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Secret Lives of the Happily Single–Bathroom Edition October 16, 2021

Posted by Onely in Secret Lives of the Happily Single.
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Welcome to our latest episode of SLOTHS: Secret Lives of the Happily Single. Trigger Warning: rancid pee. 

We all know the trope of the slovenly bachelor. And we’ve all seen single women with pets stereotyped as unhygienic cat ladies (I’ll see your stereotype–and raise you one automatic litter box with high-tech non-tracking crystal litter). Although single people aren’t inherently messier than non-singles, Onely has been known to revel in our secret sloppy habits that we can only get away with because we have the privilege of living alone (acknowledging that now all single people have this ability). Sometimes, though, the reverse happens: we revel in being able to keep our places spic-and-span, with everything in its place and no rancid pee pooling in bathroom nooks. 

Let me explain. My friend Marnie was admiring the new floor of my hall bathroom, made of those pebble tiles that give you a foot massage in the shower. True, this bathroom has no shower, but I didn’t see why get a foot massage while washing my hands at the sink. Marnie apparently had the same idea, because her eyes lit up when she saw the floor. 

“I want to get this for our bathroom,” she said. Then she paused. “How is it to clean?” (more…)

A Single Life Memoir: Self-Contained, by Emma John October 11, 2021

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In the not-so-distant past, I had the honor of joining singles advocate Peter McGraw on his progressive podcast Solo –The Single Person’s Guide to a Remarkable Life. We talked with author Emma John, who wrote the funny and insightful memoir Self-Contained: Scenes from a Single Life. It’s worth buying just for the scene where she gets stuck in the attic–a simultaneously hilarious and frightening moment, which you can hear more about on the podcast. If you can’t afford to buy books (and I’ve been there), another great way to support single writers is to ask your library to purchase Self-Contained for their collection. Librarians love recommendations, and the book gets exposure, and you can check it out for free when it arrives! If books are in your budget, please consider getting your reads from independent bookstores via IndieBound, instead of from The Evil Empire.* (more…)

Online Forms: When Gender is Flexible, but Relationship Status Isn’t September 26, 2021

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I’m glad that online forms are more and more offering non-binary gender options. Every time someone filling out a web form sees additional options beyond “male” or “female,” a little bit of society’s ingrained transphobia and genderism (is that a word?) is dismantled. But unfortunately, these forms are not offering the same progressive option for relationship status.

Per below, one of my doctors’ intake questionnaires allows patients to opt out of identifying their gender. Yay! (I would have preferred them to offer a “non-binary” option instead of “prefer not to say,” but. . . baby steps). The same form, however, forces patients to choose a relationship status. Boo!

Does your status not necessarily fall into one of the seven couple-focused categories? Tough! Pick one! Do you prefer not to share your status? Tough! Pick one! You can try to advance without selecting one of the amatonormative options, but you’ll get the nasty red star telling you to correct your error and rethink your life choices. 

We here at Onely have fumed about how Facebook provides only a narrow range of relationship options (anything beyond the standard choices must be labelled “complicated”). The doctor’s form, however, has an additional problematic layer. . . (more…)

Mixed Fruit, or the Unmarried Conglomerate (Donna Ward Interview, Part 3) June 22, 2021

Posted by Onely in book review, childfree/childless, Guest Posts.
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Welcome to the latest installment in our series, Onelers Of The World. This is the third part of my interview with Australian author Donna Ward, who elaborates on aspects of her beautiful memoir She I Dare Not Name: A spinster’s meditations on lifeHere are the first and second parts of the interview. The third part, below, talks about the Unmarried Conglomerate, the term Donna coined to refer to the diverse group of people lumped together simply because of what they are not: married. There’s also a bonus vocab section!  (I am the one who bolded some of the sentences in Donna’s answers.)

Christina: In your book, you raise an interesting issue, one that is not discussed much in singles advocacy:  By splitting society sharply into Married or Not-Married, we create a false sense that all unmarried people are alike, with the same feelings and needs:  

Assuming spinsters and bachelors live the same lives as the conglomerate commonly referred to as single renders memoirs and social research on the subject impotent witnesses of less-daunting single lives. It conceals the social, personal, and political implications of living a life mostly, or completely, without a partner and children.” (10)  

After you had this realization, you visited the U.S. Census website. Can you tell us why, what you found there, and how it made you feel?  

