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A-hole or a Hypocrite? Marital Status Discrimination in the Voting Booth November 6, 2014

Posted by Onely in Bad Onely Activities, Food for Thought, Heteronormativity, Just Saying., Marital Status Discrimination.
Tags: , , , ,
3 comments

3011331342_e5a2676af5_zHello Haters,

Get your running shoes and start digging your toes into the dirt so you are ready to sprint to the comments section by the end of this post. Though you might want to spare your fingers. You don’t need to tell me how much of an a-hole I am; I already know that and feel bad enough about myself as it is.

Copious Readers,

What would you have done in the following situation? Did I make the right or wrong call?

As you know, we at Onely have been harping since forever about Marital Status Discrimination–which happens when laws and corporate policies favor married people over unmarried. We hate that. So imagine my dismay when I saw that on (U.S.) midterms voting day (Tuesday, November 04, 2014) I would be forced to vote on the Virginia legislature’s House Bill 46, introduced by Delegate David Ramadan (R-87) :

Virginia Property Tax Exemption for Surviving Spouses of Armed Forces Amendment:

The measure was designed to exempt real property from taxation for any surviving spouse of a member of the United States Armed Forces who was killed in action, as determined by the Department of Defense.

It’s always terrible when anyone is killed in action. But when I read about this proposed legislation, I had to think, “But what if the person KIA wasn’t married, but had a very important person (or persons) in their life who filled some or all of the emotional/physical/financial criteria that a spouse might?” All military personnel should be able to choose a person to be exempt from this taxation, should the servicewoman or man be KIA. Otherwise, our government is not only discriminating against unmarried people, but against unmarried people who risk their lives in service of our country.

I sat in the voting booth much longer than normal (meaning longer than thirty seconds) considering whether to fill in the Yes oval or the No oval. I considered voting Yes, because I didn’t want spouses of U.S. servicepeople to have to pay real property taxes if they didn’t have to, because of course it sucks very much that their husbands/wives were KIA, and they deserve whatever recompense the government can/will give them.

However, I also considered voting No, because I didn’t want to support a law that I felt discriminated against single people in our armed forces–first, because discriminating against single people who protect our freedoms is yucky, and second, because I felt I would be a hypocrite given all the writing I’ve done about Marital Status Discrimination.

Yes-No-Yes-No-Yes-No. . . Well, you know those chairs in elementary school gymnasiums are just not comfy for this kind of extended rumination, plus people have an annoying habit of “waiting in line” behind you for you to finish your vote. Eventually I had to decide: should I be an A-hole or Hypocrite?

I chose A-hole. I voted that spouses of people KIA should *not* get those tax exemptions. Yes, I felt like a jerk. But I figured two things: One, there was no way I was going to escape that butt-numbing elementary school chair without feeling like a jerk in one way or another. Two, chances were that most other people would vote Yes on the measure, because like me, they would feel like jerks for voting No. So I could be reasonably sure the legislation would pass even if I took a small stand against Marital Status Discrimination by voting NOPE.

And I was right. The measure passed by 87.1 percent, with 1,829,691 votes.

I’m still not sure about my decision. Had it been any other law favoring married people, there would have been no question on how to vote. But when you get the military involved (I have a number of relatives and friends in the Army and Navy) those boundaries start to become less clear. Thoughts? (Virginia residents welcome.)

–Christina

Photo credit: David Poe, Mockstar

Disney Attempts to Become Less Singlist: FROZEN, a Review April 1, 2014

Posted by Onely in film review, Heteronormativity, Pop Culture: Scourge of the Onelys.
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4 comments

FROZEN is mostly just another stupid Disney Princess movie, with one tiny difference. As the film progresses it becomes apparent that our main heroine (a princess) can only be saved from her horrid fate (slowly turning to ice) by an act of True Love. We’re led to believe that this will come in the form of True Love’s Kiss by the bumbling but good-hearted sledgedriver named–something, forget. I’ll call him Burt.

