The Equality Act 2010 should add singledom to the list of protected characteristics that people should not discriminate against. Consider the following scenario.
You’ve now reached the age where all your friends are either in super serious relationships, engaged, married or getting married, some have already been there done that and are now contemplating divorce number 3. You, however, have never been in any significant long-term relationship, engaged or married and there’s no light at the end of tunnel, because you attract losers like a beacon. Your dates are too old, too young, too poor, too rich and everything in between or just losers of the highest calibre. So now those girly night outs have all but trickled to a fat big zero. Whenever you call ‘one of the girls’ for a night out or drink and a chin wag, they say they are having family time, are too busy, or will call when less busy and you never hear for weeks, or can have one at lunch time, or before school run and by one they mean herbal tea. Others have all but divorced their mobile phones, they only look at them once in the morning, lunch and evening – it’s like taking antibiotics! Now you are all alone, and worse lonely. Your friends moved on and nobody reminded you to do the same; you thought you’d be 25 forever. You now feel abandoned. You feel like an intruder in their presence, evident in that Christmas selfie you took with Mr & Mrs X and Mr & Mrs Y – they had matching Christmas pyjamas for crying out loud, and you looked like a lost elf nursing a major hangover.
Now you hang out with other girls but they are so much younger than you. You frequent clubs where you feel like the mother hen or baby-sitter. Your stories of how ‘wasted’ you got last weekend have no flavour because you can’t get ‘wasted’ anymore, your body has become immune to alcohol. You’ve become the person who remembers everything and the one who takes care of everyone because you are perpetually sober no matter how much liquor you consume. You are the last to sleep and first to wake because you can’t sleep past 11am no matter how late you went to bed last night or this morning. Your old friends now talk of the cheapest supermarket not the swankiest club, the best cure for baby sniffles not for hangovers or whose wedding, baby shower, christening, anniversaries to attend next.
On one of your finer days you decided to visit a recently married friend who’d just had a baby. You tried calling her to let her you are going but she never answered the phone or what’s up messages, and she can’t be ignoring you because she was last seen two months ago on what’s up. When she opens her front day you got a shock of your life. She was covered from head to toe in what looked like baby poo; it turned out her blender broke midway through blending baby food and covered not just her but the ceiling and the baby. You suppress the temptation to snap her and post on it on Facebook because your friend is not like that anymore, she will get offended if you do, she’ll not talk to others about it behind your back, oh no she’ll go mother goose on you there and then – on how irresponsible you are, how childish, how selfish, how self-centred, how your little tiny brain does not comprehend this or the other. You are tempted to tell her there’s no need to say ‘little and tiny’ as one or the other will do, you can’t because she’ll now go greatmothergoose on you and any suppressed frustrations will be poured on you. So you let her vent when she tells you how inconsiderate of others you are, how you only think of yourself etc. When she’s calmed down, give her the presents.
Afterwards she’ll calmly introduce you to the baby, as single auntie so and so (single? Really? The baby doesn’t give a shit if you are single or married). With a twinkle in her eye, she will then tell you that your other friend was engaged last night. Of course you know this and don’t need reminding. The happy couple’s nuptials will be conducted in Scotland, in a majestic castle that costs an arm and a leg. As usual the sisterhood (and your friend doesn’t miss a beat when reminding you are the only one left) will meet soon to discuss bridal shower and accommodation in Scotland.
You arrange with other friends in Edinburgh (no connection to the sisterhood) to put you up for the night. Unbeknown to you, there’s two other couples visiting your Edinburgh friends. The wedding goes on smoothly but you couldn’t hook up with anyone because everyone was already hooked. You truly are the only single person in the world. You want to go clubbing but you can’t because the only souls you know in Edinburgh are coupled up and don’t fancy clubbing. You’ve reached rock bottom but you wouldn’t go past rock bottom by clubbing alone, so you take a cab and go to your friends’ house. You arrive to find 3 couples cuddled up on sofas watching some tear jerker and that feeling you’ve had all day comes back 10 times harder and you realise what it is: jealousy. You pour yourself a drink of Godzilla proportions and join the movie watching. You are plotting.
At bedtime, you are allocated a sofa that has seen better days, in the conservatory because you are single (so it’s ok). The couples are allocated to spare bedrooms and the sitting room. Tomorrow you might as well hose yourself down in the garden because you are single, or ride in the boot of the car because you are single or sit on the patio to have breakfast using plastic cutlery while everyone else sits at the dining. The weekend of discrimination has you thinking. You swear revenge. You are either getting hitched by end year or you are starting a revolution of a real-life group of thirtysomething-single-flirty-thriving women who will only get married when this world stops, and you can get off and step into an alternate universe where every man is highly monogamous, rich, handsome, selfless, doting, and will never grow a beer gut! Recently you’ve notice people ask how you are with a tilted head, as if feeling sorry for you. Before you answer, they fire the next question on when’s the wedding or when’s the baby due. Your great aunt, once a virtuous woman, now hints at you having babies outside wedlock “before it’s too late”. How? You wonder. Aren’t these the same people who told you sex before marriage was the eviliest of sins and that you’d be condemned to the fires of hell for eternity? Double standards!!
Every time your mother calls, she asks if there’s someone special and you answer no. You are tempted to remind her of how she warned you about men and how evil and how they are only after one thing – maybe you should blame it on her and say she made you have a men-phobia!!
Your once best friends now avoid you like a plague. Some are convinced you might steal their husbands. Let’s stop discriminating singletons, they were once people too!