It is that time of year when my inbox fills up with emails from people asking for favors. They want me to promote their products about dating and mating, and assume that because my blog and my books have “single” in the title, of course I would be interested in doing so. They’ve never read any of my work, nor that of any other person writing about single people in a way that is not saturated with singlism.
Let’s continue our discussion from the previous post. We’re critiquing the reasons offered to the New York Times for why, in some families, all of the grown children are single.
Here’s another quote from Helen Fisher. This time, she is talking about the parents of the grown children who said that they might miss having grandchildren in some ways, but really, it would not be so bad:
In my previous post, I invited readers here and elsewhere to talk back to claims made in the New York Times about why, in some families, all of the grown kids are single. Here I’ll share some of those insights, and tell you my own take. (You can find more discussion in the comments of that previous post and also here.)
If you are a single person, you have some explaining to do. Other people, who do not even see themselves as insensitive clods, will ask you to defend your single status, when it would never in a million years occur to them to ask a married person to defend their married status.
Now, a growing number of single people can say something like this in response: Yes, I’m single. I always have been. What’s more, all of my siblings are single, too, and they always have been!
It is something all single people have experienced. We are asked to answer some security questions to set up an account, only to find that a disproportionate number of those questions just assume that we are married. Amy Gutman, a facilitator of the OpEd Project, recently described an experience in which every one of the security questions made the Spouse Assumption. She wrote about it in “Singled Out: The Cultural Bias Against Single People,” for Boston’s NPR station, WBUR.
In our everyday lives, we can be intensely aware of the ways we differ from other people. As observers, we cannot help but notice how some people differ from others. When those differences have the potential to be viewed negatively, we are confronted with one of the most fundamental issues in matters of fairness: Is the difference really a deficit, or is it just a difference?
Some of the most significant stories of social justice are those that succeed in achieving a widespread transformation in ways of thinking – from a prejudice that sees the difference as a deficit to a more fair-minded assessment of the difference as just that, a difference.
[Bella’s intro: In the previous post, guest blogger Tricia Parker shared her difficult and painful experiences from when she first became an “independent parent.” Eventually, though, she learned quite a lot about how to be an independent parent in ways that were enriching to herself, her children, and other parents and their children. She shares this wisdom with us in Part 2 of her two-part article.]
[Bella’s intro: I’ve never met Tricia Parker, but when she sent me a very moving and wise e-mail about her experiences as what she calls an “independent parent,” I immediately asked her if she would share her observations here with Single at Heart readers. Happily, she agreed. In this first of two parts, she describes the most painful years. In Part 2, she reveals the keys to her emergence into a happy, healthy, empowered, and productive place for herself and her children. Thanks so much, Tricia!]
The explosion of racial tensions over the summer brought the notion of “white privilege” to the forefront of our cultural conversations. Americans have become increasingly familiar with the ways in which people enjoy unearned advantages just because they are white (“white privilege”) or male (“male privilege”) or young or heterosexual. But a vast swath of privileges that advantage half the adult population has gone mostly unrecognized.
In the past couple of days, the media has gotten all excited about some new research claiming to show that getting married makes people happier. You should always be suspicious of claims like that, as I’ve explained before. And, as I’ve shown in great detail, the particular research getting all the attention has not actually shown that getting married makes you happier.
The first thing you need to do if you want to make the case that getting married makes people happier (even though it doesn’t) is to show that people who got married are happier than people who stayed single. Then, once you do that, you can go on to try to demonstrate that marriage (and not something else) is what made them happier. But the authors’ data, when analyzed properly, shows that in Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, people who stay single are actually happier than those who get married! And in Western Europe (excluding the UK) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (including Russia), people who stay single are just as happy as those who get married.
Here, I want to take on another claim made by the authors, Grover and Helliwell: that the explanation for why marriage makes people happier (even though it doesn’t) is that married people (or at least some of them) enjoy the benefits of having a close friend and confidant in their spouse. The New York Times said that the findings from the research suggested this advice: “Find a spouse who is also your best friend.”