Tags: David Ramadan, Marital Status Discrimination, November 2014 elections, single voter, Virginia property tax exemption
Get your running shoes and start digging your toes into the dirt so you are ready to sprint to the comments section by the end of this post. Though you might want to spare your fingers. You don’t need to tell me how much of an a-hole I am; I already know that and feel bad enough about myself as it is.
What would you have done in the following situation? Did I make the right or wrong call?
As you know, we at Onely have been harping since forever about Marital Status Discrimination–which happens when laws and corporate policies favor married people over unmarried. We hate that. So imagine my dismay when I saw that on (U.S.) midterms voting day (Tuesday, November 04, 2014) I would be forced to vote on the Virginia legislature’s House Bill 46, introduced by Delegate David Ramadan (R-87) :
Virginia Property Tax Exemption for Surviving Spouses of Armed Forces Amendment:
The measure was designed to exempt real property from taxation for any surviving spouse of a member of the United States Armed Forces who was killed in action, as determined by the Department of Defense.
It’s always terrible when anyone is killed in action. But when I read about this proposed legislation, I had to think, “But what if the person KIA wasn’t married, but had a very important person (or persons) in their life who filled some or all of the emotional/physical/financial criteria that a spouse might?” All military personnel should be able to choose a person to be exempt from this taxation, should the servicewoman or man be KIA. Otherwise, our government is not only discriminating against unmarried people, but against unmarried people who risk their lives in service of our country.
I sat in the voting booth much longer than normal (meaning longer than thirty seconds) considering whether to fill in the Yes oval or the No oval. I considered voting Yes, because I didn’t want spouses of U.S. servicepeople to have to pay real property taxes if they didn’t have to, because of course it sucks very much that their husbands/wives were KIA, and they deserve whatever recompense the government can/will give them.
However, I also considered voting No, because I didn’t want to support a law that I felt discriminated against single people in our armed forces–first, because discriminating against single people who protect our freedoms is yucky, and second, because I felt I would be a hypocrite given all the writing I’ve done about Marital Status Discrimination.
Yes-No-Yes-No-Yes-No. . . Well, you know those chairs in elementary school gymnasiums are just not comfy for this kind of extended rumination, plus people have an annoying habit of “waiting in line” behind you for you to finish your vote. Eventually I had to decide: should I be an A-hole or Hypocrite?
I chose A-hole. I voted that spouses of people KIA should *not* get those tax exemptions. Yes, I felt like a jerk. But I figured two things: One, there was no way I was going to escape that butt-numbing elementary school chair without feeling like a jerk in one way or another. Two, chances were that most other people would vote Yes on the measure, because like me, they would feel like jerks for voting No. So I could be reasonably sure the legislation would pass even if I took a small stand against Marital Status Discrimination by voting NOPE.
And I was right. The measure passed by 87.1 percent, with 1,829,691 votes.
I’m still not sure about my decision. Had it been any other law favoring married people, there would have been no question on how to vote. But when you get the military involved (I have a number of relatives and friends in the Army and Navy) those boundaries start to become less clear. Thoughts? (Virginia residents welcome.)
Photo credit: David Poe, Mockstar
We’re BACK! (With one little quote) July 25, 2014Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Just Saying., We like. . ..
Tags: marriage quotes, single quotes
1 comment so far
Beloved Copious Readers,
We’ve missed you! Many of you blog yourselves, so you know how sometimes life has a way of rudely inserting itself between your fingers and the keyboard.
For now, we’d like to offer you just a tidbit of Singles-Power to carry with you during dry spells when Onely or the other singles’ advocacy blogs you may follow (or write!) are not posting regularly. We’d like to present you with a pithy quote to tide you over during those dark days when it seems as if everyone around you is taking for granted that married people ought to be favored over unmarried people.
But first, some background: Many of you know that we here at Onely believe the institution of marriage is over-privileged. Married people receive too many rights at the expense of unmarried people. It’s discrimination that no one sees.
The playing field needs to be evened out. Tax professionals, legal experts, lawmakers, business owners and others with expertise in social planning need to start rethinking how to behave towards marriage. They need to start figuring out how to untangle marriage from random rights, such as–to name just one of over a thousand examples in the U.S. federal code alone–the right to set up an IRA for their spouse (single people usually can’t help anyone out by setting up an IRA for them, except maybe dependents).
Our power-brokers need to help facilitate these readjustments, but they won’t–because they don’t see a problem or disparity.
