July 27, 2008

Hey! It's a new Bloggingheads — with me and Bella DePaulo.

The subject is the plight of the poor, terrible, discriminated against single.

28 comments:

OldGrouchy said...

Jeez, Louise, why is anyone handing this difficult issue to Obama on a silver platter? Doesn't he have enough to do solving all our problems without being concerned about the excess number of married couples in this country?

Oops, time to go sleep it off! Too much time spent in the coffeeshop!

lurker2209 said...

I think Bella's point about single parent families falls to a rather simple argument: single parent families are almost always characterized by the absence of a parent, and that's going to have a negative effect on a child, no matter how nurturing the remaining parent is. Picture a single parent family where the father is absent and the mother's brothers step in to provide male role models for their nephews and nieces. Say the entire mother's family provides the mother with support so she doesn't feel isolated and helps financially so the children don't have any financial disadvantage. Even with all these circumstances, those kids are still going to have to deal with the fact that their father has chosen not to be a part of their lives.

Bella's argument might apply to a single person who adopts a child, or to a single woman who chooses to have a child using a sperm donor. In those cases, the child isn't left with any sense of abandonment about the missing parent and given support from extended family or friends and sufficient financial resources on the part of the single parent, you would expect those kids to do just as well as kids with two parents. But cases like this are a minority.

amba said...

Apparently even the children of sperm donors long for a father.

jdeeripper said...

"If you have no one to come home to...If you were to die in your bed..how long would it take before they noticed.

Would your pets be eating your FACE!!"


With all the old cat ladies in America who live alone I wonder how many cases there have been of starving, face eating cats making meals of them.

Never heard of any but there have to be cop stories of officers going into homes to check on someone and finding some half eaten, faceless human corpse in a home full of scrawny hungry cats.

I live alone with two cats I found as alley kitties and when my one cat gets hungry and impatient she'll open up cupboards on her own and take out food.

That's the one I worry about.

Meade said...

Why worry?

Just keep food in the cupboards and sleep with one eye open.

You still have one eye, right?

JohnTaylor88 said...

Is no one going to compliment Ann's haircut? After all, she's single.

bearing said...

Now hold on here. If they're terrible as you say, then why can't I discriminate against them?

nansealinks said...

if everyone's problems were hung on a line, you would take yours and I would take mine.

Quoted by: an anonymous towel.

researchers and professors could take both.
leaving some without a towel.

does it matter?
i don't dry off with a towel
i seal in moisture with oils.

knox said...

It's not a haircut is it... it's just pulled back? Looks nice that way, though.

ricpic said...

I barfed at "heterosexism," couldn't go beyond that.

Ann Althouse said...

Yeah, it's not a haircut. Just pulled back... warm summer night.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

There is nothing wrong with being single for life. Many people have chosen this lifestyle over the years and have had very full and social lives.

What IS wrong is the self absorbed narcissism that seems to be part of single hood and purposeful single parenting in order to "complete yourself". As if children are some sort of accessory that completes your life like a flat screen tv completes your living room.

I agree with Ann on the expenses of extending benefits to anyone you want. Those benefits (insurance, Social Security) were designed to be benefical to the worker and his/her dependants not as perks for just anyone you happen to like.

Zeb Quinn said...

I barfed at "heterosexism," couldn't go beyond that.

I didn't barf, but I did wince a bit. Aside from her expressed passion for singlehood, does Bella DePaulo self-identify as a heterosexual or as a lesbian? Anybody know?

David said...

Having been single and married for extended periods of my adult life, I prefer married--when it works. When it doesn't no amount of supposed perks can compensate.

Is Ms. DePaulo a bit dense, or is it just me? She had a hard time responding to Ann's questions, even though they were tenderly and politely asked. She simply dismissed the assumptions and assertions embedded (often explicitly) in the questions, and trundled along in her merry way.

As to the absence of a parent "always" having a negative effect on the child, doesn't it depend on what the absent parent would have done while present? With some parents it's much better that they just go away.

Ann Althouse said...

Zeb, her definition of single includes anyone who is not part of a committed couple -- gay or straight. So in saying she's always been single, she is asserting that she has always lived alone. I don't remember reading anything about her sexual orientation though.

lurker2209 said...

As to the absence of a parent "always" having a negative effect on the child, doesn't it depend on what the absent parent would have done while present? With some parents it's much better that they just go away.