However, in the climactic penultimate action scene, the True Love occurs when–SPOILER ALERT, FOR ALL OUR COPIOUS READERS WHO ARE ALSO DISNEY PRINCESS FANS–the princess selflessly saves her sister’s life. They hug and say “I love you!” Moreover, our princess heroine never even marries Burt. There are no couples riding–or sledging–off into the sunset. Instead, everybody in the kingdom gets together and ice skates. The last “couple” we see up close are the two sisters, skating together.

I grudgingly say “Good for Disney.” Grudgingly, because I loathe Disney, not only for their singlism and marriage mania, but for their sexism and racism. Just some random examples: All the princesses look the same–skinny, with ginormous eyes and tiny or nonexistent ears. They vary only according to hair color or style and–if we’re lucky–skin color. I barely need mention that their fates revolve around men. And in Aladdin, all the Arabs except for Aladdan have accents–meaning that all the bad guys sound like they are actually from the region where the story takes place, whereas Aladdin sounds like he grew up tipping cows in Indiana.

So I look at FROZEN as one small step in a journey of about ten million miles that Disney needs to walk in order to undo all the damage they’ve done to little minds over the years.

Just saying.

–Christina

Alabama State President–Victim of Singlism January 16, 2014

Posted by Onely in Celebrities, Heteronormativity, Take action.
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2 comments

Even the unmarried president of Alabama State, Gwendolyn Boyd, accepts discrimination 4708817904_8ff853a14d_oagainst single people, aka ‘singlism’. That shows how insidious singlism is in our society. Even a woman with a  master’s in mechanical engineering from Yale buys into the myth that couples are better than singles.  I must presume she is a highly intelligent, driven, open-minded woman. But then why, Copious Readers, would she end up accepting these terms from the university:

Her contract stipulated that she could not share her prime university housing with anyone except a husband.

And she didn’t fight back.

Check out this Washington Post article by Valerie Strauss to get the whole story, and to read about all Boyd’s *other* accomplishments that make her complacency in this matter even more startling. (more…)

The Wife Date December 9, 2012

Posted by Onely in Bad Onely Activities, Dating, Heteronormativity.
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9 comments

As our Copious Readers know (but as we often have to clarify to our not-so-Copious Readers and Friends), Christina and I are not against coupling per se. We’re against the privileges associated with coupling, especially when they are unequal to the privileges provided for singles.

Why am I giving you this caveat? Because I went on a date recently. And I didn’t want anyone to think that, by going on a date, I was not being Onely. We believe it’s possible to be Onely and have a love life too.

That being said, I have something to say about the date, which I am heretofore nicknaming The Wife Date. Perhaps by the nickname you can guess how I felt about it. But in case you can’t, let me explain:

Have you ever gone on a date where the conversation consisted of a series of generic questions, rather than from finding mutual experiences or interests in common? (more…)

Onely’s Adventures in Accounting: The Math of Marital Status Discrimination September 22, 2012

Posted by Onely in As If!, Heteronormativity, Your Responses Requested!.
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28 comments

Phew, pant pant pant. We at Onely almost missed National Unmarried and Single Americans Week!  (Lisa says it’s because she was too busy having fun as a single person.) And indeed, lately there have been a ton of articles (“All the Single Ladies,” “A Confederacy of Bachelors”) in big media about how single people are happy being single (gasp!). Which is good.

But it’s not enough to celebrate social aspects of being single. These articles about the Rise of Satisfied Singles, while important, don’t address the underlying problem of how our society views singles:

Discrimination against unmarried people is institutionalized in government laws (and by corporate policies, which follow the government’s lead).

Take, for example, the unmarried Canadian soldier killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. If he had been married, his spouse would have gotten Death Benefits of $250,000. But because he had no spouse, that $250,000 remained in government coffers to be given to a married person. His and other parents challenged this practice, protesting that in the absence of a spouse, the money could just as easily be allocated to them.

