, I hope more of you who follow Singletude will join in the conversation. This year, I'd like to show my appreciation by giving back to you!

First of all, I'd like to know what you like about Singletude and what you want to see more of so it can better meet your needs and interests. There's a poll today, so please take a minute to give your feedback, and if you have any ideas that don't fit neatly into multiple choice answers, feel free to leave a comment below.

Second, the next Singletude Giveaway Contest will be announced the day after Thanksgiving and will run throughout the holiday season. I'm excited to have another opportunity to reward the amazing readers who have stuck by this blog and grown with it for almost two years now, even if I can only do that in a small way.

And now, in the spirit of the holiday, I want to list five advances for singles that I'm thankful for this year:

1. The Affordable Health Care for America Act
One of the most glaring disparities between singles and marrieds is their access to health care. Under our current system, a married employee can give his or her insurance benefits to a spouse, but singles have no recourse if they are unemployed, self-employed, or work for businesses that don't provide insurance. Therefore, singles are more likely to be uninsured than married couples are. The Affordable Health Care for America Act, though not as ideal as a single-payer plan, provides for an insurance exchange that includes a public option, which would eliminate dependence on employer-based coverage, helping to level the playing field between the married and the unmarried. The bill has already been passed in the House and is waiting for Senate approval. Please tell your senator to vote yes!

2. The Designated Beneficiary Agreement Act in Colorado
In April of 2009, Colorado led the way toward a more equitable legal system that values all relationships, not just marital ones. The Designated Beneficiary Agreement Act allows any two unmarried adults, regardless of relationship, to enter into a contract by which they're given many of the same privileges that most states currently reserve for married couples. These include the rights to joint acquisition of property; guardianship or conservatorship; estate and benefit inheritance; and medical proxy, hospital visitation, wrongful death suit, and disposition of remains. To read a full list of entitlements granted by the Designated Beneficiary Agreement Act, see this document.

3. The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act in Washington, DC
This is primarily thought of as a bill to protect LGBT domestic partnerships. However, what singles of any sexual orientation should know is that it also protects unmarried people who want to establish legally recognized nonsexual relationships. According to the DC City Council Committee on Public Safety, "As domestic partnerships apply equally to same-sex and opposite-sex couples, as well as to non-sexual relationships, the Committee believes that preserving the right to register is necessary." In fact, the controversy over gay marriage has had the unintended side effect of calling attention to the myriad ways in which our legal system is rigged against singles. Books like Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage: Valuing All Families under the Law by Nancy D. Polikoff have capitalized on that and stirred public interest and discussion. The bill is up for a final vote in December.

4. National Unmarried and Single Americans Week
Since the 1980s, it rolls around every September, but it's only in the last few years or so that anyone has really paid attention. It's still not as widely covered as it could be, and much of the coverage it does get is devoted to analyzing the "problem" of singleness rather than normalizing it. However, a week set aside to observe the role of singles in society is much better than no week at all. Plus, it seems to have been the gateway to more positive celebrations in other countries, such as China, which started Singles Day in the '90s, and Sweden, which has Singelfest.

5. The National Singles Association (NSA)
The National Singles Association (NSA) is the only membership-based organization for single adults to offer group-rate health and life insurance. It also guarantees discounts for members at participating airlines, retail stores, restaurants, professional services, and more. There are lots of clubs and online communities for singles and even some advocacy groups, but this is the first one to function like a union in negotiating deals with powerful corporations on behalf of singles.

There have been other encouraging signs that matrimania is beginning to crumble; these are just a few standouts. We still have a long way to go before we can say that singlism has been dismantled and that singles and marrieds are truly equal, not just in the eyes of the law but in the eyes of our families, friends, and neighbors. But, little by little, as the ranks of the unmarried swell and more people count singles among their inner circle or--surprise--discover that they're single themselves, awareness is growing that the nuclear family model of yesteryear not only doesn't apply to much of the population but actually disenfranchises it. That's prompting indignation, which, in turn, spurs change. I'm thankful for the changes we've seen so far and for the changes yet to come.

What advances have singles made that you're thankful for?

Fun Link of the Day

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have an unpublished 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"! Singletude makes every effort to republish submissions in their original form but reserves the right to edit your submission for length and clarity.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Singles in the News: 11/15/09-11/21/09

Welcome to "Singles in the News"! This week, single men, needy singles, and our single British cousins were a recurring theme.


"Women with Single Status More Successful Than Others: Survey"
Summary: Out of almost 1,600 single women surveyed at Lucknow University in India, 93% said that singles are more effective on the job. "All agreed that their hassle-free life was giving them great satisfaction from work as well as motivating them to do well in professional areas....Most of the single women were so satisfied with life that they were not willing to swap places with their 'happily married' counterparts." Despite reports of rampant discrimination including sexual harassment and restricted mobility, 53% of the single women studied called marriage an "'overrated institution,'" and 65% said it wasn't important to have a husband. One of the unusual aspects of this study, which increases its credibility, is that its participants hailed from all socioeconomic demographics. Therefore, we know that these enlightened attitudes about marital status weren't limited to an educated or professionally successful elite.


"A Haven for City's Homeless"
The Lancashire Evening Post
Summary: A shelter in England shares the Christmas spirit with homeless singles and helps them attain job skills.

