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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

Pop Culture, Scourge of the Onelys: This is … news? February 9, 2010

Posted by Onely in "Against Love"...?, Food for Thought, Pop Culture: Scourge of the Onelys, Singled Out.
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12 comments

This just in via the New York Times: Women outnumber men in college, and it’s affecting their dating lives.

Thank God for good reporting! Because without it, we wouldn’t know that women in college these days “often find it harder than expected to find a date on a Friday night” and must instead choose between “assert[ing] themselves romantically or be[ing] left alone on Valentine’s Day, staring down a George Clooney movie over a half-empty pizza box.”

Nevermind that “women are primarily in college not because they are looking for men, but because they want to earn a degree,” or that “Many women eagerly hit the library on Saturday night. And most would prefer to go out with friends, rather than date a campus brute.”

Nope, all that matters is our nostalgia for what used to be:

The loneliness can be made all the more bitter by the knowledge that it wasn’t always this way.

“My roommate’s parents met here,” said Mitali Dayal, a freshman at North Carolina. “She has this nice little picture of them in their Carolina sweatshirts. Must be nice.”

And please don’t concern yourselves with the fact all students at the University of North Carolina appear to be straight and white, and that the male students can’t seem to help their misogyny…! If anyone ever doubted that the media perpetuates stereotypes about gender, race, and sexuality, this story should shatter those doubts.

Copious Readers, what else irks you about this story?

— L

photo credit: Inju

Valentine’s Day: Scourge of the Onelys (Nature Edition) February 1, 2010

Posted by Onely in "Against Love"...?, Pop Culture: Scourge of the Onelys, Singled Out.
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12 comments

So last week I was reading one of my favorite blogs, a local site that announces public events and gatherings located in the Louisville area. (I really appreciate the site and the owner, who obviously cares about our little city and runs the site pro bono, so I’m not going to link to it here.) On the site, there was an announcement for an event held at a beautiful forest about 20 minutes outside of the city — my dog and I love hiking at this forest, and so I read the following with enthusiasm — and then jarring disappointment:

A romantic Valentine’s Day evening awaits Friday, February 12 and Saturday, February 13 at — Forest. For only $25, couples will be treated to a romantic candle-lit hike that ends with a view of Louisville’s lights from the scenic — House.

Following the hike, couples will enjoy a roaring fire, hot drinks and gourmet desserts within the — House. … The evening begins at 7:30 p.m. and is expected to wind up by 10 p.m. Couples are also invited to bring flashlights to the hike for added visibility along the trails.

Because of increased demand for the hikes, an additional date was added this year.

“The natural beauty of — Forest is a great fit with Valentine’s Day,” said —, public education coordinator at — Forest. “Couples can have a romantic evening by taking a stroll through the grounds, then relaxing in front of the fire. We have many couples who have made this part of their Valentine tradition. They look forward to seeing other couples they have met in the years past. The — House offers enough room to sit together or find a romantic spot away from the group.”

I’ll admit: I’m not normally all that surprised — or even bothered — by V-day events. They often sound boring and/or cheesy; they’re usually activities I’d rather not participate in, even if I were coupled. But being the outdoorsy kind of woman I am, I feel completely offended by this event. I am simply horrified by the idea that this cool night-time nature hike — which I would truly enjoy! — has become a couples-only activity! The strangest part about the announcement, which Christina pointed out to me, is that it doesn’t even say explicitly that the event is only for couples… But the language used in the announcement is clearly grounded upon that basic premise (especially the last paragraph — which makes me nauseous!).

To which I say, F*** you, — Forest!

Copious Readers, what do you think? Am I overreacting?

— Lisa

photo credit: asiastockimages

Pioneering Singles’ Advocate Dr. Bella DePaulo BlogCrawls onto Onely! September 26, 2009

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Guest Bloggers, Guest Posts, Singled Out.
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23 comments

Happy Last Day of National Singles’ Week!!

final Singled Out TP coverYes, it’s the end of Unmarried and Single Americans Week, but don’t be sad! We’re going out with a bang! Today singles’ advocate extraordinaire Dr. Bella DePaulo relates some personal watershed moments when she realized she didn’t have to find a “Sex and Everything Else Partner” if she didn’t feel like it. One reason Onely hearts Bella is because she has coined some fabulous terms to describe the lopsided treatment of singles in society, including singlism (discrimination and prejudice against single people), matrimania (the myth of marriage as a cure for personal and social ills), and the much underused SEEPie.

How I Discovered that Living Single Was My True Happily Ever After

by Bella DePaulo

In seventh grade, on a break from class, best friends Maureen and Linda took turns walking slowly and deliberately, hands clasped at their waists. They were practicing the walk down the aisle. They also compared notes on their wedding dresses, the bridesmaids’ dresses, and who those bridesmaids would be. No, they were not getting married at age 12 – they were just fantasizing.

Even as a 7th grader, I found this strange. I just didn’t see the appeal of planning, or even thinking about a wedding. Turns out, I never would.

I have always lived single, and never yearned to live any other way. For a long time, though, I was puzzled by the disconnect between the way I liked to live, and the kind of life so many others seemed to wish for, and expected me to wish for, too.

I tried out several solutions to this. I had a bug hypothesis for a while – marriage was a bug, and I just hadn’t caught it yet. Eventually, it would get me. (Looking back, I’m now bemused that I did believe in a disease model all along – but the disease was marriage, not singlehood.) Then I tried out the long-distance version of the longing – maybe I’d like it if I had a long-distance relationship. That way, I could have my time and space to myself all week, and have a partner for the weekends. I thought about it, but I never felt it.

I don’t think there was a specific moment when I realized: I LIKE living single. This is who I am. It is not going to change.

To get to that point, I think I had to understand a bigger point – it is fine (good, even) to live the life that is most meaningful to you, even if your way is not the most conventional one. (more…)

“We Don’t Want Another Piece of the Pie… We Want a Whole New Pie” April 13, 2009

Posted by Onely in "Against Love"...?, Heteronormativity, Just Saying., Singled Out.
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5 comments

Winona LaDuke, a Native American political activist, is credited with the potd_pi-piewords that I’m borrowing for the title of this post. I don’t know all that much about LaDuke, but I’ve heard her words (slightly altered) before in a different context. About a year ago, I had what turned out to be a very significant conversation with one of my favorite professors, who explained to me why she, as a lesbian, had no interest in promoting the cause of gay marriage. “I don’t want a piece of that pie,” she said — meaning the institution of marriage — “because it doesn’t solve the problem of equality for all…. Hell, I don’t even like pie!” (more…)

Pop Culture, Scourge of the Onelys (Twice in a Week!): “I Vow” Commercials April 1, 2009

Posted by Onely in "Against Love"...?, As If!, Dating, Heteronormativity, Pop Culture: Scourge of the Onelys, Singled Out.
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19 comments

OK. So I understand that Chemistry.com’s whole business revolves around assuming and promoting couple-dom as the most desirable relationship status. In order to do this, it’s no surprise that the company (and others like it) tends to promote stereotypes about and simultaneously degrade single people (see, for example, this offensive commercial).

But — as if that’s not enough — the newest series of Chemistry.com commercials, dubbed on YouTube as “Chemistry.com Vows,” presents two people mimicking wedding-ceremony protocol and normalizes the matrimaniacal tendencies of American culture. (more…)

Let’s Get This Over With As Quickly As Possible Day February 13, 2009

Posted by Onely in "Against Love"...?, As If!, Food for Thought, Heteronormativity, single and happy, Singled Out, Your Responses Requested!.
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11 comments

antivalentineThis is Onely’s first Valentine’s Day!  Pt-oo!  And that is us spitting on the Hallmark and De Beers mudworms who warped the holiday into its current overcommercialized incarnation.

What can Onely say about V-day, aka Let’s Get This Over With as Quickly As Possible Day,  that hasn’t been said already? “The holiday is insulting to singles”; “not insulting to singles”; “worth celebrating”; “not worth celebrating” — blah, blah.   (more…)

“No Fun Being One!”: Pop Culture, Scourge of the Onelys, Part 37.423x January 7, 2009

Posted by Onely in "Against Love"...?, As If!, Heteronormativity, Just Saying., Pop Culture: Scourge of the Onelys, Singled Out.
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3 comments

Hi everyone,

I’m back after two long weeks being busy with friends and family. During my many travels, I made a stop in St. Louis to participate in a good friend’s wedding. Every time I go to a wedding, I find myself enumerating the many reasons why I don’t want one of my own. I’ll post more about this later this week, but I first want to describe my experience looking for a wedding card to include with my gift for the wedding. newlife3

 It was late Friday night, after the rehearsal dinner and a couple glasses of wine, and I stopped in at a Walgreen’s to find a card in a hurry. But as I looked through them, I found I couldn’t make a decision quite as fast as I’d hoped, because nearly every card contained a decidedly anti-Onely message, some version of either 1) Good riddance to the single life!, or 2) Cheers to the beginning of a “new” life!

(more…)

SEEPage November 24, 2008

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Singled Out.
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40 comments

For all you writers out there!! Here Bella DePaulo admits that in an early draft of her opus Singled Out, before she heard about Liz Spencer and Ray Pahl‘s study of different kinds of personal communities, she had a “clunky phrase” to describe significant others who form the nexus of their partner’s social life (per Spencer and Pahl, that would be a “partner-based personal community”). The term DePaulo used to describe that kind of significant other was “Sex and Everything Else Person,” aka a “SEEPie”. She said that readers of the draft hated the term, so she scrapped it. But I like it! I wonder how our Copious Readership feels about Seepies. Either way, it just goes to show you what a freakin’ headache writing is.

I was raised in a foreign service family. This means that my mom, dad, sister, and I travelled around together, one little square unit. This setup feeds into the partner-based personal community paradigm. (more…)

Pop Culture, Scourge of the Onelys part 7×777: Completely Unscientific Onely Poll for Lori Gottlieb and The Nation October 7, 2008

Posted by Onely in As If!, Pop Culture: Scourge of the Onelys, Singled Out.
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2 comments

Christina alerted me recently to a debate between our (admittedly) favorite singles expert, Bella DePaulo, and writer Lori Gottlieb, who wrote a rather infuriating article entitled “Marry Him!” that was published in The Nation back in February/March 08. I’m not going to touch the conversation between DePaulo & Gottlieb (see below for links to the full exchange), but I do want to ask our valuable, intelligent, anti-singlist and happily single readers the question that Gottlieb seems to already have answered for us:

You say you’re happy being single…

So, are you lying or just in denial?

(more…)

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