Do you think these parents are

A) Justified;

B) Hmmm, what an interesting idea;

or

C) OMG HOW SELFISH?

If you answered A, then you understand why we at Onely believe marriage as a legal institution is overvalued and oversanctified. If you answered C, then you’d better stop reading now. We are going to prod at your stale paradigms – with the sword of mathematics. En guard!

We’ve never done the math of Marital Privilege. No one has. Until now. (more…)

Getting It All Wrong: Reconsidering “The Benefits of Being Single” August 11, 2012

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Heteronormativity, STFU.
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7 comments

Thanks to one of our Copious Readers from South Africa, Amelia, for bringing to our attention a ridiculously offensive article published recently in iAfrica, entitled “The Benefits of Being Single.”

Amelia told us,

I was very much looking forward to finding out what the financial benefits of being single are, as it’s always seemed to me more expensive not to have anyone to share the rent and other expenses with. But boy, was I in for a surprise!

Like Amelia, we had high hopes for the article. After all, the intro sounded promising:

There is a growing trend in South Africa (and it’s probably already a worldwide trend) for people to choose to remain single…. We no longer have to be married in order to be counted as serious or dependable (unless we are running for president).

Unfortunately, the article takes a nose-dive shortly thereafter, when we learn that:

the beauty of being single from a financial standpoint is that you are cheaper to maintain!

(Yes, the exclamation point was in the original…!)

Also,

You … don’t have to take other people’s needs into account, such as which area to buy a home in and how large that home should be.

And,

when going on holidays a single person can afford to travel more as there is only one airplane ticket to buy, one holiday package to purchase. If you don’t like holidaying on your own there are many travel clubs with groups to join and new friends to make.

And – my god – did you know that:

you can start that business that you always wanted with less personal risk. If the business does not pan out you have no family home that needs to be sold or repossessed by the bank, no children that need to be moved from their school after a forced evacuation. There is only yourself that will go through hardships because of mistakes you made and lessons you learned. Also, you can work the long hours it takes to build a business without paying too little attention to anyone.

So, let’s outline the problematic assumptions at work here

  1. Being single somehow means your expenses are lower, in spite of the fact that having two (or more) incomes and splitting the bills, sharing a house, paying for insurance, and even taking a vacation is significantly cheaper per person for couples and families than being single.
  2. Being single means that you have no significant relationships or obligations to maintain.
  3. Being single means that you have plenty of time on your hands.
  4. Being single means personal risk doesn’t matter, and it probably also means that you’re male, extroverted, wealthy, and/or white.

*Sigh.* Three cheers for the heteronormative mainstream media!

– Lisa and Christina

photo credit: http://www.fam.tuwien.ac.at

Umbrella Alert: Selective Showers Ahead! July 28, 2012

Posted by Onely in As If!, Heteronormativity.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
17 comments

Getting married is more admirable than travelling to Haiti with Habitat for Humanity. Having a baby is more admirable than writing a biography of a pivotal activist in the gay movement.

At least, this is what an extraterrestrial would think if it landed; after all, we humans (or large percentages of us) almost automatically have Showers to celebrate coupling and breeding, but not to celebrate other large life occurrences, such as post-tragedy-home-building or hours-in-front-of-a-computer-for-the-sake-of-progressive-literature.

Such social conventions favor certain personal choices over others. I can’t get a month off with benefits to do something important to me, like take an intensive Arabic course in Morocco. But the woman one cubicle over can take two months of leave, and never lose her health insurance, just because her important thing is having a baby. (To my annoyance, here I have to preempt some myopic commenters by saying Relax–I am not dissing maternity/paternity leave; in fact, I’m saying it’s so awesome that even baby-free people should get that kind of time off).

Wedding and baby showers follow the same amatonormative (normalizing and preferring pairing) principles as baby leave, but at least they only represent one day of couple-privileging, versus weeks or months. Note: Baby showers are amatonormative because our cultures still mostly consider babies to ideally be the offspring/culmination of a (usually hetero) couple.

