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.