Dr. Ruth Westheimer Is Shaming Single People
Singles bashing is a national and international sport. It rarely surprises me. But sometimes it really gets to me. That happened today, February 15, 2021, when Dr. Ruth Westheimer posted this tweet to her 99,400 followers:
I have no problem with single people who don’t want to be single, as long as that is their true desire and not just something they feel pressured into feeling or pretending to feel. I also have no problem with people offering advice to single people who don’t want to be single and are looking for help. But I have an enormous problem with the mindless smearing of all single people as moping around the day after Valentine’s Day and pitying themselves for being “alone.” And it is a smear to those of us who are happily single and have no interest in any kind of pity, whether self-pity, pity from friends or relatives or colleagues or random strangers, or pity from wildly famous people such as Dr. Ruth.
We don’t want to “hunt” anyone. We don’t define success by the criterion of trapping a romantic partner.
You know what would make next year better for people like me, who are single at heart and live our most authentic, most meaningful, and most fulfilling lives by being single? Less of this singlism. Especially from people who should know better.
A 2019 story about Dr. Ruth ended with this: “that’s long been Westheimer’s objective — to make the taboo seem tame.” The taboos in question were of course sexual ones. But when it comes to something that really should be considered tame, living single, Dr. Ruth seems to want to paint it as taboo. That’s just sad.
All around the world, the number of people who are single has been escalating for decades. So has the number of people who are staying single into their late 40s and for life. Untold numbers have been doing so because they want to. They are not interested in being slimed or shamed by Dr. Ruth or anyone else.
Singlism Does Not Go Unchallenged Anymore
The good news is that Dr. Ruth’s twitter followers aren’t buying her portrayal of single people as moping around the day after Valentine’s Day or seeking fuel for their “hunt.” Here is a sampling of just a few of the early responses to her tweet.
The immediate push-back to high-profile singlism is the truly good news about this episode. And it is not specific to this example. People who practice singlism are on notice — their prejudice will not go unchallenged anymore. That sort of protest did not always happen, at least not so quickly or so forcefully or in such numbers. I think the last few decades have been a time of consciousness-raising about the real lives of single people and about the inappropriateness of stereotyping or stigmatizing or discriminating against single people just because they are single. The Dr. Ruth tweet shows that we have a long way to go, but there really has been some progress.
[Want to learn more? Take a look at this collection of articles on all sorts of topics relevant to single life. Watch my TEDX talk, “What no one ever told you about people who are single.” Check out my website. Find my other stories on Medium here. Disclosure: Links to books may include affiliate links.]