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.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Singles in the News: 12/13/09-12/19/09

Okay, this is the last "Singles in the News" that I've completed. I'm taking tomorrow off for the holiday, and then we'll see about starting up again, maybe in a somewhat altered form, next week. (To read more about my recent dilemma with continuing "Singles in the News," see "Who Wants a Kalorik Sunny Morning Stick Mixer and...Where Is Singletude These Days?")

After giving it some thought, I decided to cut back today by eliminating 1) articles about nothing but dating, 2) articles from the non-English-speaking world (with two notable exceptions), and 3) articles about homeless shelters, transitional houses, and food pantries that primarily serve singles. I would've preferred not to exclude any of these categories, but if I hadn't, this installment of "Singles in the News" still would be unfinished, even with the extra week I allotted for it. So how did I arrive at the decision about what to exclude? Well, it was difficult, but my reasoning is that 1) articles about dating are a dime a dozen, 2) news from the international scene is fascinating and valuable, but this is an American blog with a primarily American audience, and 3) while it's important to be aware of the plight of homeless singles, their story is repeated in different pockets throughout the country every day.

I would love to continue publishing comprehensive coverage of all the most relevant weekly stories about singles, but right now there are just too many stories for one single gal to keep up with! (Sadly, for all the increased coverage we've been getting, much of it isn't too promising, as you'll see below.) Again, if anyone is interested in helping to make "Singles in the News" possible, please let me know!


"Sexist Comments of the Week: What Is Beyonce's 'It'?"
By Amanda Hess
Washington City Paper
Summary: An interesting though belated analysis of Beyonce's hit "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" questions whether the singer objectifies herself by reducing herself and her sexuality to an "it" that can be bought with a ring. A lively reader debate is included.

"Tiger Woods: 5 Realities of Being a Mistress, How to 'Unmistress' Yourself and Exhibit Virtue with Married Men"
By Laura Trice
The Huffington Post
Summary: A self-billed "relationship expert" who seems to lack any qualifications for that title tries to discourage single women from getting embroiled with married men because, in her opinion, cheaters never change, and the "other woman" will always be "outranked." Although Singletude does not support infidelity, there is a glorification of marriage in this article that may not sit well with some readers of this blog. It also makes a lot of assumptions about what all women want out of relationships and about the outcome of all extramarital relationships. Nine times out of 10, Trice's predictions may be accurate, but it's her blanket assumptions, stated with unwarranted confidence, that are problematic. She also makes the dubious suggestion that newly single women should heal from an affair by dating a lot of men casually. How about learning to enjoy being single instead? However, she does make some interesting points about how single females should guard against biological programming to choose a partner based on material or physical safety concerns and should instead focus on emotional well-being.


"Although Most Unmarried Young Adults Want to Avoid Pregnancy, Many Don't Use Contraception, Know Little About It, and Think It Doesnt Make Much Difference"
Summary: In a survey of 1,800 single adults ages 18-29, 94% of men and 86% of women said that pregnancies should be planned, and 86% of men and 88% of women said that they wanted to avoid pregnancy at present. However, only half confirmed that they regularly use contraception when sexually active. In addition, 42% of men and 29% of women agreed that there was a chance they'd have unprotected sex in the next three months, and 38% of men and 44% of women endorsed this statement: "It doesn't matter whether you use birth control or not; when it is your time to get pregnant it will happen." A shocking 63% said they knew little or nothing about birth control pills, while 30% said they knew little or nothing about condoms. False beliefs about the efficacy of various methods of contraception were also fairly widespread. Half of all pregnancies in the US are unplanned, including seven out of 10 pregnancies among women in this age category.

"Home Buyers Likely to Buy Foreclosed Home Are Under 55 and Single, Report Says"
By Paul Ivice
Summary: A real estate web site survey finds that those most likely to take a chance on a home in foreclosure are singles under 55 who are currently renting. Interestingly, 50% of single and 40% of married respondents agreed that they were "at least somewhat likely" to purchase a foreclosure, but only 34% of divorced, separated, and widowed participants endorsed the same statement. This underlines the evidence that those who have always been single comprise a group which is uniquely different from those who have previously been married.

