Friday, January 17, 2014

Our Society Emasculates Singularity

As you might have been able to discern from the title, my first blog post in months will involve ranting, on at least some level. Please, forgive me. There have been a few rough spots in life recently, not the least of which was the loss of our beloved GodzillaCat, whom some of you may remember as the 'cat three times as big as that baby!'. As far as losing animals go, it was gentle and we got more time with him than we thought we would have. I am grateful for that. But with illness comes vet bills and tax season is nigh. Then I've been sick myself (sicker than I thought, since I went in for what I thought was a Eustachian tube dysfunction (blocked ear canal) and instead learned I had a festering ear infection with a side of sinus infection) and of course that meant human doctor's bills. Bills I feel a lot more since being forced to restructure my health insurance.

So, all of this money stuff has subsequently caused me to look long and hard at my situation, and even though I've sort of known this was true for a long time now, I have officially reached my capacity for 'grinning and bearing it' and feel the need to scream my case into the ether just to have out with it. Our society emasculates singularity. I don't mean in a droning identical masses, no individuality way, I mean in a you are penalized repeatedly for being a single, unattached, childless person sort of way.

We'll start with health insurance. I am not interested in debating Obamacare. I will not argue about it, I will simply state the facts of MY situation. They are as follows. In direct response to the initiation of the new plan, my private insurance raised my premium to over $300 dollars, which at the time was a fourth of my monthly take home. And I do have other bills. When I went through the process of getting an estimate on the Obamacare site, their premium for me for the most basic package available was about $275, which included a $7500 deductible. Well, right there, I may as well not have health care at all. There is no way possible I can afford $275 a month PLUS paying out $7500 dollars before I ever reap any benefits. I am, for the most part, a very healthy person. There are years when I never go to a single doctor. I don't even have a yearly gyno appointment (I have a gyno, and they're the ones who said I'm okay with every three years, in my partnerless situation) so really, I'd be paying out for nothing. So I went back to my current insurance company and restructured my coverage, raising my deductible. Now I have to pay in $2500 before I see benefits, and I had to stop my birth control because under the new Obamacare, my insurance stopped offering 'any' birth control and narrowed the field of options to (in my case) precisely two choices, one of which was promptly taken off the market. Now I've been told repeatedly 'Shop around!' or worse 'You're *staying* in this situation, when you could change it by looking for better policies.' and the worse yet 'You need to hire (like I have money to spare) an insurance broker because they'll find you deals within the Obamacare. What people don't understand is that there ARE NO 'deals' within Obamacare for a single, childless, young person. There aren't SUPPOSED to be. The entire system is designed to aid the indigent, and those without current insurance, or preexisting conditions etc. It does nothing at all for me. I qualify for none of the subsidies because I make too much money, and have no other person under my care, and besides that I live in a household with other income. Which strikes me as funny, that the entirety of the household income is considered, yet the fact that I put into that household, and if anything happens to my father or mother, I'm pulling the extra weight, is disregarded. If I got married tomorrow, I would instantly be eligible for multiple subsidies. If I got pregnant, I'd be eligible for even more. But I'm single, and childless, and I'm staying that way.