So, enough with the social commentary and on with the fun-making.

At a dinner party the other night I made the ill-advised, perhaps judgy-sounding comment: “No more wine, thanks. Early tomorrow I’m going to a baby shower. Those things should be outlawed. Showers, I mean, not babies.”

Another dinner guest, who had recently been showing off pictures of her new twin boys, said,

Oh, but one must have a shower, to get all the stuff one needs!

Indeed. I would like a shower, to get all the stuff I need to support my personal choices. To that end, I have included some helpful descriptions of items that will look great wrapped and stacked on the coffee tables of my happy hosting friends. Yes, it’s ridiculous. But how much more ridiculous is it, really, than the things brides and mothers (and it’s significant that I don’t also say ‘grooms and fathers’) have unwrapped and squealed over at the showers you, Copious Readers, have attended (and financed)?

Come Celebrate! It’s a Graduate School Shower!

512 MB 16″ Ultralite Foldable Waterproof Laptop by Cybertonic:

Built-in microphone records the tiniest mutter of your professor from across the lecture hall. Dual-faced camera shoots both behind and in front of the screen, so you can capture the structure of 2,4-Toluenedisulphonic acid from the whiteboard and also your facial expression as you see it lose its first hydrogen. 4 GB hard drive lets you preserve those precious memories forever, or at least through exam week. Waterproof to three feet and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, this laptop is perfect for those late-night cram sessions in the hot tub with the basketball team.  $1,099.99

LifelongLearner™ Coffee Mug:

Padded handles minimize grip slippage during the caffeine shakes. Comes in Moonless Black for your favorite night owl, Glaring Gold for shiny morning people, and Panicky Pink for procrastinators.  $24.99

CampushikeBackpack:

Svelt form minimizes drag during sprints to the cafeteria for last-minute donuts but expands to fit your astrophysics texts (padded straps absorb book bounce). Available emblazoned with hand-stitched crosseyed glasses logo for science majors and french fry emblem for humanities students. Mace pocket! $55.99

.5lb Silk-cotton Blend Thesis Paper

Regular pack $20.99; Frequent Printer Jam Pack $35.99; Annoyingly Prolific Pack $99.99

WARNING. The Brilliant Beige version of this product has been recalled due to potential toxic effects of the gloss but other colors should be fine.

“Brain On Board” sign (yellow and black)

The world is full of drivers who are considering rear-ending your graduate student’s car! But with this sign displayed in the back window, those drivers will change their minds!

Regular $5.99; SUV edition $2.99 (smaller brain) (more…)

What Every Woman Wants? July 22, 2012

Posted by Onely in Dating, Food for Thought, Heteronormativity, single and happy.
Tags: , , , , , ,
6 comments

Copious Readers,

The following is a story about the perils of couple-mania. The victim is me. The moral: Always trust your gut – you are a smart and intuitive person. Don’t let couple-mania get the better of you.

ImageA couple of weeks ago, I was invited to help a friend – let’s call her Reem – celebrate her birthday at a beautiful beach in southern Lebanon with her boyfriend (let’s call him Ramzi), and another friend of theirs (we’ll call her Rose). The beach was lovely – sunny, hot, relaxing.

A few hours into the afternoon, a few of Ramzi’s acquaintances from his football league showed up. We mingled. One of the guys started talking to me. We’ll call him Beach Dude.

Beach Dude seemed to be a genuinely nice guy. He’d grown up in the States but was of Lebanese descent. Talking with him, I felt comfortable, relaxed. He even asked me the topic of my dissertation; no one ever does that. We watched the sunset and chatted until I had to leave for Reem’s birthday dinner. I thought nothing of it.

But apparently, Reem, Ramzi, and Rose had thought about it plenty. They started teasing me.

