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How to Pop the Progressive Bubble? October 29, 2009

Posted by Onely in As If!, Food for Thought.
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Sometimes Lisa and I become complacent. We begin to think that maybe singlism isn’t so pervasive and prevalent. We stop doing as many blog entries. We forget why we started Onely in the first place.  This fault is yours, Copious Readers! Because the vast majority of our commenters are so forward-thinking about singles’ issues, Lisa and I begin–mostly unconsciously–to think that by extension all of the blogosphere, and all of the world, must also contain a high percentage of people who think being single is fine, maybe even desirable. We begin to believe that most people recognize the privilege gap created by the institution of marriage and would change it if given the opportunity.

Last Thursday morning 107.3 Wash FM’s Jack Diamond Morning show smacked me back to reality. I can’t remember the details or find a direct link to the show (yes, this is how most of my anecdotes start!), but I remember driving into work with my mouth hanging open as the broadcaster talked about a single friend of his who needs a girlfriend. The speaker laid out several stereotypes one after the other, including mentions of his friend sitting home alone because the bar scene is yucky and sad. These images were dropped casually into the conversation as if instead of discussion points, they were inalienable facts: obviously it’s better to be at home with someone that at home alone, and obviously if you’re single the only place to go is to the bar to drink your sorrows away with other single people drinking their sorrows away.  Upon hearing this, I realized afresh how insidious singlism is, how awash with almost-invisible and seldom-articulated presumptions.

I called up Lisa that morning to remind her that Onely is a bubble of positive singles’ energy and advocacy–perhaps too bubbly. Even though we do our share of griping, the fact that so many commenters share our gripes and provide support and suggestions for dealing with singlism lulls us into a false sense of security.

How can we pop this bubble? How can we integrate more into the wider (and less singles-friendly) world? I have a couple ideas: I’d like to interview some people who might have radically different social views from Onely, like a conservative Christian preacher, or (as the makers of Seeking Happily Ever After did) the hostess of a sexist reality show.   I also want to start blogging more in our “Take Action” series, which flags opportunities for us and our readers to educate community leaders about singles’ issues. I might provide addresses and form letters for re-educating (this word makes me feel very Cultural Revolutionish but oh well) politicians, companies, advertisers, and moviemakers (Ahem, Slum Dog) who present offensive material.

Copious Readership, do you feel bubbled and if so, what are your ideas for bursting out?



1. Alan - October 30, 2009

Honestly, I think things are going our way.

Yes, there is still plenty of singlism out there. But there are more and more single people, so therefore it must be seen as a more acceptable lifestyle even if everyone doesnt’ approve. Certainly things have gotten better since the 50’s.

I’m not sure talking to people with very different views will help that much. We’ve already heard the arguments like the ones above, so I don’t think anything will be gained.

I suspect it’s better just to live our lives openly and without apology, and let the tide of change sweep onward.

2. iol. - October 30, 2009


maybe you are reacting to a common “mistake” people make in believing that what they see or hear is how everyone else thinks. This radio dj is just one person, and the people that read your blog are probably all the same type of ilk …. but there are many different people and different ideas.

That dj is probably a married guy who thinks that everyone should be married – so is talking like that. But with a 50% divorce rate in the US something’s not working properly. Obviously many people aren’t doing the right thing when they get married – either the marriage or the person. Then there are the marriages which exist but aren’t happy.

Do you want to believe the opinion of people like this? That they know what’s “right” or “good”? I think it would be very difficult to change the opinions of the mainstream – it would take more than just onely.org – it would take a giant societal change.

I say just concentrate on “educating” the people that matter to you.

3. Terry at Single Women Rule - October 31, 2009

A disapproval of single people pervades among the ignorant and less educated, definitely.

I agree with Alan, who wrote: “I suspect it’s better just to live our lives openly and without apology, and let the tide of change sweep onward.”

Onely - October 31, 2009

I can definitely see the merit in that–as long as the tide is, in fact, continuing to sweep..

4. Jenn - November 2, 2009

Living in California and having the family and friends that I do, I definitely tend to forget that the rest of the world does not think like me. But it’s also why I absolutely DO think the ‘tide is continuing to sweep’ – even in California, these attitudes were different twenty years ago. And we might be freaks out here, but we also tend to be slightly ahead of the rest of the country when it comes to changing social norms (with our current status of gay marriage being an embarrassing exception).

