This week's "Singles in the News" finds our single British cousins and our unmarried friends in emerging nations a focus of many headlines. Also, after a notable absence last week, the singlism is back in full force, unfortunately. Read on and see for yourself!
Plus, if you're a single woman, this is your last chance to buy a discounted online ticket for tomorrow's final event in the "Live the Life You Love" discussion panel series sponsored by SingleEdition.com and Spark Networks. Topics covered during the evening will be cooking, entertaining, career, and love, followed by free makeovers and personal shoppers for all! I'll be there myself and hope to see you all!
"The Rise of the Gay Dad"
By Rebecca Seal
Summary: The title says "dad," not "dads," but of the six British men profiled, only one is single. The others adopted with their partners. So, are we supposed to believe that only one-sixth of gay men in the U.K. are single? Really? The one single man interviewed talks about the discrimination he faced as well as about how his friends and family pitched in to help with his new son.
By Gasebalwe Seretse
Summary: This account of marital customs in Botswana is mostly devoted to the history of arranged marriages, dowries, and initiation rituals, but it also briefly alludes to how singles were traditionally treated as a kind of underclass. No word as to whether the singlism is disappearing along with the "bride-prices."
"Singles Market--Market Assessment"
Summary: A press release from a British marketing firm is evidence that the state of singlehood in Great Britain parallels the American experience. As of 2007, 29% of homes in the U.K. were headed by singles, and more than half said they liked it that way; they intend to remain unattached. Some other interesting finds: Respondents said freedom was the best thing about being single, while loneliness was the worst. Singles were more likely than couples to participate in activities outside the home but--shocker--were less likely to be well-off financially, as seen in lower rates of homeownership, credit extension, and charitable donation. They preferred to go on vacation with family and friends than to go it alone.
"Dating and the Single Parent: What to Do, Not Do"
By Amelia Santaniello and Frank Vascellaro
Summary: A Minnesota Meet-up group for single parents inspires an interview with several members plus a professor of family social science, who cautions parents to go slow when introducing their dates to the kids.
"Housing Aid: End of a Lifeline"
By Kevin Duchschere
Summary: Budget cuts to state-funded programs for Minnesota's low-income residents will leave singles particularly vulnerable to losing their homes.
"Kesari's 'My Fair Lady' to Offer Inbound Tour Packages"
By Anita Jain
Summary: An Indian tour operator is set to launch My Fair Lady, a division that will cater to single women traveling to India alone.
"Chop from the Top"
By Rebecca Bowe
San Francisco Bay Guardian
Summary: Just as a large California hospital undergoes renovation, it lays off or demotes 500 of its lower-income employees. Most of them are--you guessed it--single women. Some are wondering why the bulkier salaries at the top weren't the first to feel the bite.
"Classes Teach Women in N.J. About Home Repair"
By Mary Calvi
Summary: Bonim Builders in New Jersey is the latest to jump on the handywoman bandwagon, offering home repair instruction to single women.
"Ibaraki Turns Matchmaker to Curb Population Decline"
By David McNeill and Chie Matsumoto
The Japan Times
Summary: In Japan, "as millions shun marriage and delay parenthood, local governments are turning matchmaker to the nation's lonely hearts." Yes, this is for real. One province is actually operating its own introduction agency, and no, it's not a public service. Members have to shell out big bucks just like they would for a private matchmaker. So far, the success rate is slightly higher than 10%. Particularly at risk of permanent singlehood (horror of horrors) are the eldest sons in farming communities, but marriage is down in all demographics. Now the government is worried that its citizens may not be replacing themselves fast enough. Of course, hand in hand with this are new laws rewarding pregnant women at the expense of the child-free.
"Single Living Is Wave of the Present"
By Carol Morello and Dan Keating
The Washington Post
Summary: Washington, DC is claiming itself as "the nation's mecca for singles" based on U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey findings that up to 30% (more than one in four) DCers live alone. Demographics responsible for the trend are analyzed, honing in on seniors and young adults. "Others said the phenomenon owes more to changes in society, with diminished stigma attached to living alone, either temporarily or for a lifetime."
