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Can Couples Advocate for Singles’ Rights? December 30, 2012

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Take action, Your Responses Requested!.
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For more than four years now, Lisa and I have spent a good deal of time objecting, advocating, railing, protesting, blathering, and even (to our shame) name-calling, all in the name of singles’ rights. We’ve been doing it every since we realized that, at the time, all pro-singles writing said it was GREAT to be happily single, but only because it made you more appealing so you could get a mate.

Lisa and I, two single women in our 30s, thought that was stupid. What if, we proposed, it was great to be happily single, period?  We were both happy, and single, and didn’t care whether we’d find a mate or not. So we started this blog, which has since been quoted or cited in several major print and online publications (and I say that only as an example of how vehemently we pushed our topic in people’s faces). 

Our question to you, Copious Readers, is: would we, could we, have ever had the same revelation–and the same work ethic–if one or both of us had been coupled? Or by extension, can a coupled/married person ever advocate for singles’ rights as passionately, accurately, or extensively  as an unmarried or socially single person? If yes, under what circumstances? If no, why not?

By singles’ rights, we mean that the U.S. government ought to stop discriminating against half its adult populace. We call this institutionalized singlism.

By singles’ rights, we also mean that people–regular people like you and Lisa and me–need to recognize that it’s not acceptable to treat single people like losers in the game of life. (“You’re not married yet? Awww.”) We call this cultural singlism. Examples are all over this blog and all over the blog of social scientist Bella DePaulo whom I linked to above, so I’m not going to retell the stories here. (I will give you some keywords though: Immature. Selfish. Desperate. Cats. Dead. Eaten by.)

Onely’s opinion is that anyone, aaaaaanyone, with an open-minded, critical-thinking type of brain, plus a mouth and/or a keyboard can fight institutionalized or cultural discrimination against singles. A married woman could ask the manager at her gym why she pays less than her single friend. A married man could write to his health insurance company and ask why he pays less on a private (versus company) plan than his single friend does–and threaten to take his business elsewhere. A couple who are dating can ask their happily single friend out to a movie with the two of them, and not–surprise!–show up with another single person as a setup.

And so on. As I said, examples of singlism are all over this blog. Examples of coupled people rallying for singles’ rights are not. But we at Onely believe there could and will be.

–Christina and Lisa

Photo Credit: Public Domain


1. North2TheFuture (@North2theFuture) - December 30, 2012

” Can Couples Advocate for Singles’ Rights? ” Keywords: snowballs, hell.
I’m reminded of years ago church singles groups I came across which were, of course, headed up by a married couple so as to keep us not quite grownups who had no sense of responsibility from running amok.

Onely - January 1, 2013

Oh good lord! (no pun intended. well ok kind of intended.) That is ridiculous!!!!! And also sort of hilarious in a way. My feeling is religious meetups of any sort run the risk of that sort of conservatism. I believe that in society at large there would be more people like the commenter clofa’s friend. Though admittedly if I encountered that in a group I was involved in, I would be very discouraged about the whole thing.

adlin - January 2, 2013

I just laughed at the church group comment… been there. It’s a major reason why I’m very leery of singles groups. I have no idea why they would be headed by a married couple. The corker was when an entire Sunday of the Singles group meeting was spent on the announcement of said married couple’s daughter to one of the single members. At that point, I was done. Great people, but the group was not for the single, never married.

If you’ve never, ever lived single, I don’t think you can adequately advocate for singles rights unless you’re terribly aware. I know of a few that would fit that, but not many.

Onely - January 5, 2013

I am wary of secular singles’ groups too. Ok, if you want to find someone and enter into that mayhem of trying to sift through the group members without making it obvious that you’re sifting through them, while everyone else is doing the same. . . it creeps me out and, frankly, makes me feel insecure. But people can do that if they want. My preference would be just joining groups based on your interests, although often these can act as front groups for singles groups = ) = ) CC

tehomet - January 5, 2013

Holy moly – no pun intended!

2. Alan - December 30, 2012

I think there’s no reason why couples couldn’t advocate for singles rights. It’s certainly possible (though made less likely by the previously mentioned name calling).

