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.:
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.
Tags: Kindle Direct Publishing, singles chronic illness, Spectre and the Sickness
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Copious Readers, welcome to our very first post that has nothing to do with being single! We have written over 400 posts so far and each and every one has directly pertained to some aspect of being single, either socially or legally (or both). Not today!
I wrote an all-true essay about ghosthunting and Lyme Disease called The Spectre and the Sickness, and I put it up on Kindle Direct Publishing. For only a dollar, you can find out how paranormal investigations and Lyme disease are very much alike. Please check it out. Any feedback is welcome.
Anyone can write something and put it on Kindle Direct Publishing, and I highly recommend you do. Trust me, it’s worth all the trouble of wordsmithing–if only because the Kindle program for making your own cover art is so damn fun.
So do it–write about social or legal discrimination against single people! Write about silly things non-single (or unenlightened singles) have said to you about your single status! Write about being single with a chronic illness (our current favorite topic here at Onely)!
Oops, I guess I have turned this post into one about marital status after all. Quick, undo undo: Write about kittens! Write about hot air balloons! Write about the crisis in Ukraine! Write about intestinal polyps! (A topic we, too, will address soon in an upcoming post–and don’t worry, by then we will be back to writing about singleness again.)
Sillybacy: The Funnier Side of The No-Sex Oath January 10, 2014Posted by Onely in blog reviews, Everyday Happenings, We like. . ..
Tags: Catholic blog, Funny Celibacy, No Sex, Oath of Celibacy, single not looking for partner, singles blog
1 comment so far
For unmarried or uncoupled people who want sex but aren’t having any, this seems like quite the problem. But many people actually choose or swear to be celibate–maybe for a pre-determined period, maybe permanently, or maybe for an indeterminate amount of time after (ahem) a particularly bad first date, involving an argument about ice cream in a public parking lot and also (don’t ask) beansprouts.
But despite all these different kinds of celibacy, when most people hear “celibacy”, our knee-jerk reaction is,
Difficult. Extreme. Embarrassing to discuss, especially with the perpetrator.
Guest Post: A Take on How to Be Single and Happy December 5, 2013Posted by Onely in Everyday Happenings, Food for Thought, Guest Bloggers.
Tags: Guest Post Singles, happy singles advice, Veronica Hayes
4 comments Copious Readers, remember that we always like guest posts expressing different writers’ feelings on being single and happy (or not). Here is one from Veronica Hayes. We welcome comments!
–Christina and Lisa
Being single and happy means taking advantage of the fact that your primary responsibility is to yourself. It also means that your time is to yours to do with as you choose, so choose wisely. Sitting around the house playing video games, going online, or watching TV are all options. A great option for most people is to get up and out on a regular basis and mingle with other single people. Join a gym club, find local social events, or get involved with sports teams – professional or local. Staying active will keep you from wondering what to do with all the free time you have available to you.
Since you live alone, there is no one else to consider when choosing the type of sound system, size of the big screen TV, or how comfortable the chairs should be. There is no one else’s mess to clean up, so you take care of yourself. Take advantage of this and create the type of single person environment that makes a statement about you and being single. I once lived in an apartment that had a massive living room which I turned into an entertainment room, complete with big screen TV, surround sound stereo, and uber-comfortable furniture for lounging. I didn’t worry about someone rearranging things or telling me to turn the volume down.
Be Real! (more…)
Those Family Stickers on Cars August 20, 2013Posted by Onely in Everyday Happenings, Food for Thought, STFU.
Tags: blended family, familystickers, nuclear family, sexism, singles blog
They are really disturbing, and if you live in North America, you know them. You see them all over. You may even have some yourself! Those stick-figure-esque stickers showing the white outlines of people in the simplest breakdown possible: Man, woman, boy, girl. People put them on the back windows of their cars to show who is in their family. Oh, you also get dogs and cats and the occasional little baby. Some of the people carry things that represent their fun hobbies: Lacrosse stick! Guitar! Staple Gun! (Well, maybe not that last one.) You may be thinking, SO WHAT’S THE PROBLEM, GRUMPY ONELY?
