From Proposal to Privilege: The Unearned Rights of Married People February 14, 2015Posted by Onely in As If!, Everyday Happenings, Food for Thought, STFU.
Tags: for better or for better, marital privilege, marital privilege and huffington post, marital privilege and truthout, marriage privilege, Marriage Rights, single valentines day, singles blog, truthout, valentine's day
Copious Readers: Four of us singles’ advocacy writers banded together to write about the scourge of. . . Marriage Privilege! Bella and Rachel recently published this article on the subject in TruthOut, and you can find Onely’s take below. We hope you’ll check both them out, as well as a co-authored list version cross-posted by Rachel and Bella on their blogs. Below, skip to the More tab to read specific examples of marital privilege.
Successful social movements upend fundamental worldviews so that what originally seemed unthinkable to a privileged majority comes to feel ordinary to almost everyone. Although many marginalized groups have still not achieved true equality – as the recent events in Ferguson highlighted for the world – many have still made considerable progress in recent history: African-Americans became property owners, businesspeople, and U.S. President. American women got the vote, and the earnings gap, which shamefully still exists, isn’t as great as it used to be. Gays and lesbians garnered more positive portrayals in popular culture and gained the right to marry in some U.S. states and other countries.
But during the transition from odd to obvious, there’s always push-back. People cling to their worldviews, beliefs that make them feel secure and rooted and right. A challenge to those views, even a gently-worded one, is scary.
Odd and scary is the idea that marriage provides invisible and unearned legal, political, and economic privileges to its participants, at the expense of unmarried people. Obviously this discrimination is not as nefarious as, for example, racism has been. But it does exist. It’s even codified: over 1,000 U.S. federal laws favor married people. This factoid becomes even stranger when you consider that today about half the adult population of the U.S. is unmarried (whether due to desire, divorce, death, discriminatory laws, or other life circumstances).
If you find yourself rolling your eyes at the above, saying to yourself that it’s not that big a deal, consider this: For a very long time, men went about their lives confident in the assumption that their ordinary experiences were just that – ordinary. Men were overwhelmingly represented on TV and in newspapers. Men were widely favored in the workplace. Men did not need to realize that women had equally valid perspectives and strengths, which were largely under-represented in dominant discourse. They were overwhelmingly represented on TV and in newspapers. They were widely favored in the workplace. They did not need to realize that women, African-Americans, and other groups had equally valid, but underrepresented, perspectives and strengths. In 1988, Peggy McIntosh, a Wellesley women’s studies scholar, took the lessons she had been teaching about male privilege and turned them on herself, as a white person. Her race, she realized, made her privileged, too.
Decades later we’ve progressed to discussions about male privilege and white privilege, and these conversations have raised our consciousness about all sorts of other unearned privileges, such as those conditional on age, social class, and sexual orientation. Yet marital privilege – a pervasive, powerful package of unearned benefits – remains largely unchallenged and rarely recognized. It is almost completely invisible to the populace at large, even across other categories that are now very visible, such as race and social class.
Yes, people know that if they marry, they get stuff, such as blenders and the option not to testify against their spouse (the narrower meaning of marital privilege). But these are seen as rights, not as privileges that disenfranchise other social groups (such as single people).
Many people are familiar with the socio-cultural aspects of what we call “marital privilege.” Perhaps the best-known example is the widespread assumption that single people will “die alone,” with no one at their death beds, croaking the words “if only I had married” to the spiderwebs on the ceiling. As single people ourselves, we have heard this warning from otherwise intelligent individuals, people who seem to forget that the world is awash with chaos like car accidents, cancers, and barracudas that could obliterate their spouse and leave the remaining partner to “die alone” (and be eaten by their pets).
If you’re part of the married half of society, you may never have questioned the social and economic benefits you automatically receive just because you tied the knot. That’s okay, because marital privilege is a stealth privilege: couples and singles alike are simply not taught to recognize it. McIntosh explained that whites are not taught to recognize their white privilege. We believe couples are especially unlikely to notice marital privilege, because the thing about privilege is that the people who have it can afford not to see it.
That’s why we’ve provided some ways to recognize if you are experiencing, or have experienced, marital (or couple) privilege in the U.S.:
Ashes to Ashes, Spouse to Spouse January 17, 2015Posted by Onely in As If!, Food for Thought, God-Idiot or Asshole?, single and happy.