Next, consider taxes. I have loathed taxes for as long as I've been paying them. But the thing is, I while I loathe them, I'm willing to pay them. But I want to pay a fair amount. At first, it seemed like I was paying a fair amount. But then as coworkers got married, or got pregnant, or got both, I started noticing a change. While my coworkers received breaks in their taxes, and got back more in their returns, my taxes slowly increased, and my returns decreased. I was always taught that ideally, you pay in just the right amount, and get nothing back, because you haven't paid too much. What I could not, and cannot understand, is how someone like me can have $4800 in taxes taken out, and then receive a $700 refund check, while a married working mom has $3000 in taxes taken out, and then receive a refund check for $2800 dollars. Where does that equal out? People cite the fact that they have a child to care for, but the thing is, they ALSO have a husband (obviously not all of them, but still) And their child will take up tax money by going to school (which is how it's supposed to be) while I have no child taking up taxes through schooling and no husband to help me pay for life. But I'M the one paying for THEIR child through MY higher taxes, while they receive breaks designed to help with affording those children. The government looks at me and judges me based on the fact that I'm single, I make money, I *should* have minimal expenses. They note that I'm part of a household income, and have access to that other incoming money. However, they refuse to acknowledge my family unit as something I actually PAY INTO. By tax standards, I'm not 'responsible' for anyone but myself. Likewise, my parents cannot 'claim' me on their taxes because I'm an adult. But the truth is that my parents and I function as a unit together. All of us bring in money, and that money goes to pay for whatever needs to be paid for. But in the eyes of society, that's not a 'legitimate' family unit that I can claim. Despite the fact that I could use more money throughout the year to help cover household bills, I'm not given the opportunity to file for that. And for whatever reason, I never qualify to recoup any of that hard-earned money at the end of the year. Meanwhile anyone with a 'legitimate' dependent will put in less, and get more back. If I popped out a baby, my taxes would instantly be chopped in half (right now, roughly 1/4 of every paycheck is vaporized by taxes) and I would get four times the money in a refund check. If I got married, there would also be a sudden, if not quite as dramatic, decrease in money taken out, and increase in money refunded.

Right now (though things are still developing, and it isn't perfect) in *most* places (and the number of those places is slowly growing) gay couples are more recognized than a single person. I think gay couples deserve every right that straight couples already enjoy. I'll fight for gay rights and recognition every day of the week. But as a single person, I feel like I'm standing on a corner watching the workings of a society that I'm not a part of. Boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives, life partners, common law wives, common law husbands, single moms with children, single dads with children. All of these are recognized as family groups, individuals who work together to support each other. But that dying breed of us who remain single and childless, we're banished to our own corner of the economic world, unfit to receive aid, supposedly able to pay more, because we have no one else to be responsible for. Even though we might live with our family and be financially responsible for helping keep the household afloat.

And while I've ranted about things related to money, it doesn't stop there. Books, movies, tv, within all of these venues, you'd be hard pressed to point out one, single creation that focuses on a single, childless main character. Are single people so boring that we can't be intrigued by them for themselves? Are they less authentic humans because they aren't sexually engaged with someone? Because they have never fathered or mothered a child? Try getting an agent to read a book where the main character is completely uninterested in another person in a sexual manner. Then, if your story and writing is so amazing that you actually get an agent with it, try getting a publishing house to publish it. Without forcing you to add at least a 'hint of a possible love interest' first. I would argue that if you're not already an established author, it would be an impossible task. Possibly even impossible for a well established author, if they're writing for a YA audience. Why? Because from the time kids are old enough to understand the concept, it's drilled into them that in order to be successful or complete as a person, they NEED a significant other (whatever the sexual orientation) or offspring.  Without one or both of those things, they aren't validated as an adult person. Kids don't want to read about someone who doesn't love someone else because society has taught them that no matter what feats that person might achieve, they won't ever be complete unless they love someone 'that way'. Even Firekeeper viewed Blind Seer as her mate. Even though that relationship was outside the norm, (refreshingly so, even though I never finished the books) Firekeeper was not 'single' she was the mate to Blind Seer.

All of this is something I've pondered over for most of my adult life, watching as friends and family date, get married, have kids, not always in that order, but always in some fashion. It's not something that usually bothers me. I've never been one to get concerned with what society thinks of me. But it IS something close to my heart, this obsession with exalting couples and those with children while ignoring the existence of single, childless people. I love children. Don't see this as an attack on kids and having kids. They are our future. But I don't have one, and I may never have one. And I'm okay with that. I don't have a boyfriend/girlfriend wife/husband, and I may never have one. And I'm okay with that.

So why isn't society okay with it?

Enough blather. If you've made it this far, I congratulate you. Really this has turned out as more of an exercise to just throw my thoughts down and look at them than anything else.

But what do you think? Am I a crazed, repressed, paranoid, single girl? Or is there some truth to my perceptions? Some validity to my feelings on the matter?