February 14 is approaching, and with it the imposed feeling of awkwardness, which is supposed to be experienced by everyone who turned out to be without a couple at that time.
Public pressure is heating up to the limit – and now people, even quite happy without a romantic relationship, for some reason buy a large package of ice cream, turn on a bad romcom and seem to darken in the evening.
In fact, the halo of “inferiority” hangs over the loners constantly. Some sociologists even talk about a special form of discrimination – singlism.
As it turned out, it manifests itself not only in unpleasant issues at family dinners and a sense of ridiculous longing on Valentine’s Day, but also at the institutional level.
Let’s figure it out how tax liens, insurance companies, social programs and, of course, public attitudes deprived single people.
Being alone is expensive
“The main argument of supporters of same-sex marriage: why you need to be a certain couple in order to be treated fairly? My argument is wider: why do you need to be paired, in principle, to be treated justly like you are to other citizens?” — Says Bella De Paulo, professor of social psychology, activist and author of the book “Singled out”.
She and her supporters actively comprehend the focus of modern society on relationships and their institutional advantages, considering prejudice against single people another type of discrimination.
Studies show that people truly believe in the prejudices associated with single people.
For example, De Paolo and her colleagues interviewed 950 students and found that 49% of them automatically described married people as kind, sacrificial, and caring (single people deserved this characteristic in only 2% of answers).
About 32% called married people “loving,” while no one used this adjective for single people.
Another German study showed that lonely people are more often perceived as dissatisfied with life, less attractive, more neurotic, but more free-thinking.
These stereotypes are practiced. For example, a single American earns an average of 26% less than a married man. And the interviewed landlords rent housing to couples more readily than to single people and do not consider this discrimination.
It is important for businesses to sell their services to as many people as possible, so discounts for partners have already become familiar, which angers activists:
“Car and health insurance companies often offer reduced prices for married people, while single people pay these discounts,” says De Paulo.
Often this discrimination is not so noticeable – for example, some hotels charge the same price for rooms for one and two guests, airlines periodically give discounts for flights for two, gyms offer reduced prices for season tickets. Although an inclusive policy of “bringing a friend – get a discount” would be much more honest.
Lonely people pay more and receive less privileges from the state.
According to a simple study by The Atlantic, in which journalists examined the cost of living of married and unmarried women in accordance with current American laws, a single woman who earns $40 thousand a year loses $500 thousand for her life and woman who earns more than $80 thousand a year loses million.
Laws for Two
Laws giving couples additional privileges exist in almost every country, for example, in the United States there are more than a thousand of them. Here are the social benefits that are transferred to a person after the death of a partner, the opportunity to get a day off for caring for a sick spouse and subsidies for a joint purchase.
In the UK, married people have been paying less taxes since 2015. If one of the spouses earns less than a living wage (11 thousand pounds per year), and the second – no more than 43 thousand per year, the family can return about 220 pounds annually from paid taxes.
Married people enjoy legislative privileges in Russia. For example, they do not pay a 13% gift tax on even very expensive property and are heirs of the first stage.
If one of the two spouses had a larger pension, then after his death the other person can receive it, having registered the loss of a breadwinner. Benefits intended for veterans after their death are transferred to husbands and wives.
“Spouses of the military enjoy a number of privileges, such as the pre-emptive right to work in state institutions. Even if they wish, they are given leave on the same dates with their partner,” — she says.
Many countries have already entered or are planning to introduce a civil partnership, in which people will not have to marry in order to enjoy all the privileges. So the question is not only about the desire to preserve the institution, which is obviously in crisis, but about attempts to give stability to monogamous relations.
Activists, in turn, offer to think about new forms of alliances, where romance and monogamy will cease to be at the forefront – so that, for example, you can get into intensive care to a close friend.
The number of people who do not want to enter into marriage or relationships is growing rapidly: for example, in Stockholm, only one person lives in 50% of houses and apartments and in the United States more than 45% of adult Americans are not married.
All this does not mean that they have no relatives, friends, sexual partners and just people no less important than spouses.
Gradually, traditional marriage will become not the only, but one of the possible forms of unions, and the state will have to adapt to this.