Great That You Are a World Leader, But Are You Coupled? The G20 Couples-Only Dinner
The political world has been abuzz lately upon learning that President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin for nearly an hour at a couples-only dinner at the G20 Summit. The intense interest has focused on the fact that the meeting was previously undisclosed, and the U.S. provided no translator and no recording of the interaction.
That’s not what grabbed me about the story. I gasped when I first heard the phrase “couples-only dinner” in the context of the G20 Summit. I have a problem with just about any couples-only event. At a minimum, they are obnoxious and exclusionary. In some contexts, such singlist events are discriminatory and should be banned. Workplaces, for example, should not organize couples-only events.
The G20 Summit is a meeting of the leaders of 20 of the world’s major economies. Including a couples-only dinner as part of the schedule seems to say to these people: Sure, you are some of the most powerful people in the world, but tell me – are you part of a couple? That’s what matters if you want to get included in this nice dinner.
In fact, the “couples-only dinner” did not exclude world leaders who were not coupled. My best guess is that the “couples-only” description meant that if you were going to bring someone, it had to be a spouse or romantic partner, and not that you couldn’t come if you didn’t have such a partner.
Even so, I’m still appalled. The people who described the dinner as “couples only” included, at a minimum, Eurasia Group president Ian Bremmer and Delaware Senator Chris Coons. Presumably, they got that characterization somewhere else – they didn’t make it up. Stories describing the dinner as couples-only have appeared at places such as CNN and Vox. A Google search of “G20 couples only dinner” currently returns 499,000 results. I did not look at every one, but I perused enough of them to say that I cannot find anyone expressing dismay at the notion of a couples-only event.
Imagine if, instead of a “couples-only” dinner, it had been a “whites-only” dinner or a “men-only” dinner or a “Muslims-only” dinner. We know about lots of isms such as racism and sexism. We know they are wrong. Most people would not want to be practitioners of such forms of prejudice and discrimination, and they would be mortified if they slipped and said or did something bigoted. Singlism isn’t like that. People practice it without apology or even awareness, at the highest levels of power in the world.
DePaulo, B. (2017). Great That You Are a World Leader, But Are You Coupled? The G20 Couples-Only Dinner. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 18, 2017, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/single-at-heart/2017/07/great-that-you-are-a-world-leader-but-are-you-coupled-the-g20-couples-only-dinner/