Officially known as "National Unmarried and Single Americans Week," this week celebrates the 92 million unmarrieds living in the US. Why, you might ask, do we need a week to recognize the unwed? You might be surprised.
As a legal term, single means that you're not married; you check "single" whether you're a college student, a working mother, a widow or a divorcee. All of these populations have unique needs, but they also face common challenges. Singles activism focuses on two issues: legal rights and busting negative stereotypes about singles.
According to Beth Hughs, author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After, married people get 1,136 federal benefits that the uncoupled don't have access to. Singletons don't get the same access to health care that married people do and don't get the tax benefits that marrieds do.
Then there are the stereotypes: especially as they get older, singletons deal with assumptions about bachelor(ette)hood: they can't commit, they're emotionally undeveloped, they must be unhappy and they are desperate to couple up. In fact, many loners aren't lonely at all; they've chosen not to marry and are happy that way—maybe they just don't want a long term partner, or they're divorced or widowed and are not looking for love just yet, or they're partnered but have chosen not to marry. But even if you're not content with your single status, don't you deserve access to health care?
Singles right activists point out that marriage is accepted as a goal that everyone should work towards. "You have it in the Bush administration's policies that spend three-quarters of a billion dollars to promote marriage," Nancy Polikoff, a professor of law at American University's and author of Beyond Straight and Gay Marriage, told the San Francisco Chronicle. Some relationships go beyond the standard definitions of marriage are disadvantaged, both socially and legally.
According to Hughs, Americans spend the majority of their adults lives unmarried. She says we need National Singles Week to stop the stereotype that says marriage will solve all your problems. Check out her post on Psychology Today to see her 14 reasons we need a week dedicated to singles.