My 2020 podcast data proves it.
I love a good end-of-year accounting. A look back at everything you did, or if it’s 2020 didn’t do, this offers a good moment of reflection and also I’m just a numbers nerd who thinks its cool. And while I don’t trust the Spotify algorithm because I like, barely listened to Taylor Swift, I do trust the cumulative data pertaining to A Single Serving Podcast. I recently came across some data that confirmed an anecdotal notion: We shame single women so much more than we shame single men. The difference is so stark that I wonder if single men are shamed at all. And if they’re not, why are we?
My podcast addresses the negative, and in my opinion false, narratives around single life, and works to bring in more positive perspectives and experiences. It’s my belief that if we start seeing and celebrating the positive parts of being single, we’ll be less likely to stop being single for relationships that are less than what we deserve. Also we’ll feel better all the time, so there’s that. The process is pretty simple when you break it down, imagine thinking to yourself, “I hate sleeping alone,” but then reframing that thought to be, “I get the whole bed.” That’s basically the gist, though I deal with much more difficult topics than what we do when we’re unconscious.
In 2021, I’ll be taking my podcast off free-access platforms and moving over to Patreon, where those who find my work helpful, supportive, or educational can support that effort in exchange for full access to it. Part of this is because I believe everyone should be fairly compensated for their work, and part of this is because it’s simply grown too large for too long for me to keep doing it for free. There’s too much to communicate here, and the data tells me it’s too important. Also, my work and I are worth supporting, so there’s that.
I’ve always known that my audience included more women than men, I am myself a woman, and historically have had a far easier time securing women as guests than men. (The irony of getting ghosted by men I’ve asked to be guests on a podcast about singlehood, I can’t.) But recently, I got a piece of information that revealed to me just how female my audience really is.
That’s the gender breakdown of my podcast’s audience for 2020. The remaining two percent of people either didn’t list their gender identity or reported as non-binary. Are you seeing this? NINETY SEVEN PERCENT vs ONE PERCENT. And sure, as my friend Conor pointed out to me, my podcast is targeted at single women. However, it’s also an entirely organic podcast, with no paid advertising or marketing, with plenty of people discovering it by searching for resources for single people. There are literally people typing things into search bars and finding me. Here’s my question: Isn’t it pretty damn clear who’s doing the typing?
These numbers tell me something I hate hearing: Single women are looking for solutions to single life. Single men are not. And when only one (heterosexual) side is looking for a solution to a problem, they’ll experience an imbalanced endeavor, they’ll be met with a lot of dismissal, and after awhile they will feel like they’re losing their shit.
We don’t look for solutions to things that are not problems. Society tells single men (probably by not telling them anything at all) that their singlehood isn’t an issue. Society tells single women that they should be ashamed of themselves. They should also end this shame as quickly as possible, by finding someone. Society doesn’t give a shit that “finding someone” involves diving into the hellpit of swiping and ghosting and breadcrumbing and whatever other charming names we’ve given to disgusting manners because that’s where everyone says we’ll find a husband. My work is for people who haven’t.
Single shame is real, and wrong, and I don’t care which gender it’s aimed at. But doing this work for two years and looking at its actual data shows me that single women are shamed for what they are, and seek out help in order to feel better. The imbalance, the fact that single women bear so much of the brunt of the shame is in my opinion the harder fight to win, so I choose to simply focus on how to feel better about being single in general. We can tackle the double standard at a later date.
The shame of singlehood is deeply real, and deeply bullshit. We never deserve to feel ashamed of our own singlehood. First of all, being single isn’t this horrific thing we’ve been groomed to fear, it’s actually quite amazing if you ask me. Second, heaping shame on single women and casually thinking single men are just fine puts some sort of unjust responsibility on single women to solve a two-sided problem by themselves. This results in a culture that sees single women as constantly hunting down a partner with desperation if not insanity in their eyes. And who could blame them? They’re running from their own shame, shame society unfairly gave them in the first place. Ninety seven percent? I can’t believe it’s not 100.
If you’re reading this, and you’re not single, first of all thank you, and second…you can help. You can help by really thinking about the ways you communicate with the single people, specifically the single women, in your life. Instead of beginning conversations with, “So, are you seeeeing anybodyyyyy?” try just asking, “How are you?” Try remembering that single women are living entire lives that have nothing to do with dating. Imagine that, single women being societally allowed to live life with the same fullness that married women get to live it, instead of being viewed by others as incomplete, and unable to “start their lives” until they have a partner on their arm and their apartment lease.
If you’re reading this and you are single, there’s nothing wrong with you. Please understand that there is nothing wrong with you just because you’re single. It’s okay if you haven’t met your partner yet—whatever age “yet” happens to be. Singlehood isn’t bad, so you can’t be at fault for it, but if you need more proof here it is: We were raised with an idea of finding love that didn’t include the internet, and then matured into a world where the pursuit of partnership became an emotionless digital endeavor. We’re single adults dating in a space where human beings become buffet items and our self worth can be swiped away. No one saw this new landscape coming, and at the same time society is holding onto old notions of singlehood. If we have to be forced to date in this new reality, societal opinions of singlehood had better damn well catch up.
There is no shame in being single, and we have proof of that, because there’s no shame in being a single man. And if it’s true for them, it can be true for us. It’s a choice we’re allowed to make because we can decide we don’t deserve society’s little double standard. The world will catch up eventually, but right now I only care about us. I care about single women making the choice to feel better, by deciding that singlehood isn’t something that’s wrong. But if you’re having trouble making that choice, the choice to not be ashamed of what you are, I’m very glad you found me, all 97% of you.