Singleschmucker Award
"High Crimes: 10 Military Towns Are Among the Country's Most Dangerous"
By Bruce Watson
Summary: And why would that be? You got it! Because so many single men live there. According to the article, "Military bases tend to have high concentrations of young, single men living together in very close quarters....Young men, separated from their parents, wives, families and communities, may feel more temptation to commit certain types of crimes." While it's true that young people and men are more likely to wind up on the wrong side of the law than are older people and women, does marital status have anything to do with it? The truth is that singles in some age groups are more likely to commit certain crimes, and marrieds in other age groups are more likely to commit other crimes. (See Criminology by Stephan Hurwitz.) Furthermore, not all studies that claim to show an association between singleness and crime examine marital status apart from age and socioeconomic status, variables that have well-established links to criminal activity. Even in cases in which it can be proven that single status is correlated with criminal behavior, that doesn't mean that marriage would have a preventive effect. Criminals tend to start offending at a young age, before most men are married. So it's equally likely, if not more so, that men who are offenders don't get married as it is that marriage has some transformational power that reduces the likelihood a man will offend. All that said, wait till you reach the end of this article and realize how the journalist has been misleading you! As it turns out, although some of the highest crime rates, especially in property crime, occur near military bases, the median crime rate in military towns is well below the national average. Gee...Looks like someone's theory just got blown out of the water! And shame on Watson for burying this crucial bit of info in the last paragraph! An easy win for the Singleschmucker.

"More Online Shopping Expected This Christmas"
RTE Business
Summary: A study of online shoppers in Ireland finds that single males ages 18-34 account for about two-thirds of all Internet purchases.

"Single Women's Crusade Against Orthodoxy"
By Ramesh Kumar Paudel
Summary: Nepal's Women Welfare Advocacy Forum, which has been fighting for the rights of single women since 2005, has opened a cyber cafe and is teaching computer fundamentals at a discount for families headed by single mothers. The proceeds will be used to financially assist single female entrepreneurs.

"Unhappy Single; Likely Unhappy Married"
By JJ Smith
Summary: A relationship columnist with loud and clear singletude emphasizes the value of completing your own life rather than expecting someone else to complete it. Marriage, she maintains, is no cure-all, and the single state provides an excellent opportunity for exploring your own interests and building your own life. "If you are unhappy single, you will likely be unhappy married, except then you can blame your spouse instead of yourself for your unhappiness....Being single is not a problem, but an opportunity to reinvest in your life and your spiritual growth. Maximize your career, interests, hobbies, and relationships while you're single, and make that time the best days of your life....Nothing outside of you can produce long-lasting satisfaction and happiness--no mate, money, job, house, or car..." Smith goes on to differentiate the terms "lonely" and "alone" as they apply to singles. None of this is new, but it all bears repeating.


Singles With Singletude Award
"Key Words: Singled Out"
By Adam Key
The Houstonian
Summary: A single male college student, age 25, dreads Thanksgiving because he knows his family will give him the fifth degree about why he's not married. The observant Key writes that this line of questioning "presumes that I plan to get married, and more offensively, implies that there is something wrong with not being married already...If you're single and 25, society starts treating you in much the same way I imagine they used to treat lepers. People legitimately think that there is something wrong with you if you are not actively seeking a mate. You're immediately assumed to either be someone trying to have sex with as many women as possible, or a gigantic loser who couldn't get a date to save his life. Either way, like our leprous brethren of yesteryear, we end up shunned....The truth is, I am rather happy living the way I currently am, and it's a lifestyle that I could not maintain if I was in a committed relationship." He goes on to explain how being single allows him to fully pursue his studies and friendships in a way that he couldn't with a partner around and concludes with the eloquent statement, "Simply because you don't have a significant other does not make you insignificant." Somehow, I think this young man has a tremendous future ahead of him! We'll start him on his way with a Singles With Singletude Award.

"Wanted: Senior Hotties Looking for Love"
By Niyaz Pirani
The Orange County Register
Summary: A Californian widower has started a singles club just for seniors with a focus on helping other widows and widowers come to terms with loss and move on.


"Advocates Call for a 'Safe Park' for the Homeless in Every Kitsap City"
By Rachel Pritchett
Kitsap Sun
Summary: Homelessness is a big problem in Bremerton, WA, especially for single women and single moms. The possibility of a "tent city" or a "safe park" where the homeless could sleep in their cars is discussed.

"Bells Shoals Concert to Help Needy"
By Yvette C. Hammett
Brandon News & Tribune
Summary: A concert will benefit struggling single moms in Florida.

"Elsie and Arnold Could Win 1m in Sport Cash"
By Becky Inman
Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph
Summary: Sorry, don't look at me. I can't help you with that. The "Elsie" referred to here is a British euphemism for a single, retired senior woman, and an "Arnold" is her male counterpart. This article describes Sport England's efforts to entice this demographic to make physical fitness a priority.

"The End of the Bachelor Pad"
By Kate Burt
The Independent
Summary: In the global recession, unemployment has hit men in the UK much harder than women, and the well-heeled bachelors among them have been forced to downsize their upscale, gadget-filled pads and move out of the prohibitively expensive capital or in with roommates or girlfriends. Without the benefit of two incomes, these single men find their quality of life downgraded as they sell off prized possessions that don't fit in studio apartments and forgo the social gatherings they used to host. More evidence that there is something very wrong with a socioeconomic structure in which an individual can't support himself adequately on his full-time income.