Tags: cremation, marriage privilege, spouse sibling death, sprinkling ashes
Once upon a time, my mother’s sister, my Aunt S, died at sixty of a heart attack while sitting at the kitchen table with my Uncle K. Although Aunt S had been married to Uncle K for only (if you can define “only”) about five years, Uncle K was well-liked by our extended family because he was kind, funny, intelligent, and really loved Aunt S. We all grieved the loss of Aunt S, but Uncle K was especially torn up of course.
We have a tradition in our family that when one of us dies, we sprinkle their ashes in a certain lake, which like my relatives shall remain anonymous. One afternoon we all gathered at our family property at the lake. Uncle K had brought Aunt S’s ashes in a brown wooden box. The traditional dumping site was a spot several hundred yards from the shore, where the trunk of a large tree lay in the sand.
We had a motorboat, a rowboat, and three pedal kayaks.
We had this many people: Uncle K. Uncle K’s two sons from a previous marriage. Aunt S’s three daughters from a previous marriage. And Aunt S’s siblings: Mitch, Jake, Blake, and my mom.
We were milling around when someone noticed that Uncle K and the kids were missing. Without so much as a how-dee-doo, they had climbed into the motorboat, puttered out to the tree, and spread the ashes with great ceremony and words of remembrance–or so they told us later, because none of the rest of us had been out there to see it.
I was shocked that Uncle K didn’t at least offer to squeeze one or two of Aunt S’s siblings into the boat–or at a minimum, arrange a caravan of slow motorboat and pedal kayaks out to the tree, so that my mom and her brothers could also spread their sister’s ashes.
None of the siblings felt they had the right to protest. After all, Uncle K was Aunt S’s spouse, and spouses trumped siblings, right?
But I had to respect my mom and Mitch and Jake and Blake for maintaining their silence and letting the grieving Uncle K have his moment of selfish amatonormativity. That emotional afternoon was probably not the right time to pick a fight. Instead, Aunt S’s siblings honored her in their thoughts and by looking at the lake, instead of partaking in the physical ritual itself.
But if my sister had died (God forbid) and her husband had co-opted the boat and gone out to sprinkle her ashes without me, I would have thrown a profanity-filled fit right there on the beach, then tried to swim after the boat, then choked on water because I’d still be screaming about what an amatonormative a-hole he was. He would have had to abort his ashing ceremony to turn the boat around and rescue me, and once on board I would have tried to sprinkle the rest of ashes, but my hands would be wet so the ashes would stick to my fingers instead of drifting off onto the wind.
Copious Readers, how would you react in a similar situation? Respectful albeit slightly bitter silence, or temper tantrum?
Photo Credit: Bird Sisters Stock
Guest Post: Single in the Cocktail Hour of Life December 31, 2014Posted by Onely in Dating, Everyday Happenings, Food for Thought, Great Onely Activities, Guest Bloggers, Guest Posts, Secret Lives of the Happily Single, Singles Resource.
Tags: Beth Portolese, childfree, Cocktail hour of life, economic effects on singles, entertainment propaganda, Fifty is the New Fifty, Single over fifty, singleton gene
Happy 2015 everyone! Christina here. It’s a new year–we’re all one year older and despite what the Clinique “anti-aging” posters at the mall say, another year past is nothing to be afraid, sad, ashamed, or angry about. All of us who have made it this far are privileged. So let’s not say that forty (my age!) is the new thirty. Why do we need to go back to thirty? (When I was thirty I was a poor grad student with a broken toe that had me limping for several months.) Instead, let’s say forty is the new forty! Copious Readers, please welcome Beth Portolese, who taught me that concept:
Onely is happy to have a guest post by Beth Portolese, founder and publisher of FiftyIsTheNewFifty.com, the online magazine targeting people in “The Cocktail Hour of Life.” As always, we note that guest posts may or may not entirely reflect the views of Onely.org (though usually they do).
Over 50, Single and Gratified
Guest post by Beth Portolese
I am a woman in my 50s with no husband and no children. What I do have is a happy and fulfilling life. Regular readers of Onely are probably not surprised by this. Being unmarried and childless (or childfree, depending on your POV) and living happily single is not necessarily an oxymoron, although folks might think so when reading women’s and general interest news magazines or watching television.
I didn’t anticipate winding up this way. When I was a kid I figured I would get married while I was in college and be on my way to having my first child right after I graduated, because that is what magically happened to and for girls at the time.
The reality is that I got married at 33 and never got around to having a child before my marriage slid downhill. Since my divorce, I have had a few relationships, but have spent most of my time single and definitely living solo. And, for the most part, I prefer to live this way.
