I coined the terms “singlism” and “matrimania.” I’m often asked what they mean. Good thing, because people often get that wrong, particularly with regard to singlism. (It does not mean being single.) I’ve written detailed explanations of these terms before. Here I want to offer a shorter version, as part of the series, “Questions I’ve been asked.”
You use terms like singlism and matrimania. Did you coin them? What do these terms mean? How do they manifest?
Yes, I coined those terms. Singlism is the stereotyping, stigmatizing, marginalizing, and discrimination against people who are single. Singles are stereotyped when other people think they are miserable, lonely, immature, self-centered, and so forth, because they are single. They are stigmatized when people think there’s something wrong with them because they are single – for example, that they have “issues.” Single people are marginalized in a society in which so much of social life is organized by the couple. They are discriminated against in federal laws – more than 1,000 of them – that benefit and protect only people who are legally married. Those are just a few examples. There are many others.
Matrimania is the over-the-top valuing and hyping and celebrating of marriage, couples, and weddings. It is pervasive. We can see matrimania in all the movies and TV shows and novels that build up to a wedding, as if that’s the most amazing thing that can ever happen to a person. We see it in the oohing and aahing that happens when someone announces that they are engaged. We see it in the weddings that get more and more extravagant.
Again, those are just a few examples of a phenomenon that is rampant. (You can find some others here.) My issue isn’t with the valuing of romantic couples and weddings; it is with the over-valuing of them, to the exclusion of all the other important relationships in our lives – for example, with close friends, parents, other relatives, mentors, and so forth.