“Can staying single really help you live forever?” That was the headline of a story at Fusion, picking up on an article at the New York Times that zipped around the internet soon after it was published – fittingly, on Valentine’s Day.
Our heroine is Emma Morano of Italy, born in 1899 and now one of the five oldest people in the world. She has been single since 1938 (so, for 77 years). Times reporter Elisabeth Povoledo said of Morano that she is “convinced that being single for most of her life…has kept her kicking.” In Morano’s own words, “I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone.”
To be single or an adult with no kids is to be in a group that is often stereotyped, stigmatized, or ignored. Those derogated and marginalized categories are different from other stigmatized categories, such as certain racial groups, because there is far less awareness of the prejudice and discrimination. That means that there is also less effort put into the avoidance of boorish behavior toward people in those groups. And it means that sometimes even people who consider themselves open-minded and anything but bigoted in fact behave badly – without even realizing it.
In just the past few days, there have been two high-profile examples. The first has already gotten so much attention that there is a backlash to the backlash. I’m talking about Patricia Arquette’s acceptance speech at the 2015 Oscars when she won the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Boyhood. Here’s the key part:
Have you heard about the new, hot things called The Invisible Boyfriend and The Invisible Girlfriend? It’s getting buzz all over the place. NPR explains that “Matthew Homann says he came up with the idea a few years ago, when he was newly single from a divorce and people wouldn’t stop asking him if he was seeing anyone.”
It has been quite the week for angst about living alone. On the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy, aptly titled, “The bed’s too big without you,” the high-powered, ultra-talented female doctors were hanging around waiting for their printer to produce body parts when they launched into a discussion of how hard they found it not to have someone else in their bed. One after another, they moaned and decried the sadness of living alone, until, at last, the youngest of the group admitted that she loved having her bed to herself.
[This article is co-authored – in alphabetical order – by Lisa Arnold, Rachel Buddeberg, Christina Campbell, and Bella DePaulo. We are cross-posting it on all of our blogs.]
“White privilege” and “male privilege” are familiar concepts in our cultural conversations. There is, however, another vast swath of unearned privileges that have gone largely unrecognized, even though they unfairly advantage about half of the adult population in the United States. We’re talking about marital privileges. People who marry enjoy social, cultural, economic, and political advantages that single people do not, simply because they are married.
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.