I started out today’s session by explaining the first assignment, the Singlehood Manifesto. For this assignment, students will write out a plan on how they will live their best lives as singletons. I then presented and differentiated the following terms:
Students had finished the first chapter of Elyakim’s book. They then broke into pairs to discuss the links between singlehood and: 1) education; 2) popular culture; 3) religion; 4) immigration; and 5) urbanization.
The most dynamic part of the discussion came from popular culture. Samantha brought up the transition from those 1980s family-oriented sitcoms (The Cosby Show, Family Ties) to more liberalized shows that feature singletons (Will and Grace, Friends, Sex and the City). Samantha also brought up how Will and Grace both partnered up, and that led me to do my “Devil’s advocate” thing and discuss how in shows like Friends, Sex and the City, and the Big Bang Theory, everyone coupled up. Mary countered that while true, the characters looked at the relationships not as their whole being, but as part of the larger spectrum of their lives. You could actually make that argument that those shows could represent a transition into more singles-friendly programming. Eventually, I’d like to see a series finale where the main character is happily solo, sipping a pina colada staring at a sunset. As I just wrote this, I thought House ended the same way, but upon researching, I found out House rides with his “bro,” Wilson, on a motorcycle, touring the country. #digthat
Other topics to come up included Elyakim’s finding that higher levels of education correlated with the abandonment of romantic relationship formation. This tied into some discussion of intersectionality; Maureen brought up that some men can feel emasculated by women making higher incomes and being educated. And here, I thought we had moved beyond such outdated patriarchal notions. How quixotic am I…
During the religion portion, Tammy discussed how a pastor in a church had tried putting together a singles group with the sole purpose of having single parishioners “ride the relationship escalator.” I brought up how Paul, Jeremiah, and Jesus were all single, and if they had been married, they might have not accomplished the things they did. Even Paul, while he extolled the benefits of marriage for some, he even stated that for others, singlehood might be best. And his quote: “Sometimes I wish everyone were single like me – a simpler life in many ways” (1 Corinthians 7:8), can be used on any matrimaniac who uses religion to preach marriage.
Urbanization came up as well, and logically, it made sense to everyone that urban environments would be more welcoming to singles because there are more people to meet, more folks to date, so why bother with marriage? This is the case in the United States, but in India, it’s a different story, and I have to thank Ketaki Chowhaki for recommending this film. Students, if you’re reading, watch this trailer for Bachelor Girls; it will open your eyes.
Immigration came up, and Elyakim’s finding that immigrants can face obstacles to romance due to cultural barriers and the craziness that can come with trying to negotiate the red tape of moving to a new country resonated. I shared the story of a colleague who was separated from his wife due to finding a teaching job here in the United States.
This week’s assignments had students writing short biographies of adult singletons in their lives. The majority of their subjects were happy as singles, even though a couple of them reported occasionally feeling lonely. That internalized singlism, which a lot of us feel, may be the result of social conditioning. A couple of subjects mentioned feeling external pressure to marry (from friends, families) but don’t seem to let that phase them (I wish I could say the same for those who do marry because of that pressure). One person also mentioned that the interview opened up their eyes to the societal pressure given to those who do not marry (matrimania in real life).
The highlight for me: when Mary mentioned that while she never felt pressure to couple up, she understood how others might be. This is why I do this kind of work.
My name is Craig. I'm an educator, writer, and unapologetic singleton. When not reading, writing, or teaching, I enjoy hiking, running, watching movies, going to concerts, spending time with friends, and playing with my cat/son, Chester.