"FoodShare Still Dysfunctional in State Hands"
By Tom Held
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Summary: The Hunger Task Force of Wisconsin estimates that the state owes food stamp applicants approximately $11.7 million. Why the backlog? Because low-income, child-free single adults have been applying in record numbers.

"The PeopleFinders Network Announces Lie Detector Applications for the iPhone: 'Stud or Dud' and 'Are They Really Single' Help Daters Separate the Good from the Bad"
Earth Times
Summary: Billed as a revolutionary technology for single daters, these new iPhone apps promise to let users run spontaneous, ridiculously cheap (think $0.99) background searches from wherever they happen to be. That cutie at the bar said he's single? Call his bluff while he's in the men's room. Your coffee date said she's 29? Catch her in her lie while she grabs her latte. Is fingertip access to confidential info crucial or creepy? You decide.

"Single in the Suburbs"
By Benn Farrell
Highlands Ranch Herald
Summary: The second part of a series on singles in suburban Colorado profiles one divorced professional male's foray into Internet dating and the local bar scene.

"Single Londoners Leading the Way on 'Soli-days'"
By Rashid Razaq
London Evening Standard
Summary: Brits are loving solo travel. Internet travel agency reports that 15% of its clients in the last year booked trips for one, with men outnumbering women two to one. Single Brits traveling alone are also more likely to be professionals aged 40-60 who hail from London. Solo's Holidays, which books travel packages for singles, claims that the number of solo travelers in England now rivals the number of couples and families.

"Our View--Hunger Becomes National Security Issue"
Daily 49er
Summary: According to the Department of Agriculture, some 49 million American households suffer from so-called "food insecurity," a euphemism for hunger. These are disproportionately single female-headed families.


"Homeless Vets to Receive Gifts from UM"
By Josh Potter
The Montana Kaimin
Summary: A transitional housing program for Montana veterans is accepting donated Christmas gifts for their Adopt-a-Veteran initiative. A case manager says, "'These are single adults without any kind of family contact....Many of these guys have not had a personal gift in years.'"


"Single Women Are Hit Hard by the Recession"
By Francine Huff
Summary: Currently, 10.3% of single women are unemployed as opposed to 5.7% of married women. Yet single women are the ones who can least afford to be without an income. From the article: "Unmarried women who lose their jobs may be more at risk of having to give up their homes, cash out retirement accounts or even end up in homeless shelters. Many of them lack basic health care for themselves and their children and have little access to financial resources that could tide them over until they find a job." Single men aren't immune to this disturbing trend, either. In fact, it's even worse for them, with 14.1% of single men unemployed versus 6.5% of married men. While it's wonderful that this article is drawing attention to an important employment disparity, note how only single women make it to the headline. Furthermore, the journalist excuses the higher rate of unemployment for single men with the rationalization that they aren't as needy because most of them don't have children living with them. Again, it feels a little self-defeating to pick on a writer who's clearly on the side of singles, but I can't help thinking that every adult should be entitled to a living wage and fair treatment on the job because every life has worth, not just the lives of the very young.

"The Truth About Dating: Do You Have a Dating Addiction?"
By Steve Penner
Summary: A professional matchmaker wonders whether some singles can become so enamored of dating that they never want to pick one partner. Uhhhh...yeah. Isn't this what eligible bachelors have been accused of doing since time immemorial? The writer defines a dating addict as "constantly searching to meet the perfect person, feeling that there is always someone out there who is just a little better than the person that he or she might currently be dating." Sure enough, he plucks one of those eligible bachelors out of his client pool as an illustration. This is hardly an uncharted phenomenon, but the article is worth a skim if only to get inside the mind of one such "player."

"Warren Co. Shelter Needs Personal-care Items"
By Elaine Trumpey
Summary: The only shelter for singles in Warren County, OH is in need of "personal care products and cleaning and paper supplies." Despite public funding, it is always overcrowded and in the red.

"When Parting Really Is Sweet: Divorce Cakes Sparked by Trend for Separation Celebrations"
By Luke Salkeld
Mail Online
Summary: Feast your eyes on these humorous, if somewhat twisted, "divorce cakes," which top off trendy divorce parties in the UK. In explanation, one cake baker says, "'Divorce can be a horrible thing but I would like to think comical divorce cakes can help lighten the mood.'"


"Love & Other Personalities"
By Bryony Gordon
The Sydney Morning Herald
Summary: An interview with Helen Fisher, author of Why Him? Why Her?, details her theory that a neurochemical cocktail is responsible for creating one of four main personality types in every individual and that these types determine who we are attracted to. It all seems a little simplistic to me, but give it a read and reach your own conclusions. Fisher also ponders the sociopolitical changes that have allowed women to be more selective in choosing their mates and how that has resulted in a surge in single people. Unfortunately, she refers to long-term singleness as an "extended adolescence." Beyond that, she has some rather original opinions about things like romance, sex differences, traditional gender roles, and remarriage. I'm not sure they're supported by research, but they're interesting.

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

Want to stay current on changes in the world that impact singles? Read the latest news about singles every day! Check out the Singletude newsreader under Singles in the News on the homepage!