Donna:   Ha! Well, I guess it was one of a series of events that made me write the book. Way back, twenty years or so ago, when I began writing this book, I did a lot of reading about the research on the health, wellbeing, and you guessed it, happiness of non-married versus married people. I visited the U.S. Census website and discovered the American government was, can I say, worse at collecting data on singles than our Australian Bureau of Statistics. (more…)

Childfree/Childless Singles in Australia (Donna Ward Interview, Part 2) June 16, 2021

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Welcome to the latest installment in our series, Onelers Of The World. This is the second part of my interview with Australian author Donna Ward, who elaborates on aspects of her beautiful memoir She I Dare Not Name: A spinster’s meditations on life. The first part of the interview was about the differences between how singleness is viewed in Australia vs. in the US. Here in Part 2, we examine Donna’s experience of being childless in Australia. The bolded texts were bolded by me, because I had the same compulsion to highlight Donna’s interview insights that I had when I was reading She I Dare Not Name. . . 

 

Christina to Donna: “But, do not be foxed!” you say, after having told us how Australians aren’t as marriage-happy as Americans. Because Australia nonetheless has plenty laws favoring people with families. You say, “As long as he or she has children, an Australian is a legitimate member of society.” Can you give an example(s) of specific instances where you would have had different privileges if you had had children? 

Donna: Can I say, straight up, our laws are not as punitive or as stringent against childless singles as I hear they are in America.

Christina: You most certainly can! 

Donna: We have never had a bachelor tax, for example, which was popular in Europe, the UK, and America from the eighteenth century, to encourage men to marry. Nevertheless, Australian economic and social policy is built on the assumption of the dual income family with children. So the cost of living—house prices, rent, utilities, food, holidays—is priced accordingly. Tax breaks exist for those with children on the assumption that there are no barriers to those living without the cost of children.

Our social welfare system and health insurance system, are based on the individual. This was a revolution that occurred during our progressive governments of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. During those decades, even though our Taxation Law assumes everyone will partner and parent, our social welfare system was designed around individual rights. This doesn’t mean they adequately support individuals, but it does mean it is an individual’s right to claim unemployment, supporting parent, and disability benefits, and the aged pension regardless of their marital status.

However, disability, health, and age care services are designed on the assumption that everyone has a family member, especially an adult child, who will steer them through the digital rabbit hole into these services, and safeguard them once they arrive. (more…)

Single in the Military? Your Life Matters Less. June 12, 2021

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Although this story of singlism in the U.S. military is from the 1970s, the problem is just as pervasive today. I wrote previously about my relative whose tour was extended because she didn’t have a spouse and kids stateside. Now I’m writing about another relative, who told me a story about his time as a young U.S. Army officer newly deployed to Laos during the Vietnam War. 

Characters: 

Don–male U.S. army officer and and our Onely hero

Jim–male US army officer and a friend and fellow trainee of Don’s. 

Pat–AKA Pat The Stick. Male U.S. Army veteran who fought with the Filipino resistance force during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during WWII.  He earned his nickname by carrying a “swagger stick” and pounding it on his desk for emphasis during discussions with subordinate personnel. 

ACT I 

THE SETTING: 

Pat’s office at Udorn Base in Thailand.

THE STAKES: 

Jim and Don arrived at Pat’s office knowing only that Pat was the boss and he would assign them to one of several bases in Laos.  Prior to their arrival at Udorn, Jim and Don had heard that one of the bases, designated LS-98, was the least desirable to serve at, due to its remoteness and constant threat of communist North Vietnamese Army or Pathet Lao attacks. (more…)

Book Review: She I Dare Not Name: A Spinster’s Meditations June 1, 2021

Posted by Onely in book review, Guest Posts, Onelers of the World, Reviews.
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Welcome to the latest installment in our series, Onelers Of The World. Today I’m reviewing an important memoir by Australian author Donna Ward:  She I Dare Not Name: A spinster’s meditations on life. (Allen & Unwin 2021.) Previously I interviewed Donna for our series Onelers of the World. Part one of the interview is here. Now we have a treat for our U.S. American readers: She I Dare Not Name is being released in the U.S. TODAY (01 June 2021). You can get it at her publisher or at your favorite Indie bookseller or via the Evil Empire (no judgment–I personally have financed at least one of Jeff Bezo’s yachts)

Ward makes innumerable stinging and touching observations about a world where women like her and me are “less than”.*  I went a little crazy with the Kindle highlighter while reading this book. Ok, a lot crazy. My screen looks like Jackson Pollock was trying to understand the tribulations of unmarried childless women. 

Not that I’m totally on the same page (pun intended) as Ward. She started her journey through singledom reluctantly, expecting and hoping to become a partner and a mother, until it became clear that fate had other plans for her. I, on the other hand, never cared much one way or another if I were a partner or a parent. Her story is about coming to terms with her fate and learning not only to accept it, but to relish many aspects of her solitude. She pulls no punches in describing her roller-coaster journey from subtle pariah at the mommy-brunch (and recipient of the “frying-pan-for-one” present because it doesn’t look like she’ll “ever meet anyone”) to satisfied single whose solitude “endows an intimacy of one and a romance with the world”. Even for those of us like me who have always leaned towards single-at-heart, the process of recognizing and loving our solo selves can be a roller coaster, as we duck and dodge the prejudice society throws at us. Five stars say you’ll want to go along with Ward for her ride. 

