Massachusetts Daily Collegian

The stigma driving singlism

By Karly Dunn

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Pedro Veneroso/ Flickr

(Pedro Veneroso/ Flickr)

In society today, people are made to believe that marriage and the creation of families are milestones in life.  It has become a social norm that people grow up expecting to marry and have children, because it is assumed to be the only path to a satisfied life.

During an age where divorce rates have increased and people stay single for longer periods of time, we need to change the idea that marriage is the one and only way to gain happiness and fulfillment.

Single people, especially single women, are perceived as less happy and less likable than those who are married or have been married before.  For some reason, people think that single people lead lonely lives and, in turn, are more jealous and self-centered than married people.

We should reject this idea.  This stigma of single people as undesirable is an ancient way of condemning those who don’t follow a traditional path.  As unorthodox as some might think it is, there are people who don’t want to be married and don’t want to have children.  Others would rather establish a career or focus on traveling.

These paths are not wrong, and society shouldn’t use “negative stereotyping, interpersonal rejection, economic disadvantage, and discrimination” to punish those who don’t follow the Ideology of Marriage and Family.

The way in which people stigmatize single people for being single is called singlism, defined by Bella DePaulo in her article “Singles in society and in science” with Wendy Morris.  In this study, DePaulo and Morris outline the perceptions of singles in society while contradicting those perceptions with research that suggests singles are not actually less happy than married people.

The concept of singlism is ever-growing, especially because many people negatively judge single people for putting other priorities first. This is an issue that needs to be raised in contemporary American society, simply because the age of traditional marriage and family-making is dissipating.

With a changing society comes a changing perception of concepts.  Singlism deserves to be addressed on behalf of those who choose not to build a family, and also for those who will choose to be single in the future.

Being single does not make one less of a person.  In fact, it can be argued that single people are more focused on their careers (wherein they receive fewer benefits than married people) and more independent from things like significant others and children.

This issue of singlism is worth talking about, especially considering the changes happening in contemporary society.

Karly Dunn is a collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]

4 Comments

4 Responses to “The stigma driving singlism”

  1. Klieger on October 7th, 2015 12:04 pm

    Keep this article and take another look when you turn 40. See how you feel then. This sort of feels like a complaint without a problem, but I will indulge nonetheless. The thing is, people get a little wacky when they have no companionship. It doesn’t have to be marriage, but the need for a significant LTR is pretty much inherent for almost all people. Living in NYC, I see many of the people who never married: men with a Peter Pan complex and women holding out for the “perfect” guy, only to wake up at 35 with their ovaries shriveling along with their options. I have lived this and seen it with my own eyes countless times.

    People who are perpetually single are by definition more isolated than those boring “conformists.” They are also more selfish – how can you not be when your entire world revolves around yourself, your own wants/needs/desires/schedule? I believe there are studies that show that married people (lets call them companions) live longer and healthier lives, and are also more prosperous. To the contrary of your assertions, perpetually single people are LESS independent as they grow older. It’s just that they will have to pay people to help them with things that family normally does. Those seem like pretty obvious conclusions once you’ve lived a little.

    I doubt there is any per se resuting “discrimination.” I have never heard one word uttered in a workplace about the perpetually single person. However, as I mentioned earlier, perpetually single people are often eccentric/peculiar/awkward or have health issues, which certainly doesn’t help their cause socially or in the workplace. DePaulo and Morris seem like they might be social scientists in need of some publishing to get tenure or something, because the conclusions cited in the article are at severe odds with thousands of years of human history.

    Being single when you’re in college and in your 20s is awesome. Wouldn’t have traded it for anything. Being single beyond 35, especially if you don’t have children….in a word, sucks. Growing old, even with a companion, without the joy of a family…well, it’s a sad existence and is commonly voiced as the major regret that many people in that situation have.

  2. Alum on October 7th, 2015 10:29 pm

    Wow, what a smug, arrogant reply from Klieger. There are a lot of single people of all ages who have active social lives and don’t feel lonely. There are a lot of married people of all ages who are isolated and do feel lonely. Way to stereotype there. Who are you trying to convince, Klieger?

  3. Rob on October 16th, 2015 8:59 am

    But is this really an issue “worth talking about”? Quit being a baby and don’t worry what others think.

