Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Singles Struggle for Attention

Thus reads the headline of the most recent New York Times piece, which examines the position of "limbo" in which single people exist. The science article, written by Tara Parker Pope, explores the less than gratifying place in society for single and unmarried Americans, where the assumption is "that if you don't get married, there is something wrong with you."

Pope continues with studies that suggest that the unmarried folk, whether or not they are parents, tend to contribute more to their communities and toward the care-taking of relatives, they volunteer more and become more politically involved than their married counterparts.  And yet, public policy and insurance companies provide less physical benefits for the unattached.

Judaic ritual and tradition certainly leaves very little room for the recognition of the needs of those outside the family framework.

"...Very successful women in their careers and their lives [felt] bad about not being married, like they were letting someone down...If a person is happy being single then we should support that as well."

If being unmarried  remains one of the "last accepted prejudices," then certainly the status of SMBC adds an additional wrinkle.  I am glad to see the topic discussed among civilized company, and I hope that it opens the floor for a more open debate on the modern Alternative Family.


Midlife Singlemum said...

A few years ago I was single and I didn't have children. Now I am mother. I admit that despite being successful and having a full life, I felt inadequate. (NB - I am only talking about myself here and I do recognise that there are some single women who choose not to be mothers.)Now I don't feel in any way inferior as a woman because I am a mother. A husband may or may not show up in the future some time - who cares? Many of my married friends are finding themselves newly single anyway so I'm in good comapny :)

Amy Charles said...

Yeah, I don't know. If I'm pitied for being single, I'm sure not feeling it. Seems more like my married friends envy me my freedom and relative engagement with the world.

What creeps me out is the sense of clutching that you so often hear when people say, "My wife," or "my husband". It goes beyond them against the world, you know? There's this real fear to do with being out there solo.

Being a single childless woman never left me feeling inadequate, either. On the contrary, that's when I had my highest status as an Honorary Man with Sex Appeal. Free anytime to do anything, responsible for no one but myself. :) How I squandered those days!