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.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Singles in the News: 11/29/09-12/5/09

This was another big week for international news. Of 21 articles covered, half were from international papers or other sources.


"Internet Dating Sites Recommended for Women 'Looking for Love'"
By Tony Panaccio
Maryville Daily Times
Summary: Is this for real? Satch U. Ejike, PhD, author of Find a Good Man and Keep Him is asked for his advice to single women seeking partners, and all he has to say is go to "Internet dating sites, choose your site wisely and take advantage of the 'chat' features"? You've gotta be kidding me. He needed a doctorate to write that?

Singleschmucker Award
"Naija Babes with Big Stomach"
By Jermoe Yaovi
Summary: A shockingly misogynistic rant against Nigerian single females who don't fit the Barbie doll standard of beauty, ostensibly written by a matchmaker. From the article: "...No man will go for something that is as shapeless as a toad and be proud to make introduction of her to friends, not to talk of be[ing] seen with her, except her father is very, very rich, and he is sure of getting his bank account filled with dollars and pounds; courtesy of his Ms. Toad." He then presents six other men who are just as crude as he is to back him up. While obesity isn't the healthiest condition and some people are not attracted to rounder figures, to suggest that overweight singles are not attractive to anyone and, worse, are second-class humans unworthy of love is wrong on so many levels and completely untrue. To make matters worse, the article is directed only at single ladies. Apparently, the author believes women should be physically perfect, but men should get a free pass. Disgusting and worthy of a Singleschmucker.

"Villas Remain Crowded a Year After Deadly Blaze"
By Praveen Menon
The National
Summary: In Dubai, single male laborers "live in cramped rooms and overcrowded villas to save on accommodation costs" even though their residential situation poses a fire hazard.


"Andy Murray Gets Over Break-up Heartache by Buying a New Ironing Board"
By Emily Nash and Greig Box Turnbull
The Daily Mirror
Summary: I'm not sure why this tabloid article in particular made Google Alerts. It's very brief, and tons of dirt on celebrity break-ups is published every day. This angle is typical, though. Notice how the British tennis star, who just ended a four-year relationship, is said to be coping with "heartache," "cut[ting] a sad figure," and "stocking up on bachelor essentials." He couldn't possibly just need a new ironing board. It must be that he's purchasing one to assuage a broken heart.

"Salvation Army Open 6.8m Southampton Hostel"
By Peter Law
Southern Daily Echo
Summary: Profiling a high-tech single men's homeless shelter and its residents in Great Britain.


"Iraqi Refugees: Women on the Margins"
Summary: Iraqi "widows and single women without the support and protection of male relatives face substantial psychological and physical risk." A community has fled to Syria, where some single women say they have been overwhelmed by prejudice, suspicion, and re-victimization. In many cases, they can't acquire work or visas. The United Nations has requested that neighboring countries open their doors to these women, but only a third have been successfully resettled, and even those locations often lack the treatment facilities that these traumatized individuals need. Just as disturbingly, some single mothers are now pushing their young daughters into early marriages or prostitution to earn income for the family.

"Labour's Katherine Rake Is Wrong: It Takes Two to Mend a Broken Society"
By Jill Kirby
The Daily Telegraph
Summary: The journalist knocks Dr. Katherine Rake of England's Family and Parenting Institute for saying that "the nuclear family is an outdated institution, being replaced by new models of family life where children are brought up by an assortment of relatives and other adults." Kirby calls marriage "the best institution there is for keeping families together" and wants to see more tax breaks for married couples to support stay-at-home moms. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs about how best to raise children. Research shows that the more loving adults kids have committed to their well-being, the better they fare. Sometimes those adults are married parents, but sometimes they're grandparents, grown siblings, or aunts and uncles...and sometimes they're unmarried parents. Adults who are responsible for children need some financial help, period. Married parents should not be additionally rewarded at everyone else's expense just because they're married.

"The Real Threat to Marriage?"
By Tracy Clark-Flory
Summary: In this article, contributed by blogger Wag the Dog, Salon comments on an impassioned address of the New York State Assembly by Senator Diane Savino, included here in a YouTube clip. The article basically just sums up Savino's argument in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in New York. In other words, watch the video for the full story. Savino may be guilty of overvaluing relationships somewhat--she seems to think everyone should aspire to them--but what will really interest Singletude readers is her condemnation of matrimania, starting around the 5 min., 30 sec. mark. She doesn't call it "matrimania," but that's exactly what she's describing. Unfortunately, in this case, she uses heterosexual matrimania to justify why all those legal perks of marriage should be extended to another select group of people instead of questioning why anyone should get a bunch of legal perks for a personal decision.

