jump to navigation

Mixed Fruit, or the Unmarried Conglomerate (Donna Ward Interview, Part 3) June 22, 2021

Posted by Onely in book review, childfree/childless, Guest Posts.
Tags: , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

Welcome to the latest installment in our series, Onelers Of The World. This is the third part of my interview with Australian author Donna Ward, who elaborates on aspects of her beautiful memoir She I Dare Not Name: A spinster’s meditations on lifeHere are the first and second parts of the interview. The third part, below, talks about the Unmarried Conglomerate, the term Donna coined to refer to the diverse group of people lumped together simply because of what they are not: married. There’s also a bonus vocab section!  (I am the one who bolded some of the sentences in Donna’s answers.)

Christina: In your book, you raise an interesting issue, one that is not discussed much in singles advocacy:  By splitting society sharply into Married or Not-Married, we create a false sense that all unmarried people are alike, with the same feelings and needs:  

Assuming spinsters and bachelors live the same lives as the conglomerate commonly referred to as single renders memoirs and social research on the subject impotent witnesses of less-daunting single lives. It conceals the social, personal, and political implications of living a life mostly, or completely, without a partner and children.” (10)  

After you had this realization, you visited the U.S. Census website. Can you tell us why, what you found there, and how it made you feel?  

Donna:   Ha! Well, I guess it was one of a series of events that made me write the book. Way back, twenty years or so ago, when I began writing this book, I did a lot of reading about the research on the health, wellbeing, and you guessed it, happiness of non-married versus married people. I visited the U.S. Census website and discovered the American government was, can I say, worse at collecting data on singles than our Australian Bureau of Statistics. (more…)

Childfree/Childless Singles in Australia (Donna Ward Interview, Part 2) June 16, 2021

Posted by Onely in book review, Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
2 comments

Welcome to the latest installment in our series, Onelers Of The World. This is the second part of my interview with Australian author Donna Ward, who elaborates on aspects of her beautiful memoir She I Dare Not Name: A spinster’s meditations on life. The first part of the interview was about the differences between how singleness is viewed in Australia vs. in the US. Here in Part 2, we examine Donna’s experience of being childless in Australia. The bolded texts were bolded by me, because I had the same compulsion to highlight Donna’s interview insights that I had when I was reading She I Dare Not Name. . . 

 

Christina to Donna: “But, do not be foxed!” you say, after having told us how Australians aren’t as marriage-happy as Americans. Because Australia nonetheless has plenty laws favoring people with families. You say, “As long as he or she has children, an Australian is a legitimate member of society.” Can you give an example(s) of specific instances where you would have had different privileges if you had had children? 

Donna: Can I say, straight up, our laws are not as punitive or as stringent against childless singles as I hear they are in America.

Christina: You most certainly can! 

Donna: We have never had a bachelor tax, for example, which was popular in Europe, the UK, and America from the eighteenth century, to encourage men to marry. Nevertheless, Australian economic and social policy is built on the assumption of the dual income family with children. So the cost of living—house prices, rent, utilities, food, holidays—is priced accordingly. Tax breaks exist for those with children on the assumption that there are no barriers to those living without the cost of children.

Our social welfare system and health insurance system, are based on the individual. This was a revolution that occurred during our progressive governments of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. During those decades, even though our Taxation Law assumes everyone will partner and parent, our social welfare system was designed around individual rights. This doesn’t mean they adequately support individuals, but it does mean it is an individual’s right to claim unemployment, supporting parent, and disability benefits, and the aged pension regardless of their marital status.

However, disability, health, and age care services are designed on the assumption that everyone has a family member, especially an adult child, who will steer them through the digital rabbit hole into these services, and safeguard them once they arrive. (more…)

Book Review: She I Dare Not Name: A Spinster’s Meditations June 1, 2021

Posted by Onely in book review, Guest Posts, Onelers of the World, Reviews.
Tags: , , , , ,
5 comments

Welcome to the latest installment in our series, Onelers Of The World. Today I’m reviewing an important memoir by Australian author Donna Ward:  She I Dare Not Name: A spinster’s meditations on life. (Allen & Unwin 2021.) Previously I interviewed Donna for our series Onelers of the World. Part one of the interview is here. Now we have a treat for our U.S. American readers: She I Dare Not Name is being released in the U.S. TODAY (01 June 2021). You can get it at her publisher or at your favorite Indie bookseller or via the Evil Empire (no judgment–I personally have financed at least one of Jeff Bezo’s yachts)

Ward makes innumerable stinging and touching observations about a world where women like her and me are “less than”.*  I went a little crazy with the Kindle highlighter while reading this book. Ok, a lot crazy. My screen looks like Jackson Pollock was trying to understand the tribulations of unmarried childless women. 

Not that I’m totally on the same page (pun intended) as Ward. She started her journey through singledom reluctantly, expecting and hoping to become a partner and a mother, until it became clear that fate had other plans for her. I, on the other hand, never cared much one way or another if I were a partner or a parent. Her story is about coming to terms with her fate and learning not only to accept it, but to relish many aspects of her solitude. She pulls no punches in describing her roller-coaster journey from subtle pariah at the mommy-brunch (and recipient of the “frying-pan-for-one” present because it doesn’t look like she’ll “ever meet anyone”) to satisfied single whose solitude “endows an intimacy of one and a romance with the world”. Even for those of us like me who have always leaned towards single-at-heart, the process of recognizing and loving our solo selves can be a roller coaster, as we duck and dodge the prejudice society throws at us. Five stars say you’ll want to go along with Ward for her ride. 

Contrary to what most believe, solitude is a direct path into a relentless intimacy with oneself. I have learnt to be kind. (She I Dare Not Name, 17) 

Ward applies her poetic voice and powerful imagery to institutionalized singlism, meaning laws and commercial practices that blatantly and legally privilege married people. In other hands, this topic could come off dry: estate taxes, next of kin, social security. . . But don’t be foxed!**  In She I Dare Not Name, LINK the topic is tinder waiting to conflagrate. 

Here’s one part where Ward describes institutionalized singlism: (more…)

Australian Singledom vs. U.S. Singledom (Donna Ward Interview, Part 1) May 24, 2021

Posted by Onely in book review, Guest Posts, Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , ,
2 comments

Welcome to the latest installment in our series, Onelers Of The World. Today I’m talking to Australian author Donna Ward, who wrote the lyrical and incisive memoir She I Dare Not Name: A spinster’s meditations on life. It’s available on Kindle and in Australia now, and it’s releasing in the U.S. on 01 June 2021!  As I was reading it, I highlighted the bejeezus out of every page. After much difficulty, I narrowed my myriad highlights into a few key bullets that I wanted to ask Donna to talk to you about directly, in what ended up being a three-part interview. This first part concerns the differences between U.S. American and Australian views of singledom.

 

 

This woman is not a ghost come to claim you. You are not free to flirt with her. She won’t want to go home with you unless you enjoy her company, and she yours. She is not in search of a mercy fuck. She is not a threat to your marriage. The silence in her soul is not a harbinger of death, it simply comes of keeping company with solitude. This woman is not a bunny-boiler. All the bunny-boilers she knows are ex-wives.

 —Donna Ward, She I Dare Not Name. Allen & Unwin 2021

Christina to Donna:  You had a fascinating insight when an American acquaintance asked you if you’re “happy being a singleton.” You realized that only an American would ask this. When I read your rationales, my mind went BOOM. (A good boom.) Could you explain for my readers why your acquaintance’s question was arguably uniquely American? (more…)

Valentine’s Day and Singles Empowerment Day: Recommended Reading February 15, 2021

Posted by Onely in book review.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

For a combo celebration of Valentine’s Day (14 February) and Singles Empowerment Day (15 February), I want to flag a beautifully written and meticulously researched historical fiction series that examines religion, racial identity, ablism, cross-cultural conflicts. . . and romance. Lots and lots of romance. If that seems like a strange reading recommendation for a blog built on challenging our couple-obsessed culture, hear me out: (more…)

BOOK REVIEW: An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine August 21, 2020

Posted by Onely in book review, Reviews.
Tags: , , ,
3 comments

An Unnecessary Woman, by Rabih Almameddine Grove Press, New York, 2013.

