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.:
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
1 comment so far
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?
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.
Seeking Sick Singles March 17, 2014Posted by Onely in Your Responses Requested!.
Tags: sick and single, singles blog, singles with chronic illness
We are doing this for two reasons: One, a friend of ours is considering a possible documentary about singles with chronic illness. Two, just because we at Onely are interested in how single people live with chronic illness, and we hope to talk to a range of people meeting these criteria. If you would like to be considered for the (still hypothetical) documentary, or would like to tell your story outside of the documentary, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Or leave a comment below.)
We are also seeking another term than “sick singles” (too pathetic and, what’s more, a little pornish-sounding) or “singles with chronic illness” (too unwieldy). Terms that distill into catchy acronyms would be great.
Photo credit: Zoom_Artbrush
Singles (and Seduction?) on Sailboats February 25, 2014Posted by Onely in Food for Thought.
Tags: couples-only, Marital Status Discrimination, married-only, singles blog, singles clubs, singles on sailboats
It’s been a long time since our last post. Sorry if anyone missed us. (We hope someone missed us.) But never fear, even though we weren’t posting, we constantly had our eyes peeled for examples of marital status discrimination against singles. There are examples all over the news (thank you, Google feed), but we prefer to write about incidents we personally experienced. And our favorite kind of personal vignette is when the marital status discrimination is reversed–when married people experience a little bit of what singles live with every day. Mean but true.
You may or may not know my stance on singles’ groups. I personally find them kind of icky (I explained why here) but some people like them, so whatever. My friend Kisha is part of a beautifully-alliterated group, Singles on Sailboats (that also happens to have the unfortunate acronym SOS). But here’s the thing–Kisha is in a relationship. She’s not single.
So what’s she doing in a singles sailing club? Does this mean that Kisha is stepping out on her current man Dean and scanning the sailboats for a smarter, richer, tauter, funnier version of Dean?
First, because Dean owns the boat. You can be single as George Clooney, but you can’t be in SOS unless you have a boat (which is a dumb example, because of course George Clooney has a boat). Second, SOS allows couples like Kisha and Dean to join. Because they are not married.
Did you get that? Unmarried couples ok, married couples not ok. Perhaps SOS thinks that until a couple signs that piece of paper–until they become legally coupled as opposed to merely socially coupled–SOS should not deprive them of the chance that, while attending a SOS function, one of the unmarried pair might find, well, a smarter, richer, tauter, funnier version of Dean.
I would go to SOS myself and try to seduce some socially-but-not-legally coupled men, just to test this theory, except I don’t have a boat. Or any seduction experience or equipment.
I heard about the marital discrimination information straight from Kisha. “We’re trying to get them to allow married couples,” she said, and more power to her. Maybe if they add married couples they can become People on Sailboats, which sounds kind of stupid but at least they’d lose that unlucky SOS acronym.
(Full disclosure: The SOS website, technically you can be married in the club, but you must have joined as a single person. Which pretty much amounts to the same thing I’ve been yapping about above.)
All that said, here are the people that SOS does welcome unconditionally:
single members with all levels of sailing experience, from novice sailors to seasoned skippers. . . all single persons twenty-one years of age or older, regardless of race, color, creed, sex or national origins
Which just shows how discriminatory singlism (or, in this case, marriedism) is ingrained in our society. The club has no qualms about making policy based on marital status, but they go out of their way to advertise their lack of racism, colorism, creedism, sexism, or national originsism.
Until they fix their marital status discrimination, they cannot legitimately say, as they do on their website, “SOS is a sailing club, not a dating club.”
Copious Readers, can you think of better acronyms for this club, either reflecting their current status as a dating club, or their future status as a non-singlist, non-marriedist club for everyone?
Photo credit: Pixabay, Public Domain
Alabama State President–Victim of Singlism January 16, 2014Posted by Onely in Celebrities, Heteronormativity, Take action.
Tags: Alabama State, discriminatory housing, Gwendolyn Boyd, history of singlism, singles blog, singlism in school, valerie strauss
Even the unmarried president of Alabama State, Gwendolyn Boyd, accepts discrimination against 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…)
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.
Seeking Happily Ever After, Ever After! December 8, 2013Posted by Onely in film review, Great Onely Activities, Honorary Onely Awards, Reviews, Some Like It Single.