"Rrrowl! Beware Cougar's Young Niece, the Cheetah"
By Spencer Morgan
The New York Observer
Summary: More drivel shaming single female "predators" for answering the call of the wild with younger men...even when the partners are five years apart and both in their twenties. If you thought you'd seen the worst of it with the "Naija Babes" article above, wake up and smell the singlism--it's alive and well in the so-called first world, too. What's worse, this is sexist singlism, in which the single ladies are held to a different standard than the single men. According to Morgan, "cheetahs" are single "women past the first flush of youth wanting to date or at least f*** 'above their station.'" This lone "hunter" is attractive to no one but the man too drunk to care who he sleeps with and has to wonder if "'her p***y's still good enough to keep him'" even. Furthermore, "she hopes that her victim will find something in her searching eyes when he rolls over the next morning, and will try to subtly guilt him into another round next time they meet." In case you need one, here's a translation: Single women beyond their mid-twenties are no longer sexy or attractive. They are unworthy of male attention from any decent guys, and they know it, so they desperately throw themselves at single males who have no right or responsibility to refuse if they're not interested and "victimize" them. Occasionally, these single gals might actually enjoy the sex or feel a deeper connection with a man and want to see him again. How dare they! They should bow down and repeat this a hundred times: "We're not worthy!" Shame on Spencer Morgan, and shame on The New York Observer for publishing this sexist nonsense. They've lost my respect and, as the comments indicate, the respect of a lot of other readers, as well. If not for the "Naija Babes" piece, this would be the Singleschmucker.

"Suddenly Jobless? Go on a Date! For Half of Single Americans, Recession Having No Impact on Dating Attitudes, According to People Media's DatingData Poll"
Business Wire
Summary: A poll of over 27,000 singles claims that 51% believe the recession has had no effect on their dating lives. But over a quarter said they "would not date anyone who is unemployed," and 17% "would be less motivated to date." Single women were more likely to reject a date based on unemployment (37%) than were single men (11%). The caveat is that this poll was conducted through online dating sites, so naturally it's biased toward a population that is interested in dating.


"All Men Watch Porn, and It Is Not Bad for Them: Study"
By Michel Viatteau
Summary: A study by Simon Louis Lajeunesse of Montreal University finds that pornography use is ubiquitous among college-age males, that it doesn't provoke deviant sexual behavior, and, of interest to us, that singles watch more often than men in relationships. On average, single men watched porn three times a week for 42 minutes each time, while attached men watched 1.7 times a week for 27 minutes each time. The small sample size and selection bias toward men who were willing to reveal intimate details may have some bearing on the validity of these results. However, the only thing that shocks me is that guys can find two hours a week to waste watching videos. But, then, these are college kids we're talking about.

"Councilwoman Works to Get Help for Homeless Single Women in Mesa"
By Jim Walsh
The Arizona Republic
Summary: Mesa, AZ is proud of all the help it offers to disadvantaged groups. There's just one at-risk segment of the population whose needs are not addressed. Can you guess which one it is? That's right--single women. A member of the city council is working to redress the inequity.

"Food Bank Shelves Running Low"
By Donal O'Connor
The Beacon Herald
Summary: The Salvation Army of Ontario, Canada reports food shortages as more singles and unmarried couples arrive at its doors.

"St. Vincent de Paul"
By Lauren Fielding
The Pembroke Daily Observer
Summary: A Canadian soup kitchen which serves mostly single people seeks donations and volunteers.


"How to Tell If a Woman Fancies You: Look at Her Feet"
By Murray Wardrop
The Daily Telegraph
Summary: A study out of the University of Manchester in England has found that the best clue to how a single woman feels may be her feet. Apparently, women are more unguarded and expressive with their feet than with any other body part, so single men on the hunt should keep their heads down. According to Geoff Beattie, who headed the study, women hold their feet in a more open stance to signal attraction and cross their legs or tuck them under to signal disinterest. Unfortunately for women, men don't play footsie to display the same telltale signs of attraction. However, when nervous, men increase foot movements while women decrease them, and when trying to deceive, both sexes hold their feet still. The study also showed that women judge their dates quite stringently on footwear, so if you're going out, dress to impress, guys. That said, you should be aware that not everyone's body language is so uniform. For instance, I know that I cross my legs almost all the time, no matter how I feel, and swing my foot often when nervous. Also, I don't think I've ever noticed a guy's shoes on a first date. It's just not that important to me.

"Young Women Juggle Motherhood, College"
By Faiza Elmasry
Voice of America
Summary: An interview with Sherrill Mosee, author of Professor, May I Bring My Baby to Class?, discusses how hard it is for single mothers to obtain college degrees. Mosee's Family Care Solutions is "a non-profit group that helps low-income single women pay for childcare so they can attend school." Several single moms chime in with their own educational success stories. One hopes Family Care Solutions teaches proper use of birth control, too. Mosee mentions that she comes from three generations of young, single moms and acknowledges that many families continue a "'cycle of teen pregnancy.'" I'm all for supporting single mothers, but there's something to be said for personal responsibility, too, especially when you grow up with examples of what not to do.


