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.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Singles in the News: 1/17/10-1/23/10

Perhaps due to the approach of Valentine's Day, dating, romance, and marriage were hot topics last week. Singletude is not covering as many dating stories as it once did, but I believe the following articles are newsworthy because they either report on relevant trends, contain useful information, or are woefully singlist.


"Singles Open to Interracial Relationships Because of President Obama: Poll"
PR Newswire
Summary: A joint survey from dating web sites,, and finds that 69% of single men and 75% of single women "are more open to having an interracial relationship because President Obama is African American." Also, 61.6% of single men and 80% of single women believe that prejudice against interracial couples is a thing of the past.


Singleschmucker Award
"Fix 'Marriage Penalty' in the Home Buyer Tax Credit"
By Joseph Brand
Summary: The author is right. There's a marriage penalty in the home buyer tax credit such that marrieds aren't eligible unless both qualify, whereas if two singles purchase a home together, the one who qualifies can claim the credit. But elsewhere in the legislation lies a singles penalty, and that never gets a mention. To be eligible for the credit, a married couple can earn up to $245,000 a year. But a single individual can only earn up to $145,000. This has the effect of cutting off singles once they've attained the status of upper middle class while continuing to help couples straight up into the ranks of the wealthy. That extra $100,000 that the married couple is allowed can buy a lot more house than the single person can afford. Perhaps this would be more fair if the credit was based on the number of individuals in the family unit rather than on the marital status of the home buyer. Families with children, whether headed by married or unmarried parents, are going to need more space than are singles who live alone. But it's a serious injustice to permit marital status itself to be the determining factor. Think of the travesty of a childless couple who can afford to purchase a house twice the size of that of a single mom with five kids!

"Minister Calls for Law to Force Italy's 'Big Babies' to Grow Up"
By Michael Day
The Independent
Summary: Italian singles are notorious for mooching off their doting parents well into adulthood, and now some government officials are calling for legislation that would force these singles out of the nest, although how it would work is not explained. My own thoughts on this are divided. On one hand, by our cultural standards, able-bodied adults are supposed to take care of their parents, not vice versa. On the other hand, Italian culture is not American culture, and how people choose to design their living arrangements doesn't seem like something that should be subject to governmental control in any country. Furthermore, the Italian legislators' crusade against dependent singles begs the question of whether they intend to also crack down on dependent marrieds. My guess is no. Yet how is it different for a working individual to support a spouse than it is for that person to support a grown child? If we okay one arrangement but not the other, that's discrimination. Besides, it's not true that all singles who live at home are supported by their parents. Some choose to live at home for company, convenience of location, or even to help their families. Ultimately, Singletude's position has to be that family structure is a private choice and should not be a public matter, nor should the accepted definition of family be restricted to only married couples and their minor children.

"New Economics of Marriage: The Rise of Wives"
By Richard Fry and D’Vera Cohn
Summary: Among other discoveries, the Pew Research Center finds that "married adults have made greater economic gains over the past four decades than unmarried adults." This is at least partly due to the fact that people who attain higher levels of education are both more likely to marry and more likely to earn higher incomes. Also, "for unmarried adults at each level of education, however, men's household incomes fared worse than those of women." That means that, between 1970 and 2007, single women saw their incomes grow more than did single men. However, single men still continue to earn much more on average than do single women. The median household income for a single man is still about $17,000 more per year than the median household income for a single woman. Now compare that to how single women fare against married women and watch the figure jump to an annual difference of almost $26,000! For single men and married men, the difference is less dramatic but still significant, with married men earning approximately $9,000 more per year.


"2010 Top 10 Cities for Single Women"
By Paula Santonocito
Summary: Boston, Washington, DC, and New York are the cream of the crop on this year's list. Results are based on job outlook, cost of living, transportation, social and entertainment venues, public health, ratio of singles to marrieds, ratio of single women to single men, and some intangibles such as "aesthetics, personal style, and community support."

"Nepal Court Blocks Cash Incentive for Marrying Widows"
By Gopal Sharma
Summary: Good news! Singletude is happy to announce that after months of protests, the Supreme Court of Nepal has ruled that the government may not provide dowries for single women, financially rewarding the men who marry them. Single women had feared that the new policy would encourage spousal abuse and abandonment and further undermine their efforts to be recognized as fully functioning members of society.

"When Divorced Parents Start Dating Again"
By Amy Wang
The Oregonian
Summary: This sensible article advises newly divorced parents to find other single friends rather than jump into dating relationships. And how should a divorced mom or dad introduce the kids to a new partner once she or he is ready to date again? Very S-L-O-W-L-Y. Single parents should talk about the new love interest for awhile before inviting him or her over, maintain a healthy balance between family time and time with the boyfriend or girlfriend, and skip sleepovers together when the kids are around.


"The Right Man Is Getting Harder to Find"
By Richard Whitmire
The Wall Street Journal
Summary: A discussion of the gender imbalance within the college-educated U.S. population sympathizes with single women who can't find male peers.

