Single? Blogfest Explains How to Get Screwed 1,000 Times! April 15, 2013Posted by Onely in As If!, Bad Onely Activities, Food for Thought, Guest Bloggers, Guest Posts, Marital Status Discrimination, Singled Out, Singles Resource, Take action, Your Responses Requested!.
Tags: #SinglesBlogfest, #UnmarriedEquality, Atlantic Magazine, bella depaulo, Christina Campbell, Cindy Butler, Eleanore Wells, Marital Status Discrimination, singles blogs, The High Price of Being Single, Unmarried Equality
Marital Status Discrimination: Today, Onely joins forces with dozens of other bloggers to highlight the problem of Marital Status Discrimination. Why? Because on Tax Day, Uncle Sam picks the pockets of singles at the same time he’s rewarding couples for getting married.
So what? So this: The U.S. government–a democratic government, a government “By the People and For the People” and all that–discriminates against fifty percent of its population: unmarried people. Our federal code alone contains over 1,000 laws where marital status is a factor, and in most cases single people lose out.
Because this phenomenon was a problem with no name, we at Onely christened it “institutionalized” Marital Status Discrimination. In January we made a big slam-dunk stink about it in The Atlantic.
The Million-Dollar Difference: According to our very conservative and basic calculations, a single person earning $80,000/year could easily pay at least a million dollars more over her lifetime than her married counterpart, based on only a few of the most discriminatory laws (such as Income Tax, IRAs, and Social Security).
What’s more, our hypothetical scenarios did not consider state laws, nor the many ways Marital Status Discrimination shows up in corporate policies–such as when singles pay more for all sorts of insurance. These factors could easily push the million-dollar figure higher. Much higher.
But money isn’t everything: That’s why our government has thoughtfully provided other laws that don’t impact single people’s pocketbooks. These laws instead impact single people’s peace of mind. For example, as we described in 2010 on Psychology Today, an anti-stalking law promises protection to the victim’s spouse. Phew! But a single person being stalked is offered no such additional protection for a loved ones.
Any stalker who does his research (and we imagine this is all of them) would know exactly whom his stalkee loves most. R.I.P. Grandma; if only you had married your grandson maybe there would have been cops by your door when his stalker came calling. . .
The U.S. Government thinks being unmarried means: a life free of connections and cares, and full of discretionary spending. Unfortunately, even if this were true (and we at Onely fervently wish it were), no society is at its best when half its members are treated differently from the other half.
So let’s get started obliterating Marital Status Discrimination! Our first step is to. . uh. . . We will start by. . . ahem. . . Our next move should be. . . um. . . Well, as you can see, while we at Onely are skilled at pointing out these problems, we aren’t so sure what we should do next.
So, Copious Readers, here’s where we need your help: Now that we’ve gotten the dialog started, what do you think our “next steps” should be? How do you think we should take action (and by “we,” we mean the collective blogosphere standing up for single people everywhere)? What subject matter experts are best positioned to spread the word or propose legislative change? Do you know tax professionals or legislators friendly to our cause? (Or can you convince them to embrace our cause?)
Please share your insights and spread the word: Comment below. Or tweet #UnmarriedEquality and #SinglesBlogfest. Or share this article on Facebook!
If you have more questions about Singles Blogfest, please write to Onely@onely.org or to firstname.lastname@example.org. Huh? Clue? Yes:
The Communication League for Unmarried Equality (CLUE):
We at Onely were not the only ones who instigated this effort. We were honored to have had lots of help from three of the most active voices in the progressive singles’ movement, who jumped on board the Singles Blogfest project with unparalleled enthusiasm and expertise:
Thanks Copious Readers, We Love You!
Photo Credit: The Atlantic.com
Tags: benefits of being married, civil rights, critical of marriage, gay marriage, human rights, marital privilege, marriage debate, U.S. Supreme Court
Marriage is not about love. But most of the public conversation about marriage – most recently, the conversation about gay marriage – tends to treat marriage as the equivalent of love. Marriage, public discourse suggests, makes love official. And who could argue against that? Just as you generally can’t have a satisfying debate with a religious person about the existence of God, you’ll be booed off the stage if you say there’s something wrong with being in love. In popular rhetoric, the word “marriage” is used to signify (stand in for) the concept of romantic love.
Let’s be real; let’s stop saying marriage is about love.
In the best of cases, marriage stems out of love. But marriage itself is not the same as love. In truth, marriage is decidedly un-romantic. It is a legal, and sometimes religious, contract between two people. The contract ties the partners together – in no uncertain terms – in terms of finances, law, and kinship. These are not romantic concepts. In fact, in certain contexts, these concepts can be downright terrifying.
But public rhetoric wants us to ignore the ugly reality and focus on the feel-good. As a result, it’s challenging – almost impossible – to take a critical stance toward the institution.
