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Apr 13

On Putting a Ring on the Proverbial…”IT”

Jermaine Taylor is a good friend and a Manly Man. Always straightforward, he writes on many topics with no apologies. He has had guest appearances here before, so back by popular demand:
An Open Letter to Single Men

I write to you today to speak to what I believe to be the disturbing spread of single-phobia throughout our society.  At the moment, our society seems caught in the manic throes of a frenzied push towards commitment that has an adverse effect—whether directly or indirectly—on every American man.  R& B singer Beyoncé—one of pop culture’s most virulent single-phobics, in my opinion—unashamedly chastises single men in her song “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)”: “If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it”; African American women are constantly cited time and again as being chronically unable to find a spouse; the book publishing industry is increasingly saturated with a seemingly inexhaustible stream of “self-help” books instructing women on what steps they should take to get their guy to “settle down” and “pop the question,” from Matt Titus and Tamsen Fadal’s Why Hasn’t He Proposed?: Go from the First Date to Setting the Date to actor-comedian cum relationship guru Steve Harvey’s Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment.  Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, authors of the book He’s Just Not That Into You of —which was made into a 2009 New Line Cinema romantic comedy of the same name—plainly advise women to ditch any man who’s apparently not eager to say “I do” within a predetermined time frame.  What’s more, we single men are readily berated by the print and broadcast media for simply being ourselves.  (George Clooney, a self-admitted bachelor for life, is considered a “womanizer” by many women).  Indeed, we’re consistently portrayed negatively for no other reason than we want to hold onto our God-given and inalienable freedom and corresponding individuality.

After all, we each came into this world alone, did we not?  What’s so bad about wanting to stay that way a little while longer?

Not unlike those brave settlers who fled their native England and its religious persecution to settle the New World, not unlike those who suffered fire hoses and dogs at the volatile height of the civil rights movement, and certainly not unlike those courageous women who dared to reach for the ballot in a noble quest for equal treatment and equal opportunity as their male counterparts, we non-committal men—as we prefer to be called—are facing a very similar predicament.  However, unlike the institutionalized and oftentimes tepid and covert racism and sexism of contemporary society, our oppression seems far more manifest.  Man-bashing, as it were, seems to have gone “viral,” so to speak.  Everywhere we turn, we single men are constantly harassed for being born with a natural predilection for remaining unattached.  Still, we’re oftentimes left to fend for ourselves, without very much, if any, organizational or other philanthropic support.  For instance, the American Civil Liberties Union, or A.C.L.U. as it’s more commonly known, sponsors the LGBT Project, which “fights discrimination and moves public opinion through the courts, legislatures and public education” on behalf of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender brothers and sisters, yet there remains no such subdivision for we single men who desire nothing more than life, liberty and the benign pursuit of singlenesses tranquility.

How did we get here? I thought to myself as I stared blankly at the music video of Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” being broadcast on MTV late one night.  How did we go so far afield of “the better angels of our nature?”  (After all, if God had intended for us to commit, he’d have brought us into this world in sets of two, am I right?  Surely, none of us want to boldly suggest the big guy got it wrong?)  More importantly, what now?  Where do we go from here, chaos or community? as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once famously asked.

So, my fellow single brothers, where do we go from here?  We move forward.  We carry on.  We continue to “fight the good fight” for the cause of freedom and liberty, the very same principles our great nation was constitutionally founded upon.

Let me be perfectly clear, I’m not saying any of this because I “hate women.”  (I don’t).  I’m saying this because, like Gandhi himself advised, I seek “to be the change I wish to see in the world.”  I seek to mobilize and galvanize other single brothers on behalf of this great struggle, in this great moment in which we find ourselves, at this defining point in history.  We cannot loose hope.  Despite the fact that we may no doubt face the vicious and rancorous recriminations of the commitment-partisan status quo, we must hold fast to the beliefs that have gotten us this far.

The freedom to get up and go as we please.  To do as we please.  The freedom to sleep with whomever we so choose, free from the oftentimes callous and disproportionate over-reactions of our egreged partners.  These are all meaningful liberties, my fellow single brothers.  And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  You’re neither small-minded nor shortsighted for wanting to extol, whether verbally or in your daily lives, the virtues of living life alone, on your own terms.  In fact, you should be commended for speaking out on behalf of your sadly voiceless committed brethren, for there is no charge more admirable, make no mistake, than that of speaking out on behalf of the weak and the powerless.

In the end, much like both Dr. King and Gandhi—on whom Dr. King would later base his own philosophy of non-violence—we must acknowledge that anger and resentment alone will not solve the present problems we face.  Neither violence nor any other form of coercion or abuse can successfully and lastingly stare us out of the fractious impasse in which we’re now currently enmeshed, as it is understandably froth with as much complexity as combustibility.  Indeed, only honest and open dialogue can do that, in my opinion.  To borrow from the words of President [Barack] Obama’s 2008 inaugural address, we single men will more than happily extend a hand of friendship to all you “single ladies” out there.  All we ask is that you unclench your fist of matrimony and allow us to decide when we’re ready to “put a ring on it.”

Sincerely,

A Proud Single Man

Jermaine Taylor

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  • Not so single anymore

    What pressure single men? If you’re not ready to marry then don’t -make your intentions clear that you’re just browsing and test driving. If she’s game then go out and enjoy exploration and “freedom” together. There seems no shortage of women who are of the same mindset as single men in their approach to relationships. However for those women of a different type who prefer/seek committment, stability, and the forsaking of all others, let them continue to seek it without judgement of this embracing singledom. Let your path be known and leave each to travel theirs peacefully. Each of us has our own value system that serves as our compass, so let’s stop arguing about due north. Singles carry on … Im just a marrying type of girl:) So if you care not to put a ring on it keep it moving and enjoy singledom

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