jump to navigation

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

Posted by Onely in As If!.
Tags: ,
add a comment

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.
Tags: , , , , ,
3 comments

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

Spinsterhood, bachelorhood. Such a first world problem. What easy victims we childless never-marrieds are. No need for ghettos, concentration camps, or gulags. We are disappeared in plain sight. Invisibles, working at our desks, walking the streets, sitting in cafes, taking in entertainments, paying taxes without family concessions and deductions or tax-minimisation entities. (145)

Here’s Ward talking about how childed people (mostly couples) are privileged over non-childed people (mostly singles):

Australian men and women are promoted, elected, included socially, given tax breaks and discounts, if they have a family. Even if that family lives in several houses between which children migrate. Even if that family is a single-parent household through choice, divorce or widowhood. As long as he or she has children, an Australian is a legitimate member of society. (140)

Here she is weaving the two threads: 

I long for a rich, intelligent, elucidating conversation about my life that doesn’t compete with the agonies of partnering and parenting. I yearn for the inalienable right of economic equality and respect that comes with citizenship. (208)

I could continue populating this review with quotes from She I Dare Not Name. But you should check it out yourself. Here are some of the things you can read about:

–Ward’s fascinating insights into the differences between the American view of marital status and the settler Australian view. (more…)

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

Posted by Onely in book review, Guest Posts, Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , ,
2 comments

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.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

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.
Tags: , , , ,
1 comment so far

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…)

Valentine’s Day and Singles Empowerment Day: Recommended Reading February 15, 2021

Posted by Onely in book review.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

For a combo celebration of Valentine’s Day (14 February) and Singles Empowerment Day (15 February), I want to flag a beautifully written and meticulously researched historical fiction series that examines religion, racial identity, ablism, cross-cultural conflicts. . . and romance. Lots and lots of romance. If that seems like a strange reading recommendation for a blog built on challenging our couple-obsessed culture, hear me out: (more…)

My Office Gets Singlist About COVID-19 January 28, 2021

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

So the other morning, I walked into the lobby of my office building and saw these helpful hints on the digital message board: 

Living Single in COVID: 

Structure your time

Treat yourself well

Maintain a schedule

I watched the board for a minute to see if it would give me advice on living coupled in COVID. I knew it wouldn’t, and it didn’t. The board flicked to a new screen that told me masks were required in the building, and that yoga class would be in the gym at 12:00. 

There’s been discussion in the singles advocacy community about whether it’s appropriate to single out (sorry) singles during COVID as needing special help. (more…)

Kamala Harris’ Singles Comments: Problematic or Progressive? November 8, 2020

Posted by Onely in Celebrities, Food for Thought.
Tags: ,
3 comments

Now that we in the U.S. have narrowly dodged the apocalypse (so far), we can start holding the new presidential administration accountable for singlist language. My fellow intrepid singles advocates Dr. Craig Wynne and Dr. Bella DePaulo have written about the repeated and problematic use of the term “families” by politicians on both sides of the aisle. But today I want to examine a different sort of relationship rhetoric. Twice in the last year, Kamala Harris has said variations of this statement:

Let’s remember to check in on our single friends. 

Is this progressive or problematic? Considerate or patronizing? (more…)

When Singlism Turns Dangerous: The National Alliance on Mental Illness September 25, 2020

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought.
Tags: ,
add a comment

The National Alliance on Mental Illness published an article about smiling depression that was good, except for this part in the second paragraph: 

People with smiling depression are often partnered or married, employed and are quite accomplished and educated. Their public, professional and social lives are not struggling. Their façade is put together and accomplished.

It’s common to see marriage, which is not inherently positive, lumped in with a list of attributes that are arguably inherently positive (employment, education, accomplished). I can think of several fiction and nonfiction books on my shelves that use similar groupings to describe people. My favorite was when an author described a woman accused by consipiracy theorists of masterminding an elder-killing scheme–the author said this was ridiculous, in part because the woman was “married with two children.” (more…)

I Prefer a Team to a Spouse September 2, 2020

Posted by Onely in Bad Onely Activities.
Tags: , ,
4 comments

If you are single and live alone, you need to be prepared to deal with random catastrophes. Generally, I handle stuff ok. Like the time I returned from a long workday, opened the front door, and wondered to myself, “Why is it raining inside the house?” (Answer: Spontaneous toilet tank crack.) I managed the flood just fine. But recently I encountered a problem I couldn’t manage at all. So I had to call in Team Christina.

Dr. Peter McGraw of Solo and Craig Wynne of The Happy Bachelor have talked about how single people have “teams”, and Dr. Bella DePaulo has said that married people have The One and singles have The Ones.  I have been assembling an ad-hoc Team Christina during the two decades I’ve lived in Northern Virginia. Mostly the Team was just for hanging out, sharing Netflix shows, and reassuring me that my author photos didn’t make me look like a serial killer. But the latent power of Team Christina became clear when I found my sweet little cat dead in the basement window well.

(more…)

%d bloggers like this: