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.


Wag the Dog said...

For next week, a response to this week's Singleschmucker:
Diane Sorvino on the greatest threat to marriage -- illprepared heterosexuals
See also Salon commentary.

Clever Elsie said...

Wag the Dog: Thanks for the great find! You'll see the article and video summarized in this week's "Singles in the News."