The discrimination and prejudice against single people — who they are and how they live — keeps popping up over and over again.
Just when I think the ridiculous stereotypes about single people — the ones that presume singles are somehow weird, undesirable, immoral or simply not right — have been put aside, something happens to show me that despite the social progress we’ve made, the prejudice against singles still exists.
Last week I was looking for a wine bar or store that could host a SingularCity wine tasting event. Browsing Yelp, I found one with great reviews and attractive photos, so I called to speak with the owner. Our conversation was sailing along nicely until he asked me about Singular magazine.
“It’s a magazine with a social network and events for unmarried men and women — single people,” I said. “Most are college-educated professionals who make a good living, and they like to get together to socialize while experiencing their city. We do all kinds of things,” I continued, “theater, hikes, dining, happy hours, cooking events, concerts, festivals…”
The conversation, which a minute earlier was percolating toward the creation of a lovely event, turned ice cold. “Singles?” he asked. “You want to do an event here for singles?”
“It’s not a singles event like you may be thinking,” I said, trying to get things back on track. “It’s about networking, socializing, sharing interests, creating friendships — it’s not some kind of ‘swinging singles’ thing if that’s what you’re concerned about.”
“This store is about the wine,” he said, icicles almost crystalizing on the phone line. “It’s not for singles events.”
Hello? Clearly this person was no longer listening to anything I’d said.
He “knew” what it meant to be single alright. In his mind, single people only care about one thing: finding someone to drag back to their sad, lonely apartment for a meaningless romp in the sack — not about discovering and savoring the fine wines stocked at his store. He was having no part in that!
I wondered if I had told him that Singular was a magazine for Latinos, or African-Americans, or gay people if I’d get the same brush-off? I bet even this guy is aware that discrimination against those groups isn’t acceptable to society at large. But single people, they remain fair game.
Social psychologist Bella DePaulo, Ph.D. calls it “singlism” and writes about discrimination against singles with great illumination in her book, “Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After.” I highly recommend you read it because it will open your eyes to the hundreds of ways singles are treated unfairly, with impunity, in our culture.
As for the guy at the wine store, he said he’d take a look at SingularCity.com and let me know if he wanted to do the event. But I knew he wouldn’t look at the website and I knew he’d never call me back. His mind was made up. He wanted no part of anything that had to do with an event populated by single people.
Putting the phone down, I felt that hurt, that rebuke, that comes when someone rejects you before they know who you are — and when I say “you” I mean the single friends I know and love, many of whom are members of SingularCity.
When it comes to shedding those old stereotypes about what it means to be single, it’s been two steps forward, one step back. Looks like single people still need a place where they are validated, respected and accepted — and the good news is, they have that at SingularCity.
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