Some kids are better off without one of their parents, just as some kids are better off if taken away by the state because both their parents are making meth in the kitchen. But when that happens, we call that a tragedy, even if the parents have no business taking care of the kids. What I'm saying is that when one parent is absent, for whatever reason, that's a tragedy too. But I think Bella would have a problem with my calling it a tragedy. She'd see that as stigmatization.

I think we need to support single parents, but we need to be careful to do so in ways that don't encourage men (because most absent parents are men) to abdicate responsibility. See for example the effects of welfare on Black America.

Zeb Quinn said...

I don't remember reading anything about her sexual orientation though.

Me neither. I googled her and followed every link, and every link to every link. I read it all. She is clearly very well educated and quite accomplished.

I work hard, bend over backwards in fact, to avoid using stereotypes to speculate about and make inferences about what a person's sexual orientation is or might be. It's not me being PC. It's a learned behavior. As a young man I was wrong a couple of times and it made me feel bad for having done it. So I have since refrained from it. Here we a have a highly educated professional woman of a certain age, who was born, developed, and came of age in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, clearly different times with different social attitudes than prevail nowadays, a woman who has for the entirety of her known career embraced and advocated complete "singleness" as a psychological, social, and political cause. Yet there is nothing anywhere to be found indicating what her sexual orientation might be, ever. That doesn't happen by accident. It's like Sherlock Holmes's dog that didn't bark, except way more conspicuous. So yeah, it's enough to make me wonder.

Why does it matter? It only matters because I evaluate her singlehood arguments differently depending.

Ann Althouse said...

Zeb, what I thought was especially interesting was that the book seemed to be about women's happiness, and I even directly asked her if it wasn't a book for women and whether she cared about men's happiness at all, and I could never get anywhere with that subject. Yet the book wasn't an openly feminist book, and she rejected -- when I hadn't really asked -- the notion that her writing came from feminist ideology. It was a bit puzzling, but you might surmise that she thinks men are often bad for women and that women need to be encouraged to do without men. It's a better bet in life. Actually, you might surmise that I think that, and I would have loved to go deep on that subject, but I couldn't get it going.

vbspurs said...

Is no one going to compliment Ann's haircut? After all, she's single.

I am watching now real-time (OOH, heterosexism?? I can understand the barf reflex now) and I have to say:

Ann looks great.

I like her rather flirty attitude, albeit with the camera. Heaven forfend with the Gertrude Stein look-a-like.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

Bella is wearing a small spaghetti strap watch, when the trend today is to wear oversized watches.

I am not looking at the diavlog (awful term, BTW) since I am grossed out by her over yellow teeth.

I'll listen to it, as if it were on radio, since the lady's voice is pleasant.

Cheers,
Victoria

ALP said...

Meh - my barf point came when she said that although she was happy being single, it was the attitudes of others that bothered her.

Yup, just as I had predicted, this managed to go very quickly into typical female territory of waaay tooo much concern with what others think. Before you protest - I am female myself, and my own gender's tendency to do this drives me up the wall. I saw this "I'm a victim too" mentality creep into the ChildFree by Choice contingent over the years (a group which I consider myself a member). Talk about looking at the glass half empty..."I'm happy with my choice but other people are not...waaaaaaaa!!!!"

This simply smacks of insecurity. A truly secure person would ignore this, as they'd be too busy living out their happy life to bother with such busybodies.

nansealinks said...

"her definition of single includes anyone who is not part of a committed couple -- gay or straight. "

divorced is not single

divorced with children is different than divorced without children.

A divorced man once told me that divorced with sons is an entire different category. He once told me divorced single women with sons use them as surrogate men to feel younger. I kinda believed him and kinda didn't. I remembered that. I am paranoid about falling into that category. I hardly ever go out in public with my sons alone.

I do travel single. I notice hardly anyone does that anymore. When I am out and feeling depressed that I am single, I look in all the cars at couples staring into space in their autombiles not talking to each other. Then I remember so many of us are alone anyway.

Trooper York said...
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rcocean said...

Of course.

graz said...

Ann:

You left some unfinished business in the bloggingheads comments section. The water's warm... come on in.

Trooper York said...
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steve austin said...

Was Bella prepared for this video debate? Why couldn't she speak authoritatively about her book without having to fumble through it? I've never seen so many uncomfortable pauses in my life.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.