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Onely is “Between Boyfriends” December 8, 2009

Posted by Onely in Everyday Happenings, Food for Thought, Reviews.
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Kindle has thousands of books of  essays and other nonfiction available for free sampling. During one twenty-minute highly randomized browsing session, I came upon two interesting examples of singles-bashing, which I have posted below for your reading pleasure. I mention them not in order to b&tch and moan (although that’s always fun too), but rather for two other reasons:

1) The fact that I so easily stumbled upon them shows how common hurtful stereotypes of single people (“singlism”) are in our everyday culture.

2) Reputable publishers printed these blurbs. Erego even widely read, highly educated, lawsuit-leery people either don’t realize they are being discriminatory, or they don’t think it matters. When someone neglects to question discriminatory or disparaging remarks about a subject, it’s often because they take it for granted that the subject is inherently undesirable. Proper usage: “It sucks that you’re sick” or “It sucks that you’re a Nazi”. Improper usage: “It sucks that you’re single”.

Discussion questions:

A) Which of these blurbs below reminds us of how tightly anti-feminism is woven into anti-singlehood rhetoric? Why?

B) Which of these blurbs has multiple personality disorder? Why? (Dec 18 Edit: Fangirl points out–and I agree–that I shouldn’t trivialize MPD by applying it to a book blurb. Readers, feel free to suggest other less lazy adjectives to describe this book blurb!)

So without further ado, here are the blurbs I stumbled across while Kindling. Actually, here’s just a little bit of ado–I want to say that I haven’t actually read either of these books, and I give kudos to both Chupak and Schefft for writing about single women. My beef is with whoever wrote these Kindle blurbs, which may or may not accurately portray the sentiments of the authors:

Chupak, Cindy. The Between Boyfriends Book: A Collection of Cautiously Hopeful Essays. St Martin’s.

There are two things Cindy Chupak really knows about. The first is how to be funny. . . The other thing she really knows about is, well, being ‘between boyfriends.’ You might identify this condition as being ‘single,’ but ‘between boyfriends’ has a much more positive feel, don’t you think? In this witty, truthful, and utterly charming book, Chupak unites her two fields of expertise to provide a handbook for those of us who might find ourselves in this temporary condition. . .

Schefft, Jen. Better Single Than Sorry: A No-Regrets Guide to Loving Yourself and Never Settling. Harper Collins.

Let’s be honest. No woman really wants to be alone for the rest of her life. But does being alone mean you’re doomed to be miserable forever? Definitely not! And does being single have to equal lonely? No way! You can have the best time of your life when you’re single, but you wouldn’t know that from our relationship obsessed society. . . Don’t become a statistic–love yourself and never settle!

Jen Schefft knows that better than almost anyone. [She won The Bachelor, then they broke up, then she turned down a chance to be The Bachelorette.]  She was labelled a “spinster” by a celebrity magazine, and a noted national talk-show host remarked that she would be a “bachelorette for the rest of her life.” This is a terrible message to send to send to the millions of sensational single women out there, and in [her book] Schefft makes it her mission to let women know that it’s better to be single than to be in a relationship that doesn’t make you happy. . . this book tells you how to let go of your fear of being alone. . . Schefft helps you navigate the pressures of a culture that places an unhealthy importance on being in an relationship. . . being single is a time to have fun, to learn new things, grow, and blossom–not a time to feel desperate or depressed, so cherish it!

Discussion Question Answers (according to Onely):

A) Which of these blurbs reminds us of how tightly anti-feminism is woven into anti-singlehood rhetoric? Why?

Answer:   “Between Boyfriends” sounds more positive than “Single”? Really? To me it sounds something between “kinky” and “claustrophobic”.   People should not be judged by their dating status, but if we must label someone–a woman in particular– let’s use “single” because at least it doesn’t frame her life in relationship to a man (even a non-existent one). There’s been too much of that going on for hundreds–or thousands–of years already. Let’s move on into the 21st century.

B) Which of these blurbs has multiple personality disorder? Why?