"Call to Award Malay Assemblymen Who Increase 'Quota' of Wives by Wedding Single Mothers"
Breaking News 24/7
Summary: Good grief. Wan Ubaidah Omar, chair of the Women, Family and Health Committee for the Malaysian state of Kelantan wants to solve "the problem of single mothers" by encouraging assemblymen to marry them. Apparently, many of these single moms have trouble applying for welfare because their husbands won't officially divorce them. Wouldn't it be a more reasonable solution to facilitate their access to benefits instead of to husbands?
"Married Men Make Healthier Choices Than Their Single Comrades"
Summary: Just when you think we're making progress, a press release like this comes along and slaps you upside the head. As you might have guessed, the study reported here did not show any such thing. What it did show was that 55% of married men had had physicals in the past year as opposed to 35% of single men and that 88% of married men had insurance coverage as opposed to 69% of single men. It rightly goes on to hypothesize that more married men had check-ups because they were more likely to have insurance. Pardon the Simpsonism, but doh! If our insurance system favors married men, the answer is to counteract the favoritism, not round up the (huge) minority who don't fit into the dominant social mold and make them fit, dammit. There are other reasons why single men might not be flocking to the doctor. One is that single men tend to be younger men, and younger men tend to healthier. But the researchers didn't even consider that possibility. Instead, they conclude that "'having a spouse to confer with could also help men make the decision to seek out medical care'" even though the survey apparently didn't even ask participants if that was the case. The poll also questioned men about their health concerns, but notice that these findings didn't rate a mention in the headline. No, that was reserved for speculative fiction about the benefits of marriage presented in a shiny, fact-lite package. Ladies and gents, meet the Singleschmucker of the week!
"Medicaid: The OTHER Public Option"
By Karen Tumulty
Summary: This is one of those reports with an insidious singlism that you might not notice before a second or third read. The journalist analyzes the House's new health care bill and concludes that the government is going to be hard-pressed to cover and find doctors for millions more under Medicaid. What she doesn't say outright, couching her criticism with references to a hyopthetical "family of four," is that the people who really stand to benefit from Nancy Pelosi's bill are singles. The reader has to connect the dots to understand her real message: "Single adults are generally excluded from Medicaid if they do not also fit one of these other categories [previously defined as elderly, disabled, or pregnant]," she acknowledges, then starts a new paragraph and complains, "There are reasons to worry about the implications of putting millions of new people on the medicaid rolls." Then she makes a case for why it's not tenable to cover these "new people." But they're not just any people, are they? Oh, that's right. They're single adults. Tumulty seems to want to distance herself from the reality of what she's advocating--leaving a whole demographic out in the cold while everyone else is admitted to the hallowed halls of medical care.
By Charlie Smith
Summary: A neighborhood in Vancouver, Canada is abuzz because of zoning plans designed to accommodate singles. "'Where are the children and the families in this plan?'" asks one angry resident, a one-time government official unable to believe that, for once, her demographic wasn't given top priority. The "former assistant deputy minister in the B.C. government, said that residents value a fully integrated community, and not a 'single demographic ghetto.'" Aren't you glad she's a former assistant deputy minister?
"Poll: Half of Manhattan Residents Live Alone"
By Chuck Bennett
New York Post
Summary: New York, NY has one of the highest populations of single adults in the nation, as proven by the most recent American Community Survey. Bennett identifies the reasons why NYC is such a singles mecca and interviews a single man and a single woman, both of whom have different perspectives on the solo life. I had to raise an eyebrow, however, at Bennett's statement that "many of these women are lonely hearts." What exactly would make him think that? The American Community Survey didn't ask participants to rate their loneliness.
Singles With Singletude Award
"Prevention Is Better Than Cure"
By Mariam Mokhtar
The Malaysian Insider
Summary: A Malaysian writer lashes out at the recent proposal that politicians receive compensation to enter into polygamous marriages with single mothers. "So now women, single mothers in particular, should be viewed as a product or commodity—like a prized car—or maybe in rural areas, the prized cow," says Mokhtar. [Wan Ubaidah Omar's] intention to ease the plight of single mothers is good and genuine. However, she is deluded in thinking that they can be treated as mere trophies...Her statement has only reinforced harmful attitudes towards women. It is also discriminatory, degrading and objectionable...A marriage of convenience...will have no solid foundation based on mutual respect, trust and communication." The solution, according to Mokhtar, is to revise laws that disempower women when their husbands divorce or abandon them. She also decries the dominant religion's tolerant, even encouraging attitude toward spousal abuse, then calls for a sea change in the way boys are raised and in how couples are taught relationship skills. Moreover, she argues that husbands who abuse their wives need to face real penalties and that laws which discriminate against women must be repealed. One wishes she would go a step further and advocate for improved access to welfare benefits, education, and job opportunities for newly single women, but the perfect shouldn't be the enemy of the good. Mokhtar's opinion piece is this week's winner of the Singles With Singletude Award.
