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Talking Back to Dr. Phil: Part 1 of the David Bedrick Interview July 27, 2013

Posted by Onely in book review, Interviews.
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3 comments

A love-based psychology promotes social justice, whereas mainstream psychology treats the difficulties of individuals in a vacuum –David Bedrick, J.D.

Copious Readers, Onely has been unhappy with Dr. Phil for a very long time, because he has counseled single people to embrace themselves and their hobbies and be happy, so that they can find a partner. Instead of just being happy, period.

So we were glad to have the opportunity to interview David Bedrick, author of Talking Back to Dr. Phil: Alternatives to Mainstream Psychology. (Belly Song Press, 2013). He 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.

We came up with some questions for Bedrick that we hope will flesh out the similarities in our missions. In a series of posts, we will tackle one or two questions at a time.

Today’s Topic:

Are people trying to “Normalize” your way of living to their (more common) way of living?

Don’t React to their behavior–Act Out their behaviour!

Onely: Dr. Bedrick, you say in your introduction to Talking Back to Dr. Phil (xvii):

The norms inherent in mainstream psychology’s diagnoses essentially reflect the majority’s beliefs, values, and viewpoints regarding psychological health. As such, it is a psychology often in service of normalizing people, seeking to help them act more reasonably and get along better with others even when the accomodation is contrary to their natures and life paths.

Do you agree that the normalization performed by mainstream psychology parallels the normalization of romantic relationships that occurs in our culture on a daily basis? If so, how do you think this impacts people who are “single at heart” and have no desire to seek a committed-romantic partner (which would be a life path contrary to the norm)?


Bedrick: Absolutely! Most blatantly in the way mainstream psychology promotes stereotypic gender roles that not only marginalize GLBT relationships but all relationships.

Mainstream culture encourages, celebrates, and bestows privileges on people who partner, especially those who partner in a traditional marriage. People who use their energy to focus on their own creativity, ambitions, healing, happiness, or non-traditional paths are looked at as if something is wrong with them. The internalization of this experience, a kind of shame, can leave people feeling depressed, angry, or both. This shaming can pressure people to look for a partner even if that is not truly their way.

Onely: How would you apply a love-based-psychology to someone who fears being single because of family pressure, or (Western) cultural pressure? (more…)

Single Women: So What If They’re Over Fifty? January 5, 2013

Posted by Onely in As If!, STFU, Your Responses Requested!.
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19 comments

flickr-3512472429-hdSo apparently now there is yet another term to describe women who behave in a certain way: Before it was Cougar, meaning an older woman who dates younger men (implication: these women must be preying on younger men, because why would the guys be attracted them of their own accord?) . Now according to this article flagged by our reader Iolanda, as well as other articles, we have SWOFTY. This means a single woman over fifty.

Copious readers, is this offensive or empowering to women, and particularly to single women? I say offensive, and here’s why:

Where is the term for single men over fifty? A Google search for SMOFTY returned the result: Did you mean SWOFTY? . . . Um, no, sigh.

And there’s more: The term SWOFTY markets itself as a badge of honor for single women, but really it objectifies and classifies women in a three-for-one deal: according to their relationship status, gender, and age. It’s the same old sexism, singlism, and ageism that has been going on in most cultures since forever, just re-labelled. Even the fact that we get surprised by the idea that single women over fifty can be vibrant and happy — so surprised that we have to give them a name — shows just how ingrained the stereotype of the drab spinster is. It’s a stereotype we need to talk in full adult words about, not cutesy acronyms that keep reminding people how the existence of happy single older women is surprising.

And no, SWOFTY does not do anything to increase the dialogue about or dismantle the spinster stereotype (more…)

Can Couples Advocate for Singles’ Rights? December 30, 2012

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Take action, Your Responses Requested!.
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18 comments

three-mississippi-sandhall-crane-flock-together-in-the-gras_w725_h483

For more than four years now, Lisa and I have spent a good deal of time objecting, advocating, railing, protesting, blathering, and even (to our shame) name-calling, all in the name of singles’ rights. We’ve been doing it every since we realized that, at the time, all pro-singles writing said it was GREAT to be happily single, but only because it made you more appealing so you could get a mate.