Why is it that so many people feel that heterosexual men and women who don’t fit the standard mold of being both partnered and parents must be unhappy and lonely? It’s a mystery to me, especially since I’m well aware that you can have a partner and feel quite alone anyway. I have many single friends who feel the same way and we have created an ‘urban family.’ My particular group formed because we all live in Manhattan and worked together at some point resulting in us having gotten to know each other over the years. My brother and a few other siblings were added into our group, which increased its size. We all come together for various events and holidays to support each other, celebrating the good and productive things in our lives.
I recently saw a piece in the news about a gene Chinese scientists believe they have discovered. It’s being called the ‘singleton gene’. Apparently, their research shows that those who have this gene are 20% more likely to be single than others. Hmm, well maybe I have this gene! If so, perhaps the fact that I enjoy not having the responsibility of a relationship is genetic. If genetics enter into it, people might accept that being alone is normal for some people – it seems that when people believe biology = destiny, they feel a lot more comfortable.
Onely Commits Amatonormativity Twice In One Conversation December 20, 2014Posted by Onely in Bad Onely Activities, Everyday Happenings, Great Onelies in History, Heteronormativity, single and happy.
Tags: amatonormative, heteronormative, partner-seeking, singles blog
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For a blog that for years has been waving its bloggy arms and screaming about how our world is largely set up for couples, especially hetero couples, and about how they are privileged at the expense of other kinds of loves and families (this is what we mean by amatonormativity, sometimes also called heteronormativity), we at Onely sometimes screw up and act just as badly as the people, governments, and organizations we critique.
And by “we”, I mean me, Christina. I don’t believe my coblogger Lisa, who is much more in tune with peoples’ feelings, has ever been so gauche as myself.
But first some background, in defense of my recent episodes (yes, plural!) of amatonormativity:
–For years my friend Natasha has been looking for the love of her life. The perfect man. She’s suffered many breakups, after one of which she told me, “He was my everything!” When I explained that, in fact, she also had a cat and parents and siblings and friends and a house and a job, she gave a surprised little “O!” with her mouth in that same shape. As if that had never occurred to her.
–For years she talked about how she was tired of being “alone”. For years I tried to talk her out of this need she felt to be part of a couple. Find yourself first, I said. Just do things you like and be happy and it will happen. Go on the internet if you are truly in a hurry. It increases the statistical likelihood that you’ll meet someone compatible (or get killed). Lots of my friends have met this way (and even lived to get married).
Eventually I just stopped trying to Onelify her. I started wishing she would find a stable boyfriend. (That is, opposite the one in college who played basketball and one night said he was being a snippy asshole to her after one game because his team had lost, and they had to act sad and upset.) She was crankier when she was single. If she was single and I wan’t, then she got crankier at me. Then she wanted kids. I wished she would find a partner because obviously it was important to her. My bloggy diatribes about living single and confident and proud were not for her, and I finally accepted that.
SO then the other day we were talking on the phone and Natasha said she was going to an Italian speaking meetup that night. So I said, “Great!”
Do you think there will be any eligible bachelors there?
(First, who still uses the term “eligible bachelors”? Me apparently.)
Natasha was silent for a moment. “No, it looks as if it’s mostly women. But I can never make enough good girlfriends.”
Huh? Who are you and what have you done with Natasha?
Happy Unmarried and Single Americans Week! (Creepy Census Edition) September 27, 2014Posted by Onely in Everyday Happenings, single and happy.
Tags: singles fifty percent, Singles Week, Unmarried Americans Week, US Census singles
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September 21-27 is Unmarried and Single Americans Week.
Yay, rah rah, gooooo Singles!
So we here at Onely figured we had to make sure to get *some* sort of post up by the 27th, otherwise what kind of singles’ blog would we be? Got to post. . . got to post. . . got to post. . . got to post. . . But post what?
Well, we could join the rest of the mass media, which have been reporting like mad on the fact that single people now make up more than fifty percent of the U.S. population. Again:
Yay, rah rah, gooooo Singles!
Our cheerleading feels a little icky, though, when we think too hard about how the U.S. Census arrived at this figure: They included 15- and 16-year-olds in their definition of “unmarried adults”. Um, ew. I imagine a high school sophomore opening her front door for a census worker who asks, “Hey there, little lady, are you married? No? Seeing anyone? Free for dinner, perhaps?” No no, I joke too harshly. Census workers have a hard job and they do it well–at least in this case, where they were able to give us beautiful figures such as this one: 44 percent of the adult population is unmarried. That’s 105 million people.