Contrary to what most believe, solitude is a direct path into a relentless intimacy with oneself. I have learnt to be kind. (She I Dare Not Name, 17) 

Ward applies her poetic voice and powerful imagery to institutionalized singlism, meaning laws and commercial practices that blatantly and legally privilege married people. In other hands, this topic could come off dry: estate taxes, next of kin, social security. . . But don’t be foxed!**  In She I Dare Not Name, LINK the topic is tinder waiting to conflagrate. 

Here’s one part where Ward describes institutionalized singlism: (more…)

Australian Singledom vs. U.S. Singledom (Donna Ward Interview, Part 1) May 24, 2021

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Welcome to the latest installment in our series, Onelers Of The World. Today I’m talking to Australian author Donna Ward, who wrote the lyrical and incisive memoir She I Dare Not Name: A spinster’s meditations on life. It’s available on Kindle and in Australia now, and it’s releasing in the U.S. on 01 June 2021!  As I was reading it, I highlighted the bejeezus out of every page. After much difficulty, I narrowed my myriad highlights into a few key bullets that I wanted to ask Donna to talk to you about directly, in what ended up being a three-part interview. This first part concerns the differences between U.S. American and Australian views of singledom.

 

 

This woman is not a ghost come to claim you. You are not free to flirt with her. She won’t want to go home with you unless you enjoy her company, and she yours. She is not in search of a mercy fuck. She is not a threat to your marriage. The silence in her soul is not a harbinger of death, it simply comes of keeping company with solitude. This woman is not a bunny-boiler. All the bunny-boilers she knows are ex-wives.

 —Donna Ward, She I Dare Not Name. Allen & Unwin 2021

Christina to Donna:  You had a fascinating insight when an American acquaintance asked you if you’re “happy being a singleton.” You realized that only an American would ask this. When I read your rationales, my mind went BOOM. (A good boom.) Could you explain for my readers why your acquaintance’s question was arguably uniquely American? (more…)

Onely Talks about Rebellious Singles (On the Solo Podcast) April 29, 2021

Posted by Onely in Great Onelies in History, Profiles.
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Welcome to the latest edition of our series Great Onelers In History. Lisa and I recently had the honor of joining singles advocate Peter McGraw on his progressive podcast Solo –The Single Person’s Guide to a Remarkable Life. Our theme was Rebellious Singles (with a side of Cat Lady Trope). I loved all the awesome unmarried historical figures we selected to profile, but perhaps my favorite was Lisa’s great uncle Charles Brandt, the hermit. He recently passed away, leaving an amazing legacy of social activism and environmental work that shattered my notions of what it means to be a hermit–and also made me totally jealous of Lisa’s esteemed genetic makeup! (Photo by Grant Callegari

One of the pathbreaking singles we talked about was Bessie Coleman, the first Black pilot. NOT THE FIRST “BLACK WOMAN” PILOT–THE FIRST BLACK PILOT, PERIOD! I need to point this out, because if you google “first black pilot” you end up with Eugene Bullard, the first black American military pilot. WRONG! Bessie Coleman was the first black pilot. (more…)

Onelers of the World: China Edition April 11, 2021

Posted by Onely in Great Onelies in Real Time, Great Onely Activities, Onelers of the World, Profiles, single and happy.
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Welcome to the latest installment in our series Onelers of the World (or, as autocorrect deliciously calls it, Omelets of the World). Here we flag stories of interesting, empowered, and unique single people who are not based in the United States. As our Copious Readers know, the progressive singles’ movement remains heavily focused on U.S. white cis-hetero women, and therefore we here at Onely would like to hear more from and about singles who identify as people of color, cis-hetero men, and/or LGBTQA, as well as single people of all stripes who live outside of the U.S. Meanwhile, here’s a little something from big China. Thanks to author and singles advocate Donna Ward of Melbourne, Australia for flagging this article for us. 

Every so often you read a news article about someone and think, “I want to be best friends with that person!” My most recent fantasy best friend is Ms. Su Min of Henan Province, who at 56 left her abusive husband and started driving across China, camping on a tent on top of (on top of!) her car. 

There’s a photo of her cartop tent in the NYT article about Ms. Su by Joy Dong and Vivian Wang. The profile is chock full of gem sentences describing her chutzpah, so my post is going to contain a lot of quotes (with apologies and gratitude to Dong and Wang). Here’s a summary: (more…)

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