Jaclyn Geller is guest-posting here to share her bold (and sometimes hilarious) Call to Action for single people who are tired of the pervasive unfairness that advantages married people and deeply disadvantages anyone who is not officially married. Geller, an English professor and author of Here Comes the Bride: Women, Weddings, and the Marriage Mystique, has long been at the cutting edge of thinking on matters of fairness for people who are not married. I have been hosting her guest posts since 2009.
Marriage Fundamentalism Is a Threat to the Dignity and Well-Being of Single People and Their Families
Do you know what “marriage fundamentalism” is? Everyone should. It is a regressive, inaccurate, stigmatizing ideology that is a threat to the dignity and well-being of all adults who are not married and all children living in families not headed by two married parents. Really, it is a threat to everyone – including even married couples and their families – who care about basic values of equality, autonomy, interdependence, multiculturalism, and respect for the many important people in our lives.
“Singlism” is the stereotyping, stigmatizing, marginalizing and discrimination against people who are single. “Matrimania” is the over-the-top hyping of marriage, weddings, and couplings. I coined those terms. Probably hundreds of the blog posts and other writings of mine touch on those topics in some way. So here, I just want to point you to a few articles to orient you to these topics and give you a few specific examples.
Single-Minded Change Agents: Slaying Singlism, Mocking Matrimania, and Creating a Better World for Single People
I’ve been on a decades-long mission to push back against all the misrepresentations of single people as sad and lonely losers, and to showcase more accurate portrayals of how real single people often live meaningful and fulfilling lives. As part of my quest to slay singlism and bring matrimania to its knees, I have been sharing the stories of single-minded change agents who are inspired by the same passions. They have already made great strides in challenging marital status discrimination and highlighting stories of the good single life.
It is June 13, 2016. The year is not even halfway over, but Time magazine just published its 37th story about marriage. Below is the letter I sent to the editor of Time, at firstname.lastname@example.org. I also wrote two much more extensive critiques as blog posts: (1) At Psychology Today: “What’s wrong with telling married people to stay married?” (2) At Psych Central: “Why is Time magazine shaming single people and their children?”
[This post was originally published at Psychology Today. I just discovered that it disappeared! I have no idea why, but I thought I’d just republish it at my own site where I have control over what appears and disappears.]
In my previous post, I explained why no study has ever shown definitively that getting married causes people to become happier – and no study ever will. Here, I will critique the research (an unpublished working paper by Grover and Helliwell) that set off the latest round of matrimaniacal claims that we single people would be happier if only we would get married. The claims the authors are making are unapologetically causal: They think their research shows that getting married causes people to become happier. It doesn’t. The very premise of their claim (that married people are happier, and we just need to figure out if marriage is causing married people’s greater happiness) is undermined by some of their own findings – not that you would have read much about those results in any of the many media stories gleefully declaring a win for Team Marriage.