In case you’re one of the few readers of this blog who’s thinking, “So the hell what?”, here’s what:
The U.S. government discriminates against every one of those 105 million people. We talk about this injustice all the time on this blog, so we won’t go all Singles’ Soapbox on you this time, but I did want to tell just one story that shows how unmarried people get the sharp end of the stick and, by extension, illustrates why we need a special week to draw attention to how single people are simultaneously both awesome and screwed.
I got this story, like all good stories, from a fit of eavesdropping. I couldn’t help it–my coworker several cubes over has a loud voice. No, to be honest, I just have very good ears. Anyway, there once was a thirty-something coworker of mine who had a sister who had a husband. Now, this husband was not a nice man. In fact, to use the words of the coworker, he was an A$$hole. His wife didn’t like him. In fact, she hated him. She was going to divorce him.
But before she could, the husband died. Unfortunately, I couldn’t overhear from my coworker exactly how he died. Perhaps he accidentally got stuck in the trunk of a car rolling into a large deep pond. No matter. He was dead, and his wife was, if not happy, then not exactly snorting teary snot into her Kleenex either. But her not-unhappiness quickly changed to full-on happiness when she realized that she would now be able to quit her job!
Yay, rah, rah, gooooo Social Security!
My coworker’s sister is now living on the $3,000 per month social security checks the government gives her for having been married to an A$$hole she was planning to divorce anyway. Now, I don’t know how long they were married. Some people might say she deserves the money for having put up with him for–for how long? One year? Ten? I don’t know, and here’s the point: to the government, it doesn’t matter.
Well, it matters to me.
I’m not saying $3,000 per month is a mungo huge bunch of money. But it’s not pigeon feed either, especially if it can allow this woman to quit her job and lounge around at home (although my guess is she doesn’t live in the D.C. area, which I unfortunately could not confirm via my eavesdropping).
I’ve been putting up with all sorts of A$$holes every day, such as: my neighbor who lets her unspayed cats roam the streets yowling and birthing little, skinny, suffering kittens; my coworkers who spend hours talking top-volume about chickens, Tourette’s Syndrome, the Kardashians, and the Redskins; and my boss who joins in with them (seriously). I even lived for one year with a woman who told me she double-bagged the cat poop because the CVS bags sometimes had holes in them, and then she asked me in all seriousness “Do you know what I mean?” So I’ve had my share of A$$holes in my life, but the government isn’t giving me a monthly check–because I never married any of them. Poor planning on my part. Maybe I should show a little more cleavage at work and learn the name of the Redskins’ main pitcher.
Recommended Reading: The Last Conception September 13, 2014Posted by Onely in book review, Reviews.
Tags: adoption, amatonormative, Buddhism, Gabriel Constans, heteronormative, lesbian relationship, pressure to have children, religious heritage, singles blog, The Last Conception
Gabriel Constans. The Last Conception. Melange Books, LLC. White Bear Lake, Minnesota. 2014.
Gabriel Constans dedicates his book The Last Conception
To Love, in all its manifestations.
We here at Onely are interested in all aspects of the single experience and particularly like to learn about single people from different backgrounds than ourselves (Lisa and I self-identify as white, upper-middle-class, agnostic, heterosexual women). The beginning of Constans’ novel allows us into the world of single scientist and first-generation Indian-American lesbian Savarna, whose parents–still unaware of her sexuality–have been pressuring her for years to marry and give them a grandchild. Any unmarried, child-free reader whose parents have pressured them in this way will wince along with Savarna as her parents become increasingly fervent in their matchmaking–all while Savarna is trying to figure out her relationships with two different women. (I refer to her as “single” because initially she is not part of an “official” couple.)
Appropriately, as an embryologist Savarna spends her working hours manipulating eggs and sperm to help women conceive. She herself, however, doesn’t feel the tick-tock of her biological clock. If she did, this book wouldn’t exist. (Or it would be very boring.)