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have an unpublished 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"! Singletude makes every effort to republish submissions in their original form but reserves the right to edit your submission for length and clarity.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Love You, Man: A Singletude Review

It's official! I have a crush! Since it arrived from Netflix, I've been in deep like with I Love You, Man. The bromance of the century is as spit-out-your-Sprite funny as the likes of Wedding Crashers and Knocked Up, but the themes it addresses through dialogue so achingly real it feels like a hammer to the funny bone elevate this flick several cuts above. So why am I still withholding affection? Because while the movie skewers matrimania, it still demonizes singles.

Meet Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd), a straight-laced, dependable, ambitious yet sensitive real estate agent in touch with his feminine side. Now meet Zooey Rice (Rashida Jones), sweet, attractive, easygoing co-owner of a retail boutique. The two live in a beautiful house in the suburbs of LA, and Peter has just proposed. They have it all, which usually signals the end of the movie. Not in this case.

See, Peter is missing something--friends. Oh, he has co-workers and acquaintances, even fencing buddies, but no one close enough to stand up for him at his wedding. After he overhears Zooey's BFFs critiquing his social skills, he has an epiphany: "I gotta get some f****** friends!" he vows. From that point on, he becomes a man on a mission to cleverly exploit every parallel to contemporary dating cliches. In the process, he endures misguided "set-ups" (one of which includes possibly the best projectile vomiting scene in cinematic history), discovers that men online lie about their age, and agonizes over how soon to call for that first "man date." The expected hilarity ensues, not just because Peter isn't actually romancing these guys but because it hits home that much of the same hope, anxiety, frustration, and excitement that we associate with dating applies to courting a new friend, as well.

Now enter Sydney Fife (Jason Segel), a womanizing, Cheeto-munching, bar-brawling, air guitar-riffing man's man. Here the movie takes a detour to Fight Club Lite as Sydney bonds with Peter, teaching him to speak Guy (a language he flubs often and spectacularly), obey the rules of the brotherhood, and grow a pair. It's all good, and Peter is feeling the brotherly love until his fiancee fears that their relationship is threatening to become a menage a trois.

Because this is, after all, a Hollywood comedy, alter egos Peter and Sydney must each know something the other needs to learn in order to grow and change. Peter, obviously, needs friends. Director John Hamburg has decided that Sydney needs a girlfriend. Or maybe not a girlfriend yet--mercifully, the set-up that Peter and Zooey force on him doesn't work out--but the maturity and interpersonal skills necessary to land one. Therein lies the reason for my love-hate relationship with I Love You, Man.

What the movie does right is present a positive model for a balanced relationship that is not overly couplecentric. Peter and Zooey love each other and enjoy spending time together, but, by the end, they also have fulfilling lives apart with their own friends and career interests. The message that marital partners can't be each other's "everything," that they need platonic friends outside the relationship, is so enlightened and exceptional in the entertainment world that singles with singletude can't help but fall hard for this film.

On the other hand, as much fun and heart as Sydney brings to this story, he's still a caricature of the aging bachelor who refuses to grow up while all his friends are settling down. In one troubling scene, he phones everyone he knows to make weekend plans but is rejected by one after the other. Turns out his friends have wives and children who top their priority lists. Ok, Mr. Hamburg, we get it. When push comes to shove, family trumps friends. Fine. But then you pull out the heavyweights, the three Bs, and leave Sydney looking bummed, bored, and bereft. This is a guy who supposedly has a successful investment business, a collection of high-end guitars he rocks out on, a dog he's devoted to, and friends he hangs with a few times a week. Yet the one day everyone is busy, he's presented as a pathetic no-life who can't find a way to amuse himself on his own. Then there's Zooey's token single friend, who is, of course, a whiny, desperate Plain Jane (the cool, sexy one is married) and a mini-lesson toward the end about respecting the privacy of interactions within the sanctum of the relationship. These elements combine to proclaim a message that matrimaniacs are losers, but singles are losers, too, that to strike a successful balance, one should find a happy, healthy relationship or at least accept that relationships make the world go round. I'm down with the first half of that thesis but not the second.

In fantasyland, Sydney teaches Peter what he needs to learn without ever succumbing to the vices of stereotypical bachelorhood. But then there wouldn't be a conflict, and as all wannabe screenwriters know, a script without conflict is like a platinum wedding without a bridezilla. Or something. Anyway, it doesn't sell. Though I can't commit my whole heart to I Love You, Man, as the only movie in recent memory to call out matrimaniacs and lampoon intensive coupling, it still has me pretty infatuated.

How important do you think it is for a couple to maintain separate friendships outside their relationship? What can couples do to balance time together and time apart? How do you think bachelors are usually portrayed in Hollywood? Is the Hollywood version of the bachelor at all representative of the single men you know? If you've seen I Love You, Man, what are your thoughts on the movie? Do you think it has a positive or a negative message about singles in general and single men in particular? What does it say to you about matrimania/intensive coupling/enmeshed or codependent relationships? By the end of the movie, do you think Peter and Zooey provide a healthy model for couples or not? Can you recommend any other movies that tackle matrimania?

Fun Link of the Day

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have an unpublished 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"! Singletude makes every effort to republish submissions in their original form but reserves the right to edit your submission for length and clarity.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Singles in the News: 11/8/09-11/14/09

Sorry this is soooo late, folks, but this was not a good week for me physically. Hey, it's a free service, so no complaints, 'kay? ;)

This week, China stepped into the spotlight for its annual Singles Day. No, you did not misread that. The nation that invented foot binding for wives now observes a special day for singles. We need to step it up, people.


