Living Single

The truth about singles in our society.

You Know You Are Brilliant and Inspiring – So Can I Tell Everyone Else?

Share your stories of standing up to singlism

At least once a week, I hear from someone who has realized for the first time that living single is perfectly fine and that the prejudice and discrimination against singles that I call singlism is not fine. I wish they had made these discoveries sooner. I'd love to catch them up on so much that we have discussed here. I'd love it if they could share in the education and inspiration I've enjoyed when I've inhaled readers' contributions to the discussions sections of this blog (and All Things Single), and their personal emails to me.

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I've done that to some extent with Single with Attitude (and of course, Singled Out), but now I'd like to focus specifically on singlism. I'm putting together a collection of my writings on singlism, and would also like to include a section of inspiring and instructive stories of standing up to singlism from people other than me. I'd liken it to Chicken Soup for the Singles' Soul, but that's too sappy. This would be more like Arugula for the Feisty Singles' Spirit. (That won't be the title of the book, but it gives you a sense of the sort of stories I'm looking for. Arugula is spikey, some would say spicy, and the kind of thing you can get ridiculed for liking - but perhaps it is ultimately one of those green things that, in their own small ways, are good and noble.)

So think about these questions, and if you have experiences you are willing to share, post them in the comments section (or send me an email). Also let me know if it is OK to include them in the singlism book, and if so, how I should refer to you. (Feel free to give a bit of background if you'd like.)

  • 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?

There are so many other possibilities, and I'm interested in hearing about them all. The list above is just a sampling, to give you an idea of the sort of thing I'm looking for. You don't need to be single to participate. There are coupled people who also stand up to singlism, and I'd love to include their voices, too. Are you part of a business (big or small) that tries to be welcoming to single people? Tell me what you have done and I will get the word out.

In response to the post, Stopping singlism: What will work?, readers posted some great examples. Crimson already told me that I could use hers, so take a look at what she wrote (below) for even more inspiration.

From Crimson:

  • I enjoy advertising, and always try to find out what it is that the media is trying to tell me so I pay close attention. I hold in my hand right now 2 dollar-off coupons from Folgers coffee. Folgers had a writing contest in December of 2010 and asked people to write about their holiday moments with Folgers coffee. There were 7 winners. It turns out that when you have a holiday moment with Folgers coffee it better darned well be with your husband and family. I filled out the Folgers on-line complaint form. They sent me a very nice letter and the coupons. I like coffee, I'll use the coupons and now Folgers might adjust their marketing strategy. I got the feeling they had no idea about the slight.
  • Last year during elections I had a rollicking disagreement with a long-time state senator who insisted in using 'Family Values' liberally in his campaign. He told me I should know what he means by 'Family Values'. I told him, "Yeah, you represent people with families." He should have listened to me, he was unseated after 28 years to a young buck with no experience.
  • The West Virginia Tourism council had been running Internet ads on my local newspaper site for months, every morning I was greeted to a banner ad, "Capture your family moment in West Virginia". This irritated me because I take groups regularly to West Virginia to backpack, we pour a ton of money in to the local economy, and I've never had a family moment in West Virginia. I wrote the Director of WV Tourism asking whether I need to reroute my trips to Virginia or Pennsylvania. She wrote me a lovely email thanking her for my comments. If you look at the new West Virginia tourism site: 'Where Is Your West Virginia?', gone are any mention of family moments, they are now inviting us all to enjoy restaurants, gamble with table games and go hiking with our favorite friends. I would say that was a huge huge improvement, West Virginia looks a whole lot sexier and inviting.

If you have posted stories to other blog posts or sent me your stories in other ways (e.g., letters, emails) and would be open to sharing them in my forthcoming book on singlism, please let me know. So, resend the stories, and let me know how to refer to you. (If you have stories you want to send but won't get to them within the next week, let me know that I should wait for you.)

Thanks, everyone! I know that many other people will appreciate your examples and your efforts.

Bella DePaulo, Ph.D., is author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After. She is a visiting professor at UCSB.

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