"I Think Cats Are Wonderful, But I Don't Want One..."
By Sathnam Sanghera
The Times
Summary: That's because the single male author is afraid to associate himself with a "mad spinster cat lady," which might lead people to question his sanity or, worse, his masculinity. Stereotypes of single women and single men, especially cat owners, abound here, and Sanghera concludes with this disgusting statement: "Surveys consistently show that owning a cat makes men more attractive to the opposite sex: it shows you have a kind, caring and sensitive side. But if there’s one thing I’ve learnt in life is [sic] that, ultimately, the cool women out there don’t want nice guys, even if they claim they do—they respond best to nonchalance and bastardry." Fantastic. Another guy promoting the mistreatment of single women under the pretense that they respond better to emotional abuse. This article is a hairsbreadth away from a Singleschmucker. But it wouldn't do to end this summary without mentioning that the article cites some interesting research on single male cat owners. Apparently, single men are more likely than single women to make a significant sacrifice in time or finances for a cat. In accordance with this devotion, they are also more likely to ditch their lovers than their beloved pets.

Singleschmucker Award
"Is Tiger a Representative for Us?"
By Dr. Wendy Walsh
Summary: Walsh is right that married men aren't the only ones responsible for the collapse of their relationships; the single women they cheat with are to blame, as well. She's also right that the sexual revolution eventually resulted in the hook-up culture we have today. She even has some good insights into how our sex-saturated culture may pressure people to engage in sexual activity more often than they might otherwise. But she seems to wish unmarried women were still stigmatized for expressing their sexuality and clearly believes that children of single parents can't possibly grow up to have healthy relationships of their own. Her last, highly pejorative line is: "And single women will truly become like the men they wish to emulate when they learn to keep it in their pants and act like gentlemen!" Single women don't want to be men; we want to be treated like people, with the same rights that everyone else has, including the right to decide for ourselves how to conduct our sex lives. Typical smug married. Here, have a Singleschmucker.

"Single Ladies Lament"
By Starshine Roshell
Santa Barbara Independent
Summary: Another smug married vies for the Singleschmucker and almost scores! The columnist pities her "deserving single friends with no one to spoon on frigid nights." I guess Roshell has never heard of heaters, blankets, and pets. In any case, she marvels at the cruel world that has "blessed" her "with a guy who turns me on and tolerates my considerable freakiness when so many of my hotter, younger, and far nicer friends are still solo-and-searching." Then she bemoans all the single men who either don't want to date her single female friends of a certain age or are cheap dates who want to use them for sex. Hmmm...Wonder how Roshell would feel if one of her single friends wrote a piece about how much sympathy she has for Roshell now that she's locked up in her home every night with the same person and has to organize her life around him. What a pity she's going to miss out on all those nights out with the girls, not to mention all that creative solitude that every writer craves!


"Art, Power and Single Women in Pakistan"
By H.M. Naqvi
Summary: This is the first "notable exception" to my temporary exclusion of news from outside English-speaking territories. It's a report on the art scene in Pakistan and the surprisingly dominant role that single women now fill as its primary dealers and curators. The story was far too interesting to ignore.

ESPN Reporter Erin Andrews Calls for More Awareness After Peephole Taping by 'Sexual Predator'"
Summary: An ESPN reporter victimized by a peeping Tom who plastered the Internet with footage of her in a hotel room uses her notorious experience as a platform to make people aware of the dangers single women face when traveling alone.

"Heritage Building to Fall for New Highrise"
By Tiffany Crawford
Vancouver Sun
Summary: Plans for a new apartment building in Vancouver, Canada are meeting with strong opposition. Residents would've preferred "a gay and lesbian centre" or a "petting zoo" but put their collective foot down at a high-rise with "mostly units for single people." Animal welfare? LGBT rights? Yea! Singles? Nay!

"Is John Mayer the New 'Lonely Guy' Celeb?"
By Niki Payne
Summary: John Mayer has stated publicly that he's taking a break from dating, but this rather disappointing piece frames it as just one stop on the road to re-coupling.