"Valentine's Day Traditions Around the World"
By Denise Ngo
Summary: In the U.S., V-Day is primarily a celebration of couples, and singles get ignored. However, in other countries around the world, it's an occasion for single people to celebrate with a number of highly ritualized customs. While most of these customs are overly focused on matchmaking, it's nice that they're inclusive of singles so that couples aren't the only ones having fun. Plus, they make for an interesting read.

"Why Would Anyone Get Married?"
By Edward Keenan
Eye Weekly
Summary: Studies may conclude that marriage is a raw deal for women, so why do so many single women want to get hitched? And if it's such a bonus for men, why do they avoid it like the plague? This (happily married) writer muses that it's because single men have more realistic expectations for marriage than single women do but reasons that they should get married all the same because "the world is.... better faced...with a friend and confidant and partner--a family member--at your side." Singletude can accept that it's a boon to have a loyal partner in life. But why are we so small-minded that we think it must be a sexual or romantic partner?


"A New Approach for Singles Looking for Love"
Summary: Though Singletude is not covering dating as much as previously, this new Internet dating site has a twist that's too interesting to ignore. is based on the philosophy that romance should grow out of attraction rather than vice versa. The site believes that the online prelude to a meeting puts the cart before the horse, so they send each member printed calling cards that link to the member's Internet profile, which he or she can then slip to would-be dates. If a lucky candidate returns the member's interest, he or she can look up the member and make contact.

Singles With Singletude Award
"Experts Express Doubts About BadgerCare Basic Health Insurance Proposal"
By Jake Miller
Wisconsin Rapids Tribune
Summary: In Wisconsin, a state-funded insurance program for low-income single, child-free adults is now charging premiums that some people worry are unrealistic for singles of limited means. This isn't the kind of article that would usually win a Singles With Singletude Award, but this week there really weren't any outstanding, pro-single articles. This story wins simply because it takes a critical stance toward a state government that is cutting health benefits for low-income singles, and such stories are fairly rare. Most journalists don't seem to have a problem with how single, child-free adults are excluded from the health benefits available to other groups and, in fact, tend to side with those who believe it's "unrealistic" to cover them. So this article is appreciated.

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.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Singles in the News: 1/10/10-1/16/10

In this week's "Singles in the News," China and the UK make headlines, as does US legislation that may help or harm singles.


"Sex-themed Paintings Encourage Women to Reconsider Marriage"
By Yang Yang
CRI English
Summary: Chinese artist and single female Yi Yang is making waves with an exhibit entitled "Sheng Nv--Don't Get Married and Enjoy Deceiving Men!" There are over 500,000 single women in China, and Yi thinks that "the essence of marriage for women is slavery." Her objective is to "alert single women to reconsider the meaning of marriage and contemplate what they really want from life," although she also "said she hoped all women could find their true loves in the end." Hmmm. Yi may be injecting some facetiousness into her title, but Singletude hopes she understands the difference between living single and living selfishly (i.e., remaining single with the sole purpose of stringing people along under false pretenses).

"Singles Have Multiple Concerns"
Summary: According to a three-year study of over two million participants, 41.2% of Chinese single women are concerned that they won't find suitable marriage partners. Only 8.1% of Chinese single men said the same. Perhaps the reason for the discrepancy is that 40% of the women said they had "high expectations for future husbands," yet 44% refused to "lower their standards in order to secure a groom." No word on whether the single men had equally great expectations for their potential wives. Approximately half of respondents had had less than two relationships, 40% said they didn't know what it meant to have a "successful date" and wouldn't make a "special effort" for one, and 30% said "they had no idea how to cope with the opposite sex."


"China Might Face Large Number of Single Men by 2020, Report Reveals"
Top News Singapore
By Senthil Kumar
Summary: China's Academy of Social Sciences predicts that by 2020 there will be 24 million more single men than women in China. This is, of course, posed as a problem, and for those who want to get married, it certainly is. But it seems presumptuous to assume that this will be a crisis. China is one of the most populous nations in the world and will no doubt continue to be even if 24 million of its single men don't reproduce. And this slanted coverage doesn't allow for the possibility that not all of those men will want to marry or have children. Some might even be glad not to have that responsibility.

"Healthy Holiday Camps Are the Ideal Place for Single Women to Make Friends and Lose Weight"
Summary: Here's something a little different. FitFarms, a UK weight loss camp, aims to help single women make friends and travel partners while motivating each other to get in shape.

"Women Are Especially Hard Hit by State Budget Cuts, Report Says"
By John M. Guilfoil
The Boston Globe
Summary: Women in Massachusetts, especially single moms, are suffering from "cuts in state funding to programs that provide adult education, employment training, and child care subsidies."