The man is always bigger than the woman who is bigger than the children. That last part makes sense. But the first part has the potential for trouble. And trouble there is! 99.9 percent of the sticker families are ordered left to right–as is our written language in this part of the world–and so people (I hope without thinking) in an attempt at aesthetics smack on those stickers on biggest to smallest. So the father is always, always on the left, and hence, first. And the woman second.
Ignoring for the moment that these sticker collections are almost always nuclear-focused, let’s look at that father on the left. First. Taller. ALWAYS. I don’t think I have ever seen them ordered Mother, Father, Children. Ever. And I have seen a looooot of them. These stickers give me the chills because of their father-as-head-of-household mentality. Maybe not on purpose, and maybe that wasn’t the intention of the company who makes them, but customers are still slave to the big-to-small aesthetic and hence stick father-then-mother, perpetuating a dynamic that I thought was supposed to be dying out in the 1960s!
But don’t worry! A few lone independent thinkers are fighting back!
Somewhere in Colorado between Denver and Boulder, I saw a black car in front of me with the family stickers. They were on the bumper instead of the window. And they had been, shall we say, rearranged. As this is a family blog (Hey, singles blogs can be family blogs too! Right?), I won’t go in to details, just to say that one scene had a girl (you could tell by the feathered hair and triangle skirt) throwing a baby’s head to her brother (you could tell by the boxy shorts).
If familystickers.com isn’t careful, more people might start manipulating their product into even more controversial displays, such as. . . Two Men and a girl with the girl on the left! (I’ve never seen this one; I’ve never even seen two men), or One Woman and Seven Cats (this would be mine) (hey, I’m counting my feral colony, ok!?).
Copious Readers, do any of you have FamilyStickers on your car? In what configuration?
Photo Credit: Theo Junior
Tags: David Bedrick, dr. phil, singles blog
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Bedrick, David. Talking Back to Dr. Phil: Alternatives to Mainstream Psychology. (Belly Song Press, 2013).
Copious Readers, welcome to our ongoing series of interviews with Dr. David Bedrick, who proposes a “love-based psychology” that goes beyond the normative (restrictive) ideals that our society (as evidenced by Dr. Phil) puts upon people.
Bedrick’s approach parallels Onely’s efforts to dismantle normative prejudices against unmarried people. We disagree with the idea that couples (whether socially coupled or married) are “better” than single people, or more deserving of government protection.
Today’s Topic: What makes you think I want to be more like you?
Onely: You say we need to protect marginalized people and forms of expression being seen as “problems” (xxv) and that such allopathic thinking, prevents us from seeing chances for individual growth–and thereby social growth (5).
How do you think society might benefit by attempting to eliminate marital status discrimination? Would such an effort stabilize or destabilize us?
Bedrick: Great question! This is an interesting debate in the GLBT community where many are fighting of the right to be legally married while a smaller minority does not see this as the best direction because it presupposes that being more like “them” is a better way to be.
I think it was James Baldwin, a black gay man, who said something like “what makes you think that I want to be more like you?” There is a powerful assumption that people want the right to be like those who enjoy the most social privilege, however individuals and society suffer from marginalizing our diversity when actually what they want is the fair distribution of privilege- from affirmation and fair witness to legal rights.
Certainly if this discrimination were lessened, people would be more free to not hold partnering/marrying as central to their esteem and life goals freeing them to express their gifts in ways more suitable to their authentic selves. In addition, as I suggested above, even people who are partnered would enjoy greater inner support for their independent dreams.
Lastly, let me express my appreciation for your work. Your questions, vision, and focus have required me to reflect more on the issues you raise, making me more conscious, a better ally, and a better counselor.
Onely: Thanks so much for taking time to talk with us. Feel free to contact us in the future with any other thoughts or ideas about applying the principles of love-based psychology to Oneliness!
Copious Readers, please find the previous parts of this interview right below this one!