Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Single...

There was an interesting post at Althouse yesterday that posed the question, "Is there a word for animosity toward the unmarried?"
s it just slipping my mind or is there no word for this? I'm looking for a word for the attitude -- something like sexism or homophobia -- to signify hostility toward people for their failure to be married. I don't mean mere discrimination, such as we find in the tax code or employment insurance plans. I mean actual negative feelings toward the disfavored group. And I don't mean the attitude that has to do only with the suspicion that an unmarried person is gay.

I mean something more general that would apply to the way people feel toward someone who remains single for any reason, including the inability to find a suitable partner or an unwillingness to accept monogamy.
There are a lot of interesting responses in the comments; I have a few, noting in one of them that once anybody gets past the age of maybe 30 or 35, there are people who will seemingly look down on the unmarried as somehow being irresponsibile or maybe even a little less "adult." As I also noted, I tend to ignore those comments that are directed toward me, because most of the people who have said that over the years seem to be stuck in less-than-ideal marriages themselves--probably ones that were entered into because they felt like they "should be married by now" rather than actually having a truly marriageable bond with the person who ended up becoming their spouse. (I should point out that I've only found out about these comments secondhand; nobody's actually said that to my face.)

It was also interesting to read some of the comments of the married people who viewed their single friends with "a mixture of pity and envy." (Most of the envy part came from married men, as you might imagine.) There also was a widely differing view of people who have been unlucky, uninterested or just "waiting for Ms. Right" vs. those who stay single because they find themselves unable to remain monogamous.

Perhaps the best comment on the thread came from a minister named Mark Daniels, who put up his own post on the subject. Here's my favorite excerpt:
Some people feel that adults have to go through certain proscribed life-hoops in order to truly be considered an adult. They tend to believe this all the more if they have, in fact, gone through those hoops, no matter the quality of their marital or family relationships. They see themselves as part of an adults' club and looking down their noses on those who haven't gone through the hoops is one of the "privileges" of membership.
I think the good Reverend nailed it here. I for one am certainly looking forward to joining this "club," though I certainly won't have the least bit of disdain for "nonmembers." If I had jumped through the marriage hoop at 25, I would've fallen and broken my face. Now, whenever it happens, I'll be much more prepared.

If you're single, have you experienced this attitude? And if you're married, have you (intentionally or not) projected this attitude?

IN THE COMMENTS: Eric links to two earlier posts of his on the subject, and Mark Daniels pays a visit as well.

www.burglaryfordummies.com: A guy in Delaware surfed the Web while trying to break into the safe of the restaurant he had formerly managed. (He was searching for instructions on how to crack a safe.)

Thank you, now I can come again: I posted the other day about certain 7-Eleven stores being rebranded as "Kwik-E-Marts" this month in anticipation of the new Simpsons movie. The one in Dallas is here. (It's very close to my church, so there's almost certainly a Squishee in my near future.


Eric Grubbs said...

I have covered this topic a couple of times on my blog. Here are two entries:



Mark Daniels said...

Thanks for the link, quote, and affirmation. Thanks too, for dropping by my blog post on the subject.

You have some interesting things on your blog. I'll be back.

Mark Daniels

Kev said...

Eric--thanks for the reminder of those posts. I'm sure I read the Ernie Brown one before, but it was nice to revisit them.

Mark--thanks for the reciprocal visit. Hope to see you back soon.

Anonymous said...

There is also a "negativity" surrounding married couples who choose not to have children!!!! It's automatically assumed that if you don't have kids there's something wrong with you. Most times the assumption is that the wrong is physical! What about if you just don't want any? Having children is NOT a necessity for some. In fact, there are peole who should not have children, like the ones that abuse! And as I passed a scraggly looking couple with 6 kids in tow all of whom had runny noses and looked like they hadn't bathed for a week, I figure they're making up for those who just want to enjoy life with their partner!!!!

Kev said...

That's true, Anon, and that angle was discussed a bit in the comments at the Althouse post as well. I've had quite a few friends in that situation (the old term was DINKs--Double Income, No Kids), and more than a few of them had dogs instead of kids. Sure, it's not the same as true parenthood (and it's not likely that Rover and Fluffy will be able to support them in their old age, unless they're making some shrewd investments at the moment), but a lot of the people I know who fall into this category are really busy professional types who may not feel that they have sufficient time to devote to parenthood.

Besides, as a teacher, I've seen more than my share of less-than-great parents, so if two people know going into marriage that they're not the parenting type, it's best not to judge them for that. I sure won't, since I seem to fall outside society's "expectations" on marriage at the moment anyway; that also makes me all the more aware that what others do in this situation is their business and not mine.

So until Ms. Right enters my life, I'll just try to be the best uncle, brother and son that I can possibly be.

Eric Grubbs said...

Let me add one other thing: I believe the people who are the most resentful of unmarried/childless people are merely stating their own fears about their lives.

Kev said...

Eric, I totally agree, and that's why I usually don't give too much weight to comments like that.