Thursday, August 23, 2007


Oh, great. Now I can count myself among the oppressed.

Listen up, singletons. If you've given up on the dating scene and resigned yourself to a lifetime of solitude culminating in a fatal fall in the shower and subsequent consumption by starving house pets, here's something else to fret about:

You're a member of the only minority subject to officially sanctioned discrimination--call it singlism.

As one of our nation's 90 million unmarried citizens, I've become inured to the social pressure to couple up--the backhanded insults and armchair psychoanalysis meted out by friends, co-workers, and well-meaning strangers at the bus stop whenever my marital status comes under scrutiny. And, believe me, I've heard it all. Selfish? Check. Immature? Check. Emotionally unstable? Check. Too picky for my own good? Check, check, and check.


Single people make up a significant portion of the workforce, so you might think their employers would make at least a token effort to keep them happy. You'd be wrong. In their zeal to appear "family friendly," companies often overcompensate at the expense of singles, pressuring unmarried employees to travel more frequently, work more weekends and holidays, stay later during the week and refrain from taking time off during school vacation season, regardless of rank or seniority.

Not that all this extra work translates into a higher salary. A 2004 study by economists Kate Antonovics and Robert Town found that marriage increases men's wages by as much as 27%. All told, when pension, insurance and other benefits are factored in, married workers frequently end up out-earning their single counterparts by thousands of dollars a year.

Corporate America isn't any friendlier to singles on the consumer side of the equation, opting instead to shower their discounts on the wedded in the form of preferred insurance rates and "family" memberships at gyms and country clubs. And if you're considering a solo cruise or vacation to a posh resort or spa, make sure you've saved up enough to cover the "singles supplement" you'll be charged for daring to occupy an entire room by yourself. Happy trails!

Unfair, you cry? Don't look to the government for any redress, because they're in on it too. Anti-discrimination laws cover race, religion, gender and age--but singles go woefully unprotected at the federal level. In fact, when it comes to singlism, the government is one of the worst offenders, waving the tax code like a magical fairy wand of approval over married couples.

I did find the article quite amusing, but I don't think anybody is truly discriminating against me for being single. I'm a bit of a curmudgeon, and have gotten comfortable with being single. While I do miss having a constant sex life, I'm not very good at sharing my personal space. To make a relationship work in the long term requires a lot of compromise, and my personal independence has led to a long string of failures. I've got a lot of friends, though.


FranIAm said...

What a brilliant post. Truly brilliant. Sadly true.

I happened to get married almost 3 months ago at the ripe old age of 49. For the first time. It all sort of came as a surprise, albeit a happy one. I was not only quite at peace with much of my single life, I rather enjoyed it.

I worked, I traveled a lot-often alone, I had(still have) an outstanding group of friends.

Now I have all that and a great egalitarian partner.

I did hate all that clucking and poor you nonsense. Plus I had the indignity of being told "to go ahead and adopt or have a baby if you want one, even as a single mom!"

I would say "I don't want a baby." Only to be told "Oh its ok, you can admit it."

Anyway curmudgeon schmurmudgeon. There are a lot of perks for couples and the society is built around it. In my workplace, where I am about to finish up a long term run as a senior leader,I created open space for people to have flexible work and perks for single people and couples, children or no children.

That seems to already be eroding under our new owners and leaders.

So it is.

I am with you in thought on this one pygalgia.

And if you don't think that's true hear this now... I still haven't even moved in with my husband yet!
We're getting there, we're getting there!

pygalgia said...

Good on ya'. I'm not saying "no" to relationships, only that I'm OK with being single. Who knows what the future may bring. My blessings to you and your partner.

FranIAm said...

I hears ya my man. And I think what you say is great.

You have a great blog- I really enjoy your thought provoking political posts but I loved this too.

And thanks for the good thoughts! You too. Pax.

Suzy said...

Apologies for my stupid cake comment a couple of days ago … I think each person has to do what's right for him/herself. I myself have been married for a long time, and it's a good thing. I enjoy the company of many single friends and that's good too.

pygalgia said...

Suzy, no need to apologize. I enjoy your comments.

Phydeaux Speaks said...

"Hi, my name's Phydeaux, and I'm a single."

That's often what I feel I need to say in group situations. Like you, I'm comfortable with my singlosity, and am often frustrated by the cultural bias towards marriage (unless, FSM forbid, one is teh gay!).

Good post!

the mostly reverend said...

funny you should have this post. i posted this just this morning, before coming back to view you, after a few day's absence:

funny how life works, eh?
i've thought about seeking a relationship, but, after celebrating the silver anniversary of my divorce last year, it becomes harder and harder to contemplate.

but as a member of a repressed minority, i guess i feel a little bit better. it's always helped in the past, anyway.

thanks for the post; as always, i enjoy the read.