"Power Disconnected for Flouting Housing Rules"
By Afkar Abdullah
Khaleej Times
Summary: This is the second "notable exception" from the international media because it was way too eye-popping not to get a mention. According to the article, Dubai, the port city in the United Arab Emirates famous for its material extravagance and embrace of things Western, can't seem to embrace the idea of equality; it relegates singles to a separate residential district apart from married couples and families. Now the municipal government is fining landlords and cutting off utilities to single people who live in the "wrong district" or in unisex housing. And we think we have it bad here in the US!

"Tax Reform Means Working Moms Do Less Housework"
By Belinda Luscombe
Summary: Proving that you really can't do it all, single moms enticed to return to work by the Earned Income Tax Credit are sacrificing housework instead, shows a meta-analysis of studies from 1975 to 2004 by the National Bureau of Economic Research. For every hour worked outside the home, time spent on housework decreased 47 minutes.

"'Upper Class' Housing Plan"
By Kelly Yates
Summary: Another plan to build affordable housing units with single people in mind, this time in Australia, meets with public disapproval. One resident even says she "'was devastated when I heard the news.'" The private development, she contends, is "'too close to residential houses and families.'" Oh, yes, single people mowing their lawns, walking their dogs, and getting their mail in plain sight of all those families! What is the world coming to?


"Phoenix Books Acquires 'The Single Man's Guide to Cooking with Beer'"
PR Newswire
Summary: You have to love author Streeter McClure. In one of the coolest variations on the solo chef theme in recent memory, The Single Man's Guide to Cooking with Beer "aims to help single men incorporate beer into delicious dishes in the same way chefs use wine." Thirty-four "original and adapted recipes for appetizers, soups, stews and main courses" are included. Singletude is thrilled to see a practical book for single men that isn't focused on the pick-up scene and that helps to dispel myths by acknowledging that single men use the kitchen, too. Part of the proceeds from the book will be donated to breast cancer research in honor of McClure's late mother.


"Five Sexual Partners? You've Blown Your Chance with Matthew Morrison"
By Andy Wright
SF Weekly
Summary: Actor Matthew Morrison has standards, ladies. He won't date you if you've slept with more than four men. As Wright correctly notes, that really narrows the pool of single women available to Morrison...or at least the pool of single women willing to be truthful in the face of his prejudice. Furthermore, he's touting ye olde double standard if he's had more than four partners himself, which, the article notes, no one has ever asked him about. While there's nothing wrong with holding out for someone who shares your sexual mores, it's a problem when you expect someone to "save him-/herself" for you when you haven't done the same. And how much do you want to bet Morrison is hoping the next woman he dates will make him her number five? If he resents dating women who've slept with other men, then he shouldn't expect the women he dates to sleep with him, either.

Singles With Singletude Award
"Let Them Watch Cake: The Class Problem With Kids-Only Broadcast TV"
By Linda Holmes
Summary: Finally, someone who gets it! In response to a recent suggestion that all broadcast television should be kid-friendly, Holmes says, "This is the 'every hour is the family hour' argument. Never mind that by 2010, more than two-thirds of households will be single people and couples without children at home....Wouldn't this create a giant class divide where, whether you have children or not, access to good television designed for adults is a privilege of wealth?....Why doesn't it make just as much sense to say that if you're in the minority of households where there are kids, and you want programming that's screened for them, you get it from a channel like Nickelodeon or Disney?" Thank you, Linda Holmes, for sticking up for the rights of single and child-free adults to not have to order our lives around families! This is, as Holmes correctly notes, not a nation in which couples with young children predominate. While public television should continue to provide quality programming for kids, adults deserve to have access to shows they can enjoy, as well. Parents need to accept their share of the responsibility for protecting kids from content they don't want them to see. Single adults shouldn't have to sacrifice their quality of life any more than they already do to accommodate families.

"Poll: U.S. Evenly Divided on Same-sex Marriage"
By Joel Connelly
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Summary: A poll by Angus Reid breaks down supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage by marital status. Interestingly, whether or not you wear a wedding band predicts which camp you'll fall into. On the "yes" to gay marriage side are 56% of the always single, 65% of cohabitors, and 51% of widows and widowers. On the "no" side are 66% of the married, 66% of the separated, and 62% of the divorced. Can it be any clearer that the married majority (including, in this case, separated and divorced people, who may still be reaping benefits from ex-partners) want to hang on to their exclusive legal and financial privileges? I can't see what else this could be about since it is so clearly the people who are benefiting from the system who want to keep others out. And they say marriage makes you more generous! So much for that myth!