"Dateless and $2500 Poorer"
The Sydney Morning Herald
Summary: You know you're in for trouble when a story starts out with this question: "What's worse than being single, and aged 31 in Sydney?" The answer, as offered by an anonymous single guest columnist, is: "Being single, 31 and ripped off by a dating agency." While Singletude can't agree with this pessimistic view of either singleness or the fourth decade of life, losing money under any circumstance is definitely a bummer. The writer, a highly educated, professional single female, complains that an elite matchmaking service was "just not that into" her after she wasn't into the first three dates they set her up on. She claims that she's publishing her experience as a cautionary tale for other singles, but since she seems too embarrassed by her single status to identify either herself or the matchmaker, her warning may not do would-be customers much good.


"All the Single Ladies"
By Jen Calder
The Times-Delphic
Summary: Occasionally, a student newspaper will produce a smart, open-minded opinion piece about singles and earn a link in "Singles in the News." It's inspiring to see the next generation reevaluating stereotypes about singleness because as we get older, we're going to be in their hands. So it's equally unnerving when an up-and-coming college voice chooses to reinforce those stereotypes. Take this article out of Iowa's Drake University, for example. The author is barely into the first paragraph before she launches into a diatribe against singles: "Being single is not all it is cracked up to be, people...And when you look at the big picture, no one really wants to be single. I say that because if your soulmate were available, you would be with him or her. Don’t lie..." She then urges single college kids to pair up because of woes like the double standard and impending loneliness. Although she admits that "older and wiser people are always informing me that I should be single for at least a couple years," she maintains that "you should date or be involved with someone, if not for anything else but to help you evolve." I'm not giving Calder a Singleschmucker because--she said it herself--she's young, and she hasn't yet experienced how diverse people are. But I can assure her, not everyone would jump at the chance to couple up with a soulmate, not least because many people don't believe in soulmates. She would do well to heed the advice of her elders because they've been in her shoes and know a thing or two. Undoubtedly, among their accumulated wisdom is the knowledge that dating can be a big distraction from one's studies, that settling down too soon can set a couple up for a lifetime of conflict, that learning about oneself is the best way to prepare to pick a partner, and that it's marriage which is, in fact, not all it's cracked up to be. To Calder's credit, she understands that enmeshed, insular relationships aren't the way to go, but she overestimates the transformative power of coupling while underestimating the risk of intense emotional involvement to young adults still forming their identities and attaining their educational goals. That doesn't mean the alternative she describes, constant casual hook-ups, is any prettier, but there's another short- or long-term option she ignores--being truly single, without any romantic or sexual attachments.

"Mover and Shaker August Black Gives Men Their Much Needed 'Space'"
PR Web
Summary: An interior design firm caters to single men. It's not the first of its kind, but it's one of the few, and it now provides a moving service, as well.

Singleschmucker Award
"Top 10 Myths About Marriage"
The Times of India
Summary: The title promises to correct popular misconceptions promoted by the matrimaniac crowd. Disappointingly, this is more like a backlash to the backlash. Outdated studies and grossly distorted pop psychology reports (none of them actually cited) are trotted out to reinforce what a difference marriage makes. Cohabiting couples are a primary target here, with quite a few "mythbusters" reminding unmarried partners that they are less committed to each other, less sexually satisfied, less likely to have successful marriages later on, and more prone to violent interactions. A lot of other lies surface in the article, not the least of which is the blanket statement that "both men and women live longer, happier, healthier and wealthier lives when they are married." No, no, no, no! This is just not true, and what makes it worse is that The Times of India misrepresents this as an attempt to set the record straight. Take that, Times of India--a Singleschmucker!


"Married People Have More Pride in Work Than Singles"
By Patrick F. Fagan, PhD and Althea Nagai, PhD
Opposing Views
Summary: According to the General Social Survey conducted by the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center, 84.4% of marrieds say they are proud of their work as opposed to 74% of the divorced and 65.8% of the never married. The authors compare these results favorably to other studies that show a correlation between happy marriages and job satisfaction. They don't expressly state their theory that happy marriages result in increased job satisfaction, but that seems to be what they're driving at. So let's consider some other possibilities for this correlation: 1. Married people tend to be older than singles, and older people tend to have better jobs. 2. Many people wait until they feel good about their careers to marry, so married people may already have achieved job success. 3. Maybe the kind of people who value work and take pride in a job well done are the kind of people who are more likely to be interested in marriage. 4. Married people with two incomes may have more leeway to pursue jobs they care about. In contrast, singles may have to take what they can get, and divorced individuals may find themselves unexpectedly working jobs they don't like to provide child support or alimony or to replace income from a former spouse. 5. Happier people are a little more likely to marry, and people who are generally happier in life may also feel happier on the job. (Note that this does not mean that people become happier when they marry.) Now there is one way in which marriage might conceivably impact pride in one's work, but that has nothing to do with the supposed joys of marriage. It's that when people get married, they're more likely to be promoted at the office due to favoritism toward married employees. This one is very close to a Singleschmucker.

"Public Invited Thursday to Learn About Women's Shelter Plans"
Summary: The Women's Shelter Community Team of York in Ontario, Canada seeks to establish the first shelter for single women in the area.

