Sunday, September 28, 2008

In praise of singletude

I started the week with all kinds of good intentions to write something about it being Unmarried and Single Americans Week. Unfortunately, this semester is seriously kicking my butt so the week is over but I still wanted to take at least a few minutes to pay tribute to the fact that according to the Census Bureau, over 40% of the population 18 and over is unmarried (that includes never married, widowed or divorced). I thought it was interesting that the week was originally National Singles Week, intended "to celebrate single life and recognize singles and their contributions to society" but the Census website says it is now generally known as 'Unmarried and Single Americans Week' to acknowledge that "many unmarried Americans do not identify with the word “single” because they are parents, have partners or are widowed." Which leads me to ponder once again: what does 'single' mean to you?

I've also been thinking about the term single because I've come across some twists on the word that strike me as cool attempts to de-stigmatize singlehood. There's obviously Quirkyalone, the inspiration for the title of this blog. I also like Singular, which is the name of a new magazine for singles in L.A. But my favorite is singletude, as in Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles. The rest of the tagline reads: "a positive, supportive blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live." Amen to that.


Cleocatra said...

I like the subtitle of this blog and that you've thought about this stuff because I do and have the same sentiments. Hot topic, I like to talk about it.

Take children out of the equation and add two financially and emotionally mature people, and I don't see the point of marriage.

The economics of singularity are far more appealing to me too. Here's why. (This ain't gonna sound pretty, either) At my age, with my given sexual preference, childlessness, health (physical/emotional) and financial status and "achievements," I perceive that most coupledom scenarios more negatively impact my quality of life then enhance it.


I attribute much of this perception to life and living in the United States, btw.

Jenn said...

Hmmm, I know that some countries have far more liberal policies about things like partner health benefits, etc. Is that what you mean? But wouldn't that make coupledom relatively more attractive here? I've always thought that the U.S. actually privileges couples, even unmarried ones, over singles.

Clever Elsie said...

First off, thanks for the shout out to Singletude! Very glad you liked it enough to give me a mention! :)

Now, as to your question about what makes someone single, I always think of marital status as a somewhat fluid measure. At one end of the spectrum, you have people who are single in every sense of the word--not legally married and without a romantic partner or anything resembling a romantic relationship. At the other end, you have couples who are legally married and happy to be that way. In between are all sorts of degrees of singleness, from those who are single but dating to those who are single but in a committed relationship to those who are legally single but cohabiting, and so on. The farther removed one is from the married pole, the more one's life reflects singlehood in all its legal, financial, and social implications.

People have the right to identify themselves however they see fit, but I'll side with the author of the book Singled Out, Dr. Bella DePaulo, and venture to say that people who are in established relationships that include everything but the marriage certificate are, for all cultural intents and purposes, not really single. However, since so many rights and privileges are available to couples only within marriage, I understand why such people might see themselves as still being single. So as much as they are denied those privileges just like other singles, I think any movement to abolish discrimination against singles should include them.

Now if only I could sum that up in two sentences instead of two paragraphs next time! ;)

Btw, I hope you won't mind if I add you to my blogroll. I'm always on the lookout for blogs by singles!

Jenn said...

@Elsie: a bit tardy with this response but thanks for your thoughts! It does seem weird to think of someone like my aunt as single - she's been with her partner for other 30 years! But there are still differences for 'married' couples (both legally and in the eyes of society) so leveling the playing field for singles includes her too. Of course, in some ideal future, the whole question of 'what does single mean' would be irrelevant!

Singleblogger said...

Interesting that that many people are alone. Some people may consider themselves to not be single anymore when they're in a relationship (thought not married).

It's very important to celebrate singles all over the world!