The recent conversation about gay marriage, currently at the center of two cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, is a prime example of the consequences of our popular discourse. Our discourse suggests that the right to marry is an issue of civil rights (in the States, as some have pointed out, the Human Rights Campaign has problematically dominated this kind of discourse). While we at Onely agree that the achievement of marriage equality is an admirable goal, it does not in fact achieve the larger goals of civil rights, which would ensure that all people – regardless of their marital status – are treated equally in the eyes of the law.
As we have argued time and again on this blog and elsewhere – marriage creates and maintains a social hierarchy that grants specific financial, legal, and kinship benefits to individuals based only on their marital status. And guess who loses, precisely because they are not married? More than 50% of the population, single people.
How Singles Lost WWII (Guest Post by Scott) October 28, 2012Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Guest Bloggers, Singled Out.
Tags: discrimination against singles, history of singlism, marital privilege, money and singles, single finances, world war II
Onely likes to post guest pieces by other writers who think about singles’ issues. The views expressed in our guest posts may or may not reflect Onely’s views, but we are always interested to hear from other singles advocates.
Our Copious Reader Scott wrote the following after estimating correctly, in response to this post, that singles spend more than $1 million more than their married counterparts over the course of their lifetimes, thanks to U.S. government policies that privilege people who are married.
How Singles Lost WWII
It’s 1942. The boys are off killing Nazis, and the U.S. industrial war machine is revving up. The resulting labor shortage pushes up wages, making it expensive for the government to procure war materials. Inflation soars over 10%. In response, Congress passes and President Roosevelt signs the Stabilization Act of 1942, implementing price controls to limit wartime wage increases and curtail the inflation. With one swift stoke of the pen, a new era in Marital Privilege is born.
Wait…what? I thought we were fighting Nazis, not singles.
Alas Onelers, it is true. The discrimination against singles begat 70 years ago in this legislation has already cost me something like $100,000 by age 33.
You see, this legislation included a pernicious exception to the limits on increasing employee compensation. It explicitly allowed employers to offer health care packages to employees and their immediate families in lieu of wage increases. As the only practical means left of attracting workers, these plans quickly caught on.
In 1954, the IRS further ensconced this practice by deciding that employer (and only employer) contributions to health insurance purchases are not taxable income. Employers also do not have to shell out payroll taxes on it. All told, they can offer these benefits for about half what they would otherwise cost workers—an enormous incentive to sponsor health benefit plans for employees, their spouses, and their children.
So, here I sit. (more…)
Tags: dear college dating advice guy, stupid unsolicited emails
Every so often, Christina and I receive emails from folks who obviously haven’t read our blog. Usually, these folks introduce themselves and say kind, generic things–“Love the blog!” “Keep up the great work!” “WOW! You two are such excellent writers, we’d like to offer you a book contract!” (Well, ok, not that last one.)
We’re flattered, of course. But we know they’re liars. How do we know? Because they send us links and encourage us to direct you, Copious Readers, to their websites. And their websites are, more often than not, about dating, intensive coupling, heteronormativity, and matrimania. As our real readers know, this is not what Onely is about.
So normally, we ignore the emails. Occasionally, we’ll send a kind but corrective reply. Although we always cringe, we generally take the high road, avoid the snark. We certainly don’t want to drag ya’ll into it.
But this time, we just can’t help ourselves. Christina forwarded me the following email with the comment “Oh, for god’s sake.” Why? Because at same time the solicitor is sharing links that prove he doesn’t read Onely, he also says that Onely is a sincere pleasure to read.
We would love to share with you an article that we just posted on our own blog! “20 Best Blogs for College Dating Advice” (http://www.onlinecollegecourses.com/2011/07/12/20-best-blogs-for-college-dating-advice/) would be an interesting story for your readers to check out and discuss on your blog.
Either way, I hope you continue putting out great content through your blog. It has been a sincere pleasure to read.
Copious Readers, we wondered: What snarky response would you compose on our behalf? Here’s what we’ve come up with so far:
Dear College Dating Advice Guy: Are you sincerely reading now?
Tags: heart-to-heart dating service, not bitter, single, singlism sucks
Since starting Onely, I’ve become attuned to the subtle singlisms of society. But what I call “attuned,” some people might call “bitter.” Singlists (people who regard singles as less worthy than couples) commonly use “bitter” to describe those of us who question our culture’s unconditionally pro-coupling status quo–whether our tones are calm, vehement, or vituperative.
So I tried very, very hard to keep my voice friendly and upbeat when I called the Heart-to-Heart dating service to tell them that one of their advertisements was singlist. I think I was successful in my efforts to stay nice, but I certainly had no success convincing the representative that the ad was problematic.
Here’s what happened:
While sitting at a stoplight on a busy road, I noticed outside my driver’s side window one of those signs with the little metal sticks for legs, as you might see advertising politicians before an election. But this sign was for a dating service. It said, in big red letters with a heart where the “O” would be (awwww),
“Single? Don’t Be!
If you’re reading this book, you probably already see the problem.
Don’t be single! In common usage, “Don’t” precedes an action/situation that makes your life or others’ lives unsavory. (Don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t eat the yellow snow.)
Don’t be single! There are better ways to be!