  4. Cianna on March 22nd, 2016 8:53 am

    Keep this article and take another look when you turn 40. See how you feel then. This sort of feels like a complaint without a problem, but I will indulge nonetheless.

    The thing is, people get a little wacky when they have no companionship. It doesn’t have to be marriage, but the need for a significant LTR is pretty much inherent for almost all people. Living in NYC, I see many of the people who never married: men with a Peter Pan complex and women holding out for the “perfect” guy, only to wake up at 35 with their ovaries shriveling along with their options. I have lived this and seen it with my own eyes countless times.

    Wow, what a completely unnecessary thing to say. I bet it is very difficult for you to believe that being single forever can be very beneficial. Also you are implying that “since I have seen this take place in New York, my belief in the harmfulness of singlehood anywhere is true”

    People who are perpetually single are by definition more isolated than those boring “conformists.” They are also more selfish – how can you not be when your entire world revolves around yourself, your own wants/needs/desires/schedule?

    You are way off. Many single people have friends and those who care about them.
    Also they are not more selfish, do you understand that the word selfish means putting yourself above everybody else? Where did you get the notion that a person who is not in a romantic relationship is a selfish person? Implying that only those with a romantic life are capable of selflessness, and that single people are cold, egocentric and incapable of putting other people first just because they are single.

    I believe there are studies that show that married people (lets call them companions) live longer and healthier lives, and are also more prosperous.

    Since you used the word “believe”, you are admitting that there could be a falsehood to what you see as true, which there is. Let’s not call them companions but married people, as if the word companion is always defined as a romantic partner.
    Single people can in fact live long and healthy lives, some even more than romantic people. Perhaps you would want to look up a list of people who died alone but happy

    To the contrary of your assertions, perpetually single people are LESS independent as they grow older. It’s just that they will have to pay people to help them with things that family normally does. Those seem like pretty obvious conclusions once you’ve lived a little.

    This is bullshit. There are plenty of people who can provide for themselves without a romantic partner’s help. Also by that logic, you are saying that you can’t rely on yourself to get you through.

    I doubt there is any per se resuting “discrimination.” I have never heard one word uttered in a workplace about the perpetually single person. However, as I mentioned earlier, perpetually single people are often eccentric/peculiar/awkward or have health issues, which certainly doesn’t help their cause socially or in the workplace.

    There is discrimination, ironically you are an example. Just because you never heard of it doesn’t mean it never happens. There is nothing wrong with being eccentric or peculiar, and many singles certainly don’t have health issues just because they are single. Here’s a news flash, romantic people are capable of being eccentric, peculiar, awkward and with health issues, being in a romantic relationship doesn’t prevent any of this, sometimes the romantic partner causes them!

    DePaulo and Morris seem like they might be social scientists in need of some publishing to get tenure or something, because the conclusions cited in the article are at severe odds with thousands of years of human history.

    Any convincing evidence for that?

    Being single when you’re in college and in your 20s is awesome. Wouldn’t have traded it for anything. Being single beyond 35, especially if you don’t have children….in a word, sucks.

    You need to stop speaking for everyone, just because this is in accordance of your own experiences, doesn’t mean it works that way for everyone. College is irrelevant, and there are people who are single in their 20s and do not think it’s awesome,
    They wish they had a lover. We get that is sucks for you, but believing that it is true for everyone just because it’s true for you is close minded. I know a famous woman someone, goes by the name swankivy on the internet, who is single, and wants to be, she has no children either, however she’s very happy and successful. The real problem in her life is that she has to deal with people like you who would judge her on her lifestyle, just because they can’t imagine themselves living a life like hers.

    Growing old, even with a companion, without the joy of a family…well, it’s a sad existence and is commonly voiced as the major regret that many people in that situation have.

    Once again you are speaking for all humans in world, even those who are coming.
    It must be pretty difficult to believe that anybody can be eternally single and without a family they made, but still have joy, health, fulfillment and abundance in their life.
    The fact that there are people like this out there, many of them, who lead this life and are well, proves that what your saying is utter baloney. The truth is, you can’t see yourself living like this, just like other people, so you all have to assign unhappiness, self centered ness, and abnormality to every human on earth. Reminds me of religious people who judge others as unhappy and in the wrong, for not being a part of the religion that makes them happy

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