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Friday, April 22, 2011

Living Single: Bella's Book on Singlism

Singlism activist Bella DePaulo is writing another book on being single -- this one is specifically about "singlism" and the prejudice single people experience socially, in the workplace, in advertising, on vacation and pretty much everywhere. Bella seeks to remove the stigma from single and she is very good at tearing down anti-single arguments. Both Bella and Christina and Lisa at Onely are my Singlutionary heroes, fighting the good fight to make single normal and not a state of emptiness or waiting or lovelessness as it is often perceived and projected to be. They even attempt to tackle institutionalized singlism like laws that make life shittier for single people. All I do is right this blog a few times a month. But Bella and Lisa and Christina actively fight singlism.

Bella has asked for contributions on her blog from other Singlutionaries and I encourage you to check out her post and her blog. She asked the following questions (please add your own to the comments):

  • Do you have a favorite answer to the question, "Why are you single?"
  • Have you addressed other people's false assumptions of what your single life is like? Which approaches have worked best?
  • Have you found any successful ways of dealing with singlism in the workplace? For example, if you have been asked to cover more than your share of holidays or overtime or travel, have you handled those experiences in ways that resulted in positive changes?
  • Have you ever let a business know that their advertisements or practices were dismissive of singles or unfair to them?
  • Have you ever written a letter to an editor, author, reporter, social scientist, or anyone else pointing out an act of singlism and explaining what is wrong with it? (Share your letter, if you are willing, and let us know if it was ever published or acknowledged.)
  • Have you ever stood up to a speaker at a public event and challenged their singlism? (Positive stories are welcome, too. For example, have you ever publicly thanked a speaker for acknowledging the real stories of singles' lives rather than perpetuating already-debunked myths?)
  • Do you write an enlightened blog about singles or maintain a website or run an organization or give talks or workshops that you would like more people to know about? If so, drop all modesty and briefly explain what's so great about what you are doing. (Please, no dating stuff.) I maintain a list of blogs and other resources at my website, but I'll probably only include in the book ones from people who tell me they'd like to be included and who offer their own description of what they are doing. I think it is important to have part of the book written in other people's voices.
  • Have you held political leaders (or other people in power) to account for their singlism or thanked them for their actions and policies that are fair to single people? Have you explained to any of them the kinds of policies and practices that would be fair to single people (without being unfair to anyone else)?
  • Have you knocked on doors, handed out pamphlets, given to advocacy groups (name your favorites), volunteered your time, or done anything else to raise consciousness or stamp out singlism?
Below is my contribution to Bella's project:

Fighting the good fight against any kind of prejudice happens on two fronts: There are changes in policy and there are changes in culture. My mixed race parents were married a couple years after the miscegenation laws were formally taken off the books in California. However, mixed race marriage had steadily gained cultural acceptance long before the law changed. The same could be said for singlism: We change policies as fast as we change culture and we change culture through changing laws. I've made a conscious decision to use my blog, Singlutionary, to work on changing the cultural perceptions and acceptance around being single. It takes many voices to make a shift like this and I am proud to be one of them.

My blog, Singlutionary, is about my life: I have been single for all 30 years of it save a few months here and there. My longest relationship has been with my car. I own a house, have been driving the same car for 7 years (which I maintain myself). I also have maintained friendships from Kindergarten even before the advent of facebook. I have three roommates, a dog, three chickens and a garden. I organize family reunions and camping trips and meetup groups. I'm a failed actor turned academic.

So what is so great about all that? I do it single. I navigate this world not with one partner but with a community of friends, co-workers, roommates and neighbors. My life is full and valid and equally deserving of praise and presents as is the 25 year old married couple who just bought a house in a great school district. So when my cousin prods into my dating life and desperately tries to encourage me to desperately try harder to find a partner so that I can be just like her, well, I write about it. I write about all the comforts and discomforts of being single because I wasn't always so comfortable with it. When I began writing the blog it was during a time when all my single friends would come to me for advice, not realizing that I felt broken and wrong for always being single. I was their single hero yet I felt like I had completely ruined my life without even realizing it. I was 27 and had just broken up with a man who I thought I would marry. To be honest, I didn't even really like him. But I wanted to prove to my family that I was not a failure. I wanted to do something that would validate me in the eyes of the world -- that would position me as a fully formed woman and not a girl lost in a sea of indecision. I didn't realize that the sea of indecision was merely a subconscious acceptance of our culture's concept that a person doesn't really "grow up" until they "settle down". I was waiting to commit to myself because I thought I had to commit to someone else first.

There are so many states of being single. There are so many experiences. Some people, like me, are single for long periods of time and some people marry their high school sweetheart and are not single until much later in life. Singleness in not a space of lacking: It is a space of wonder and excitement and peace. It is also a state of frustration, confusion and sadness. Being single is not better or worse than being coupled. But it is where I am and how I live my life and right now, I am going to rock the Singlution.

That is what Singlutionary is all about.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Singlutionary's Non-Solo Vacation

I don't want to go on vacation by myself this year. I am bored with myself. I am sick of talking to myself. So, instead of going home to visit my old parents and having to sit around doing nothing, in one of the most beautiful regions of America, I am going to take some hot young friends with me.

And by "hot young friends" I mean interesting, wonderful people who still like to do things and still have the space in their lives to go on a trip with me.

I am making new friends, yes. And most of them are younger. By the time they're my age, I don't know that they'll have the space in their life to go on vacation with me. Marriage changes many things and committing to living life with one person makes for less time to commit to vacationing with another person. Having children makes people homebound and unable to freely adventure.

For a long time I have felt that making new friends was futile, since eventually everyone would couple and abandon me. But now I am hopeful, that I can make lasting friendships which will endure marriage and children. I hope to make friends with people who's friendship and company I can continue to value and count on many years down the road, in part because we share the same basic ideals when it comes to how we want to live.

I don't need many of these friends because friendship like that is a commitment in-and-of-itself. I can only have a few best friends at a time.

But having some fun and active friends to travel with this summer inspires me and makes me excited about life again in a way I haven't been for a long time. My best friend from kindergarten and I used to travel together and we used to dream up these elaborate roadtrips which would be ever so much better simply because of each other's company. But she is moving to the opposite coast with her family and I need new friends with whom I can play.

After three years of solitude, I am ready to open up to some good company and to companionship which is mutually beneficial and inspiring. I've been with myself so long that I have grown all I can without some external influence, without a new voice and perhaps some challenges to my way of looking at things. I am ready to travel with wonderful others, experiencing old things through their eyes and visa versa.

I am ready to play with others.

Or at least I will be in 3 weeks. Right now I am drowning in the whole school/work/life/house/pet world which is my life these days.

But summer is almost upon us and with it, some of the best adventures I've had in a long time.

There is nothing better than good company. And for a long time, that good company was my own. But now I am ready for someone new.