"Senate Plan to Tax Health Plans Is Bad Policy"
By Jim Hoffa and Larry Cohen
The Hill
Summary: This editorial examines one of the more troubling aspects of the Senate's health care bill, which will tax employers who provide more expensive health plans to their employees instead of taxing the upper class uniformly, as the House bill did. The problem is that 20% of employers participate with these so-called expensive plans, and in a recent survey by Mercer Consulting, 87% of them said they would circumvent the legislation by cutting benefits, while 86% said they would make their employees pony up more for their premiums. So why does this interest us? Based on one popular plan used by federal workers, the Blue Cross/Blue Shield standard plan, the journalists calculated, "Single people in the plan will get hit right away. They will pay an average of about $1,600 more per year for 10 years. Families will get hit in the third year, paying an average of about $2,000 more per year for 10 years. It gets worse. By 2022, the family plan is projected to cost $5,500 in taxes per worker, while single people could pay as much as $3,500 per worker." Never mind that this legislation is setting up workers to bite the bullet for their employers; look at how singles will, once again, be subsidizing families! Why should two or more people pay just 25-57% more than a single person? Shouldn't they be paying at least double what the single person pays since the family comprises at least two adults?

"Survey Says, Older Women Want Friends Over Men"
By Jane Glenn Haas
The Orange County Register
Summary: A California columnist asked her senior female readers which they'd rather have at their side, a date or the girls. About 250 single women responded, reporting that friends are more important. Unfortunately, Haas misses the opportunity to explore platonic friendships, and the article takes a detour into dating advice, interviewing Tom Blake, author of How 50 Couples Found Love After 50. It does nothing to inspire confidence that Blake has been married three times and met his current live-in love when he was "'between relationships.'" When Haas asks him point-blank why singles should try to be un-single in the first place, he says, "'Loneliness is really, really difficult for a lot of people.'" And yet we know that singles, especially single women, are not that lonely at all! Then, bizarrely for a dating guru, Blake says, "'It's tough but I wouldn't recommend too many [single men] to go out with. They are jerks. Egotistical with no consideration or appreciation women deserve.' Of course, not all women deserve special consideration, he adds. 'Many women project a desperate feeling. Women in longtime marriages didn't take care of themselves and developed an independence mode.'" Huh? Serious Singleschmucker contender here!


"Oshawa Man Heads to Malawi to Offer Credit Union Expertise"
By Jillian Follert
Summary: In Malawi, single women aren't usually eligible for credit from big banks even though they're the ones who most desperately need it. A Canadian banker tries to help the country establish credit unions to reverse this situation.

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.


Wag the Dog said...

Holiday season article on how mainstream culture conditions us to pity those being alone for Christmas:

Alan said...

I'm not surprised to find that married couples are less likely than singles and unmarried couples to support gay marriage.

Married couples are considered part of the norm and favored, and as a result are more likely to favor the norm. If the system favors you, you support the system yes?

And if you're not favored by the system you're less likely to support it, like singles, gays, umarrieds, etc...

Which when you think about it doesn't bode well for the GOP in its present form. There are increasing numbers of alternative family types, and they're likely to support things the GOP does not...

Clever Elsie said...

Wag the Dog: I decided to take off the week of Christmas for a holiday break, so there's no "Singles in the News" for that week, but thanks for the link. I read it and thought it was a lovely meditation on the different ways one can be alone and how we shouldn't dismiss all of them as unhealthy or undesirable. That theme has been in my thoughts a lot lately, so I could really appreciate it. I hope others will check it out, too.

Alan: I think what surprised me was that the singles were so overwhelmingly in favor of broadening marriage benefits even though, with the exception of LGBT couples, most of them would not benefit from it themselves. That seems pretty selfless.

The married couples, on the other hand, wouldn't gain or lose any of their benefits by broadening the definition of marriage but were still against doing so, which implies that their motivation was simply to keep others out. That seems pretty selfish.

The contrast between the selflessness of the singles and the selfishness of the marrieds was really interesting to see, especially since singles are usually the ones who get a bad rap for being "selfish."