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

Posted by Onely in book review, Reviews.
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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…)

Google Autofill Searches: Singlist, But Not Super Singlist June 11, 2020

Posted by Onely in Everyday Happenings, Look What Google Barfed Up.
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Do Google’s autofill searches reflect our culture’s obsession with dating and marriage? I googled the funny and insightful authors Tenaya Darlington and Samantha Irby because their names had come up in a writing retreat I was attending, and I wanted to choose some of their books.  For Darlington, two of the six top Google autofill searches were related to her marital status:

Tenaya Darlington husband and Tenaya Darlington married.

For Irby, the second Google autofill was Samantha Irby wife. The rest were related to Irby’s and Darlington’s work. Because I make my living complaining about singlism,* I immediately thought, “Does this mean literary Googlers are disproportionally interested in the love lives of authors, at the expense of those author’s hard writing work?” The answer, of course, is yes. We are all disproportionally interested in the love lives of people in the public eye (tell me you don’t dawdle in line at CVS to finish reading the headlines about Brad and Jennifer). We’ve touched on this topic at Onely before, when we did an in-depth statistical analysis** of how author bios always mention a location and spouse. (more…)

The Dark Side of Singles’ Advocacy: Ignoring Institutionalized Singlism May 26, 2020

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Marital Status Discrimination.
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Welcome to the first installment in our new series, The Dark Side of Singles’ Advocacy. By dark, we mostly mean “unrecognized”. An updated and more personal version of this post was published on Bella DePaulo’s column at Psychology Today

The singles advocacy community consists (pretty much) of progressive people who are in favor of equal rights and opportunities for everyone regardless of lifestyle, but sometimes we act in regressive ways that do harm to ourselves and our cause. Or sometimes, we just miss a big part of the picture.

Today’s installment of The Dark Side is about the gigantic chasm between our movement against socio-cultural singlism and our movement against institutionalized singlism. Relatively few people in the community for singles’ rights pay attention to institutionalized singlism. That’s a problem. That needs to change. Now. While I appreciate memes and media pieces that tout singleness as a valid–or even preferable–lifestyle (socio-cultural), I want more discussion about how marital status discrimination is written into laws (institutionalized). (more…)

Great Single Women in History: Ume Tsuda May 8, 2020

Posted by Onely in Great Onely Activities, Honorary Onely Awards.
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A woman–an unmarried woman at that–was sitting in judgment of men.

–Janice P. Nimura, describing Ume Tsuda




I feel annoyed when people make assumptions about me because I’m not married. Onely is full of such stories. Recently, though, when reading Janice P. Nimura‘s gripping book Daughters of the Samurai (WW Norton & Co, 2015), I was reminded that despite today’s pervasive marital status discrimination, in the late 1800s in the US and Japan, singlism was much worse. This is the story of my new historical hero, Ume Tsuda. (more…)

My Heros Pity Me for the Wrong Reasons April 8, 2020

Posted by Onely in Celebrities, Uncategorized, YouTube Style.
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After years of advocating for unmarried people’s rights, I’m kinda frustrated. Singlism still looms strong, even in society’s most progressive echelons. No, “looms” is the wrong word. Singlism doesn’t loom, it creeps. It’s insidious, pushing its tendrils into other even more nefarious isms. Its strength comes from its subtley. We need to demystify marital status discrimination and loudly acknowledge that it’s a problem, so singlism loses its ability to hide, even and especially within the rhetoric of otherwise smart and liberal influencers. Toward that goal, but with chagrin, I am flagging denigrating singlist statements made by two of my heroes: the hilarious comedian Jim Gaffigan and the progressive senator Kamala Harris. (more…)

Where and With Whom Writers Live: Who Cares? March 26, 2020

Posted by Onely in Uncategorized.

PIXNIO-356247-1200x578 So I’m sitting in the sauna, and I’ve just finished the gripping and lyrical book The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and I don’t want it to be over, so I keep reading, through the acknowledgements and onto the back flap of the cover, where I learn that Coates lives somewhere with his wife.

And still in the sauna, I get to thinking about the factoids authors choose to put in their bio-blurbs. Often they bio-blurb the most mundane, heteronormative aspects of their lives: where they live, and whether there’s a spouse and kids living with them. Do readers care about the nuclear families of writers? Personally, I would rather hear how many bookshelves Coates lives with and what secret inspirational snacks he keeps in the back of his refrigerator. Why do so many creative, progressive writers stick to the dull script of “Author lives in Random Location with her Literarily Irrelevant Husband and two children, Moot and Point”? Regular readers of this blog already know why: matrimania, a term coined by social scientist Dr. Bella DePaulo for society’s obsession with marriage as this mystical, magical entity that trumps all else in our lives.