Them: “Wow, Lisa, Beach Dude really likes you!”

Me: “What are you talking about?”

Them: “He stayed to talk to you when all the guys left to play football!”

Me: “Well, that’s true… but…”  My gut just felt they were wrong.

Them: “Lisa, he’s totally into you.”

Me: “I think he was just being friendly.”

Them: “You guys have got to hook up!”

After all their badgering I began to wonder if maybe they were right, and I had in fact entirely misinterpreted Beach Dude’s manner and motivations. Maybe he was totally turned on by the sexy concepts of historiography and disciplinarity (the subject of my dissertation). Still, I squirmed and blushed as they kept insisting that they had seen something I hadn’t.

I already hate couple-mania enough when it’s “out there” – in magazines or on television – but I truly despise it when it’s targeted at me. (more…)

Onely Commits Heteronormativity (Again) April 5, 2012

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Heteronormativity.
Tags: , , ,
8 comments

I’m beginning to worry I’m a subconscious heteronormahole, one of those annoying people who frame everything in the world in a hetero couple matrix. Regular readers will recall that in the past I’ve made unintentionally singlist or heteronormative remarks about housing and parenting.

Well, folks, I did it again. Recently I saw a hypnotist for assistance with handling medical issues, but as you know these guys are famous–in TV world at least–for dredging up all sorts of nastiness from the subconscious. Even. . . heteronormativity in a woman who has spent her blogging career railing against couple-maniacs and calling them names?

What happened was: The hypnotist sat me in a fluffy recliner. To the right of me was a matching fluffy recliner. In the tiny room, the recliners were the centerpiece and the empty chair to the right of me was very close and very obvious.

“Why do you have two chairs here?” I asked, after the session. I was groggy. (After all, I had just spent fifteen minutes being told to relax and visualize happy stuff. )  “Why? Do you hypnotize couples together? Like therapy?”

“No.” She gave me the same look I would have given myself, had I been completely lucid. “Sometimes friends want to do it together. Often coworkers. Not so much couples, at least not for therapy.”

Of course. Why would two chairs automatically suggest a couple to me? Why wouldn’t any number of other combinations of peoplehood want to try hypnosis together? Copious Readers, what would you have thought if you’d seen two chairs close side by side in a small dim hypnotist’s office?

–Christina

Photo credit: the-hypnotic.blogspot.com

Single’s Movement Has a Slogan! February 20, 2012

Posted by Onely in Heteronormativity, Take action.
Tags: , , , , ,
4 comments

Copious Readers, let us know what you think of this for our Singles’ movement slogan (if I may be so bold):

Separate sex and state!

Advantage: If you pronounce it SeparAYTE, it has rhyme and rhythm.

Disadvantage: Some people might read it as SeparUT.

Advantage: It has “sex” in it.

Disadvantage: It has “sex” in it.

As our regular readers will recognize, the slogan reflects how many governments give arbitrary rights and privileges to married couples, at the expense of gays who cannot marry and, less famously, at the expense of single people.  Yes, some companies or governments think of themselves as all progressive for providing some domestic partner benefits, but in doing so they’re just feeding back into the whole overdone trope of couple-privileging.

Moreover, “couple” is largely by default defined as two people who live together and have sex with each other on a regular basis. This prevents, or at least deters, two platonic females (for example) who live together, maybe share childcare responsibilities, and function as a married couple in all ways but one–dare I whip out the Kate & Allie reference? I do dare–from receiving or applying for domestic partner benefits.

This is why we think Separate sex from state is an appropriate slogan for progressive singles. Separate sex from state, and many other cultural prejudices about singles (selfish, lonely, always seeking “the one”) will fall away as well.

–Christina

P.S. If you watch the Kate & Allie episode, aired in 1984, you’ll see how they float the idea of “family can be defined many ways.” Yet over twenty years later, so many people (and institutions) are still acting as if the hetero couple unit is the be-all end-all of family. Shameful.

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