The stigma driving singlism

By Karly Dunn

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]