Answer:

No woman really wants to be alone for the rest of her life! . . . This is a terrible message to send to the millions of sensational single women out there.

‘ Nuff said.

Copious Readers, how would you answer the discussion questions? Have you read either of these books? Are they more progressive than the blurbs portray them to be? Or are they–and I hope this is not the case–still more examples of the classic “bait and switch” technique used by faux singles advocates: Here’s how to live a great single life, so that you can become unsingle!?

–Christina

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Comments»

1. Alan - December 8, 2009

I’m not surprised by this.

It could be that the blurbs are simply inaccurate. Or maybe they are representative of the books.

In any event, publishers (even good ones) produce a lot of garbage. I remember reading an article in The Nation a number of years ago about how publishers used to publish the garbage to support publishing the classics, now they just publish the garbage.

Not sure if it’s really related to the above, but for some reason it was the first thing to come to mind..

Onely - December 8, 2009

Thanks Alan–here at Onely we support all kinds of brainstorming. = )
CC

2. Lauri - December 8, 2009

that second one is amusing. “Let’s be honest, no woman wants to be alone” (100% gospel truth) but “Hey! it’s great to be single!” I really hate when people say, “let’s be honest” and then make a huge, sweeping, generalized comment about “all” or “no” people of this or that group. It’s like they think the “let’s be honest” turns it all into hard scientific fact.

Onely - December 8, 2009

You know, I never felt one way or the other about “let’s be honest,” but after I read your comment I thought, “YEAH! I *hate* ‘let’s be honest’ “! You’re right–it’s rhetarded. (This is my new word for a poor non-productive rhetorical device.) Thanks Lauri! CC

3. samantha - December 8, 2009

I haven’t read either book, but I just put both on my Amazon wish-list!
Thanks for the heads up.

4. Singlism? Feminism? What gives? (Part One) « Onely: Single and Happy - December 12, 2009

[…] quirkyalone. Tags: feminism, gender, rosie the riveter rocks!, single men, singlism trackback A few days ago, Christina examined the surprisingly singlist and sexist publicity blurbs for two seemingly […]

5. Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles - December 13, 2009

In total agreement with you! You took the words right out of my mouth! And, no, I haven’t read either of those books and have no intention of doing so. 🙂

I really hope that the plethora of subtly anti-single books has more to do with perceived audience than anything else. I think publishers believe most women would prefer to be in relationships and want to know how to become un-single. I have to admit that that is also true of the majority of the women I know. So, they’re selling what’s profitable. But I hope that as more women choose to remain single and become more vocal about it, we’ll see more material on the shelves for those of us who prefer or are just as happy with the solo lifestyle.

6. Fangirl - December 18, 2009

I really like your blog and I read it fairly often (though I usually lurk and this might be the first time I’ve commented), but I’m a little worried about the ableism in your post, using Multiple Personality Disorder to refer to the conflicting tone of the second blurb.

Onely - December 19, 2009

Hmmm. . . I think you’re right to have pointed that out. Lots of mental disorders have become part of our colloquial speak, so that we use them almost without thinking, in the place of other descriptive terms. In this case, if I had been less lazy with my terminology I could have maybe called the blurb “oxymoronic” or. . . “conflicted”. . . or. . . uh. . . well as you can see, that’s why I fell back on MPD. I personally am uncomfortable with, and a little resentful of, anyone using “OCD” in a casual or joking reference, having had my issues with (real) OCD in the past. However, amazingly even I have occasionally said “OCD” in situations that trivialized it–feeling surprised and guilty even as it came out of my mouth! I guess that’s how ingrained these casual references to “schizo” or “OCD” or “multiple personality” are in our language now. But that’s no reason to perpetuate the bad habit. Thanks for flagging the problem! Any readers who want submit alternate wording. . . fire away!!
Christina

Onely - December 19, 2009

Man, now I feel bad. I hope there are no MPD readers out there who felt peeved by my ill-chosen metaphor, as I would have if they had used an OCD metaphor. If so, sorry guys!
CC


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