Lisa and I, two single women in our 30s, thought that was stupid. What if, we proposed, it was great to be happily single, period?  We were both happy, and single, and didn’t care whether we’d find a mate or not. So we started this blog, which has since been quoted or cited in several major print and online publications (and I say that only as an example of how vehemently we pushed our topic in people’s faces). 

Our question to you, Copious Readers, is: would we, could we, have ever had the same revelation–and the same work ethic–if one or both of us had been coupled? Or by extension, can a coupled/married person ever advocate for singles’ rights as passionately, accurately, or extensively  as an unmarried or socially single person? If yes, under what circumstances? If no, why not?

By singles’ rights, we mean that the U.S. government ought to stop discriminating against half its adult populace. We call this institutionalized singlism.

By singles’ rights, we also mean that people–regular people like you and Lisa and me–need to recognize that it’s not acceptable to treat single people like losers in the game of life. (“You’re not married yet? Awww.”) We call this cultural singlism. Examples are all over this blog and all over the blog of social scientist Bella DePaulo whom I linked to above, so I’m not going to retell the stories here. (I will give you some keywords though: Immature. Selfish. Desperate. Cats. Dead. Eaten by.)

Onely’s opinion is that anyone, aaaaaanyone, with an open-minded, critical-thinking type of brain, plus a (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

STFU Redbook: I’m Single and I’m Going to Vegas! March 24, 2012

Posted by Onely in solo travel, STFU.
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13 comments

I had always considered Redbook just one step above an inflight magazine. Now I’ve downgraded it to a ranking underneath inflight magazines but above the backs of cereal boxes (except for Kashi cereal boxes; those are still several steps above Redbook).  But Why? Why do we at Onely want Redbook to STFU?

Because this month’s issue has an article titled “Your perfect hotel finder!” which I eagerly picked up while waiting for my dermatologist. (Perfect skin to go with my perfect hotel!)  The article was organized spreadsheet-style, with a column on the left delineating exciting locations: New York!–LA!–Chicago!–Las Vegas! and for each location there was a row of different hotel options: Magic Castle Hotel!–Terranea Resort! And (the dreamiest-sounding) Acqualina Resort and Spa on the Beach!  The hotels options were themselves organized in columns, according to who you were travelling with: If You’re Bringing Your Kids!–If You’re Doing the Couple Thing!–If You’re Travelling Solo!

HAHA just kidding. There was no If You’re Travelling Solo! option. My eyes scanned across the Kids and Couple options looking for a Single Travellers column, but they just kept scanning right right right into the inner fold of the magazine.

That’s right, no Acqualina Spa for me, because I don’t have a kids or chronic sex partner to travel with. Probably I should write Redbook a polite but indignant letter educating them about the increasing solo traveller demographic. But I would rather just go get a wine cooler from my bathtub and sit on my back stoop in an inflatable baby pool, as single people do because there are no hotels for us.

–Christina

Photo credit: Fotopedia, Mnadi Sheraton Miramar Resort, Egypt

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

Posted by Onely in Heteronormativity, Take action.
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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.

Single People: Your Loved Ones Matter Less October 30, 2011

Posted by Onely in As If!.
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7 comments

The disaster scenarios described below are provided merely to make a point about the over-privileging of marriage. They do not in any way represent a thumbing-of-the-nose at fate and were written while knocking fervently on wood–well, on laminate at least.

Copious Readers, who should have long term care (LTC) insurance? Who qualifies?

Last Saturday night I considered these question. As I curled on the couch with a cup of tea and some LTC brochures, I imagined any number of extreme mishaps that might render me unable to “perform, without Substantial Assistance, at least two Activites of Daily Living. . . Bathing, Continence, Dressing, Eating, Toileting, and Transferring”. (You’ll be shocked to hear that in high school I was not voted Most Likely to Party Like a Rock Star.)