"Opinion: 'Sheng Nv'--Social Boon or Societal Ill?"
By Yang Yang
CRI English
Summary: In the wake of Yi Yang's controversial artwork, this Chinese news station critically examines discrimination confronting the sheng nv, translated literally (not to mention disparagingly) as "leftover woman." Yes, this is the Chinese version of "spinster," and their ranks are growing in China, just as in other industrialized nations. One wonders why, when there are all these unmarried women around, single men in China are said to be so desperate for wives. The article discusses gender stereotyping that villanizes single women while celebrating single men and takes the media to task for promoting unflattering, hurtful labels. In conclusion, the author reasons, "Suppose all women were to abandon their dreams of getting advanced academic degrees to get married, would they automatically live happy lives? So why shouldn't they live a lifestyle that they really want and wait until they meet the right person at the right time?" A runner-up for the Singles With Singletude Award.


"ET Equation Estimates Number of Potential Girlfriends"
By Michael Marshall
Short Sharp Science
Summary: Peter Backus of the University of Warwick in the UK estimates that one's statistical probability of finding a soul mate is 1:285,000 in his controversial work, "Why I Don't Have a Girlfriend: An Application of the Drake Equation to Love in the UK." This article analyzes his theory and suggests some modifications, which may increase prospects for singles who are looking for mates.

"NCL Woos Single Travelers with Epic Studios"
By Jane Archer
Summary: Singles, if you want to go on a cruise, book yours on the Norwegian Cruise Line ship Epic. They just installed over 100 new cabins for solo passengers. And guess what? No dreaded singles supplements! Let's hope this, uh, makes waves throughout the travel industry and gains momentum.

"Rise of the Swofties* (*That's Single Women Over Fifty, Who Like Clubbing, Tweeting, and Exotic Hols)"
By Liz Hull
The Daily Mail
Summary: At last we've moved on from the cougars! Meet the swofties. They're female, over 50, and single, and they like it that way. A British study of 1,000 such women reveals that 50% "are content to be alone," and only 17% are "actively dating." In keeping with their independent lifestyle, swofties also have a sense of adventure. Half of them are choosing to "learn a new skill after reaching 50, with computer courses, a foreign language, cooking and even salsa dancing among the most popular," a quarter of them are working out at the gym, one-fifth are on Facebook and Twitter, and almost one-fifth are traveling abroad. A quarter state that they are "at the happiest time of their adult lives." How nice it is to see an article about older single women that has nothing to do with how "desperate" they are for dates!


Singles With Singletude Award
"Mythbuster: Health Insurance Reform and Marriage Penalty"
American Chronicle
Summary: Last week, the Singleschmucker Award went to a report promoting the myth that the current health care bill includes a marriage penalty. As always, the pro-marriage crowd is upset when it doesn't get special privileges, and for weeks now, their supporters have been trying their hardest to convince everyone that Congress is discriminating against them. Well, finally, here is a logical, accurate counterargument that explains why a married couple would be expected to contribute more to health care than two singles individually: "Under all federal income-related assistance programs, total assistance provided to two single people is greater than the total assistance provided to a married couple for the simple fact that two people living together have lower expenses than two people living separately....[The] Republican myth also ignores all the benefits married couples get under health reform, such as allowing coverage under a spouse's plan, and more affordable rates per person under a family plan than individuals got when they were single." Thank you to the American Chronicle for refuting the pro-marriage agenda's lies and obfuscations at last!

"Programs Help Women Keep Homes"
10TV News
Summary: The Women's Fund of Central Ohio is giving financial aid to single female homeowners trying to avoid foreclosure.

Singleschmucker Award
"Same-sex Marriage Pays Off, S.F. Economist Says"
By Bob Egelko
San Francisco Chronicle
Summary: Singletude believes that all people should be treated equally in the eyes of the law. But is expanding an already discriminatory institution a step toward equality? San Francisco's chief economist, Edmund Egan, apparently doesn't care about equality. He's convinced that married people are healthier and wealthier than singles, so he thinks everyone should be married. "'Married individuals are healthier, on average, and behave in healthier ways than single individuals,'" he says. Supposedly among these "healthier ways" are "lower worker absenteeism, greater productivity, higher wages and more payroll taxes...Married people also are less likely to need health care and are more likely than single people or domestic partners to be covered by insurance...He also said lesbians and gays now use 'a disproportionately high level' of drug and alcohol treatment programs, 'and one reason is discrimination.'" The article continues, "Research showing that married people are more likely than singles to accumulate wealth suggests that allowing same-sex marriage would increase spending on consumer goods." It's true that married people do earn higher wages and, therefore, spend more and pay more taxes. But Egan fails to consider that this isn't because marriage magically makes people better workers but because employers are biased toward married employees. Egan doesn't cite any research, so I don't know how accurate his claims are regarding absenteeism and productivity, but it stands to reason that employees who hold positions with higher salaries and greater responsibility would have more motivation to show up and be more productive and more free cash to spend. Married couples also have greater access to health care because only adults in romantic relationships are permitted to give insurance benefits to each other. Whether they use their health benefits less frequently than singles is very debatable; I've never seen any research that came to that conclusion. As for the assertion that LGBTers are driven to drug and alcohol problems because of marital status discrimination, if this is true, then surely it would be a moral crime to continue rewarding married couples at the expense of singles of any sexual orientation. Yet, instead of redressing all these injustices, Egan wants to perpetuate them. Reporter Bob Egelko has the perfect platform to challenge Egan's argument but does not, making this article the winner of this week's Singleschmucker Award.

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.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Singles in the News: 1/3/10-1/9/10

Better late than never! Here is last week's "Singles in the News." This time, the spotlight was on singles in the Middle East.


"Economic Hardship Changes Marriage Trends in Jordan"
By Doron Peskin
Summary: The average age of marriage is increasing in Jordan, presumably due to rampant inflation coupled with unemployment, which makes it difficult for singles to take on the financial responsibilities of marriage.


"Austrians Say Time Together Most Important Part of Relationship"
By Lisa Chapman
Austrian Times
Summary: Austrians also say that health and financial security are more important to them than "'happiness in love'" according to a marketing poll. Although 90% of singles agree that they "want a new relationship in 2010," a mere 28% report that they "will actively seek one." "Only" 27% of Austrian singles say they are "satisfied with their lives" as opposed to 38% of coupled Austrians. However, it seems like Austrians aren't very satisfied in general; a 38% satisfaction rate doesn't do much to recommend relationships as the antidote to discontentment.

By Ariel Levy
The New Yorker
Summary: The New Yorker reviews Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert and wonders how indeed the book's author convinces herself to jump in for another round of matrimony after listing all the reasons why she believes marriage has become a meaningless institution and a losing gamble for women.


"Women with Partner, Baby Gain More Weight Than Single Women"
By Sharyn Alden
Health Behavior News Service
Summary: Yep, it's true. Getting married and giving birth are even more predictive of weight gain than a woman's level of physical activity--at least so says "Effects of Having a Baby on Weight Gain" by Dr. Wendy J. Brown, et al. But lest Singletude be guilty of the same fearmongering that matrimaniacs engage in, you should know that marriage is only associated with an increase of four pounds. However, if a woman adds a baby to her new family, the weight gain jumps by nine pounds. The researchers hypothesize that married mothers are heftier because they undergo metabolic changes during pregnancy, have less time for exercise and healthy meal prep, and may eat more to keep up their energy levels or for "'mindless ingestion of comfort food.'" It's not clear why these "happily married everafter" women would need "'comfort food.'" It's also suggested that single women may keep themselves thin just to be attractive to men, implying that married women let themselves go.


"Many Live Happily Single Today"
By David Yount
Scripps News
Summary: An excerpt from the author's book, Celebrating the Single Life: Keys to Successful Living on Your Own, sends an inspirational message to singles about self-reliance. It's research-based, too!

Singleschmucker Award
"Married Couples Pay More Than Unmarried Under Health Bill"
By Martin Vaughan
Dow Jones Newswires
Summary: This report claims that the new health care bill discriminates against married people, who will not be eligible for the same benefits as single individuals because their two incomes will be counted as one. As an example of this "injustice," Vaughan writes, "For an unmarried couple with income of $25,000 each, combined premiums would be capped at $3,076 per year, under the House bill. If the couple gets married, with a combined income of $50,000, their annual premium cap jumps to $5,160--a 'penalty' of $2,084....The disparity is slightly smaller in the Senate version..." What Vaughan doesn't seem to realize is that two single people can't combine their premiums. Unless these two singles are cohabiting and thus sharing their finances and living expenses, which most single people aren't, each person has only his or her own $25,000 income to live on. If two single people, each making $25,000 a year, get married, they are now a family unit making $50,000 a year. Their living expenses remain about the same since two can live almost as cheaply as one, and simultaneously they're taxed less, so they make out a lot better together than either of them did as a single. Now, if we compared this couple to an individual earning $50,000 a year and found that the couple's premium cap was higher, then there would be grounds to argue that married couples were getting the short end of the stick, although, to be honest, two people do use more medical services than one, so even this argument would be suspect. But it's completely misleading to compare the couple, which is a financial unit, to two singles, who are not. For once, Congress is setting a precedent that is somewhat more equitable to singles, and marrieds don't like it. They want to have their cake and eat it, too--to be considered as a financial unit when it suits them but as two separate taxpayers when it doesn't. And that attitude is deserving of a Singleschmucker.


"Bahrain's New Independence"
By Sandeep Singh Grewal
The Media Line
Summary: An increase in educational and career opportunities has bolstered a sense of independence and self-sufficiency among Bahrain's single women, who are choosing to remain unmarried in greater numbers. Nevertheless, they are still subject to social prejudice.

"Credit Card 'Default High Among Bahraini Women'"
Summary: Also in Bahrain, a study of 301 women by the Bahrain Centre for Studies and Research indicates that single women are more conservative with their credit card usage than married women are.

"One in Four Say They Will Leave a Legacy"
By Celina Ribeiro
Summary: A poll of British citizens finds, among other things, that one-third of single adults intend to donate part of their estates to charity. Only 20% of people who have ever been married plan to do the same.

