Updated: Sep 7
Two articles caught the attention of singles recently. The first was from demographer, Paul Morland, entitled “Should we tax the childless?” featured in The Sunday Times, and the second in The Telegraph, “Child-free travellers should be banned from going on holiday this summer”.
These aren’t only directed at singles; it targets any solo traveller, any couple that doesn’t want children, anyone that can’t have children, and a whole host of groups that want to enjoy the summer sunshine, or people that can only go away during the summer holidays, whether they have children or not.
And this is just the published articles. Singles are used to the constant expectation to be dating, and to be sharing their trials and tribulations of the experience which can be questioned more than their coupled-up counterparts. If you try telling someone you’re “enjoying being single” you might be met with a refusal to accept that statement, which is often followed up with a response of, “you’ll change your mind when you meet the right one”.
Why are singles under attack?
Single people can be seen an easy target. We are individuals that aren’t necessarily following the societal expectations to settle down, get married and have children. It easy to pit and “us” versus “them” scenario when it also appears that we get a lot of perks. When you’re single you have more freedom, more time, less commitments, more disposable income, and quite simply more peace. Not all of those will be true for every single - some throw themselves into projects, some have strong family commitments, and the cost of living alone can balance out the disposable income it might appear we have access to.
All of these fly in the face of anyone that follows the traditional path that most of us are told is the way to be happy and fulfilled. It could even be there’s a level of realisation that our lives seem much easier without the ties, maybe even resentment, that then makes single people easy to dislike.
On a practical basis, us singles staying single does contribute to the problem Paul Dolan raises - a slowing population growth is a genuine concern, however we also know from David Attenbrough’s “A Life On Our Planet” that it needs to slow, and will inevitably plateau anyway. So whilst Dolan has good cause for writing such an article, his suggestion to tax the childless, who already pay their fair taxes into a system that supports and provides Child Tax credits, doesn’t seem like a strong, long-term solution.
And it’s reasonable that Tyler Jones makes a point of the couple complaining about children being noisy on holiday during the Summer Holidays - I agree on that front, don’t go to a family hotel at that time of year, and opt for adult-only adventures to avoid it, but to suggest banning the child-free, whatever their reason for being so, is an extreme reaction.
When we’re talking about “banning” people, or introducing a tax, it’s about getting people to behaviour in a particular way. Friends and family make their comments likely with less intention or awareness, but they’re saying things because they expect you to act in a particular way and they may never before have considered that you could do it another way, not least that you’re purposefully trying to do things differently.
Should singles be allowed their freedom?
Choosing how to live your life is a personal freedom and a privilege much of the Western world can enjoy in terms of personal identity. Freedom has its limitations; if you want to live in the UK, you have to abide by the tax structures and the cost of living here for example. And whilst the UK remains capitalist in approach, we still employ a system that supports those who choose to have children and that require financial help to be funded by contributions from all those that work.
So in the same light that those choosing to have children are supported to have children, singles should have the right to choose to stay single and enjoy it, without the commentary, or financial manipulation, to change that otherwise.
What can you do to stop letting people tell you what to do when you’re single?
In the case of public commentary in newspapers, its stand your ground and share experiences on education why that isn’t okay. Whilst there may be problems with the world population, encouraging people to have children at the expense of others won’t solve the problem long-term, not to mention the effect of unwanted babies being brought into the world.
As for your family and friends who just don’t get it, it’s about befriending other singles that do get it. Singles like you that know the frustrations, and that share the beliefs and attitudes you have. Without them, you feel like a lone ranger. But with them, you feel empowered and that’s where your single life confidence can thrive.
If you’re looking for a place to meet other single women for friendship, you can join in with a Single Girl’s Club event in London/Essex/Manchester, or if you can’t yet get to those locations, we have our NYE getaway in Brighton, or the online community allowing anyone to connect!
Listen to the full episode of The Single Girl's Guide to Life episode here: