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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 (more…)

U.S. adults have “boyfriends” and “girlfriends”–Do other cultures also infantilize the unmarried? November 28, 2012

Posted by Onely in Dating, Food for Thought, single and happy, Your Responses Requested!.
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The U.S.’ widespread use of “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” is a decades-old cultural relic, from a time when we married barely out of boyhood or girlhood. But now more and more adults are waiting until their late twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, or beyond to marry (if at all). So what does it say about our society that we call the people we’re dating “boyfriends” and “girlfriends”?

It SAYS that our society views unmarried people as younger/less evolved/more childish than married ones.

To be sure, our habit of using boyfriend/girlfriend in perpetuity did not arise from a concerted or conspiratorial cultural effort to infantilize unmarrieds. But the passive persistence of the terms does represent how singles are viewed. (For all that alliteration, you may thank this glass of wine.)

A thirty-eight-year-old hetero female has a boyfriend? Come on.

Progressive thinkers (usually as an extension of Queer rhetoric) have played with new terms: Significant Other; Partner; Life Partner. . .  These terms allow people of all ages to achieve the rare art of sounding both stodgy and mysterious at the same time.

Copious Readers, Onely requests your responses: (more…)

Onely’s Adventures in Accounting: The Math of Marital Status Discrimination September 22, 2012

Posted by Onely in As If!, Heteronormativity, Your Responses Requested!.
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Phew, pant pant pant. We at Onely almost missed National Unmarried and Single Americans Week!  (Lisa says it’s because she was too busy having fun as a single person.) And indeed, lately there have been a ton of articles (“All the Single Ladies,” “A Confederacy of Bachelors”) in big media about how single people are happy being single (gasp!). Which is good.

But it’s not enough to celebrate social aspects of being single. These articles about the Rise of Satisfied Singles, while important, don’t address the underlying problem of how our society views singles:

Discrimination against unmarried people is institutionalized in government laws (and by corporate policies, which follow the government’s lead).

Take, for example, the unmarried Canadian soldier killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. If he had been married, his spouse would have gotten Death Benefits of $250,000. But because he had no spouse, that $250,000 remained in government coffers to be given to a married person. His and other parents challenged this practice, protesting that in the absence of a spouse, the money could just as easily be allocated to them.

Do you think these parents are

A) Justified;

B) Hmmm, what an interesting idea;



If you answered A, then you understand why we at Onely believe marriage as a legal institution is overvalued and oversanctified. If you answered C, then you’d better stop reading now. We are going to prod at your stale paradigms – with the sword of mathematics. En guard!

We’ve never done the math of Marital Privilege. No one has. Until now. (more…)

Couplemania for Polyglots July 8, 2012

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Your Responses Requested!.
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Copious Readers,

Here at Onely we often use the terms couplemania, matrimania, marital privileging, or heteronormativity to describe the act of favoring paired people at the expense of singles. (Heteronormativity often refers to an anti-gay attitude where the perpetrator thinks that the male-female couple complex is superior to–or more normal than–a same sex couple complex, but the term also applies when favoring any couple complex over a single person.)

But in the interest of going global with our mission, we wondered: how would one say these things in other languages? We were first drawn to this idea by fellow blogger and fellow Oneler Rachel, of Rachel’s Musings. She taught us that couplemania in German is Pärchendiktatur (literally–and rather obviously–“pair dictatorship”).

Even better is the Mandarin Chinese phrase for matrimania: 婚姻 狂热, or “marriage fanaticism”.

(In case our non-Chinese-speaking readers want to challenge matrimania on their vacation to Beijing–probably not recommended–we present this handy pronunciation guide: hun1yin1 kuang2re4, where 1 is a high tone, 2 is a rising tone, and 4 is a sharp downward tone, as you might use when saying, “No!  I do not care if I don’t have a husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/date.”)

We also figured out how to say “singlism” in Chinese: 单身 歧视, literally “single-person discrimination” (dan1shen1 qi2shi4).

We got our Chinese translations from the groundbreaking book Singled Out  by social scientist and singles advocate Bella DePaulo, PhD, who coined the original English terms. (Yes, Singled Out has been translated into Chinese!) But we need you, Copious Readers, to help us with our collection. Can you give us non-English versions of our favorite words? If you speak another language but don’t know the correct word for matrimania, or singlism, or marital privilege, or heteronormativity, then just make one up!

Thanks, Danke, 谢谢,

Christina (and Lisa)

Photo credit: David Rumsey

Microwave Cooking for One: Sad or Spectacular? May 29, 2012

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Secret Lives of the Happily Single, single and happy, Your Responses Requested!.
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Christina and I had a mini-Onely reunion when I landed in Philadelphia for a conference (she drove all the way up from Northern Virginia to see me – yay!). Among our many adventures, we found ourselves wandering around a delightful used bookstore in downtown Philly. Just as we were about to leave, I stumbled upon a major find – a cookbook entitled Microwave Cooking for One. It was so amazing, I decided to splurge and buy it ($2 USD + tax), and I gave it to Christina, since I don’t have a microwave.

We haven’t tested any of the recipes, but wanted to share some of our favorites so far – they range from fancy to practical, as you can see:

Lobster Tail:


Fresh or Frozen, it’s no problem!

You can be sure to enjoy a rubbery, buttery meal for one with this delicious “Lobster Tail” meal for one.









The lovely Ms. Marie T. Smith gives us a more traditional recipe for pasta in the second version of this recipe, but if you cook the first version, the pasta (which she generally calls “macaroni”) will absorb all the water! I’ve never seen pasta do this, but I’m intrigued by the powers possessed by the microwave. There’s nothing like enjoying a soggy pasta topped with cold sauce (we can’t figure out why the sauce isn’t getting microwaved too) all by oneself.

Obviously, Christina and I are all in favor of cooking and eating for one and are happy to see progress made in this direction, but we also value our dignity. You might be able to guess our answer to this question, but we don’t want to be unfair to the talented Ms. Smith… Copious Readers, what do you think: Is Microwave Cooking for One Sad or Spectacular?

Onely Hearts Valentine’s Day February 14, 2012

Posted by Onely in We like. . ., Your Responses Requested!.
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My co-blogger Lisa and I historically have struggled with what to write for our Valentine’s Day post. As a blog about progressive singlehood, we feel we are expected to write something. But one can only write so many times about what a dumb holiday Valentine’s Day is, before one begins to bore oneself.

So this year we’re writing about the non-dumb side of Valentine’s Day, which is, of course, CANDY HEARTS!

I love those little chalky pastel-colored hearts, not only because they are calorie- and sugar-free (they dissolve so delightfully on the tongue, how could they contain anything but fizz and love?).  I also love how the classic candy hearts are printed with messages that range from sweet to desperate to creepy: Honey Bee. Cutie Pie. Sweet Love. Be good. My baby.  Hug me. Let’s kiss. All mine. Do me. (Ok, maybe not that last one.)

We need bags of hearts for each and every holiday, especially National Singles Week.  Oh yeah, an entire week’s worth of candy hearts! Poor one-day Valentine’s fans can suck it (literally).

Copious Readers, what words would you stamp on candy hearts for National Singles’ Week in September (I plan early)? We haven’t yet gotten much of a response from you on our request for Renga poems, so we’re going to keep poking away at your creative potential until it bursts forth. Like a geyser. Or a zit. Either will be fine.

Here are some suggestions off the top of my head, ranging from personal to political to dorky: Not alone. Equal pay. All families. Single mom. Single dad. Stop showers. Who’s selfish? Super solo. One fun. Not looking. Live alone. Cohabitate. Love too. Myth free. So fine.


Photo credit: megaul

Poetry for Progressive Singles: Your Responses Requested! February 2, 2012

Posted by Onely in Your Responses Requested!.
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I  continue to wish for a pithy slogan that progressive singles can chant during all the protest marches that we also don’t have.  We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it is great but, unfortunately, taken. We’re here, we’re single, we don’t have a jingle. But that’s ok, because we have Renga!

My intrepid co-blogger Lisa introduced me to this traditional Japanese poetry form, which the 17th century poet Basho believed embodied the notion of “refraining from stepping back” (this is according to Wikipedia, not Lisa, whose knowledge does have some limits). Because the spirit of Renga is moving forward in constant change, what better artistic venue is there for paradigm-shattering singles advocates like us?

Copious Readers, let’s use the Comments feature to create an ongoing collaborative Renga about singlehood–its culture, challenges, quirks, aspirations.