"Single in the City: The Joy of Food and Chat Round My Table: Er...What Table?"
By Rym Ghazal
The National
Summary: In the United Arab Emirates, one single complains that apartments for one exclude dining rooms because it's assumed that singles don't prepare and eat meals at home.

Singles With Singletude Award
"Swamped with Singles"
By Yael Brygel
The Jerusalem Post
Summary: Like other industrialized societies, Israel's demographics are shifting as more people remain single for longer. Reasons for this are discussed. As in most other Westernized countries, the women's movement and soul mate ideals have had a significant impact. Laizy Shapira, the co-creator of Srugim, apparently a sort of Friends for the religious Israeli set, opens up about his inspiration for the show and singlism within the Jewish community, while the creators of a popular web site about the Jewish single life see prolonged singleness as a "problem" because most of the singles they meet say they'd rather be married. However, the singles interviewed here seem more concerned about how they are stigmatized than about finding marital partners. Says Shapira, "'...It shouldn't be treated as an illness. I know that there is a lot of goodwill, but a lot of the goodwill turns into questions like Why don't you compromise?....Why don't you go out with anyone that I offer you?...I think it needs to be accepted that it is part of the community and that it is not going to resolve itself.'"


"Govt Flouts SC Stay on Cash for Singless [sic]"
The Himalayan Times
Summary: Despite months of protests from single women, Nepal has announced that it has passed legislation to grant government-sponsored dowries to men who marry single females. The nation's single women have been up in arms over the controversial legislation, concerned that it will make them more vulnerable to reliance on and abuse by men. The organization Women for Human Rights will protest the law in the Supreme Court.

"More Travel Choice for Single Parent Families"
Summary: This looks interesting. Friendship Travel has launched, travel packages exclusively for single parents and their kids.

"S. Korean Bureaucrats Try Ministry of Matchmaking"
By Christine Kim and Jon Herskovitz
Summary: South Korea becomes the latest nation to meddle in its citizens' personal affairs. From the article: "The health ministry plans a matchmaking programme [sic] where it will bring single public servants together for social gatherings and community service work in the hopes of fostering love among available bureaucrats looking to wed." The government plans to expand the program to target other segments, as well.

"Top 5 Cities for Single Travel in 2010"
By Melanie Nayer
Summary: Not quite sure how they came up with this list, but the best travel destinations for single women are supposedly Key West, FL; Sedona, AZ; Paris; Galway, Ireland; and New York. Huh. Okay.


"Rebuilding Life After Fleeing Abuse"
By Cynthia Overweg
Ventura County Star
Summary: As if recovering from domestic abuse wasn't hard enough in itself, single women who leave abusive partners are finding themselves paddling as hard as they can to stay afloat in this economy. One single mom is profiled.

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.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Singles in the News: 12/27/09-1/2/10

As you know if you've been following along with Singletude, "Singles in the News" is in transition. As popular as the column has become and as important as I think it is to draw more attention to events concerning singles and the way they're portrayed in the media, there are simply too many stories for me to read and summarize them all as a free service. In one way, that's a great development because it means that singles are in the public eye more than ever before. But, sadly, it also means that I can't bring "Singles in the News" to you in the same way that I used to.

Specifically, the original goal of "Singles in the News" was to both highlight stories of interest to singles and to present a broad snapshot of how singles are characterized in the media. To accomplish the latter, I collected as many stories as I could. I will no longer be doing that. Instead, starting today, I'll be wielding a heavier editorial hand, selecting maybe 10 or so articles a week for coverage. As in the past, these reports will have to be from legitimate, unbiased news sources and not from blogs or from web sites with a stated political or religious agenda. However, I'll be tightening my criteria further to only include articles that either have some important new information to impart or that exemplify either encouragingly progressive or disturbingly regressive attitudes toward single adults. That means "Singles in the News" won't feature articles about dating unless they display a new or unusual perspective on the topic or demonstrate a markedly pro- or anti-single philosophy. You also won't see as many stories about very common problems such as homelessness or poverty among singles; these issues are simply too widespread to cover local stories unless they're standouts in some way. Speaking of "local," there will be less local news in general unless, again, the subject is distinctive or applicable in a larger way.

So, as "Singles in the News" changes in 2010, let's review some of what we learned in 2009, especially since we may no longer be able to keep up with all of these topics:

1. Homelessness and poverty are significant issues for single people. Single adults and single parents are particularly vulnerable to economic hardship even though the public tends to have more interest in and sympathy for families. Singles are more likely to struggle with inadequate food, housing, and necessities than are married couples. Fortunately, many homeless shelters and food banks are aware of this and are actively seeking to support singles. However, many of them are underfunded.

2. In some developing countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and South America, singles are still subjected to severe social and legal discrimination. Single women in particular are victimized by laws that deny them the basic rights available to single men and married women. Many single women in these nations cannot do things that we take for granted in the Western world such as owning property, receiving an inheritance, starting a business, or even accessing education, job training, and health care. In the most repressive countries, they are viewed as the chattel of men and refused free movement, speech, and choice in such defining decisions as whether or not they will marry. Thankfully, some of these single females are organizing coalitions in their own corners of the world and petitioning for reform. Slowly but surely, change is happening as third-world governments learn that these women won't be silenced.

