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REVIEW: SINGLED OUT, by Bella DePaulo–Why are matrimaniacs matrimaniacs? August 5, 2008

Posted by Onely in book review, Reviews, Singled Out, We like. . ..
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DePaulo, Bella. Singled Out, How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2006

(This is an ongoing, serial review, continued from an earlier post)

In Singled Out, DePaulo theorizes that “matrimaniacs” (people who fixate on the importance of marriage and coupling) belittle single people for the following reason:

They find comfort in the thought that one can damp down and reign in most of the world’s vicissitudes, simply by pairing up with another person. By putting coupling/marriage on a pedestal as a be-all-end-all aim for life improvement, we create a handy “metric” against which to measure our crazy, discombobulated lives.

Ah ok, I found the quote–DePaulo says, “Americans reach for the soulmate solution because it promises so much and seems so simple” (249).  And, “. . . women are warned that their jobs won’t love them back. . . men are cautioned that without a wife, they face lifelong confinement in a studio apartment filled with pizza boxes. . . mythmaking about singlehood is so often suffused with the spector of loneliness and so rarely filled with the beckoning of solitude. All these sentiments are ways of registering the same plea: ‘Please let it be true that if I only find that one special person, then all the other pieces of my life will fall into place.’ Surely, that sounds simpler than creating and sustaining a village, dedicating yourself to a career or a cause, or tending to all the different parts of your life. It is simpler. If only it were true” (248).

DePaulo doesn’t make this point until near the end of the book. When I read pages 248-249 (Chapter 14), I wished that she had put these thoughts closer to the beginning, because I spent the whole book fuming at the idiocy of matrimaniacs and wondering how, how, how, how they could be so prejudiced and narrow-minded against singles. Then when I read Chapter Fourteen, I realized that they are just looking for comfort–as are we all. My comfort fantasy is baskets of kittens; theirs is the myth of the magic of coupledom.

When I read a book, I fold down the corners of pages that interest me in particular. Small fold in the upper corner if the item of interest appears at the top of the page; small fold in the bottom corner for a pertinent sentence lower down; big old triangle bent over halfway down the leaf for something noteworthy in the middle of the page. If the upper right and upper left of a single sheet interest me, this requires an advanced double-fold technique.

By the time I finished Singled Out, the book looked as if it had been attacked by dozens of not-very-talented origami elves.  Please stay tuned for more posts referencing those turned-down pages.



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