When Lisa and I wrote an article about the financial aspects of this discrimination for Atlantic.com, some people opened their eyes and said, “Wow, that’s a really good point!” But go look at the comments section. Many other readers opened their eyes and said, “Wow, we hate you!” (Meaning: “You messed with our entrenched world view!”)
One of our more subtle haters was a “tax professional” who sent us at least two multi-page emails calculating and re-calculating the “reasons” married people get more screwed by the IRS than single people. Even though we politely explained that our Atlantic story was representative and accurate, if not comprehensive, and even though we explained that we had consulted our own tax professional, she kept insisting that it’s the singles, not the marrieds, who win out in the end.
People, it’s not a contest–it’s a problem.
We were surprised that Atlantic.com produced so many haters, because we had assumed their readership would include exactly the smart, liberal demographic you’d imagine would go for the kind of massive paradigm shift required to end discrimination of any sort–including marital status discrimination.
But no, not necessarily. (We had the same problem at Change.org–this very liberal site barfed up more than one hater when I wrote about marital status discrimination for my women’s right column.)
But anyway, as we started to say in the beginning before we got distracted by our multi-paragraph “Background” extravaganza, we’d like to offer you a relevant quote we hope you will carry with you until the next time we post and you honor us with your readership:
THERE ARE SOME IDEAS SO WRONG ONLY A VERY INTELLIGENT PERSON COULD BELIEVE IN THEM.
–Quote by George Orwell
–All other blatherings by Christina
Tags: Beth O'Donnell, How to allow people to help you, Single and the Sweet Side of 40, Singles and chronic illness
Copious Readers, as you can see from recent posts, Onely’s new Thing is writing about singles with chronic illness. Our goal is to encourage a wider dialog on this topic. This is especially important in light of the fact that unmarried people are already legally discriminated against in many ways. And then a chronic illness necessitates dealing with additional heartless bureaucracy, especially the parts that already favor married people–most notably health and disability insurance and Social Security. Single and sick: potentially a double downer, at least as far as life logistics go. (Although sometimes it’s easier to be single and sick, or at least to live alone and be sick–we will write about this in a later post).
Onely has been in touch with a number of bloggers and writers who are also interested in what happens to unmarried sufferers of chronic illness (and we hope that more interested parties will contact us, please!). Today, though, I wanted to flag one particular interesting resource for any socially or legally single folks out there who are constantly sick.
It’s sometimes hard to ask for help from people who are not in your immediate/nuclear family, because our society tends to teach that it’s ok to ask parents, children, or a spouse--especially a spouse–for all sorts of care and assistance–even the ongoing care and assistance often required by a chronic illness. So single people without that specific support system may feel odd or uneasy about asking their own, unique support systems and loved ones for help, even though those people would probably be happy to assist.
Beth O’Donnell at Single and the Sweet Side of 40 has created some workbook charts, called HELP THEM TO HELP YOU, that assist you with wrapping your mind around certain important issues and decisions in your life. The Chronic Illness workbook is not out yet (we’ll let you know as soon as it is!), but two of the other workbooks actually provide guidance and insight that could very relevant to a single person dealing with an unrelentingly irritable body.
First, The Broken Heart Edition: The phrase “broken heart” usually appears in the context of a separation from or loss of a loved one. But the loss of your body as you once knew it can also break your heart. You might need as much moral support as if you had gone through a terrible breakup. And as helpful as hugs and phone calls are, O’Donnell points out that “Moral support is great, but if you really want to help, clean my house.” (Or, in my case, “If you really want to help, go to my office and. . . well, do my work.”)
As a cat owner, my personal favorite is:
The vacuum is _____________________on the___________________floor.
As someone whose body seems to hate her, my personal favorites are:
The odor in the house is most likely:
a) dead food
b) dead mouse
I’ll take a shower when:
a) water doesn’t hurt
b) my hair is so dirty it can be sculpted
c) I get out of bed
I’ll get out of bed:
a) when I wake up
b) for five minutes, to walk the dog
Second, The Heavy Lifting Edition:
Photo credit: saiyanzrepublik
The World’s Bitterest Single Woman June 23, 2013Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Just Saying., Marital Status Discrimination, Profiles.
Tags: prejudice against older women, single and bitter, single and happy blog
This post is a sort-of sequel to a previous post about bitterness. It’s a long one, but we hope you bear with us.
The World’s Bitterest Single Woman.
We here at Onely feel conflicted in writing about this woman. Too often Non-Bitter single people who advocate for single’s rights get accused of being Bitter. And we hate to encourage that logical fallacy. But the thing is, I (Christina) have met this woman in person. And so I must tell.
Copious Readers, hear her story and tell me if you think her bitterness is justified, or self-perpetuating, or creepy, or sad, or whatever jumps to your mind. Also, please skim our conversations and tell me if I could have–or should have–done or said anything more supportive (or chastizing) than what I had to offer at the time.
I met The World’s Bitterest Single Woman during my grad school period. We had a fiction-writing course together. I also sat across the aisle from her at a reading given by some other graduate students. Upon reflection, perhaps she could also be the World’s Bitterest Single Writer.
In the classroom: It was the first day of class and I’d arrived early. Empty seats stretched to the right and left of me, arranged in a semi-circle. As soon as she walked in I felt her toxic aura. The back of my neck and my torso squeezed into themselves and I clenched my arms to my sides and held my breath. Please please don’t sit near me was my first instinct. I’m not sure why.
Fortunately as she entered the room she followed the toilet stall/urinal/elevator rule: if there are several open spots, don’t sit/stand right next to the single occupied spot. She wedged herself into a desk several seats away from me and shook out her short hair, white and trimmed in chunky layers that looked self-cut.
The latecomers had to sit next to her. I wondered if they sensed her off-kilterness. My classmates didn’t seem to be leaning over the sides of their desks away from her, as I would have been. Perhaps they did not have my sensitivity, or perhaps I did not have their maturity. Perhaps I was judgmental, or perhaps I unconsiously smelled on her just a tinge of something that bothered me in childhood (Tang, perhaps).
I will call her Gertie. Gertie was 56 (I discovered later), older than most of us by a couple of decades. She accused (unfairly) my friend Sam of not doing enough historical research. She insisted her own story was funny, even though none of us got the jokes . She wasn’t mean, but she was mean. I couldn’t get a handle on exactly what was wrong with her until (more…)
Single-Friendly Fun on Facebook April 29, 2013Posted by Onely in Just Saying..
Tags: fun singles sayings
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This one reminds me of our post raging against Facebook’s amatonormative list of drop-down relationship statuses (you can write in your religion, but you have to choose from a set–a small set–of predetermined “relationships”).
Re-Orienting My (Onely) Self November 8, 2011Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Just Saying., single and happy.
Tags: beirut is beautiful, destressing, learning to relax, post-international move
It’s been about six months since I started the process of moving, and I’m finally at the point when I feel like I can say, with relative confidence, that the worst is over. And in saying that, I don’t mean to suggest that I don’t anticipate challenges in the future. It’s just that now the challenges I face will be everyday challenges – rather than challenges unique to the biggest decision of my life. And for this fact, I’m grateful.
But what does this have to do with being Onely? Well, now that I’m finally unpacked (no thanks to the elves, who were MIA all this time), now that I’ve got a relatively predictable (though still hectic) work-life schedule, now that smelling salt in the air and seeing the Mediterranean on a daily basis seem somewhat normal – now I feel like I can reorient and return to my Onely self. Ever since I finished my PhD and started planning my life overseas, I’ve been in survival mode. I don’t know how to explain my mentality except that it’s like I’ve been on “high alert” – every day I wake up early, with a long “to do” list in front of me – and until I cross off each item, I don’t feel that I can truly relax. (more…)
Facebook, Scourge of the Onelers, Part 2 May 8, 2011Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Heteronormativity, Just Saying., Pop Culture: Scourge of the Onelys, Singled Out, Take action, Your Responses Requested!.
Tags: relationship status is inadequate, sign our facebook petition, stop the singlism
Continued from this post…
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.
Facebook: Scourge of the Onelers, Part 1 May 4, 2011Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Just Saying., Singled Out.
Tags: facebook, relationship categories, singles and stigma
From this, we understand that he is in an exclusive, romantic relationship with one person. We don’t take it to mean that before he was “in a relationship,” this billionaire social networking mogul previously lived a life without any relationships – that is, without any significant social interactions.
That’s because the rhetoric of “relationship” has been hijacked by our obsession with so-called “soulmates.” Nowhere is this more obvious than on Facebook, where the “relationship status” menu contains pre-set choices that all have to do with coupling or sex.
