September 21-27 is National Unmarried and Single Americans Week, or National Singles Week, according to Bella DePaulo, who blogs for Psychology Today. She's a professor of Psychology and wrote a book called Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After. If you're wondering why the hell we need Singles Week, Dr. DePaulo has answers for you: She says we need to increase the "awareness" of single life. You're thinking, lady, I know I'm single. But DePaulo wants single people to get respect.She writes: "Americans now spend more years unmarried than married… What it means to live single has changed dramatically over the past half-century, but our perceptions have been left in the dust. Bogus stereotypes rule, and they need to be dethroned." Plus: she counts all the ways the 92 million single people in the U.S. are basically screwed over: Writes DePaulo:
"Our educational institutions - those colleges and universities that should be at the leading edge of scholarship and critical thinking - have been just as smitten by the marital mythology as the rest of society. Those bastions of higher learning are filled with courses, degree programs, textbooks, journals, endowed chairs, research funding and all the other components of the intellectual industry that is the study of marriage. As for the other 42% of the adult population, we're still waiting for the scholarly spotlight to shine as brightly on us."
Dr. DePaulo also points out that single people get "shorted" on the federal benefits, protections, and privileges that are available only to people who are legally married. Not to mention the housing discrimination, tax penalties and pay disparities linked to marital status. She believes that unmarried people have untapped political potential and that for singles, "friends are hardly 'just friends.'" Meaning: We forge strong relationships! And yet we get no family leave if someone close to us is ill. DePaulo concludes: "We need to value single people because that's what progressive nations do. They look for the people who have been marginalized and diminished, and invite them into the center of society. That way, we can all live happily ever after." Sounds awesome. But doesn't Singles Week really need some kind of mascot, like the Easter Bunny or the Groundhog? I was going to propose a gin and tonic, but actually, I think something more like an unbridled unicorn (single horn!), running free, might be fun. Any ideas? It's National Singles Week: Here Are 14 Reasons Why We Need It [Psychology Today]