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What Every Woman Wants? July 22, 2012

Posted by Onely in Dating, Food for Thought, Heteronormativity, single and happy.
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6 comments

Copious Readers,

The following is a story about the perils of couple-mania. The victim is me. The moral: Always trust your gut – you are a smart and intuitive person. Don’t let couple-mania get the better of you.

ImageA couple of weeks ago, I was invited to help a friend – let’s call her Reem – celebrate her birthday at a beautiful beach in southern Lebanon with her boyfriend (let’s call him Ramzi), and another friend of theirs (we’ll call her Rose). The beach was lovely – sunny, hot, relaxing.

A few hours into the afternoon, a few of Ramzi’s acquaintances from his football league showed up. We mingled. One of the guys started talking to me. We’ll call him Beach Dude.

Beach Dude seemed to be a genuinely nice guy. He’d grown up in the States but was of Lebanese descent. Talking with him, I felt comfortable, relaxed. He even asked me the topic of my dissertation; no one ever does that. We watched the sunset and chatted until I had to leave for Reem’s birthday dinner. I thought nothing of it.

But apparently, Reem, Ramzi, and Rose had thought about it plenty. They started teasing me.

Them: “Wow, Lisa, Beach Dude really likes you!”

Me: “What are you talking about?”

Them: “He stayed to talk to you when all the guys left to play football!”

Me: “Well, that’s true… but…”  My gut just felt they were wrong.

Them: “Lisa, he’s totally into you.”

Me: “I think he was just being friendly.”

Them: “You guys have got to hook up!”

After all their badgering I began to wonder if maybe they were right, and I had in fact entirely misinterpreted Beach Dude’s manner and motivations. Maybe he was totally turned on by the sexy concepts of historiography and disciplinarity (the subject of my dissertation). Still, I squirmed and blushed as they kept insisting that they had seen something I hadn’t.

I already hate couple-mania enough when it’s “out there” – in magazines or on television – but I truly despise it when it’s targeted at me. (more…)

Onely Commits Heteronormativity (Again) April 5, 2012

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Heteronormativity.
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8 comments

I’m beginning to worry I’m a subconscious heteronormahole, one of those annoying people who frame everything in the world in a hetero couple matrix. Regular readers will recall that in the past I’ve made unintentionally singlist or heteronormative remarks about housing and parenting.

Well, folks, I did it again. Recently I saw a hypnotist for assistance with handling medical issues, but as you know these guys are famous–in TV world at least–for dredging up all sorts of nastiness from the subconscious. Even. . . heteronormativity in a woman who has spent her blogging career railing against couple-maniacs and calling them names?

What happened was: The hypnotist sat me in a fluffy recliner. To the right of me was a matching fluffy recliner. In the tiny room, the recliners were the centerpiece and the empty chair to the right of me was very close and very obvious.

“Why do you have two chairs here?” I asked, after the session. I was groggy. (After all, I had just spent fifteen minutes being told to relax and visualize happy stuff. )  “Why? Do you hypnotize couples together? Like therapy?”

“No.” She gave me the same look I would have given myself, had I been completely lucid. “Sometimes friends want to do it together. Often coworkers. Not so much couples, at least not for therapy.”

Of course. Why would two chairs automatically suggest a couple to me? Why wouldn’t any number of other combinations of peoplehood want to try hypnosis together? Copious Readers, what would you have thought if you’d seen two chairs close side by side in a small dim hypnotist’s office?

–Christina

Photo credit: the-hypnotic.blogspot.com

Single’s Movement Has a Slogan! February 20, 2012

Posted by Onely in Heteronormativity, Take action.
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4 comments

Copious Readers, let us know what you think of this for our Singles’ movement slogan (if I may be so bold):

Separate sex and state!

Advantage: If you pronounce it SeparAYTE, it has rhyme and rhythm.

Disadvantage: Some people might read it as SeparUT.

Advantage: It has “sex” in it.

Disadvantage: It has “sex” in it.

As our regular readers will recognize, the slogan reflects how many governments give arbitrary rights and privileges to married couples, at the expense of gays who cannot marry and, less famously, at the expense of single people.  Yes, some companies or governments think of themselves as all progressive for providing some domestic partner benefits, but in doing so they’re just feeding back into the whole overdone trope of couple-privileging.

Moreover, “couple” is largely by default defined as two people who live together and have sex with each other on a regular basis. This prevents, or at least deters, two platonic females (for example) who live together, maybe share childcare responsibilities, and function as a married couple in all ways but one–dare I whip out the Kate & Allie reference? I do dare–from receiving or applying for domestic partner benefits.

This is why we think Separate sex from state is an appropriate slogan for progressive singles. Separate sex from state, and many other cultural prejudices about singles (selfish, lonely, always seeking “the one”) will fall away as well.

–Christina

P.S. If you watch the Kate & Allie episode, aired in 1984, you’ll see how they float the idea of “family can be defined many ways.” Yet over twenty years later, so many people (and institutions) are still acting as if the hetero couple unit is the be-all end-all of family. Shameful.

Dreaming an Impossible Dream: Marriage January 16, 2012

Posted by Onely in Everyday Happenings, Food for Thought, Heteronormativity, Your Responses Requested!.
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15 comments

Some people dream about getting married. Over here at Onely, we pride ourselves on rejecting that dream – or at least knocking it off its idyllic “dream” platform.

But what’s going on when a Oneler literally has a dream about getting married?

I’m not sure, but I can say this: It’s unsettling… Just over a week ago, I woke up at 4am remembering that I’d almost gotten married; as I put the strange pieces together and recalled the emotions I felt during the dream, I worried: did my psyche just make me a traitor to my Oneliness? (more…)

New York Legalizes Gay Marriage: Celebrate, But Remember Singles June 28, 2011

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Heteronormativity.
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6 comments

Yay! Previously homophobic (and possibly still homophobic) Senator Mark Grisanti breaks a deadlock in the New York State Senate’s vote to allow gay marriage:

Who am I to say that someone does not have the same rights that I have with my wife who I love or have the 1300 plus rights that I share with her?  I vote in the affirmative.

This sentence could also easily apply to single people who are deprived of those same rights (caveat/clarification: the 1300 rights Grisanti mentioned are 1300 laws in the federal code that reference marital status, and not all of them favor married people, although the vast majority do).

I’m amazed how people can advocate for Rights and Social Justice while playing right into a system that inherently disparages (the single) half of the population. Actually, I shouldn’t be amazed, because until a few years ago I was one of those advocates.

We at Onely have said it before and we’ll say it again: yes, everyone should have the right to marry, but marriage should not be privileged over other lifestyles.

–Christina

Photo credit: rikkis_refuge

Facebook, Scourge of the Onelers, Part 2 May 8, 2011

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Heteronormativity, Just Saying., Pop Culture: Scourge of the Onelys, Singled Out, Take action, Your Responses Requested!.
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13 comments

Continued from this post

Got your attention?

After Lisa conducted her Facebook experiment, we wondered, why is it that people can write anything they want on Facebook for their “religion” status, but not for relationship status?

It seemed an eminently reasonable question, so I posted an eminently reasonable article and petition on Change.org asking Facebook to tweak their script a tad. I’ve included excerpts from the article and petition here, along with some of the comments they generated. As you’ll see, on the niche topic of singles’ advocacy, what is eminently reasonable to one person may be hellfire-and-damnation to another, even in a community of supposedly progressive thinkers.

From the article: Tell Facebook “Relationships” Comprise More Than Just Sex Partners:

Facebook allows us to write whatever we want in our profile’s “Religion” box — even Peanut Butter Cups. So why, for our “Relationship,” must we choose from a pre-set list of nine choices: single; in a relationship; engaged; married; it’s complicated; in an open relationship; widowed; separated; and divorced?  [Update: in February 2011 Facebook added two more relationship options: “in a civil union” and “in a domestic partnership.]

Facebook needs to make the Relationship status a write-in field. I at least want the option of flaunting of my relationships with my cat or my hairdresser. But there are serious, bigger problems at stake here.

By forcing users to choose one “relationship” from a narrow range of options centering around marital status and sexual habits, Facebook perpetuates our society’s entrenched mate-mania, which over-worships the sexual-couple-unit, and marriage in particular. This bias devalues other important relationships. It devalues platonic friends and non-spousal family members. And it devalues people for whom conventional coupling/marriage is either not appealing or not an option. . .

From the Petition:

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg and Mr. Heiliger,

Please make Relationship Status a write-in field, as you have done with the Religion option. Since 2007, at least six Facebook groups have formed to advocate for broader definitions of relationship on the site, yet Facebook still requires users to choose from a short pre-set list of choices centering around marital status and sexual habits.

Facebook’s current Relationship menu perpetuates our society’s entrenched mate-mania, which over-worships the sexual-couple-unit, and marriage in particular. Mate-mania is more than an irritating cultural quirk. It is actually codified into government policy. In the U.S. legal code over 1000 laws mention marital status, favoring married couples by a wide margin. This bias devalues other important relationships. It devalues platonic friends and non-spousal family members. And it devalues people for whom conventional coupling/marriage is either not appealing or not an option.

That’s not what Facebook is about. Facebook is about facilitating connections–all kinds of connections. . .

A word about Change.org: I wrote for them for a year and really enjoyed the experience. Change.org is a powerful and successful liberal forum advocating for social change on a range of important issues, from women’s rights to gay rights to animal rights to human rights to environmental protection, largely through the use of online petitions. Every day hundreds of thousands of change-minded, open-minded readers browse, comment on, and sign the petitions. The Change.org community prides itself on thinking outside the box and advancing the rights of the disenfranchised.

When I wrote the post, I imagined that Change.org’s progressive readers would appreciate my claim and respond in kind by signing the petition. Instead, the commentary was surprisingly negative, and only 200 readers signed the petition – even though the post and petition received more than 9,000 views. So why did it receive an overwhelmingly hostile response from commenters?  Is it because they were unimaginative faux-progressives who only became liberals to piss off their right-wing parents or because they think they look good in Birkenstocks? Not at all. They cared deeply about other social issues, women’s rights in particular. In fact, they cared so deeply about women’s rights that a prime complaint about the petition was that it wasn’t feminist enough. Take for example the following two comments:

I think the cause of women’s rights needs to be taken seriously, and complaining about this type of stuff is a sure-fire way to lose points in the seriousness column.

I fail to see how that has to do with women’s rights, when that is affecting more than just women.

For people who haven’t yet thought critically about the cultural, governmental, and commercial biases toward couples, complaining about couple-mania is like complaining that the earth revolves around the sun. And why would anyone do that? Lisa commented on the article, explaining why Facebook’s relationship hangups were, in fact, a feminist issue:

The problem … has to do with the normalizing of romantic/sexual relationships as primary to a person’s identity. Because Facebook regulates the categories through which we define our online identities, it appears abnormal — and in the case of “relationship status,” impossible — to want to define one’s own identity according to our own terms, rather than Facebook’s. Thus, calling for a broadening of what “having a relationship” might mean — as Christina does here — appears abnormal to some.

Readers also challenged the article by saying that there are other (separate but seemingly equal) ways in Facebook through which you can link your status to friends/relatives/pets/etc, so they wondered why we needed to be able to do this in the “relationship” field.  In response, Lisa explained why this was so, feeling rather startled that such an explanation would even be required for people who, judging from their participation in Change.org, would already have a basic understanding of the rhetoric of discrimination:

Facebook’s regulation of which relationships are “possible” or “intelligible” participates in unjust systems of thought and action that attempt to regulate one’s ability to be recognized in larger culture as an individual deserving of equal rights…. While one’s online identity on Facebook may not seem to matter all that much in a local/individual context, I’d argue that Facebook’s popularity means that when it regulates particular aspects of a user’s identity as “normal,” that regulation trickles into the thinking/actions of the general public.

As of April 9, 2011, the article had received 9,582 views since its inception in December 2010.  Over 200 of those viewers signed the accompanying petition. And the other 9,000? Well, as we’ve seen, a number of them found the whole concept offensive. As is common with online petitions, a good proportion of the readers may have been too lazy, hurried, or cautious to hit the “sign” button and fill out their personal information (as I have often been). Regardless, almost 10,000 people now may think just a bit more critically when filling out their Facebook profiles.

— CC

Great News for Single Americans! (but you wouldn’t know it if you listened to the news) February 6, 2011

Posted by Onely in As If!, Food for Thought, Heteronormativity, Pop Culture: Scourge of the Onelys, Singled Out, Singles Resource, We like. . ..
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13 comments

To the delight of LGBTQS (that stands for lesbian-gay-bi-trans-queer-single) advocates everywhere, federal regulations now require that hospitals must grant all patients, no matter their marital, sexual or religious status, the right to define who they count as “family.”

Thanks to President Obama, the Code of Federal Regulations 42 CFR 482.13(h) and 42 CFR 485(f) requires that all hospitals in the U.S.:

(1) inform each patient of his or her right to receive visitors whom he or she designates, including a domestic partner, (2) do not restrict or limit visitation rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity, among other factors and (3) ensure that all visitors have full and equal visitation rights, consistent with a patient’s wishes. (– Human Rights Campaign)

Whoo hoo! Great news for singles, right? We certainly think so — but you wouldn’t know it if you relied on the media to explain. According to most reports I read, the major stakeholders are lesbian and gay couples. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but … ummm … what about lesbian and gay singles? Or … ahem … what about all singles (asexual, heterosexual, polyamorous, widowed, divorced, whatever).

Singlist media strikes again! Because it completely ignores the remarkably equalizing ramifications – for all Americans – of this new law, it upholds the couple-centric, heteronormative bias that all LGBTQS folk are trying to overcome. So you can see what I mean, let’s examine the following report posted on ABC’s news site shortly after the regulations came into effect: (more…)

Pop Culture: Scourge of the Onelys, Part 33.5a: Singlist AT&T Commercial November 15, 2010

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Heteronormativity, Pop Culture: Scourge of the Onelys, YouTube Style.
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15 comments

I have been bothered by this commercial for several months now, and I’m embarrassed to say that I wasn’t able to pinpoint why until this weekend, when it hit me: OMFG the only reason this guy becomes PRESIDENT is because (besides having AT&T, duh) he met the right girl, got MARRIED, and had kids.

Couplemania at its worst, if you ask me.

Copious Readers, please share your thoughts.

— Lisa

Scourge of the Onelers: The Michigan Appeals Court July 16, 2010

Posted by Onely in As If!, Heteronormativity.
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1 comment so far

As a proud and loyal Michigander, I’m peevish that the Michigan Appelate Court ruled that an unmarried woman has no right to custody of her non-biological children, even though she helped raise them for almost a decade. More details about this issue–which touches both singles’ rights and gay rights–are available here, on Change.org.  Pshaw.

–Christina

P.S. I’m also peevish about the term “Michigander”, which sounds like a kind of Japanese waterfowl.

Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Beating a Dead Horse: Or, More on Elena Kagan’s Gay/Single/Unmarried/Lonely Status May 21, 2010

Posted by Onely in "Against Love"...?, Heteronormativity, Singled Out.
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3 comments

Thanks to Copious Reader Rachel A. for calling our attention to this op-ed in The New York Times by one of my favorite columnists, Maureen Dowd. In it, Dowd astutely questions the (gendered) implications of calling a woman (in this case, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan) “single” versus “unmarried.” She writes:

Single carries a connotation of eligibility and possibility, while unmarried has that dreaded over-the-hill, out-of-luck, you-are-finished, no-chance implication. An aroma of mothballs and perpetual aunt.

Men, generally more favored by nature as they age, can be single at all ages. But often, for women, once you’re 40 or 50, or simply beyond childbearing age, you’re no longer single. You’re unmarried — meaning it isn’t your choice to be alone.

Intriguing as this analysis is, Dowd’s primary argument — that calling Kagan “unmarried” instead of “single” carries stereotypically sexist negative connotations — is grounded on the decidedly singlist premise that in order for Kagan to be seen as “young” and “fun,” she must also be seen as “datable” and, more importantly, looking for a romantic relationship. Here’s how Dowd puts it:

Why is there this underlying assumption that Kagan has missed the boat? Why couldn’t she be eager to come to Washington to check out the Obama-era geek-chic bachelors, maybe get set up on a date by Michelle Obama, maybe host some single ladies fiestas with Sonia Sotomayor, maybe even sign up for JDate with a new and improved job status?

(For a more expansive review of similar problems on the media’s “debate” about Elena Kagan’s gay/single/lonely status, you should also check out Bella DePaulo’s posts here and here).

Copious Readers, I’m eager to hear your thoughts!

— Lisa

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