"Single in the Suburbs"
By Ashley Dieterle and Benn Farrell
Highlands Ranch Herald
Summary: A Colorado community in which singles are definitely not the new majority struggles to provide its single residents with ways to socialize including church fellowship groups, coed sports teams, fitness classes, and entertainment centers. Local college professor John Ratliff also analyzes the nation's upswing in singles, explaining, "'There is a decline of civil society, meaning people don’t know the people in their communities....Now it is more difficult to meet people and gain viable information on new people.' Ratliff said there is also a decline in courtship rituals, which have basically collapsed over the last 100 years. He said there are no longer any clear rules about how people get together and engage in courtship."

"Surprise Gender Spending: IBISWorld Report"
Summary: This short article traces Australian consumer trends for men versus women with a special focus on singles. The bottom line: The women are still the champion shoppers, although men are spending more on personal care items than ever before.

"Young People 'Popular Target for Credit Card Fraudsters'"
By Nate Sawyer
Which 4U
Summary: If you're a single person who earns a middle-class income and rents in the UK, watch out. You're among those most targeted by identity thieves.


"Fuss Over Single's Day"
By Qi Moxi
Summary: Proving once again that it can beat us at our own game, China has instituted its own Singles Day--one it actually celebrates with parties and promotional events. But this journalist wonders how much of Singles Day is dedicated to celebrating singles and how much is really just an opportunity for bars, clubs, and matchmaking services to capitalize on the holiday.

"The GAMC Gap: Fate Uncertain for Health Care Program Serving Poorest Minnesotans"
By Scott Carlson
St. Paul Legal Ledger
Summary: Those "poorest Minnesotans," by the way, also happen to be single adults. Up until recently, Minnesota was one of the only states to offer publicly funded medical care (GAMC) to the unmarried and childless. But this summer, Governor Tim Pawlenty announced that the program would lose funding in 2010. Following an outcry, Pawlenty made provisions for 28,000 of the 36,000 single people who would be left without insurance to be covered under a different program, MinnesotaCare, but the fate of the remaining 8,000 is unknown. Furthermore, there is concern that the transition of 28,000 singles from GAMC to MinnesotaCare will not be a smooth one. MinnesotaCare is more costly for participants and covers less than GAMC.

"Homeless Vets Need Our Help"
By Gabe Pressman
NBC New York
Summary: "One-third of New York’s population of 9,000 homeless single adults are veterans." NBC News looks at this special group of singles who are now fighting a different kind of battle on the homefront.

"Right Hand Ring Tells the World We're Independent Women"
By Susie Anderson
Summary: Right-hand diamond rings are discussed in what amounts to little more than a promotional piece. The message, however, is timeless: "We think even engaged and married women could stand to wear a right hand ring. Because, you know, even though you're committed and in a loving relationship, you're still an independent woman..."

Singles With Singletude Award
"What an Expert Eye, and a Game Plan, Can Do for the Single Shopper"
By Joe Yonan
The Washington Post
Summary: Judith Jones, author of The Pleasures of Cooking for One, and a group of single Washington Post readers take a tour of DC grocers as Jones advises her devotees on shopping and cooking for one. Her smorgasbord of tips includes the following: 1. Frequent farmers markets, where you can buy loose or individual items. 2. Buy ingredients with a week's worth of meals in mind. That means selecting components that are both versatile and that can be easily stored. 3. Roast leftover vegetables and use them throughout the week in salads, pasta dishes, soups, and wraps. 4. Grow herbs in pots at home instead of buying in supermarket packs that will spoil. 5. Smoked salmon, prosciutto, and parmesan preserve well and are perfect for adding flair to various dishes. 6. Share with friends. 7. Don't be afraid to adjust recipes to your own taste. You're the only one you have to please, after all! Jones discloses the secrets to specific dishes that can undergo seemingly endless transformations into other dishes, so be sure to read the article yourself for some excellent ideas. It's not that unusual to see articles that validate the single lifestyle from a philosophical point of view, but there aren't as many that give concrete advice and suggestions with singles in mind. So this feature wins this week's Singles With Singletude Award.


"Building Awareness of Homeless, Hunger in Minot"
Minot Daily News
By Andrea Johnson
Summary: In North Dakota, Minot State University's Student Social Work Organization works to raise awareness of homelessness, which they say disproportionately affects single mothers.

"'Marriage Hunting' Becomes a Fad Among 'Gold Collar' Professionals"
Summary: A glimpse into China's professional matchmaking industry reveals that it's gained mainstream acceptance with 70% of singles polled expressing their approval of it. However, it remains affordable mainly just to the elite, and some people still have strong reservations. "'I disapprove of "marriage hunting," and propose to marry for love. Those who hunt marriage with money can only get material comforts in marriage because they get married without developing attachments and learning each other's personalities...A spouse is not a product that can be purchased with money,'" said one single man interviewed. Sadly, single people themselves don't seem to have made as much headway as matchmaking services. In a two-page article, they're referred to three times as "single people left on the shelf."


"The 'Mate Market' Is Tough for Jewish Women Over 50"
By Arlene Fine
Cleveland Jewish News
Summary: It's possible that when this paper asked for personal accounts of the local dating scene from older single women, these were the only answers they got. It's possible. But is it probable? For some reason, they chose to publish the stories of three women who were uniformly negative about being single. "If I even think that I’ll end up flying solo for the rest of my life, I’ll go crazy," says one woman. Somehow I think she'll stay out of Bedlam.