But I don’t think that it’s possible to advocate as strongly for a group if you’re not part of it. It gives one added determination if you know the changes will directly affect you.

3. Alan - December 30, 2012

And, off topic, I like the picture. Never gotten that good a pic of sandhill cranes myself

Onely - January 1, 2013

Ok good–I was a little worried about it because the single crane has its head in the sand and I worried that could be construed as pejorative or infantilizing towards singles, but then I said screw it, I like the pic. = ) CC

4. AMT - December 30, 2012

Currently I am coupled but I have never been married. I have mixed feelings on marriage for me personally, but mostly I would say that I have found the right person for me and would like to have that socially recognized. However, I have never wanted to just “get married” for the sake of not being single, and had I not found my current partner I would probably have no interest in the institution.

That said, I am a strong supporter of singles rights. I think it is disgusting how unequal it is, and I think after gay marriage it’s the next big movement (or at least I hope). The inequality has made me think long and hard about whether I even want to participate.

So I guess this is my roundabout way of saying that couples can definitely care about singleism just as straight people can be powerful allies for the LGBT community and equal marriage. It took everyone coming together to legalize gay marriage in my home state of WA. Unfortunately, I think at this time your biggest hurdle is increasing awareness. You two have been making great contributions but it is still largely an issue that people take for granted. I know that I did not stop to think about the inequalities as something that must be changed until I started reading Onely and Bella’s blog. The status quo is so ingrained in people that sometimes they don’t even realize they are being oppressed.

You all are doing great work and please know that you have non-single supporters!

Onely - January 1, 2013

Thanks AMT! We really appreciate your support. Kind words like yours help motivate us keep up the fight. We are particularly trying to get out word of the great financial disparity that all those (US) laws favoring marrieds cause, but as you said people have been taking the status quo regarding that for granted for so long it’s as if we’re beating our heads against a wall.

5. clofa - December 30, 2012

I do have a married friend who vehemently advocates for singles’ rights, so I believe it’s possible but not too common. It’s hard for someone who enjoys added privileges to reject them or wonder why they have them in the first place. And even when they realize that those privileges are based on illogical presumptions, it’s not certain that they’d choose to speak up against them.

Onely - January 1, 2013

Glad to head about your married friend. My thought would be that the married/coupled person would have had to experience the single life for a long time first, in order to “get” the disparity.

6. Jennifer - January 4, 2013

Y’know, my first thought was, “Of COURSE couples can advocate for singles’ rights, but maybe not they won’t be AS STRONG of advocates” – just as men can advocate for women’s rights, whites can advocate for minority rights, straight people can advocate for gay rights, etc., but I think it’s more unusual for those outside the group to be as vocal as those who are part of the group. But it also occurred to me that being single and being coupled differs from those other examples in one major fundamental way – unlike race, gender, sexual orientation, a person can be both single AND coupled in their life (at different times!). And I think people who are happily single, who become coupled, can advocate just as strongly for singles’ rights as single people – in some ways, they may be in an even better position to do so because matrimaniacal folks may be less likely to write them off as just espousing ‘sour grapes’. BUT someone who is coupled without ever being happily single is no more likely to advocate for singles than someone who is single and wants desperately to be coupled…

Onely - January 5, 2013

I think yours is such a great and comprehensive answer, Jennifer. Thanks so much. I think this is a particularly important point: “unlike race, gender, sexual orientation, a person can be both single AND coupled in their life (at different times!)”. We don’t address this often enough on Onely, but we should. CC

tehomet - January 5, 2013

Very good point.

7. Nicole B. - January 13, 2013

Yes! I like to think I advocate for singles when I tell people about this blog, since I’m married and happen to have lots of married friends, who are so entrenched they’ve never really thought about the issue. So thanks to Onely for opening my eyes and helping me be an advocate (of sorts 🙂

8. azygous30 - January 28, 2013

I have recently blogged about another issue too. Singles are expected to either be totally happy with it or totally bitter about it. Why can’t a single have a range of feelings about being single? Some good days, some bad, some filled with longing and some with gratitude about the singleness. Why does it wrong to feel sad and lonely sometimes? Why do people feel singles have to be either happy or just losers?

Onely - January 28, 2013

excellent, excellent point azygous30

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