"Revealed--Britain's Fashion Spending Patterns"
Summary: That's it. I never want to hear another word about "selfish single women" wasting all their money on shoes and bags. A study out of the U.K. reveals the startling fact that married men are the biggest spenders on apparel, at least in Great Britain. Single women ranked a distant second, followed closely by married women, while single men brought up the rear.
"Safe House Is Nominated for a Deserved Award"
By Emma Preston
North-West Evening Mail
Summary: A shelter for single young adults in the U.K. wins local recognition.
"Single and Unavailable"
By Sawsan Kazak
Summary: In the deeply conservative Middle East, one journalist has the guts to question the couple-centric culture and finds it lacking in respect for individual differences: "This social mold does not fit all people uniformly...However, single people seem to be defending their choices constantly." After pointing out the overt and covert forms of singlism, Kazak says, "I think we should turn the table on all the committed people. Ask them why they are married, why did they choose to have children so early. And don't forget to give them a look of pity when they answer your questions. Advise them that life is too short and they made the wrong decisions." The only thing wrong with this op-ed is that it's not longer! A runner-up for the Singles With Singletude Award.
"Witch Hunts: Fear of Women's Uncanny Power"
By Dr. Wendy Walsh
Summary: This Halloween weekend is occasion to remember the witch hunts that singled out thousands of women for slaughter just because they were unmarried and lived alone. Not only were irrational fear and intolerance to blame but greed--the law of the day specified that upon the death of a single, child-free woman, her estate would become either the property of its previous owner or, better yet, public property.
"Daddies Be Damned! Who Are the British Women Who Think Fathers Are Irrelevant?"
By Barbara Davies
Summary: Reminding us why we fought so hard for independence from England are laws like the one that forbade single women to undergo IVF unless they could "demonstrate that their sperm donor baby [would] have a father figure." This law was only repealed this month. However, single women still must prove that other adults will be involved in parenting. This article discusses the implications of the policy change in a fair and balanced way and profiles one single woman who chose IVF. Of course there are critics, but this is an overwhelmingly positive article about the choice to be an intentionally single mom. There's only one sour note, and it comes at the very end. Davies says, "Perhaps the truth is that, for complete fulfillment, women need both a partner and children. The most worrying question of all is why the most natural thing in the world has become so seemingly difficult to achieve, and why a generation of women have fallen foul of their dreams." This conclusion doesn't leave room for women who are also spouse-free by choice. Not everyone feels unfulfilled without a romantic partner.
"Dating Advice: More on the Love, Sex and Commitment Games Men Play"
By Debborah Cooper
Summary: Cooper counsels single women to watch out for cheaters, players, and scammers. Sound advice, but keep in mind that single men can get cheated, played, and scammed, too.
"Marriage & The Exorcist: No Difference!"
By Keith Komments
Summary: A humorous take on why single men are afraid of commitment. (Hint: It's not the commitment that strikes terror into their hearts but the break-up that might follow.)
"Unmarried Americans--Single or Coupled, Gay or Straight"
By Bella DePaulo
The Huffington Post
Summary: Bella DePaulo, noted singles researcher, interviews Nicky Grist, Executive Director of the Alternatives to Marriage Project (AtMP). Grist talks about powerful personal moments that defined her role as an advocate for the unmarried, describes her work at AtMP, and corrects some misconceptions about the organization's philosophy. Favorite quote: "Single does not mean hermit. In fact, a side effect of matrimania is that singles are often asked to be caregivers for elderly parents and other family or community members because they are assumed to have more time. There is growing recognition that an insular nuclear family model might not be the best building block for a sustainable society."
Do you have thoughts on any of the stories above? (When commenting, please reference the title of the article.)
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