5. autonomous - November 3, 2009

Singlism is definitely out there and I encountered it recently while being admitted to the hospital for surgery 10 days ago. My best guy-friend took me to hospital and went through the initial registration with me, but then the lady at the admitting desk stated that regardless who I considered “family”, they wouldn’t allow friends to inquire about my condition even if I specifically authorized it, and I pointed to C standing next to me. She said no, only spouses and close family. I tried to argue but felt too lousy to persist.

When time to be taken to pre-op, C was in the restroom and my nurse assured me he would be let in directly. Not so, the lady at the desk refused and he was stuck outside. I tried to find someone to help but the hallway was empty and I was already in the gown and bare feet, so couldn’t go too far. I sat down and felt very sorry for myself, alone without my friend, or anyone. (it was an emergency thing, my parents arrived when they heard the message I left)
When my nurse returned from wherever she had disappeared to, she was very bothered that my friend hadn’t been allowed in to accompany me and called the front desk lady to tell her she was wrong to prohibit him from coming back. Apparently it was the lady at the desk, not the hospital policy, driving the refusal.
Now, if this man was my husband, do you think there would have been any question of his being permitted full access?

autonomous - November 3, 2009

In response to the article’s point, I had oneliers in mind when I tried to argue with this lady that I decided whom to call family. I did get to relay my frustration with this incident when the hospital made their follow-up call re: my visit. Maybe they’ll listen?

Onely - November 3, 2009

That’s horrible!! Did a patient advocate ever come to talk to you? That would be a great chance to voice your complaint. And I’m sure that the woman at the admitting desk would not have taken such a hard stance if the hospital (or another hospital) hadn’t somehow encouraged it in previous cases.

I was just recently wondering why you had been absent from the blogosphere for so long! I hope you’re doing better. . .


autonomous - November 4, 2009

Thanks CC, It has been a long time! I took two separate weeks of vacation and then felt lousy until this emergent surgery, so while at work I’ve really had to work. Lots of unmarrying happening here…
The patient advocate did call on Sunday within 24 hours of my discharge and definitely heard about this. While you have a point about the hospital possibly discouraging non-family, my nurse was on the phone about it the second she saw he wasn’t there so apparently hadn’t gotten the memo if there was one. My parents were let in without a hitch 30 minutes later.
It’s all good- like we’ve mentioned before, we certainly aren’t alone when we’re not married or exclusively coupled.

Onely - November 5, 2009

Good, that’s heartening that the nurse and the P.A. had your back. I hope you can get enough rest!


6. Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles - November 10, 2009

Oh, I can be a total bubble girl! That’s one of the reasons I do my “Singles in the News” column. It helps me to read through the singles-oriented media headlines as a kind of cultural barometer. I’d say that most stuff I read has either a positive or neutral tone. But every week, at least one article qualifies for the Singleschmucker Award, which means it displays some pretty egregious singlism! And some articles I won’t even link to because they originate with sources that clearly have an agenda, usually ultraconservative. Some of those conservative sites publish the most cruel, hateful, ugly things about singles you could ever imagine, and I get dismayed when I see loads of commenters cheering them on.

Personally, I really like your idea of interviewing naysayers. It would allow you to publicly undermine their arguments by confronting them with hard facts. Who knows? You might even change a few minds. Some matrimaniacs believe as they do because they’re misinformed, not because they bear any ill will toward singles.

I also think it would be fantastic to include more calls to action. It’s true that, in the overall scheme of things, this is just one blog, but President Obama was elected from a grassroots movement. Change has to start somewhere, and who is it going to start with if not with us? Politicians pay more attention to constituents who call and write than some might think. After all, they want to be reelected. We need to let them know that singles are a big part of their voter base.

I really believe that, right now, we singles as a whole are our own worst enemy. So many of us are convinced that the legalized discrimination entrenched in our system is acceptable or even commendable. So many of us believe that we really are less worthy than families. We need to value and stand up for ourselves because it doesn’t mean anything that there are so many singles unless WE articulate how we differ from marrieds and demand that we be treated equally.

Onely - November 11, 2009

Thanks SIngletude–
We will have to find some appropriate naysayers.

I think ultraconservative sites publish cruel, hateful things about lots of people, not just singles. It would be better if singles were the *only* people they talk trash about, I guess.

I am pretty amazed that it took me over thirty years to realize that legalized discrimination against singles existed! Or rather, I realized it, but never questioned it. So I agree that most matrimaniacs are probably like I used to be–not purposely discriminatory, just non-informed.


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