Tags: marriage myth, producer michelle cove, seeking happily ever after, singles blog, singles film
Copious Readers, several months ago Onely was excited to view and review the independent pro-single-women film Seeking Happily Ever After. Now it’s more widely available on DISTRIFY, where anyone in an English-speaking country (for now) can rent it from their own computer. (Distribution in non-English-speaking countries has not been implemented yet due to the cost of subtitling.)
Producer Michelle Cove provides some statistics that drive home the need–or rather, the market–for pro-singles films such as Seeking Happily Ever After:
Buoyed by the success of Happily Ever After, we at Onely hope that one day someone will make a film about single men. Granted, women are more immersed in the White Dress Marriage Myth and hence the greater need for a film such as SHEA. But a positive film about unmarried men would be interesting too. Any takers?
Shared History: What’s it Worth? Who With? October 8, 2013Posted by Onely in As If!, Food for Thought.
Tags: are you seeing anyone? why aren't you married?, mother in law, shared history, singles blog
Copious Readers, is it worth it to hang on to a “meh” or “blech” relationship (romantic, platonic, or hairstylist) because–and only because–you’ve been together a long time and shared many experiences? Let me tell you two parables. Then consider who you share history or histories with, and what they mean to you, and whether you should continue, end, or try to reinvigorate those relationships.
(1) My friend Beulah was peacefully shopping in Target in Boulder, Colorado when she rounded the corner of the Hair Notions aisle and ran smack into. . . AAAHHHHHHHH! Her best friend’s mother!
Now, many of you Copious Readers may wonder, what is so inherently frightening about one’s best friend’s mother? (Mother-in-law jokes aside.) Well, Beulah of course loves her best friend, Shawna, but Beulah has repeatedly told me, “You couldn’t pay me enough to be part of that family.” I never really understood why, until she told me this story.
Shawna’s mother, Monique, is a wiry woman with an intense face where her cheekbones make arrowheads up to her huge eyes. Right now she stared down Beulah waiting, just waiting, for a chance to ask her The Question. And as Beulah held her breath, there it came:
So, are you seeing anyone?
Beulah said, “No, I’m sort taking it easy on the dating scene, enjoying being by myself for a while, you know.”
Monique said, “Oh, no, you can’t think like that.”
“Huh?” said Beulah, with her face if not her voice. Monique continued.
Don’t you want to find someone you can have a shared history with?
Jim (Monique’s husband) and Monique had travelled the world with USAID–they did indeed have a long shared history. (Subsequently Beulah and Shawna had a shared history, cultivated when they met in Nepal. But Monique wasn’t thinking of that.) She told Beulah, “And all the time we (her family) are hoping for you’ll find someone,that you’ll find someone you can have a shared history with. Like me and Jim.”
After that, Beulah went back to the frozen foods section to pick up a pint of Ben&Jerry’s-Double-Fudge-Super-Rum-Bourbon-Xtacy. Can you blame her? On the phone later she told me, “Monique and Jim snip at each other all the time. The tension in that house is like rubber bands all over the couches, curtains, everything. I’d rather not have a “shared history” than have a history like that.”
Unfortunately, not everyone thinks things through like Beulah. Which leads us in to Parable 2:
(2) My friend Nathan started seeing Tracy when they were in their early twenties. They were together, then apart, then together, then married. After four or five years together (and apart, and together, and married), things grew sour. Nathan wanted to leave. Tracy threatened to kill herself if he did. She went to therapy. Things got better, and then worse, and then better.
Nathan and I have been friends since childhood and he confided much of this to me, perhaps because he, like I, had a mobile childhood he felt he could tell me that Tracy was the one person he’d known for longer than three or four years, and so it was important for him to have that relationship. I didn’t feel it was my place to say that this was really stupid. So I didn’t.
But it was. They had children (twins), separated for two years, but now live together in a semi-amicable-semi-ignoring-each-other way for the sake of the kids.
Speaking of which, I should call him. Maybe discuss our shared history. Of playing with dead insects. Catching crayfish. Looking for Easter eggs. Riding bikes downhill with no helmets. Me driving a motorboat he made himself. Playing pingpong.
I myself prefer to diversify my histories amongst many different relationships. Some shared pasts will be longer or shorter than others. Some will be treasurable and others–maybe even the longest ones–will require snipping of the rubber bands. They may fly back and sting you, but you’ll always have that shared history even if you end it, and as we all know, every ending opens space for a beginning.
Photo credit: ChristinaDC