3. In most industrialized nations, the outlook for singles is much the same as it is in the United States. Their numbers are increasing as marriage is delayed or shunned altogether, and retailers are scrambling to keep up with the trend. Singles web sites (mostly geared toward dating), singles tours and travel agents, single housing units, single servings in the supermarket, single-sized products...all are enjoying increased popularity worldwide.

4. Some journalists, politicians, researchers, religious officials, and civilian matrimaniacs have been left wringing their hands at the demographic changes sweeping the US and other nations. Singlism is alive and well, and many people are horrified that single adults are growing beyond minority status. Some of these same people make incredibly offensive remarks about singles and use fallacious research claims to back up their statements. Typically, their rhetoric is grounded in the firm belief that singleness is not normal; that marriage is preferable to singleness and confers a host of benefits such as health, happiness, sexual fulfillment, security, and personal growth; that married people should be entitled to legal, economic, and social privileges that singles do not deserve; and that married-couple households are far better for children than single-parent households.

5. Refreshingly, more and more journalists "get it." They understand that the single life has many advantages and that singleness is a legitimate, even desirable option for some. Their op-eds and how-tos validate singles and help them make the most of their single status instead of trying to convert them to happily marrieds. They also recognize that singles often get the short end of the stick and draw attention to it through honest, unbiased reporting. They sympathize with and publicize the injustices that singles face in employment, health care, housing, banking, taxation, travel, insurance, and other dimensions. Their writing increasingly advances the cause of singles who want to be treated fairly and equitably and affirms their value to the world.

Today, "Singles in the News" debuts in its new format. Feedback is welcome and appreciated. Hopefully, readers will be as enthusiastic about it now as they were about it before. If not, then perhaps I'll have to reevaluate whether to replace it with something else entirely.


"Dating and Divorce, Facebook-style"
By Eilene Zimmerman
Summary: A truly thoughtful piece about how social networks in general and Facebook specifically have transformed the contemporary dating scene. While it's become fashionable to condemn Facebook for all the world's ills, Zimmerman departs from the blame game to explore how the site has restored and expanded on the dating sensibilities of a community-based, low-tech era, citing commentary from the influential voices of 2009. Of course, the flip side is that the "neighborhood" environment both pulls us together and tears us apart by offering up temptations accessible with just the click of a mouse.

"How Women in Their 30s Put Having a Baby Before Love"
By Fay Schlesinger
The Daily Mail
Summary: A poll of 3,100 thirty- and forty-something British singles examined attitudes toward relationships in light of their desire to conceive. Fully 42% of single women and 30% of single men agreed that even if they met an "ideal partner," they would think twice about getting involved if they knew that individual had fertility issues. Over two-thirds were concerned about their ability to have children and worried that pregnancy would be problematic if they waited too long. In addition, three-quarters said it was possible that fertility problems could end their relationships. All this is very interesting, but notice how the journalist takes these facts and "rearranges" them. First of all, her headline implies that most women in their thirties are more interested in children than in romantic partners. But, in fact, only 42% stated that they would reject an "ideal partner" who might not be able to have children. That means the majority, 58%, would still prefer an "ideal partner" to the chance for a baby. Second, the headline and opening paragraphs frame this value system as uniquely female. However, the study shows that a significant number of single men (30%) also place a higher emphasis on children than marital partners. Finally and most importantly, the report approaches these findings from the stance that they are automatically troubling. Looking again at the headline, Schlesinger's use of the phrase "put having a baby before love" suggests that the parent-child bond isn't really love; only romantic feelings count as love. "In a growing trend dubbed the 'breeder relationship', [sic] women who wait until their 30s or 40s to start a family are then rushing into loveless partnerships for the sake of having an instant family," the article warns ominously even though modern notions of love have only recently been a requirement for doing just that. What this poll really reveals is that some single women and some single men prioritize having children more than having romantic relationships. Why are their values automatically worthy of denunciation?

"Iran Bars Single Women From Working in Gas Field"
Summary: Wow. From the article: "Iran has barred single women from working for a state firm that operates a huge gas field and petrochemical plants on the shores of the Gulf....More than 18 months ago, Iranian newspapers carried an instruction by the company requiring that 'single employees start creating a family.'" For some reason, the article has made this a women's issue, but actually this affects all singles, and single men are the ones more likely to be working in the Iranian petrochemical industry. The injunction continues, "'As being married is one of the criteria of employment, we are announcing for the last time that all female and male colleagues have until September 21 to go ahead with this important and moral religious duty.'" Can you imagine your boss telling you that you had 18 months to marry or lose your job? I'm not a big supporter of the Iraq War, but reports like this make me so thankful our troops are defending us against people with this mentality. We may moan and complain sometimes about how bad we have it as singles in the US, but this is a whole other level of bad.