In the comments on an earlier post, our Copious Reader clofa recommended some books and authors. I picked up An Unnecessary Woman because it was the only one of the books in my library system. And I’m so glad I did! Thanks, clofa. I read it in two sittings, and I would have read it in one sitting, but unfortunately a girl’s gotta sleep and do personal hygiene.

Clofa warned that some of her friends found it depressing, and yes, it is depressing. But it’s also uplifting and I find so much to identify with. (more…)

“How To Be A Happy Bachelor”: Singles’ Rights From the Male Perspective July 2, 2020

Posted by Onely in book review, Reviews.
Tags:
add a comment

The conversation about singles rights has traditionally been dominated by white cis hetero women. The singles advocacy community can benefit from the voices of single women of color (see Dr. Kris Marsh‘s work), single LGBTQA people, and single cis/hetero men. This post will focus on the latter. Historically, whereas single women have almost always been seen as deficient, single men at least had a chance of being seen as positive: the freewheeling, sexually engaged, George Clooney trope. Boring, but positive. Nonetheless, single men still need advocacy. They experience the same financial and legal discrimination that single women do, and moreover, there’s a dark side to the single man stereotypes that single women don’t generally experience: the loner/serial killer stereotype. (more…)

Recommended Reading: The Last Conception September 13, 2014

Posted by Onely in book review, Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
3 comments

Gabriel Constans. The Last Conception. Melange Books, LLC. White Bear Lake, Minnesota. 2014.

***

51OayA6JBeL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_To my mother. To my wife. To my husband. Authors commonly dedicate their books this way. Nice, but boooring. (To everyone, that is, except the mother, wife, or husband.)

Gabriel Constans dedicates his book The Last Conception

To Love, in all its manifestations.

We here at Onely are interested in all aspects of the single experience and particularly like to learn about single people from different backgrounds than ourselves (Lisa and I self-identify as white, upper-middle-class, agnostic, heterosexual women). The beginning of Constans’ novel allows us into the world of single scientist and first-generation Indian-American lesbian Savarna, whose parents–still unaware of her sexuality–have been pressuring her for years to marry and give them a grandchild. Any unmarried, child-free reader whose parents have pressured them in this way will wince along with Savarna as her parents become increasingly fervent in their matchmaking–all while Savarna is trying to figure out her relationships with two different women. (I refer to her as “single” because initially she is not part of an “official” couple.)

Appropriately, as an embryologist Savarna spends her working hours manipulating eggs and sperm to help women conceive. She herself, however, doesn’t feel the tick-tock of her biological clock. If she did, this book wouldn’t exist. (Or it would be very boring.)

The Last Conception teaches that Indian culture places even more importance on marriage and childbearing than U.S. culture. So we have several layers of tension going on throughout the story:

–Savarna the happily childfree woman vs. her grandchild-wanting parents

–Savarna the American vs. her Indian parents

–Savarna is not religious, but her parents who travel to India once a year for some ceremonious gathering that Savarna has never attended and vaguely considers cultish

–Then there is lesbian Savarna vs. the heterosexual world her parents inhabit (though from habit as opposed to bigotry)

–Even Savarna and her closest girlfriend have differing opinions on commitment and children

–Savarna is torn between loyalty to herself and to her parents–whose constant nagging about reproduction, we soon discover, stems not from desires to pinch bubble cheeks or see if their grandchild has their eyes, but something far more weighty.

Through the course of the book these subtle battles wage, peak, resolve and eventually weave together into an ending so satisfying I really wish I could share it here. I’m afraid to say much more because I don’t want to put out any Spoilers. Let’s just say that ultra right-wing conservatives would hate this book, especially the conclusion. (All the more reason to read it!) One of our favorite words here at Onely is amatonormative, which means the normalizing of a few specific kinds of love relationships while marginalizing all others. The Last Conception kicks amatonormativity in the a$$.

Which is why it gets one thumb up from our blog. The other thumb is busy turning the pages for a second read-through.

–Christina

Book Release: A Voice For Singles With Chronic Illness August 27, 2014

Posted by Onely in book review, Reviews, Single with chronic illness, We like. . ..
Tags: , , , , , ,
2 comments

indexA while ago we here at Onely.org gave our dear Copious Readers a heads-up and review about Nika C. Beamon’s book MISDIAGNOSED: THE SEARCH FOR DR. HOUSE.

Now we wanted to announce that it’s available on Amazon.com as a paperback and Kindle book.  It’s also available on Smashwords and as a Nook Book.  Look for the paperback version on Barnes and Noble.com. Congratulations, Nika!

She also wrote a guest post on Psychology Today that ties into the book and talks about how to deal with being sick and single.

Copious Readers, I hope you’re not sick and that no one you love has a serious illness. But even if you are so lucky, check out Nika’s book anyway, just for educational value. You might find a whole new world of weirdness as you enter the seamy, stupid underbelly of the U.S. healthcare system.

–Christina

 

The Humor Code: A Book Review April 9, 2014

Posted by Onely in book review, Reviews.
Tags: , , ,
1 comment so far

Copious Readers, welcome to the second installment in our new series Things That Don’t Have Much To Do With Being Single. Marketing managers at Simon and Schuster kindly provided us with a review copy of The Humor Code–A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny and asked that we write about it on Onely. At first glance, we thought, “Hey, this has nothing to do with singles’ rights!” But we really, really wanted a free book. So we said sure, we’d review it. Plus, we rationalized, single people like to laugh, right?

McGraw, Peter and Joel Warner. The Humor Code–A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny. Simon and Schuster. New York. 2014.

Two guys. 19 experiments. Five continents. 91,000 miles. And a book that will forever change the way you think about humor.

That’s the publisher’s summary. Here’s mine:

An intrepid sweater-vest-wearing university professor (Pete) looking for the grand unified theory of humor and a jaded journalist looking for a fluff story (Joel) quickly find themselves, if not over their heads, at least frighteningly up to their nostrils in a flood of humor, as they try to observe what makes people in different cultures laugh and why. A lot of the laughter they encounter is fun, some is dirty, some is mean, some is unintelligible, some is even dangerous.  They make some assessments based on science, such as when they look at various gender bias studies (verdict: no, Adam Corrolla, men are not funnier than women). The authors also form theories based on interpersonal interaction, such as when they compare penis sizes with Japanese actors-slash-game show participants.

The Humor Code has not one, but two, storylines. First, there’s the travelogue, intertwined with expository prose analyzing the results of their adventures. Second, there’s Pete’s struggle to become a standup comic–or at least to develop a standup routine that, based on what he’s learned about humor, cannot fail to entertain.  He appears on stage several times, each instance in a sweater vest. I won’t give away the end result, except to say that he gets better with practice.

The Humor Code is, appropriately and necessarily, funny. But the whole time I was reading I kept thinking, A book about what makes me laugh is making me laugh. A book about what makes me laugh is making me laugh. It was a very fractal feeling–not unpleasant, but rather like little meta fingers massaging my brain.

Our heroes go in search of Tanzanians who remember the contagious laughter outbreak, omuneepo. They examine headlines in the satirical newspaper The Onion published right after 9/11 to learn how laughter offsets tragedy (for example, “September 11 Hijackers Surprised to Find Themselves in Hell”). They meet with some of the Danish cartoonists who drew the famous and infamous cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that caused so much uproar around the world.

Speaking of which, here’s one for your next cocktail party: many of the cartoons didn’t even feature the prophet Muhammad; the vast majority of people protesting or defending them hadn’t even seen the drawings; and–this tidbit should be brought out after the canapes when people are well into their martinis and mojitos–the one cartoonist who did draw an actual prophet Muhammad with an actually offensive bomb in his turban was later in his home with a five-year-old daughter of a friend, when presumably a non-fan of his cartoon beat down the door with an ax and chased the cartoonist into his panic room–leaving the ax man alone with the little girl. She may or may not have drawn cartoons of Muhammad at some point in her Crayon career, but fortunately, the ax man hadn’t seen any and left her alone.

This book is full of cocktail party fodder, but it dives deeper than that too. Essentially, when it comes to humor, we humans are more united than divided.

–Christina

 

 

%d bloggers like this: