Column One:
Eye on Unmarried America

November 13,  2006  



New book has a singular focus

By Thomas F. Coleman

Booksellers begin distributing a new book for single people this week.  The book by Professor Bella DePaulo is entitled "Singled Out: How singles are stereotyped, stigmatized, and ignored, and still live happily ever after."

Singled Out is the culmination of many years of research and analysis by Professor DePaulo, a scholar who has focused much of her academic career on the lives and concerns of single people.  I've had the pleasure of working with her on singles issues for several years and I know how thorough Professor DePaulo is in her research and how compelling she can be in her presentation.

Singled Out exposes myths and stereotypes about single people and lays the groundwork for social, political, and economic change Ė change that is long overdue in government policies and business practices. With the majority of the nation's households now headed by unmarried adults, itís time for America to become acquainted with its new "unmarried majority."

"Drawing from decades of scientific research and stacks of stories from the front lines of singlehood, Bella DePaulo debunks the myths of singledom---and shows that just about everything youíve heard about the benefits of getting married and the perils of staying single are grossly exaggerated or just plain wrong," says the publisher's book description.

Singled Out focuses on Ten Myths of Singlehood, including:

  • Myth #1: The Wonder of Couples: Marrieds know best.
  • Myth #3: The Dark Aura of Singlehood: You are miserable and lonely and your life is tragic.
  • Myth #5: Attention, Single Women: Your work wonít love you back and your eggs will dry up. Also, you donít get any and youíre promiscuous.
  • Myth #6: Attention, Single Men: You are horny, slovenly, and irresponsible, and you are the scary criminals. Or you are sexy, fastidious, frivolous, and gay.
  • Myth #7: Attention, Single Parents: Your kids are doomed.
  • Myth #9: Poor Soul: You will grow old alone and you will die in a room by yourself where no one will find you for weeks.
  • Myth #10: Family Values: Letís give all of the perks, benefits, gifts, and cash to couples and call it family values.

"When it comes to singlism, most Americans just donít get it," DePaulo writes in the chapter focusing on discrimination.  "They either donít think that single and married people are treated any differently, or if they do notice married people getting the better deal, it doesnít occur to them that there is anything wrong with that."

"Mostly, though," she writes, "they just donít think about the matter at all."

Singled Out will definitely get people thinking about things they have overlooked or ignored in the past.  And the book is not just focused on bias and discrimination, it looks at the upside of singleness as well.

"Single people start out as targets of discrimination, but they do not end up as hapless victims," DePaulo writes.  "Their lives, in many instances, are instead sparkling examples of psychological strength and resilience."

ďWith elegant analysis, wonderfully detailed examples, and clear and witty prose, DePaulo lays out the many, often subtle denigrations and discriminations faced by single adults in the U.S.," says E. Kay Trimberger, author of The New Single Woman.  Trimberger emphasizes that Singled Out is a "must-read for all single adults, their friends and families, as well as social scientists and policy advocates.Ē

Singled Out is now available through for $16.47.  Do yourself a favor and order a copy.  In fact, buy two and give one to a single friend who will appreciate it or to someone -- married or single -- who needs a little education on the subject.

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© Unmarried America 2006

Thomas F. Coleman, Executive Director of Unmarried America, is an attorney with 33 years of experience in singles' rights, family diversity, domestic partner benefits, and marital status discrimination.  Each week he adds a new commentary to Column One: Eye on Unmarried America. E-mail: Unmarried America is a nonprofit information service for unmarried employees, consumers, taxpayers, and voters.