I don’t hate dating services. They can connect people who want to find life partners or people (like me) who just hope to go out and have fun. But I’d prefer that the services advertise themselves without denigrating any particular group. It would be so easy:
“Single and looking?
Heart to Heart! (###-###-####)”
Easy! So, I called them. To tell them how, by changing two words, they could make the world a little less singlist. The call Did Not Go Well.
As I’ve said, I was so very nice. I greeted the rep and said I wasn’t actually calling for a date, but rather with an idea for their advertising. I said, more or less, that I felt their ad made some uncomfortable assumptions about single people and that there were other ways to communicate their message without assuming that being single is an inherently bad thing. I suggested, “Single and looking to find a partner?” (which isn’t pithy, but that’s why I’m not in advertising).
At first, she didn’t understand. I tried to explain my point several times, in several ways, all of which were perky and positive (I thought). At some point I said something about them “trashing singlehood,” and that resonated with her. She said, “Ohhhh, I see what you’re saying!”
Success! No, wait, not so much. What follows is a loose transcript of the conversation, in which she dug in her heels and defended Heart-to-Heart’s advertisement as if it were her dissertation. I typed as she spoke. (Please note that I couldn’t type fast enough to record all her words, but I got the gist.)
In her first breath, she said: “[The text on the sign] is what we want to say. . . Single is a problem. . . If you’re single and not happy, we can partner you up. . . In today’s economy two incomes are better than one.”
Wow. I had to decide which of these ignorant statements to address. I chose “if you’re single and not happy, we can partner you up.”
Patiently, I tried to explain that the whole problem was that they didn’t specify “single and unhappy,” or “single and looking for someone,” but instead, they just said “single.”
She replied, “If you’re not looking to find anyone, then don’t call us.”
That’s absolutely fine, I said, still optimistic. But they didn’t say “call us if you’re single and looking to find someone.” They said, “don’t be single.” In choosing these words, I explained, they were trashing all single people, even those who didn’t consider their status a problem.
The rest of her words speak for themselves:
“The reason that we trashed [singlehood] is we don’t want people to be single. We want people to think about being single to think about being alone. . . so we are trying to trash it. . . And we are getting tons of calls and people walking through our door – so it’s working for us.”
I took a deep breath, maintaining my cool. I didn’t want to give her a chance to call me bitter. So I said, in the sweetest tone I could muster (while making white-knuckled throttling motions with my hands), “Well, it’s something to think about!”
And she said, “Well, thanks for your input. I’ll pass it on to our management.”
HAHA! Just kidding. No she didn’t. She actually said: “Ok, but it’s working for us so I don’t think we’ll even give it a thought.” (The emphasis this time is mine.)
But it’s too late. My phone call made her think about it. And even though she’ll try to dismiss it (perhaps she’ll complain about “that bitter single woman” to her colleagues and friends), my complaint was voiced. That’s progress, and that’s why I’m not bitter.
Great News for Single Americans! (but you wouldn’t know it if you listened to the news) February 6, 2011Posted by Onely in As If!, Food for Thought, Heteronormativity, Pop Culture: Scourge of the Onelys, Singled Out, Singles Resource, We like. . ..
Tags: advanced directives, gay rights = singles' rights, hospital visitation rights, know your rights, LGBTQS, Obama pro-single, singles, singles get to redefine family too!, singlism in the media
To the delight of LGBTQS (that stands for lesbian-gay-bi-trans-queer-single) advocates everywhere, federal regulations now require that hospitals must grant all patients, no matter their marital, sexual or religious status, the right to define who they count as “family.”
Thanks to President Obama, the Code of Federal Regulations 42 CFR 482.13(h) and 42 CFR 485(f) requires that all hospitals in the U.S.:
(1) inform each patient of his or her right to receive visitors whom he or she designates, including a domestic partner, (2) do not restrict or limit visitation rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity, among other factors and (3) ensure that all visitors have full and equal visitation rights, consistent with a patient’s wishes. (– Human Rights Campaign)
Whoo hoo! Great news for singles, right? We certainly think so — but you wouldn’t know it if you relied on the media to explain. According to most reports I read, the major stakeholders are lesbian and gay couples. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but … ummm … what about lesbian and gay singles? Or … ahem … what about all singles (asexual, heterosexual, polyamorous, widowed, divorced, whatever).
Singlist media strikes again! Because it completely ignores the remarkably equalizing ramifications – for all Americans – of this new law, it upholds the couple-centric, heteronormative bias that all LGBTQS folk are trying to overcome. So you can see what I mean, let’s examine the following report posted on ABC’s news site shortly after the regulations came into effect: (more…)
Tags: 138 federal laws favor marriage, marital privilege, military laws, property taxes, singlism
Interested in how, exactly, marital privilege is embedded the in U.S. federal law? We were too: Check out our guest posts over at Bella DePaulo’s blog on Psychology Today, Living Single — here are the links: Part I and Part II.
Extra special thanks to Bella for hosting us! We’re truly flattered :)
– Lisa and Christina