"Marriage Insulates Men From Health, Financial Shocks"
By Vivian Luk
The Vancouver Sun
Summary: Results of the Canadian Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics, conducted between 1999 and 2002, show that when husbands are stricken with long-term illness, their wives help by picking up more slack around the house. Supposedly, this enables men to "focus solely on their jobs." Not surprisingly, the study also found that better health and more years together were correlated with greater marital stability. This, of course, turns into an opportunity for study author Giovanni Gallipoli of the University of British Columbia, to extol the virtues of marriage as good "insurance" for men. Notice that the study apparently couldn't make the same claim for women or else Gallipoli surely would've raved about it. Could it be that this is another case in which marriage is good for the gander but not so much for the goose? To put it more bluntly, is it possible that when working wives get sick, they don't tend to get the same support from their husbands? Furthermore, if I were a man, I don't think I'd be sold on marriage just because my future wife might help out a little more around the house if I were incapacitated. It would be more convincing if I could expect her to get a job so I could concentrate on getting well! In explanation, the article says, "According to the research, women tend to marry men who earn relatively more, so wives also find it unnecessary to work longer hours." So, the man can roll out of his deathbed and traipse off to work every day because he's the breadwinner while his healthy wife continues earning disposable income and maybe vacuums a few more times a week? I fail to see how that's much of a security blanket for the man. Furthermore, though it's nice that so many Canadian families can seemingly survive with one earner, I wonder how generalizable this study would be to dual-income populations. Would most wives already pushed to the max juggling full-time professional jobs and the "second shift" really be able to pick up the slack for their husbands? If not, is marriage really such good "insurance"? If anything, this study shows just how much spouses don't contribute when one is indisposed.


Singles With Singletude Award
"Nepal's Widows Reject Govt's Remarriage Proposal"
By Danielle Shapiro
We news
Summary: The Indian Supreme Court is now deciding whether to overrule legislation that would pay men to marry single women, further entrenching female dependence and raising the specter that single men may marry for the money, only to abuse or abandon their new wives. The in-depth article further details social customs that oppress single and even remarried women, the work of singles advocacy groups, and other passed or pending legislation regarding inheritances and social security for single women.

"Sayonara to the Rabbit Hutch: Living with Roommates in Japan"
By Mariko Sanchanta
The Wall Street Journal
Long-term singleness is a relatively new concept in Japan. So are roommates. But hard times have convinced some young single adults to give up their shoebox studios for more spacious digs with strangers.


Singleschmucker Award
"Need to Curb Crime in Jleeb"
By Khaled Aljenfawi
Arab Times
Summary: In many Arab countries, singles are demonized and segregated from the rest of the population. In this op-ed, the author argues that a city in Kuwait has a high crime rate because of its disproportionate population of single men. His solution would be to haul them off to their own version of a penal colony on the outskirts of the city. Says Aljenfawi, "Such a phenomenon where one finds groups of single men living among families is uncommon in other societies. In addition to its being socially inappropriate, it is out of place to allow single men to mingle with families....We have no other option, but to outlaw the clustering and gathering of huge number [sic] of single laborers in one particular geographical area." Perhaps, due to enforced segregation, it is uncommon for single men to live among families in Muslim nations. But in most of the rest of the world, it happens all the time, and many of the countries in which it occurs have very low crime rates. But, then, this argument wasn't based on logic in the first place, was it? I know this article was written within a different cultural context, but the fact that anyone, anywhere would condone what is essentially apartheid by marital status is horrifying.


"Japanese Singles Wish for Marriage in New Year, Government Wishes for More Babies"
By Jonathan Day and Ma Jie
China View
Summary: Although the article's title suggests that the majority of Japanese singles can't wait to get married, in reality, the growing throngs of the unmarried fall into two distinct groups--those who are single by choice and those who are single by circumstance. The article differentiates both groups while paying special attention to the factors behind the explosion in singles and the potential consequences for a nation with a falling birthrate.


"In My View: What Can We Do to Save Marriage?"
By Kirk and Anita Boyenga
The State Journal-Register
Summary: Building their case for marriage on the rigid gender roles of the past, these smug marrieds want to persuade us that 1) "tax codes should be structured to benefit married husbands and wives," 2) "public funds for those in severe need should be given priority to intact husband-wife households" because "we are destroying entire communities by financially rewarding single women who bear and try to raise children without a male presence," and 3) "educators at all levels need to teach the importance of the natural family in sustaining the culture, paying the bills and upholding communities." I wonder if the Boyengas are aware that the "natural" (aka, nuclear) family didn't even exist until the twentieth century and that its track record for community involvement and cultural innovation isn't exemplary. Then, without any real support for that model as the standard, they want to financially penalize everyone else who lives differently including the innocent children who are born to single mothers. I'm sure the kids won't mind, though, once they're informed that they are single-handedly "destroying entire communities." Yes, it's obvious how much this married couple supports their community.

