Archives for Marriage - Page 2
It came in a beautiful envelope, with an elegant smaller envelope for my reply – almost like a wedding invitation. The organizers of this event for my alma mater, Vassar College, must have had marriage on their minds. The invitation was to an event called “Reflections on an Election Year.” The reply card included the note, “Due to our limited capacity, we ask that you limit your one guest to a spouse, partner, or Vassar alumna/us.”
People are put down for being single. We know this not just from our own personal experiences and observations but from numerous scientific studies showing that single people are indeed relentlessly stereotyped. But who is stereotyped more? Are single men or single women judged more harshly?
Singlism (the stereotyping, stigmatizing, and discrimination against people who are single) is different from other more familiar isms such as racism, heterosexism, and sexism. For example, other isms are sometimes linked to violence. On the other hand, because singlism is rarely part of our cultural conversations, people practice it without awareness or apology. What is especially disheartening is that it is practiced unselfconsciously by some of the intellectual vanguard of our times, the cutting edge thinkers and writers.
Now we know what adults of all ages who are not lonely have in common. The answer comes from a new review article, “Age differences in loneliness from late adolescence to the oldest old age,” based on a study of more than 16,000 German adults.
Many people believe that no one can never be truly, deeply happy unless they get married. That’s not true, as I have been arguing for a very long time, but people cling to that belief nonetheless.
[Bella’s intro: As an American, I’m used to hearing lots of family talk, especially from political candidates. One after another, they promise to help families. But when their focus is so much on families, what does that mean for people who are single and living alone? I learned recently from Louise Harper that there is similar family talk in Australia. She, too, wonders about the dark side and sent a letter to an Australian newspaper about that. I asked if I could publish it here and she said yes. Thank-you, Louise Harper, for sharing these important observations with us.]
The third full week of September, September 18-24, is National Singles Week (more formally known as Unmarried and Single Americans Week). In some ways, this has been a good year for insightful and enlightening stories about single people. In fact, just yesterday (September 17, 2016), Fusion published “Meet the people who want to be single forever.” Earlier, New York magazine gave us “The new science of single people” and a story in the Huffington Post, “Research says single people – wait for it – live rich, meaningful lives,” was shared on Facebook more than 50,000 times. Over at the TED blog, readers learned about “The price of being single.”
Americans share many beliefs about single people, and just about all of the negative ones turn out to be wrong. They are stereotypes, not facts. So sure are we about our disparagement of single people that we actually use the negative words and phrases as synonyms for single people, as if they were neutral and factual. People describe single people as “alone” and “unattached.” They say that single people “don’t have anyone,” as if the only kind of person who counts as someone is a spouse. In fact, though, the evidence shows that single people are more connected to others than married people are. They maintain their ties with friends, siblings, parents, and neighbors. It is the people who get married who become more insular. In a comment on an article I wrote debunking stereotypes of single people, a reader said he thought that lots of single people actually did have attachment issues – that wasn’t just a stereotype. He said that many of his single friends had avoidant attachment styles.
A professor of philosophy looked into the lives of the most influential philosophers in history, and found that many of them had something in common. He sees their commonality as a problem that cries out for a solution.
I wish I could say that it is hard to find examples of singlism – the stereotyping, stigmatizing, and discrimination against single people. Unfortunately, singlism is relentless. It ranges from the subtle to the shocking. And it is often practiced unselfconsciously even by respected intellectuals and ordinary people who pride themselves on being open-minded and totally untainted by prejudice.