It was supposed to be funny, but when people continue to reinforce stereotypes and invent even worse ones, how the world views singles will never change.
On September 10, 2014, David Letterman’s Top 10 list was called, “Top Ten Reasons Why You’re Still Single.” Take a look at the singles-relevant list below and see what you think. Then I’ll tell you what I think.
David Letterman’s “Top Ten Reasons Why You’re Still Single”
So what do you think?
I’m not a regular viewer of Letterman; I hardly ever watch him. Ages ago, I used to have every new Top 10 list emailed me to me, but that did not last for long. So I cannot claim to be totally familiar with the typical Letterman Top 10 these days. Still, how much do you have to know to have an opinion of this list?
I’d like to think of myself as a person with a sense of humor. I know that a list like this about why people are still single is going to include lame jokes about single people. But I think this list goes beyond that.
The last reason, the No.1 reason why David Letterman thinks you are still single, left me gasping. I have been collecting and analyzing derogating things people say about singles for a very long time; I’ve even done a systematic series of scientific studies on the matter. I think I’m quite familiar with the nastiest examples of singlism. But is there anything crueler, more vicious, or less justifiable than equating single people with the most brutal international terrorist — someone who literally slices people’s heads off?
How can that qualify as humor? Has any other Top 10 list ever vilified another person or group in such a stunning and heartless way as to equate them with the world’s most heinous terrorist?
The other reasons on the list are bad, too (except for the self-deprecating one about being too busy writing Top 10 jokes). But they are what I expected — mostly the standard stereotypes of single people. I think these are telling, too, in the sense that it is apparently okay to joke about single people in ways that would not be okay with regard to other stigmatized groups, about which there has been more consciousness-raising. For example, I bet David Letterman has not told any Top 10 jokes about African-Americans being watermelon-lovers. Everyone knows those kinds of caricatures are offensive. Look what happened to Donald Sterling and others who have made similarly offensive statements. With single people, though, it is open season.
As an antidote to the egregious nastiness of the Letterman Top 10 and all of the other singlism out there, I’ve just put together a collection of 65 of my most empowering writings about single life, The Best of Single Life. Many of the articles first appeared in my Living Single blog.
- Why Singles Are Thriving – Despite All You’ve Heard to the Contrary
- Single Life: We Chose It
- Mocking Those ‘Why Are You Single’ Lists
- The Good Life and the Successful Life
- Savoring Our Solitude: Choosing to Spend Time Alone
- Valuing Our Relationships: Choosing to Spend Time with Others
- Sex and the Single Person: Have It Your Way – or Just Skip It
- Are We Missing Out by Being Single – or Are They?
This article was originally posted in Bella DePaulo’s blog, Living Single.