"Single Women Seek Sub-quota Within Women's Quota"
The New Indian Express
Summary: Single women in India are petitioning for the establishment of legal quotas for their employment.

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.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Single, Not Alone for the Holidays

The holiday break is over, and Singletude is back! All of you readers, both those who visit frequently and those who stop by, er, once in a blue moon are wished the very best of everything, including heaps of peace, joy, and (not necessarily romantic) love in 2010! Before Singletude settles back into its weekly routine, I want to share some post-holiday thoughts.

The holiday season is rightly noted as a time of year when singles are particularly susceptible to loneliness. Although we don't all want to be coupled, most of us want to be included, and some of us find ourselves subtly or not so subtly butted out of family circles composed of arm-linked couples. Others are welcomed into the circle only to be shoved to the center, where we're grilled about our personal choices. Still others have no issues with family but are bombarded with depressing media images and couplecentric rituals that suggest singles are not high on Santa's list. And, of course, some single people do want to be in relationships and find the relentless focus on mistletoe and diamond rings that much harder to bear.

In short, it's easy to feel alone as a single. But being single doesn't mean you are alone. This hit home for me this New Year's Eve.

In the past, New Year's Eve for me was very much a date night, often marking the start of a relationship (no pressure there) or a romantic high note in a longstanding relationship. This was one of less than a handful of years that I spent it without a date or even the semblance of a date. My companions were a female friend, dating but single (we'll call her Gwen), and a very cool married couple (let's call them Nicole and Mike). As everyone knows, if you're not paired for the holidays, at no time is this more apparent than during the torturous tradition of ringing in the new year with a great big lip smack at the stroke of midnight. (In this era of swine flu, can't we just call an end to this unhygienic nonsense? ;)) Even though it's my choice to be single, and I don't usually feel lonely, this moment has a way of making me feel like a one-bladed scissor, a single chopstick, or a sole shoelace--conspicuous, useless, and, above all, alone.

So it was a pleasant surprise when the ball dropped and instead of feeling like an appendage, I was part of the circle as we all clinked glasses and exchanged hugs. Then we did something I've never done before. We ran up to the roof and, hearing another roof party down the block, called out our New Year's wishes to these strangers. There was a pause, and then we heard the answering cry, "Happy New Year!" We peered over the lighted rooftop railing and watched as passersby on the street below trickled out of their apartments to greet the first night of 2010 or headed back in after an evening of celebration, and every time one of them passed, we yelled out, "Hey! Girl with the dog! Guy in the hat! Look up! Happy New Year!" At first with confusion, then with dawning amusement, the pedestrians would look around, spot us, grin, and wave back.

Emboldened, we tromped down the stairs and, led by the vivacious Nicole, embarked on a mission to spread as much cheer as we could in one night. Our quota, Nicole decided, was to greet 30 strangers, but before we collapsed back at Gwen's place, I'm sure we had wished half of Soho and much of Nolita all the best in 2010. Everyone, absolutely everyone we passed, got a New Year's greeting. We gave a hearty "Happy New Year" to gangs of college kids, who whooped and high-fived us back; to glittering girls in pairs, who smiled shyly; to roving men, still dressed for work on Wall Street, who winked and raised their eyebrows; to young couples kissing on the sidewalk, who returned our good wishes so they could return to making out; to old couples, walking hand in hand, surprised and delighted that some of us "young folks" hadn't forgotten how to be neighborly; to foreigners in furs, who answered in incomprehensible accents; to hobos in doorways, whose eyes lit with pleasure to be seen and heard; to the revelers in restaurant windows, who raised their glasses; to the guy at the hotdog stand and the crew working late at Starbucks, who broke into grins on this holiday they had thought they would have to sit out; and to single people by themselves, walking their dogs in little plaid coats or rushing off to meet friends or just going home to their dark apartments after a long night, not necessarily expecting anyone to notice them, to care who they were or where they were going.

It was fascinating and heartwarming, in a way, to observe the reactions we got, especially from the other singles, some of whom would glance at us in surprise and perhaps mistrust before smiling in spite of themselves and returning the greeting. Others, sensing kindred spirits, were ready with ear-to-ear grins and boisterous good wishes of their own. That night, I realized that I wasn't alone, and neither were they. We were all in this together, hurtling toward a future none of us could foresee but were hopeful for nonetheless. This was shared human experience that transcended the temporal bonds of marriage or even blood kinship.

In 2010, I want to carry this revelation with me, that life should be about extending ourselves to others in recognition of our common human condition, not organizing our interactions around the artificial boundaries of marriage and the nuclear family. I want to remember that I am single, but I am not alone. I am in this world with millions of other people with the same desires, the same fears, the same struggles, the same satisfactions. When we can all learn that what unites us by birth is more important than manufactured titles that divide, it will indeed be a happy, new year.

As a single, do you feel alone during the holidays? If so, how do you cope with that feeling? Do you believe that single people are automatically alone? Why or why not? Can you share a holiday experience (or any experience) in which you realized that being single didn't have to mean being alone?

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.