Renga works like this: The first poet composes a haiku, which consists of three lines, with five, seven, and five syllables respectively. For example: (more…)

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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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…)

Every Oneler Needs an Elf October 16, 2011

Posted by Onely in Everyday Happenings, Food for Thought, single and happy, Your Responses Requested!.
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Shortly before I moved overseas, I visited my dear, intelligent and highly articulate co-blogger Christina in Washington, D.C. I stayed with her for about a week, and for some of that week, she had to be at work. I, too, had work to do, but I worked from (her) home.

So, being the conscientious and grateful guest that I am, I tried to clean up after myself while I was at home and while Christina was at work. Sometimes I cleaned a few things for her, too.

The first time I did this, Christina came home and exclaimed, “Oh my goodness! Little elves have visited!!” But the next morning before she left for work, Christina made me promise that I wouldn’t let the elves visit again. “No problem,” I promised.

But they visited again. As a guest in Christina’s home, I couldn’t help myself; what’s more, Christina appreciated it (not to mention that it gave her less work to do and more time to spend with me!). After she came home to the after-effects of elf-doings the second day, we determined that everyone needs a magical elf who takes care of the little details of life while we’re working on the big issues (saving the world and all that jazz).

And indeed, now that I’ve landed here in Beirut and have had no choice but to head full throttle into my new job and my new life, I’m wishing that I had a little elf (or three) to help me manage the little things while I teach my classes and attend meetings and begin my research. I need them to unpack all the boxes that arrived a week and a half ago (the boxes I sent to myself from Louisville so long ago) while I take day trips around the country (hello Byblos!). I’d like my elves to pester the phone company about getting internet access while I have lunch with new friends. And I’d really appreciate it if they could help me figure out the best and most efficient way for me to get internet at home while I take Kitty the dog for a run along Mediterranean coastline.

I’m strong, independent, and I am definitely single and (very) happy. But I’ve decided that every Oneler, after declaring oneself as such, deserves an elf in the sidelines – someone who can read my mind and anticipate my needs. But … isn’t that what a spouse is supposed to do? Fellow Onelers, what are your thoughts? What would you accomplish if “only” you had a little elf to do your bidding?

— Lisa

Popping The Question: So, Why Are You Still Single? September 5, 2011

Posted by Onely in As If!, Everyday Happenings, Your Responses Requested!.
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This post originally appeared in the book Singlism, by Bella DePaulo. It reprises earlier posts–here and here and here–where Onely and our Copious Readers discussed awkward questions about relationship status and how to respond to them. Readers’ responses originally appeared in the comments sections of the above links. We look forward to hearing more ideas about how you all would “pop” unsavory or singlist questions.

Long before Lisa and I created Onely.org, I was on the phone with a friendly, interesting guy I’d met at a party (let’s call him Ralph). Some minutes into the conversation, Ralph hit me with the question, “So, why are you still single?” I paused, unsure how to reply. I felt as if he had judged my life and found an inadequacy I’d never noticed–the way I might feel when someone says, “You’re wearing that?” So I hemmed and hawed and cancelled our coffee date and never called him again. Extreme? Maybe. Defensive? Perhaps a little. Probably other things about him bothered me, too. But all I remember is that one question, and the feeling of a switch clicking over in my heart. I couldn’t figure out why Ralph’s words bothered me, not until much later.

Our friends, family, colleagues (and even strangers!) usually intend to be helpful and friendly when they ask:

You’re so [complimentary adjective here]; so, why are you still single?

However, when they pose this question, they imply that being single is a sickness no one would possibly tolerate if they could help it – as if singlehood were a gross, drippy nose that could and should be cured by a swallow of Sudafed.

In a series of posts on Onely, Lisa and I identified two major problems with the question:

First, posing this question suggests that because an individual has [insert complimented-upon superb qualities here], that individual must be 1) seeking a relationship, and 2) happy when in a relationship because of impressive personal attributes. It’s a case of faulty logic, really, to assume that a person’s personal qualities have anything to do with whether they should be in a relationship, will be successful or happy in one, and/or even want to be in a relationship.

Second, the question evaluates the single person on account of his or her single status – it seems to ask, “You are in this less-than-ideal state, but you have the ability to extract yourself from this state, so why haven’t you done so?” In other words, this question ignores the fact that a single person may not agree with the questioner’s assumption that an individual’s single status is less than ideal.

So, we asked ourselves and readers of Onely, what’s a happily single person to do when confronted by this question – or one of its many variants? The retorts ranged from snarky to goofy to politely educational. We’ve collected some of our favorites below: (more…)

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