In search of answers, I grabbed some hard-back novels and nonfiction books off my shelves and examined the author bios. (more…)

How Singlism Supports the Other Isms February 22, 2020

Posted by Onely in Uncategorized.
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Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. –Dr. Martin Luther King

The world stomps on single people, not only socio-culturally, but also in law, finance, and business. The U.S. federal code alone has over 1,000 laws that privilege married people over unmarried people. In a 2013 Atlantic article, my colleague and I calculated that this institutionalised “singlism” costs the average unmarried American at least one million dollars more in their lifetime than their married peer, because of discriminatory laws governing Social Security, taxes, retirement accounts, insurance, and more. The injustice is clear. Yet as we’re buffeted by the waves of racism and sexism rolling across the U.S. in the wake of the Trump administration, my fellow singles’ advocates and I discuss whether we should focus on these weightier “Isms,” instead of on singlism. I say no–we should fight even harder against singlism. Coined by social scientist Dr. Bella DePaulo, the term means discrimination against un-partnered people. Singlism isn’t as blatantly horrific as racism and sexism; its power comes from its insidiousness. Some of the most progressive people I know have told me singlism isn’t real, or that I’m “just bitter” about coupled people’s (ostensible) happiness–similar arguments as were made in the early days of feminism, and which are still made about racism today (the awful “post-racial world” argument). Singlism fuels all the other bad Isms: not only sex/genderism and racism, but also ageism, ableism, class-ism, and heterosexism. (more…)

A Leftover Woman Speaks, With Her Voice and Her Face February 17, 2020

Posted by Onely in Uncategorized.

girl-4456485_1280The New York Times posted an “Op-Doc” on YouTube focusing on Qiu Huamei, a successful lawyer and (judging from the short video at least) an engaging, intelligent, sensitive, and progressive woman with excellent taste in haircuts. Unfortunately, Qiu is ostensibly still kinda sucky, because at the advanced age of “over 27”, she is–gasp–STILL SINGLE. This makes Qiu a Leftover Woman aka Sheng Nu aka a woman who has to field daily microaggressions from people who feel threatened not only by Qiu’s unmarried status, but by her own relative indifference to finding a husband.

The Op-Doc shows Qiu talking to an amatonormative reporter about her single status. We see her gamely going on a few unfun dates. Most painful are the scenes when she returns to her small hometown south of Beijing after a five-hour bus (or train?) and motorized cart ride, to be greeted and then grilled about why she isn’t trying harder to get married. You can watch it for yourself here, but I’m going to pull out some key quotes below to illustrate the unintended (and intended) microaggressions that single people–especially women–weather every day. Note how Qiu struggles (with more success than I’d have) to compose her facial expressions, when the reporter criticizes her looks and when a promising date says he wants to be the power player in the relationship. In the most resonant clip, her sister literally screams at Qiu for not caring about marriage and kids.

Some of our Copious Readers who don’t believe in singlism (we do have trolls!) may suggest that the more egregious microaggressions are mistranslations or misconstrued translations. No. I have lived in China and Taiwan and speak Chinese well enough to understand (after, ahem, repeated viewings) that what the speakers are saying is exactly what you (as a presumed English speaker) are reading in the subtitles. Here’s a small sampling of the pokes and dings our intrepid independent heroine Qiu receives in this short video:

From the reporter: 

Sorry if I’m being too straightforward, but you’re not beautiful in the traditional sense. . . You might think you look young, but you’re fooling yourself.

From the male chauvinist date: 

As a woman, you don’t have to give advice, just tell me what you need. . . I don’t want my wife to be stronger than me.

From her sister (yelling):

It’s tiring to start a family, but who doesn’t want to have one? Who has a comfortable life after marriage?

Allow me to don my psychic psychotherapist cap. The sister obviously hates the life she built for herself after caving to heteronormative and amatonormative social pressures, and she may have unvoicable mixed feelings about the small male human scooting around in front of her lap and face, who is intermittently blocking the blast of venom she’s trying to unleash on her less conventional sister.

Ok, I’m removing my psychic psychotherapist cap now. Here is where we at Onely acknowledge that the sister is just one of millions of women who are pressured into (more…)

Cat People: Challenging and Embracing the Stereotypes February 1, 2020

Posted by Onely in Uncategorized.

Welcome to the latest installment in The Happy Bachelor’s and Onely’s joint series, “Any Excuse to Write About Cats.” In this episode, Craig (of Happy Bachelor) and Christina (of Onely) discuss the similarities and differences between the much-maligned Crazy Cat Lady and the elusive Crazy Cat Man.

IMG_3339Christina: “Give him three boops and five kisses” Craig told me once, in response to a picture of one of my flowy-furred cats. Not many of my cis-hetero-male friends would be comfortable texting those words to me, but Craig is not your average cis-hetero male. At least not where his pet is concerned. In the last three years since he adopted his cat Chester, he’s been embracing and redefining the Crazy Cat Lady (CCL) stereotype, converting it into a lifestyle for 21st-Century men who aren’t afraid to boop and kiss and brag on their feline children. Henceforth, I shall refer to Chester as Craig’s “son” because that is how Craig identifies their relationship.