The Last Conception teaches that Indian culture places even more importance on marriage and childbearing than U.S. culture. So we have several layers of tension going on throughout the story:
–Savarna the happily childfree woman vs. her grandchild-wanting parents
–Savarna the American vs. her Indian parents
–Savarna is not religious, but her parents who travel to India once a year for some ceremonious gathering that Savarna has never attended and vaguely considers cultish
–Then there is lesbian Savarna vs. the heterosexual world her parents inhabit (though from habit as opposed to bigotry)
–Even Savarna and her closest girlfriend have differing opinions on commitment and children
–Savarna is torn between loyalty to herself and to her parents–whose constant nagging about reproduction, we soon discover, stems not from desires to pinch bubble cheeks or see if their grandchild has their eyes, but something far more weighty.
Through the course of the book these subtle battles wage, peak, resolve and eventually weave together into an ending so satisfying I really wish I could share it here. I’m afraid to say much more because I don’t want to put out any Spoilers. Let’s just say that ultra right-wing conservatives would hate this book, especially the conclusion. (All the more reason to read it!) One of our favorite words here at Onely is amatonormative, which means the normalizing of a few specific kinds of love relationships while marginalizing all others. The Last Conception kicks amatonormativity in the a$$.
Which is why it gets one thumb up from our blog. The other thumb is busy turning the pages for a second read-through.
Book Release: A Voice For Singles With Chronic Illness August 27, 2014Posted by Onely in book review, Reviews, Single with chronic illness, We like. . ..
Tags: chronic illness, misdiagnosed, misdiagnosed the search for Dr House, Nika C. Beamon, single and sick, singles blog, undiagnosed
A while ago we here at Onely.org gave our dear Copious Readers a heads-up and review about Nika C. Beamon’s book MISDIAGNOSED: THE SEARCH FOR DR. HOUSE.
Now we wanted to announce that it’s available on Amazon.com as a paperback and Kindle book. It’s also available on Smashwords and as a Nook Book. Look for the paperback version on Barnes and Noble.com. Congratulations, Nika!
She also wrote a guest post on Psychology Today that ties into the book and talks about how to deal with being sick and single.
Copious Readers, I hope you’re not sick and that no one you love has a serious illness. But even if you are so lucky, check out Nika’s book anyway, just for educational value. You might find a whole new world of weirdness as you enter the seamy, stupid underbelly of the U.S. healthcare system.
How Many Showers Per Pregnancy? June 13, 2014Posted by Onely in Food for Thought.
Tags: marriage privilege, multiple baby showers, selfish single, wedding showers
Question: Is it ok to have two baby showers for the same baby? Or is it taking a double opportunity to get free stuff?
Usually here at Onely we focus on singles’ advocacy and marriage privilege, not babies, and not baby showers. This is because baby showers do not discriminate against single people. Both married and single people have babies, and therefore, both married and single people usually get baby showers (at least in the U.S.–this doesn’t happen in every country). So when we here at Onely freak out about showers, we’re usually talking (or sniping) about wedding showers. For wedding showers, there is no singles’ equivalent, even though unmarried people too may have significant events in their lives that perhaps require crystal bowls, dish towels, or friend-financed trips to Tahiti.
However, singlism (pithy word defined by Dr. Bella dePaulo, meaning discrimination against singles) is tied to childfreeism (stupid-sounding word defined just now by me, meaning discrimination against people without kids) because unfortunately our society still largely normalizes the marriage-children trope. Therefore, in this post we will talk about baby showers.
There is no baby shower equivalent for childfree/childless people. Like singles, they can’t throw a party for a big life event–such as their dog recovering from major heart surgery, or them raising 5,403 dollars by running a marathon for a starving children’s charity (there’s irony for you)–and expect to receive tribute from their friends and family, without very likely being whispered about: Wow, can you believe how selfish she is? How greedy! Shocking. I’m going to come up with some excuse not to go.
Because I am terrible about coming up with excuses not to go places (Oh, too bad, that was the day I was going to shampoo the curtains), I will be attending the baby shower.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not an ogre–I often like to give a friend a congratulatory gift–but I just don’t want to be forced to do so by some discriminatory and presumptuous social custom. The host of the shower told me flat out, “If you are getting clothing, get something larger than newborn because babies in our family have weighed a lot at birth”. Roger that.
Hopefully there will not be too many outfits, because all the requisite cooing and aww-ing over teddy, duck, and “Mommy’s Little Girl” patterns gives me a throatache. My plan is to get something for my friend to use personally because I’ve heard that often the mother, buried under a pile of strollers and footie pajamas, neglects to pamper herself. But then I’ll feel guilty about not buying something for the baby, so I’ll do that too.
Copious readers, any thoughts? Things to consider: Twins. Second pregnancies. Recent relocations.