Posts filed under 'The singles table'

Move over, marriage…

Right to choose…When it comes to romantic commitment, you’re not the only game in town.

That’s the opening paragraph to the cover story I wrote for “Gender F”, a Seattle Times section that came out today. The story isn’t anti-marriage; it’s pro-alternatives-to-marriage-if-you-so-choose and pro-marriage reform (as in, let’s stop treating lesbians and gays like shit, and let’s think about giving singles — say, the widowed midlifer taking care of her mom with Alzheimer’s — the same tax breaks and workplace perks as the married twentysomethings she lives next door to or works side by side with). I’ve already written how I feel about this here, so I won’t rehash it now.

As anyone could have predicted, a couple of “concerned readers” have already graced my inbox to say that they will “pray for me” or to compliment me on being “a modern whore,” whatever that means. (“You, go, you modern whore!”) If they really want to save my soul, though, I would kindly request they immediately proceed to this web page and open their wallets. That would be the quickest route to salvation for this girl.

But I digress… My point is, I’m don’t think I’m a bitter old crone or whatever the fashionable insult to hurl at single thirtysomething feminists is these days. I’m just not sure marriage is the only way to go. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. But since you can read the facts in the aforementioned article, let’s personalize this here and now:

Maybe I would feel differently if I wanted to have children — after all, two incomes/caregivers are infinitely easier than one — but I’m pretty sure I don’t, and if I wait too much longer, biology will make that a moot point. And maybe I would feel differently if I wasn’t able to support myself, but I am and I do. (Ah, the ‘ole career tie-in.) And, as people say, maybe I would feel differently if I met the right guy. Only thing is, I have met the right guy, and we’ve been together three years, happily living apart. Maybe that will change someday, but neither one of us is in any sort of rush. (I write about that in Diane Mapes‘ fabulous new book, Single State of the Union, which you will hear lots more about this spring.)

From a romantic perspective, not needing a partner for financial reasons has been incredibly liberating. Without the biological clock ruling my every dating move and with a warm roof already over my head, I’m free — as countless modern women are — to date and fall in love for booty and companionship alone, not because I’m trolling for a meal ticket, real estate, or a sperm donor. Basically this translates into not freaking out if I’m alone on a Saturday night or my calendar is blank for a week straight. (In fact, right now, if my calendar actually was blank for a week straight, I would do the biggest fattest happy dance you’ve ever seen.)

What do you ladies think? Do you think today’s courtship is incredibly different than it was for our moms, now that we, too, can bring home the bacon like nobody’s business and buy our own homes? In other words, is marriage even necessary today? Or do you think that regardless of increasingly equal career opportunities/salaries, marriage is here to stay? I’d love to hear your comments, but kindly I request that you play nice.

25 comments March 18th, 2007

My idea of a Feb. 14 gift

I heart chocolate 365 days a yearI don’t know about you, but I don’t need to wait till February 14th rolls around to tell someone I love them, gorge myself with chocolate, or nab me some pretty flowers. I also don’t do diamonds. I do books. And in honor of this ridiculous Hallmark holiday, I thought I’d recommend some books — many by pals of mine — that singles, couples, and moms may dig.

For singles…

How to Date in a Post-Dating World. Written by Diane Mapes, who also writes a spit-your-soda-all-over-your-keyboard-it’s-so-funny column on the single life for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Single State of the Union: Single Women Speak Out on Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Diane’s new anthology, featuring the essay “House Without a Spouse” by yours truly, is hot off the presses. Stay tuned for readings this spring.

Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After. If you’re sick of your family asking, “So when are you gonna settle down?” or your boss saddling you with a fatter workload than your married coworkers, you will love Dr. Bella DePaulo‘s insightful, irreverent book.

For love bugs who want to up the ante…

Offbeat Bride: Taffeta-Free Alternatives for Independent Brides. A must for women thinking about getting hitched. And if you want to hear more from the sock-puppet-toting, penis-water-bottle-guzzling woman herself, Ariel’s currently doing book readings all over the Pacific Northwest.

Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women. Don’t listen to anyone who says you have to dumb yourself down if you’re a het woman who wants to hook up. Dr. Christine Whelan commissioned a bigass Harris Interactive study for this book and found that 90 percent of high-achieving men want to be with a woman who’s at least as smart as them and 80 percent of high-achieving men want a woman who’s at least as accomplished and educated as them.

For mommies…

Single Mom Seeking: Playdates, Blind Dates, and Other Dispatches from the Dating World. Reviewers are calling Rachel Sarah‘s book “sexy,” “edgy,” and “hot.” Publisher’s Weekly says it’s “a west coast Sex in the City roundup of romantic escapades and frustrated desires for the Pampers (as opposed to the pampered) set.” Juicy!

Confessions of a Naughty Mommy: How I Found My Lost Libido. Further proof that sex doesn’t stop with motherhood! In her dishy book, author Heidi Raykeil tells moms whose sex lives are lagging how to put that spring back in their step.

1 comment February 14th, 2007

Score one for single women?

bearded ladyApparently we’re no longer circus freaks. Or at least the minority. In case you’ve been living in a yurt, allow me to direct your attention to the New York Times report everyone has been talking about this week, the one that says 51 percent of American women now live spouseless, for what is probably the first time.

What does this have to do with work, you say? Plenty. As historian Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage, points out in the article, “…it is simply delusional to construct social policy or make personal life decisions on the basis that you can count on people spending most of their adult lives in marriage.”

In October 2006, Coontz beautifully made this case in her Philadelphia Inquirer piece about how social policies revolving around the “married with kids” family unit should change. Here’s an excerpt:

Giving special privileges to married-couple households and denying them to the unmarried made some sense in the days when marriage played the central role in regulating sexuality and childbirth, redistributing resources to children, organizing the exchange of men’s wages for wives’ household services, supporting youth until they could move into jobs that provided health-care insurance, and caring for the ill and the old.

But marriage is not the only way people organize these tasks any more. Many of our assumptions and expectations are based on the world of the 1950s — a world that no longer exists. It is no longer possible to pretend that marriage is the only institution in which children are born and raised, the elderly and ill are cared for, youth are supported until they gain living-wage jobs, and interpersonal obligations are incurred. We can no longer design work schedules, leave policies, and housing complexes on the assumption that every worker has a wife at home to take care of “life.” Unmarried people increasingly are likely to have care-giving obligations, whether for children, aging relatives, or a live-in partner.

In other words, yes, give us those coveted flex policies in the workplace. Hell knows, parents and caregivers sure need it. But don’t stop there. Change workplace and government policies across the board to reflect the fact that most Americans spend half their adult lives unmarried. Singles and those in domestic partnerships of any sexual orientation deserve the same health benefits and tax breaks afforded married peeps.

Let me personalize it for you: If I was a single employee who suddenly found herself taking care of an ailing parent, I’d want my family of two to receive the same health benefits as my “legally” married coworkers. In fact, I know people in their thirties in similar situations who could certainly use the same health and tax perks their married coworkers and neighbors get.

What say you? Go on, dish. But play nice or I hit Delete.

11 comments January 20th, 2007

Judge a book by its cover

Single State of the UnionSay hello to Single State of the Union: Single Women Speak Out on Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Happiness, a forthcoming collection of writing edited by my pal Diane Mapes. Seal Press will be publishing this puppy in April.

Doesn’t the cover rock?

I’m honored to have an essay in this book, along with writer pals Amanda Castleman, Litsa Dremousis, Jane Hodges, Judy McGuire, and fab women like Lynn Harris, Margaret Cho, Feministing‘s Jessica Valenti, and oh, I could go on and on…

But you can get the full meal deal in April. Or you can check out the entire lineup here, on the blog of lusty contributor Rachel Kramer Bussel.

If you can’t wait till April to make this pretty book your very own, getcher pre-orders here.

4 comments December 4th, 2006

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Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

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