Intrigued and also a little irritated, Lisa and I – both moderate Facebook users – decided to conduct a couple experiments. Lisa changed her relationship status to “in a relationship” out of the blue, and I started a petition on Change.org calling for Facebook to make “relationship status” a write-in field. In this post and the next, we describe what happened:
Several months ago, Lisa suspected that changing her relationship status on Facebook would “garner more attention than anything else I’d ever posted.” And it did. In her post describing the experiment on Onely, she explains:
Not only did my relationship-status-change draw three unqualified “likes” and eleven comments, but I also received three inquiries via text message, five private messages from friends wanting to know the “scoop,” and even one question about it at the end of an otherwise-serious phone call with my little brother. Considering I only have 130 “friends” on Facebook, that’s a pretty decent amount of attention — certainly much more than I’ve ever managed to solicit from anything else I’ve done on Facebook.
What’s more, two of the private messages were sent from friends who I haven’t seen or spoken to in the last six months, and although I replied graciously and honestly to their inquiries (I told them both it was a joke, sorry to disappoint (!!), told them a little bit about my current life and asked them about theirs), I haven’t heard from either of them since. The message I’m getting from this silence? A relationship-status change is everyone’s business.
The problem is, my experiment is flawed because my Facebook friend base is biased (my real-life FB friends know about and appreciate my pro-single status), and some of them even knew I was thinking about the experiment in advance.
To collect a bigger dataset, Lisa asked readers of Onely to do the experiment and report back their results. The results varied. Some readers reported that the relationship-status change didn’t garner any significant response because, as one reader put it: “either my friends know me well enough that my [relationship-status] change was some sort of play/experiment. Or they’re not the frenzy kind.” And others, such as the following reader, reported that breakups garner the most attention: “When i split up from my girlfriend … I … actually found some friends … that’s when I got [the] most comment[s]…. nearly 60 people joined in the conversation – you know what they say, ‘there’s no news like bad news.’”
But most of the readers who participated in the experimented reported impressive results:
So six hours in, I’m already wanting to renig. But I’m staying strong. Here are the results: 6 likes, 8 comments (2 comments also liked), 3 comments are congrats, 5 are wanting details.
“Kim is in a relationship with a hurdy gurdy player ;)” and 24 hours later: 11 likes, 4 comments (4 comments also liked), 4 comments are congrats and who???, 1 text, 2 phone calls.
My FB status was changed to “in a relationship” for about 28 hours or so. During that time I received 2 texts, 2 phone calls, 1 FB message, 11 “likes” and 9 comments.
What’s more, many of our readers noted that the experiment had made them reflective about the attention drawn by the change in status. One wrote, after hiding her relationship status after 24 hours of “being in a relationship,” that “I think that I’ll just tell everyone I am in a relationship with myself, because really I am. I’m in the middle of doing a lot of hard internal work and dating is out of the question during this time.” And another commented that “I felt uncomfortable with all the commentary and deleted the post.”
Given the importance people place on Facebook’s relationship status, and given the influence of the corporation in our culture, Lisa and I were bothered by the fact that “relationship status” focuses only on sexual couplings (or uncouplings). Why, we wondered, can people write anything they want for their “religion” status, but not for relationship status?
*** To Be Continued! ***
— Christina (and Lisa)
Tags: swiffer is singlist and sexist
Copious Readers, we hate this commercial.
Let the trashing begin.
If I Die Young and Freakishly December 23, 2010Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Just Saying., Secret Lives of the Happily Single, single and happy.
Tags: freak accident, living alone, regrets
My dad’s coworker died at 36 of a heart attack in his car after work. Security guards found him after noticing the car sitting, engine on, in a nearly-empty parking lot. People–me included–told the story in sad whispers: “In the car. With the engine on.”
If I die under odd circumstances (“odd” defined as “not passing away in a bed while asleep with a spouse holding my hand”), I don’t want people to harp on the details in a shocked or pitying way. If I go, I go with no regrets. (Except maybe that I never visited Dick Proenneke‘s house, and that my computer is full of revolting first drafts.)
As a Oneler who currently lives alone (“alone” defined as “with two cats”), any of my potential death scenarios–tripping on a cat on the stairs, choking on roast beef, cracking my skull on the bathtub–takes on an extra dollop of “Oh, geez, that’s terrible”: my body would inevitably have to lie there alone for a while before my office sends the dogs after me, or my mom calls the cops to find out why I haven’t phoned her in the last 24 hours to ask whether she thinks the two-week-old stroganoff is still good. Then someone would have to come and discover me, and the grapevine would vibrate with murmurs like, “And they had to break open the door! And there she was!”
Well, so what?