"Women Who Want a Baby Later Are Freezing Their Eggs Now"
By Kate Snow, Susan Kriskey, and Kate McCarthy
Good Morning America
Summary: Approximately 50 clinics across the country help single women preserve their eggs at a cost of $10,000-15,000. Women who freeze their eggs have a 50-50 chance of getting pregnant by that method.


"Nitty Gritty"
By Barolong Saboni
Mmegi Online
Summary: In Botswana, a journalist takes humorous notes on a meeting of Nitty Gritty, a new association of single men that has pledged to work toward the breakdown of marital status discrimination and masculine gender role stereotyping. Their manifesto proudly proclaims, "We intend to resort to our rights as men to remain single if we so wish. Single men have a right to be respected. We will marry only when we want to."

"The Single Population"
Summary: In honor of Singles Day, an English-language Chinese radio broadcast complete with transcript reports on the growing population of singles in China. From the broadcast: "Living the single life has become a new trend in China. Many people choose to stay alone because they enjoy a free and unrestrained life that relieves them from the bondage of marriage." The changing population landscape is discussed in light of falling marriage rates, and this is contrasted with China's long history of arranged marriage. Despite the country's conservative reputation, the same dynamics that created a new single majority in the West are at work here, aided by an explosion of career opportunities for women and the rise of Internet dating services. The commentary contains some singlism, but it's balanced with positive remarks, and that alone is impressive for a nation with such a strong tradition of reverence for marriage.

"Single Survival During the Holidays"
By Richard Asa
Chicago Tribune
Summary: "Whether newly divorced, widowed or--gasp--single by choice, people in ones around the holidays can often elicit sympathy, meddlesome questions and misplaced advice." If you're single and tense about upcoming familial encounters, this article advises you to practice visualization and other relaxation techniques, avoid singlist family members and hang out with more supportive relations if possible, defend your right not to rehash questions about your single status, permit yourself to be sad if you've recently lost a partner, and bring along a sense of humor.

"Unwed Mothers Need Aid"
JoongAng Daily
Summary: Most Korean babies adopted out to other countries are born to single mothers, who face widespread discrimination. This article calls for social programs that would help single moms in Korea support their infants.

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

Want to stay current on changes in the world that impact singles? Read the latest news about singles every day! Check out the Singletude newsreader under Singles in the News on the homepage!

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have an unpublished 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"! Singletude makes every effort to republish submissions in their original form but reserves the right to edit your submission for length and clarity.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"A Critical (But Highly Sympathetic) Reading of New Yorkers' Sexual Habits and Anxieties" by Wesley Yang: A Singletude Response

Have you read New York Magazine's "A Critical (But Highly Sympathetic) Reading of New Yorkers' Sexual Habits and Anxieties" by Wesley Yang? If browsing singles sites or dating blogs is part of your routine, chances are you haven't been able to avoid this article or someone's opinion of it. Like sex itself, it has spawned a wide range of heated responses, from prophecies of impending moral apocalypse to passionate defenses of Gen Y's highly evolved textual shorthand. Because although the title suggests a bland report peppered with decimals and percentages in tables that list "number of times per week" and "number of partners per year," it's actually all about the wireless hook-up network that connects young, urban singles. It's one writer's response to the online New York Magazine column called "The Sex Diaries," in which one lucky male or female gets to play Carrie Bradshaw for a week and record his or her dating woes and sexual exploits. Yang's central question: "Are the digital tools that make it easier to find sex compounding the confusion that accompanies it?"

Yang says yes, and he's not the first to reach that verdict. Since the cell phone became a must-have accessory and the code of texting a lingua franca--since the Internet Age multiplied our social options to the infinite power, really--academics, politicos, pop psychologists, and lifestyle journalists have obsessed over the paradox of perceived choice in sexual or romantic partners. The idea is that as our choices increase, we become paralyzed with indecision and end up making no choice at all. When too much choice intersects with the impersonal void of wireless communication, some experts argue, human beings become disposable objects that exist only for momentary gratification, their existence erased afterwards with the touch of an address book key.

This is the theme of Yang's analysis, too. He reviews the diarists' weekly entries since 2007 and describes a cutthroat world of sex games in which everyone is a player, like it or not, and you can trust no one because your partner is also your opponent. The object of the game is to have as many partner options as possible. To handicap yourself is to reveal emotion your partner/opponent does not feel, and to lose is to have no options at all. The jackpot is "true love," but in this virtual reality, the winner is too disconnected to know when it's real and so forfeits the prize.

The sticking point for most commentators is whether or not the tech revolution is to blame for this state of affairs, but I'll reserve judgment on that because it doesn't really matter. The BlackBerry didn't come with a set of instructions on "Using Speed Dial to Juggle Hook-ups," "Using the Calendar to Create a Safe Emotional Distance," or "Using Autocomplete to Send a Break-up Text." People, singles out there on the dating scene, decided to use those features to that end. The technology facilitated it, but the idea was all human. My interest is not in how young, single Americans got to this place but in how they are functioning in it and whether it needs to be made a different and better place.