"For Singles, Job Losses Hit Twice as Hard"
By Jason M. Breslow
PBS Newshour
Summary: According to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, from the beginning of the recession through the first half of 2009, employment fell 5-7% among single adults but only 2.6% among married individuals. The current unemployment rate for singles is 13.1%, more than double the rate for marrieds, which is just 6.3%. Economists attribute the difference to three factors. For one, married workers are more likely to be older and, thus, more experienced. For another, marrieds tend to be better educated that singles, which makes them more attractive to employers. And, finally, the researchers contend that married job hunters may be more willing to take jobs that singles wouldn't touch, though I'm not sure what evidence they have of that. Singlism is not mentioned as a factor. Thankfully, Howard J. Wall, a vice president at the Federal Reserve, sums it up by saying, "'The last thing I'd want to do is to advise someone to go get married in order to have a better chance at a job. It's just not worth it.'"


"Defying the Fear of Growing Old"
By Wnagui Thuo
The Standard
Summary: Proving that youth worship isn't just manufactured by the Western media, this Kenyan paper interviewed twenty-, thirty-, and forty-somethings about their age-related worries. Interestingly, of the five interview subjects, four are single. While all of the single folks talk about marriage as a long-term goal, the one married subject seems to have a less rosy view of coupled life, complaining that "her days are busy with meeting expectations from everyone around her," and she advises other married people to take time for themselves. The article concludes with a quote from a very sensible single man, who wonders, "Why is being married such a badge of honour? Even at the office, single men cannot apply for managerial positions. Yet marriage doesn't make you smarter." Of course, he's right, and Singletude hopes that articles like this will help reverse such blatantly discriminatory practices in such countries as Kenya.

Singles With Singletude Award
"Never Married, Over 40, Well-adjusted"
By Kathleen Doheny
Summary: Three cheers for this article about a study called "The Role of Psychological Resources in the Affective Well-being of Never-married Adults" by Dr. Jamila Bookwala of Lafayette College and Dr. Erin Fekete of the University of Miami! The researchers compared 105 individuals who had always been single to 1,486 marrieds, noting that it was important to study the never-married as a distinct group from the widowed, divorced, and separated. Although they found that singles reported "lower levels of overall emotional well-being" and "fewer social resources," they scored about the same as marrieds on "psychological resources," a category that measures how well people cope with stressful situations. More importantly, the better singles scored on psychological resources, the better they scored on emotional well-being, and singles who scored the highest on these two measures surpassed their married counterparts. Quite admirably, neither the study authors nor anyone else interviewed for the article tries to confuse this correlation with causation. Bookwala acknowledges that it's just as likely that people with rich psychological resources don't marry as it is that long-term singleness stimulates the development of psychological resources. Taking it a step further, one commentator hypothesizes that very self-sufficient, independent-minded people might actually be more unhappy in marriage and should avoid it. It isn't yet possible for lay people to access this study, so I can't comment on any possible confounds. Certainly I'd like to see how "overall emotional well-being" and "social resources" were measured. However, kudos again to the researchers and the reporter for highlighting the positive findings about singles rather than dwelling on the negatives. As Bookwala says, "We find our study debunks that myth of something being wrong with the never-married individual." An easy pick for this week's Singles With Singletude Award.

"Regions Hospital Postpones $36 Million Mental Health Project"
By John Kroman
Summary: A Minnesota hospital can no longer afford to construct a new mental health facility due to state cutbacks on aid to the General Assistance Medical Care program, which largely benefited single adults.

"Singles Group Makes History with First 'Cougar Cruise'"
By Nick Valencia
Summary: Remember the cougar flight? Well, now it's a cougar cruise. Ho hum.

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

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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.


Special K said...

Oh, Wow Yaovi's article seems more like shock journalism to me than a realy representation of a cultural many people are out there just to get noticed. and some choose to do it by expressing crappy ideals. US women don't take these messages seriously? Sadly, we do! Isn't that the real victimization?

Clever Elsie said...

Special K: Honestly, I don't know whether the author of that piece was aiming to shock or truly believes what he said. It's quite possible that he really believes it. While researching articles for "Singles in the News," I've repeatedly found that the media in developing countries, especially on the African continent, still espouses these singlist and sexist values. Whether the article was tongue in cheek or not, the paper that published it is a respected news source in Nigeria, their equivalent of a New York Times or Wall Street Journal, which gives the article a weight and seriousness that I think it shouldn't have.