My company is offering a special deal on LTC coverage through Prudential–no medical history required. I’m only twenty-six (seeing as the thirties are the new twenties), but I’m old enough to know that sh&t happens. For example, last winter  I braked for a sudden backup on I-66(6), and although I had allowed enough stopping distance for just such instances, the cretin in the S.U.V. behind me had not. As I watched his headlights bear down on my rearview I thought, “It seems some sh&t is about to happen right now.” Fortunately he swerved onto the shoulder and stopped right beside me, instead of on top of me. Crisis averted, but I still need long-term care coverage because all his small-appendaged, speed-compensating friends remain out there, waiting for me.

Or maybe, I thought as I sipped my De-Stress tea, they are up in Michigan, waiting for my parents. Fortunately, the LTC literature said I could get my mom and dad the same LTC policy too. Reading further, I thought I’d better sign my sister up for the same policy as well, in case she goes jogging and encounters a particularly peckish cougar. Now on a roll, I decided I should also get the policy for my intrepid international-travelling co-blogger Lisa. At any moment she might fall off one of those Roman pillars on which she is so fond of perching.

Except, oh, just one moment here, let me squint closer at the fine print–turns out I can’t get Lisa a plan, because she’s not my parent, or grandparent, or sibling, or child.

As I said in a previous post about bereavement leave, these (arbitrary) requirements privilege the nuclear family and devalue other types of families and relationships. Prudential and other providers (for Prudential is not the only offender) should allow an employee to select a certain number of people to be covered. That way, I could choose to allow Lisa to piggyback off my plan instead of my grandparents, who are already in the longest-term care facility of them all.

It gets worse. Although my married colleagues are also pigeonholed in the nuclear-family paradigm, they have twice as many options as I and my single colleagues do, because marrieds can choose to enroll the following people: (more…)

Enhance Your Life–10 Ways if You’re Coupled, 7 if You’re Single November 2, 2010

Posted by Onely in As If!.
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13 comments

Here are 10 things you can do to enhance your life–if you’re coupled. If you’re single, you can only enhance your life 70 percent as much as a coupled person. This is according to a life-enhancement-activity list on Barton Goldsmith’s “Emotional Fitness” blog on Psychology Today,  where three of the ten items require a conventional romantic  partner.

In order to take the life-enhancing step of watching a sunset, you have to do it with a “mate” (and not the Australian kind). God forbid you should watch it by yourself or with a friend, ewwwww:

2.    Spend a little while watching the sunset with your mate. Nothing extra is necessary. Just sit and take in the natural  beauty of the sky and appreciate being able to share it with the one you love.

And if you want to write a thank-you note, it has to be to a mate. So your coworker Heimliched you at lunch when you were choking on that brussels sprout? First, thank your mate for picking his underwear out of the ficus this morning:

4.    Write a thank you note to your mate. When was the last time you thanked your partner for just being who he or she is and being with you? Doing this in writing will give your partner something to cherish for the rest of his or her life.

And if you want to go to bed ten minutes early, you have to do it with a mate:

8.    Go to bed with the one you love ten minutes earlier than usual. Then spend that time just holding each other. Let the feeling of warmth from your mate move through you.

(And enough with the word “mate”. What are we, lab rats? Walruses?) (more…)

Men Can Stop Rape, But Not Singlism September 17, 2010

Posted by Onely in As If!.
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7 comments

Three awesome teenage men are receiving awards for their work towards stopping violence against women. And you can go see them receive their Men of Strength awards at the National Press Club in DC on September 22nd: for 125 dollars if you’re single and 75 dollars if you’re coupled.

When I got the email announcing the event, I was impressed with and happy for Anwar Muhammad Nur,  Jonathan Wade, and Terrill Wise, who speak out against abuse of women and negative images of masculinity, despite social and media pressure that says alpha males are violent males with minimal emotion. Men Can Stop Rape is right to honor precocious, socially aware teens like these. I was so impressed I thought I might want to actually attend the ceremony, but then I read the not-so-small print:

Tickets

$100 per person

$150 per pair

$125/$175 at the door

Oh, Men Can Stop Rape or The National Press Club or Unaffiliated Event Organizer! How you hurt my heart. I will not be attending your event, not because I’m mad about the discrimination against singles (though I am disappointed), but because my personal economic situation forces me to stick to double-digit nights out. Which I guess I could, if I were part of a pair.

“But wait!” I thought, (more…)

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