What strikes me about the voices Yang quotes is that they're not the voices of empowered, sexually fulfilled, enlightened singles. They're permeated with angst, frustration, disappointment, and bitterness. It's possible that a selection bias is interfering here, but I believe that Yang is sincere in his attempt to represent the zeitgeist as he admits, "Reading the Sex Diaries all in one enormous gulp...caused me to surf on the edge of a terrible vertigo as I thought of the many wounds I had myself endured and inflicted during my brief career as a person with a New York City sex life." When he's moved to tears by an entry with a happy ending, I don't doubt that he's stumbled on a needle in a haystack, a Shangri-la unattainable to the multitudes of earnest diarists.

Is it any wonder that singles are unhappy trying to keep their personal lives impersonal? Yang describes how the "compulsive toggling of options winds up inflicting the very damage it was designed to protect against," noting how hard singles work to disguise "the fond hope, better kept to oneself, that one yearns to leave behind the serial f*** buddies, friends with benefits, and other back-burner relationships." This is not living with singletude, people. Singletude is about being authentic to your own wants and needs, not trying to repress what you feel to best someone else in a game of emotional one-upmanship. It's about promoting healthy attachments to others and concern for the community (as opposed to just one person), not using your singleness as an excuse to role over other people because you think you're a free agent and have no responsibility to anyone but yourself. Of course this lifestyle produces insecurity, loneliness, and disillusionment.

But, like ravers in some kind of dating trance, everyone keeps dancing. Why? Perhaps the answer lies in this nugget of wisdom, as Yang tries to explain why droves of single New Yorkers, some of the most entitled people in the world, would tolerate being manipulated like so many pawns in a casual after-dinner game: "The back burner is a confusing, destabilizing, and exhausting place to be, and yet none of the Diarists...appear to view it as anything but a fact of life. It is clearly less terrifying than the alternative, which is to not be on anyone’s." (italics added)

Ah-ha! There's the crux of it. Desperation. Millions of single daters have sold out on their ideals because they believe the alternative is to be alone, and that prospect is intolerable. They would rather have relationships that are unsatisfying at best and damaging, degrading, or depressing at worst than be single.

Let's clear up some cultural myths that seem to have resulted in a mass Millennial delusion: One, if you feel like your love life has forced you into a game of relationship poker that you never wanted to play, you should know that you can put the cards down. You can opt out. There will be people who will tell you to resign yourself to the way dating has changed, that this is the way of the world. That is, in effect, what even this New York Magazine article says, right? Well, believe me, you do not have to resign yourself to anything. All you have to do is be honest with yourself about what will bring you long-term happiness and what will derail you from that and then pursue the former single-mindedly. If someone is intimating that you have to let others treat you in a way that makes you feel hurt, anxious, ashamed, angry, depressed, devalued, deceived, manipulated, disrespected, or just plain uncomfortable in order to have a shot at a more meaningful relationship, that is a lie. Anyone who expects you to feel that way as a matter of course doesn't have your interests at heart and never will.

Two, you don't have to be a swinging, cybering, cell-wielding single to find a relationship. This is Peer Pressure 2.0: Adult Version, isn't it? It's the same lie--that if you don't conform, you'll be alone and unwanted. But the truth is that you don't have to cave to be with someone great. If you don't want to play the game, there are other singles out there who don't want to play it, either, and they will admire you all the more because you share their values. It may seem like "everybody's doing it, " but the more you refuse to, the more other singles you come in contact with will feel confident in their own decisions to opt out. That's how change happens.

Third--this is the most important part--even if you don't end up in a relationship, you don't have to be alone. The only reason this disposable dating movement has so much leverage is that it's powered by the sheer terror of being single (or maybe just sexless, in which case see "No Sex for Singles"). If you're so horrified by the prospect of singleness that you'd rather agonize over whether your booty call is ignoring you because you freaked him/her out with a kissy face text, then maybe you should ask yourself why. What's better about feeling like you have to map out elaborate schemes to get someone to see you and not just your cam phone shots? Today there's more literature than ever before to verify that singles can be as happy, healthy, socially active, and professionally productive as couples, if not more so. Anyone who doubts it should spend some time reading through the Singletude archives and visiting the blogs and web sites on Singletude's blogroll. Many of these sites also have information and tips that can help you learn how to resolve common problems and make the most of your life as a single. Above all, you should know that being single doesn't mean being alone! Research shows that singles, especially single women, aren't very likely to be lonely at all.

If New York Magazine's "Sex Diary" series is representative of how single adults in the U.S. date and mate, then it does seem like our shrinking, global society has paradoxically made us both more detached from any individual and more demanding of perfection from everyone. But even if technology has enabled this line of thinking, we can step back and consciously reevaluate how we choose to interact with others. Yang bemoans the transactional nature of wireless dating, naming "a certain callousness toward the merchandise" as "an unavoidable side effect of entering a marketplace as both buyer and seller." But each one of us has the choice to put ourselves up for sale or buy what is offered. Or we can decide that some things are priceless and treat them accordingly.

What are your thoughts on this article? If you're a fan of the New York Magazine "Sex Diaries" column, what are your observations about it? Do you think the tech revolution is responsible for the way sexual behavior has evolved over the past decade? If not, what is? What are some of the positive and negative consequences that have resulted from how dating and mating trends have changed? Can you relate to Yang's characterization of the current dating scene as a fast-paced, competitive world of superficial relationships, or has your experience with dating been different? Do you think the rise of the casual dating culture has generally made singles happier or unhappier? If the latter, why do you think so many singles continue to participate in it?

Fun Link of the Day

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