Christina continues: I am pleased to be a CCL. I’m not pleased by the word “lady”, which sound creepy and sexist, but I will use it in this essay because it’s the standard. In my heart, I’m a Crazy Cat Woman. But using the word “Crazy” can be uncomfortable too, because it has an ableist tinge. Also, my love of cats is not crazy–according to science. Cats have big, forward-facing eyes and small mouths from which they emit sounds much like human babies. For the dummies who say childfree people are selfish, they should look at all the Cat People like me who are showering love on our furry babies with forward-facing eyes. If you can commit to cleaning even one litter box just once per day, you aren’t selfish. If you love cats, you aren’t crazy, you just have an appreciation for moving, breathing works of art.

Craig: I am proud to call myself a CCM. There isn’t really a CCM stereotype just yet because traditionally, men have been assumed to have dogs and women have been assumed to have cats. Fortunately, that stereotype is changing, and more and more men are “coming out” about their love for cats. I provide my Facebook feed with regular anecdotes starring “my son Chester,” as well as photos of him looking cute and funny, and they get a great deal of attention, because, well, let’s face it, how many men are that open about their ailurophilia? I’m breaking down the pet patriarchy! If others consider me feminine because of my love of my cat, well, that’s their problem.

Christina: Because Craig brings up his son Chester’s popularity on social media, I want to mention an existential Facebook crisis I’ve been having regarding my cat posts. I’ve noticed that if I post a picture of (for example) Alvin sunning himself in his laundry basket, it gets a couple dozen likes. If I post an article about marital status discrimination  (MSD), however, the only people who ever like it are Craig and my co-blogger Lisa, and perhaps one other random friend overcome by a fit of progressiveness (or spastic finger). I resent that my Facebook friends don’t seem to care about discrimination against unmarried people, and I feel like a bad Cat Lady for wanting the ratio of Likes to shift away from Theo and toward the MSD articles. Maybe the key to getting people to read about singlism is to stick cat pictures randomly throughout the text.

Craig: I’m a bit of a goofball. When I’m alone with Chester (and sometimes, when my close friends are over), I talk in a high-pitched voice and do things like clap his paws together while yelling “Yaaaaaaayyyyyyyy!”, tap his paws against my nose and go “Boop! Boop! Boop!,” and squish his cheeks together so his face look mushed. It’s cute as hell. And I’ve taken to posting this on Facebook, which gets a lot of likes, and on the Community of Single People Facebook page, the page on which Christina and I met, I’m known for my frequent posting of Chester doing cute and funny things, so much that I occasionally receive a tag anytime a cat is mentioned, especially a male cat owner. My theory is that I may be more open about my CCM role than most other CCMs.

Christina: Regarding the image of the CCL in society and pop culture: I make no effort to hide the cat hair on my clothes. I’ve gone on dates with white hairs all over my black slacks because I didn’t want to go up two flights of stairs to retrieve my tape roller. (more…)

Get Married, Make a Million Dollars (At Least) January 20, 2020

Posted by Onely in Uncategorized.

money-1501252666apFIn a 2013 online article for The Atlantic, Lisa and I looked at some of the benefits that married people receive from the U.S. federal government and calculated how much more a single person would likely pay over their lifetime, compared to their married peer, based only on these marriage privileges. Answer? The single person pays AT LEAST A MILLION DOLLARS MORE. AT LEAST. Witness marital status discrimination (MSD) at work.

To our chagrin, the Atlantic editors (who were otherwise great to work with) made a mistake in the pull-quote at the top of the article, which reads: Over a lifetime, unmarried women can pay as much as a million dollars more than their married counterparts for healthcare, taxes, and more.

I want to use the power of my Onely venue (and our whole 800 Copious Readers) to correct this pull quote, with the important changes in ALL CAPS. So here’s the correction, a mere seven years later after the article’s publication, because I’m nothing if not speedy:

Over a lifetime, unmarried people WILL pay AT LEAST A million dollars more than their married counterparts for healthcare, taxes, and more.

Back in the dark ages of 2012, Lisa and I Skyped for hours and ground our fingers to bloody stumps calculating our theoretical comparison between a single person and married person making the same income over their lifetimes.

Our resulting article can be found here:


Remember that I and Lisa only looked at some marriage benefits, and we only looked at federal privileges for marriage, not state privileges. If we’d had the time (and cognitive power, and any remaining fingertips) to factor in these additional privileges, our final figure would likely have bumped up from “more than a million dollars” to “WAAAAY more than a million dollars”.

To see some examples of institutionalized discrimination that Lisa and I didn’t get a chance to tear apart mathematically, have a look at this good overview of the main legal and financial privileges of marriage, as inscribed into U.S. law:


Our goal with the Atlantic article was to show a concrete example of why singlism is a valid ISM that needs to be dismantled. After the article came out, we got some hate, but we also got a lot of cheerleading. However, in the seven years since its publication, no one else (that we know of) has attempted to crunch similar numbers. Copious Readers, do you know of any other projects like ours? Is anyone out there willing to run their own calculations? We’d love to see another singles advocate replicate our work using different hypothetical incomes.

We’d even love to see a heteronormahole try to do the math, in an attempt to disprove our theory that MSD costs unmarried people millions of dollars over their lifetimes. We bet they couldn’t do it.


Photo credit: Public Domain Pictures

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