Saturday, October 31, 2009

O, Solo Mio

An interesting bit of news about New York was released yesterday. It seems that more than 50% of Manhattanites live alone; as in single, no spouse, no family. This doesn't surprise me considering that the housing stock in Manhattan is made up of more studio and one-bedroom apartments than anything else. But what I'm waiting for is some kind of acknowledgement that this is the case.

Soapbox please.

I have lived alone for the past 9 years. That's not to say I'm "single". I've been in committed relationships for most of that time. But that's the way we do things in Manhattan. No one wants to give up their apartment. It's a classically eccentric New York tradition. In one of the most famous examples, Woody Allen and Mia Farrow maintained separate apartments for years! Okay--maybe that's not the best illustration. The point is, this is nothing new to us, and yet, we single households are constantly discriminated against by society and in the media.

Coming off an election year, and still with the health care debate, all anyone cares about representing or protecting or benefiting is "families". As if these are the only people worthy of going to political bat for. Have you noticed? Listen carefully--no one ever talks about single people. It's "families, families, families." The message is loud and clear that the only acceptable choice in our society is to live as a family. This attitude, probably a result of a right-leaning socio-political trend driven by the religious right, even fuels the LGBT fight for marriage equality. We've gotten the message that in order to be legitimized by the mainstream, we have to imitate their lifestyle. I'm convinced it's the reason the fight for marriage equality is far more visible and passionate than ENDA. But shouldn't we make sure we're able to support our families by protecting our job security first? But I digress...

Manhattan was built for single people. Literally. Like I said, look at the housing stock. Now, the numbers even support that. And yet, New York continues this "family friendly", theme park approach to development and zoning that frankly most of us don't need, or, as in my case, want. I remember a friend who lived in Chelsea telling me that he and his partner wanted to get out because every new building going up was selling 3 and 4 bedroom apartments. "What comes with all those bedrooms? Kids!" There goes the neighborhood.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't hate kids. On the contrary. I just don't want to raise yours and I don't want to live in a childproof world. I've made another choice. A legitimate, individual, American-as-apple-pie, free choice to live alone--just like the majority of Manhattanites. And there's nothing wrong with that. We're Americans, too.

Now, wish me luck on explaining this post to Scott who's moving in with me in a couple of weeks.



At 2:55 PM, Blogger LSL said...

I'm SO glad you're back :)

And I second this rant!

At 9:19 PM, Blogger jill said...

Yep, amen, and you betcha babe.

At 11:38 AM, Blogger judy said...

You mean you don't love sharing the sidewalk with the double-wide stroller?

At 9:43 PM, Blogger Diane said...

This reminds me of those "baby on board" signs that used to be so popular. They used to drive me crazy. As if it were okay to drive recklessly around any other car, but if you were duly warned there was a "baby on board" you should be extra careful!

We should seek to have equal access to good healthcare, tax benefits, etc., regardless of who you are and how many "dependents" you have. And for those who *think* they want to raise their kids in the city, I say, if you want a sanitized existence, it's readily available and called "the suburbs."

Signed, mom of 2 who recently pulled an empty fifth of vodka out of the planter in front of her Townhouse in Philadelphia.

At 9:19 AM, Blogger Todd HellsKitchen said...

Great post! Welcome back!

At 5:41 PM, Blogger janet said...

Totally agree Michael. Though, you might want to consider 55+ living, ya know those places that ban children - sort of like Bavaria on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ;)


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