Stereotyped and Stigmatized Cousin to the Childfree: Singlism

Bella DePaulo has an interesting new book out titled, Singlism: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Stop It.  DePaulo defines “singlism” as “the pervasive discrimination single people face in politics and everyday life” and looks at  “society’s immediate associations-conscious and otherwise-with the word ‘single,’ including the implication…loneliness, homosexuality and/or a personal defect that prevents a single person from achieving the dubiously enshrined goal of marriage.”

DePaulo also includes a section on what she calls singles’ cousin–the childfree. Singles can have children e.g., be divorced, widowed, or just never been married. What do the childfree have in common?  We are stereotyped and stigmatized because we don’t fit into the “normal” progression in life-get out of school, get a job, get married, and have children. We are judged inaccurately and negatively as a result of not following “the program” we’re all supposed to follow.  We also share unfair treatment in various realms of life, including inequitable tax burdens, “social security benefits, and real-world wage disparities.”

DePaulo is joined by other dedicated singles out there, one of which is blogger at Eleanore Wells. She and DePaulo are “determined to chip away at the prevailing thinking that marriage is what grown-ups are supposed to do and that not doing so is, well, just wrong…and weird…and kinda pathetic. Actually, Bella isn’t just chipping away at it, she’s using a sledgehammer. Singlism is just one piece of a large body of Bella’s dedicated to combating discrimination and silliness against the unmarried.”

Now, I am childfree and married.  If I hadn’t found the right guy, I could very easily envision myself as a dedicated single and childfree. When I imagine this, I can sure see that it would mean dealing with double the stigmas — no marriage means something must be wrong with me; then no kids surely means there must be something wrong with me!

And it must mean double the bingos–childfree dedicated singles out there (or those who know them), what are the worst stereotypes and stigmas you experience?

What are the worst bingos? Following the idea of my last post, what are the corollary bingos to those doing the criticizing?

3 thoughts on “Stereotyped and Stigmatized Cousin to the Childfree: Singlism

  1. I don’t see being single as big a stigma, if any, as being childfree. I saw a news headline just the other day about how less than half the US households consist of married couples, so now they are the minority, not the majority. It will take decades, if ever, for childfree people to overtake childed people.

    1. Hi Deegee, I wonder how many households have people who are in committed relationships, just not married. Being cf and forever single seems more of a minority than cf “in relationship” but I say that just from who I come in contact with in the cf world. Wish there were more stats on single never want kids pple–anyone know of this kind of data? ~L

  2. Deegee, I think this varies quite a bit by where one lives. I’ve lived in communities where being single (especially as a woman) was stigmatized and in communities where it didn’t make a difference.

    “worst stereotypes and stigmas you experience? ”

    I’m happily married but I’ve heard these assumptions more than once:

    – they must be emotionally crippled.
    – they’re probably gay or lesbian.*
    – single, childfree men must be child abusers/molesters.

    *Strangely enough I’ve only heard this in communities where being GLBT is stigmatized.

    “what are the corollary bingos to those doing the criticizing?”

    – why do you need to be in a relationship in order to be happy?
    – doesn’t having a partner tie you down?

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