Archives for October, 2011
“A little bit nutty and a little bit slutty.” That’s how one ideologue characterized the brave, brilliant, and unflinching woman who testified before a committee of all white men in the Senate confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas. The person who crafted that malicious put-down would later apologize. Anita Hill was nothing of the sort. Her courage, alongside the shabby treatment she received, galvanized more women to run for office and more of their female constituents to vote for them. It also put issues of sexual harassment front and center.
Toward the end of her attention-grabbing cover story of the Atlantic magazine, Kate Bolick shares what she has discovered about the attractions of single life for women. Often single women have networks of close friends. They can balance autonomy and intimacy. They can even raise children. But then she adds this parenthetical aside: “(Evidence suggests that American children who grow up amidst the disorder that is common to single-parent homes tend to struggle.)” At least she includes some qualifiers. She’s talking about American children, not all children. The kids “tend to” struggle; they don’t struggle mightily. Still, this sort of casual condemnation of millions of American children is not unusual – not even in an article that is in other ways very thoughtful about single life. When I was writing Singled Out, I studied original research reports on lives of children from single-parent families and how they differed from those of children raised by two married parents. I continue to keep track of that research. Below is some of what I’ve learned from that research – conclusions that rarely get any play in the media. (Chapter 9 of Singled Out provides many more details and lots of references.)
Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies” is one of those hits that just never grow old. At a time when other tunes would have receded into the deeper recesses of our minds, “All the Single Ladies” gets revitalized. Here are some of my favorite things about three different versions of “All the Single Ladies”: the original, from Beyonce; a recent magazine article by the same name; and my own take on “all the single ladies” in the big picture of our lives.
In my travels to Chicago recently, a flight attendant decided to step out of his usual role of announcing the beverage service and cautioning us that our baggage had to fit completely under the seat in front of us. The flight was fully underway, with passengers settled into their books or dreams or electronic devices or conversations with the person next to them, when the flight attendant interrupted us all to make two announcements.
“Why marriage isn’t the key to a happy life.” That was the subtitle of a post on another website, written by Buddhist physician Alex Lickerman. I agree that marriage does not transform miserable single people into blissfully happy married people. Research shows that most single people are already happy, and that getting married does not result in lasting increases in happiness. (If you marry and divorce, it may not result in even temporary boosts in happiness.) Consider, though, Lickerman’s first two paragraphs: “I remember thinking when I was lying on my bedroom floor, bleeding internally so badly that I'd lost the ability even to crawl, that if I hadn't been married I would have bled to death. I was home after a laparoscopic appendectomy, had awakened at 3 a.m…and had found myself unable to move (due to rapid blood loss). Luckily, my wife could do so normally and called an ambulance. I was transported to the hospital and ultimately saved by a second operation later that afternoon.
One of my previous posts here at “Single at Heart” was titled, Living single life fully, joyfully, and without apology. Time to blow up that theme into a feature story gracing the cover of the November issue of the Atlantic magazine. The author, Kate Bolick, was also interviewed for two segments of the Today show. Single life is at the center of the Today interviews. The Atlantic story also includes an in-depth discussion of marriage and how it has changed. I’ll have so much to say about this in the coming weeks. For now, though, I just wanted to share what the Atlantic article had to say about me and my book, Singled Out:
Forty years ago – in 1971, not the Stone Age – a book sparked controversy and scandal in part because it included unadorned, non-sexualized pictures of women’s body parts. The medical establishment at the time was a parade of men, hardly ever interrupted by even a lone female, marching to the beat of her own drummer. The book encouraged women to look at themselves (literally), learn about themselves, and stand up to questionable views from the health care professionals who so rarely looked like them.
In this “Single at Heart” blog, I will often challenge the myths about people who are single. Before I started studying single people and their place in society, I did not realize that most of the conventional wisdom about single people is grossly exaggerated or just plain wrong. Then I started reading articles published in the academic journals. I was just stunned by the disconnect between the headlines I saw so often in the media (along the lines of, “Get married and you will become happier, healthier, and less self-centered”) and what the research really did show.
Welcome, PsychCentral readers! I’m delighted to introduce you to my new blog, Single at Heart. This will be unlike just about everything else you read about singles. It is a blog about living your single life fully, joyfully, and without apology, whether you are single for the moment, for a while, or for a lifetime. It is not a blog about dating tips or advice for finding The One. Much of what I like to do is myth-busting, and one of the most persistent myths about single people is that what they want, more than anything else, is to become unsingle. Not so!
Unless you're a young adult, many times people look upon the single life as one without or lacking something. After all, the thinking of these people goes, what is life without a partner to share it with?
But that's a misconception. Life is beautiful whether...
But that's a misconception. Life is beautiful whether...