Dr. Helen

Yeah, Shaming Single Men will Really Work

I stumbled upon an article called “The Stigma Of The Never-Married Man: He used to be envied. Now the perpetual bachelor is a social pariah:”

“These guys get labeled playboy, loser, commitment-phobe,” says Carl Weisman, author of So Why Have You Never Been Married?: 10 Insights Into Why He Hasn’t Wed. According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, in 1980 only 6 percent of men between 40 and 44 had never been married; in 2008 it was 16 percent. But even though there are more of them around, men with long-term single status still have a hard time explaining their situation to potential dates, who see a guy entering middle age without ever having been married as damaged goods. In fact, a man whose marriage failed spectacularly tends to arouse less suspicion than a straight, still-single 41-year-old. “If he’s over 40, you would hope that he’s divorced,” says Janis Spindel, a high-end matchmaker in New York who gets calls from hundreds of single women asking for setups. Evidence that even unmarried men in their mid-thirties are suspect is in her fee structure: The up-front charge for guys under 35 is $25,000; for those 35-plus it’s $50,000.

If you ask a guy in his late thirties or early forties why he isn’t married, he’ll have his answer—you could call it his defense—ready.

The article goes on to further discuss the drawbacks of men who are single:

If the fortysomething unmarried isn’t written off as being overly fussy or just plain weird, there is another label that he can find himself tagged with: gay. Travis, who is often teasingly called a diva by those close to him, recounts how five or six years ago a female friend said, “I really want to talk to you. Are you gay?” He laughs. “I was like, ‘No,’ and she’s probably apologized for it 10 times since.” Being an unmarried straight guy isn’t exactly a career enhancer, either. Travis left a job where his lifestyle didn’t fit the company culture. “I used to work for a commercial bank that was very conservative,” he says. “They expect the country club, and taking customers and their wives out. That would be very awkward, because I certainly wouldn’t be doing that.”

So now that so many men don’t get married, the society will spend it’s time trying to shame them and discriminate to keep those guys in line. I imagine this will backfire. I was talking to a shoe salesman in his thirties the other day where I am visiting in Santa Monica and he asked me about my work and I told him about my forthcoming book. Without any prompting, he said, “I don’t want to get married.” When I asked “Why?” he said, “The risk is too great and there is no benefit. Even if you get a pre-nup, it doesn’t work. There is no incentive to me.” Apparently, he is smart to stay single according to one of the commenters at the article I mentioned who had this to say about marriage:

Was single, had ample money and plenty of very open minded young ladies to spend my time with. Was having the time of my life, met a wonderful woman then got married and we had a couple of kids. Now I’m in a perpetual state of worry financially, rarely see my nearest/dearests for fun, and get a bj on Christmas and my birthday. Stay single boys, keep living the dream!!!!!!!

So just maybe there are rational reasons other than weirdness and “fussiness” that keep men from tying the knot. But then, that would mean a columnist like the one writing the piece mentioned would have to understand more about where men are coming from and less about how she and society want men to fall in line with what women and society expect.

Update: Vox Day has more on shaming and the single man.