Single: Arguments for the Uncoupled by Michael Cobb, is concerned with the presumed advantage and superiority of coupledom. The main point of the book is to argue against coupledom as superior to singlehood.
In doing so Cobb draws from popular culture and uses examples such as the song All the Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) by Beyoncé to classic movies, the Bible, examples from a last will and testament to movies, TV series and so on (although focus is placed more on classic movies and writings).
Cobb presents arguments for the uncoupled by providing evidence and showing the reader that coupledom is not always beneficial, good, or superior, or the preferred state in comparison to singlehood. Cobb also shortly discusses polygamy and the socially regarded importance of the two people who make up the couple. Here, Cobb provides a discussion on how the couple can only survive on two and how when one person leaves the couple, the couple exists no more. Cobb does so in order to show the reader how the couple has been (and still is) admired as the highest and most praiseworthy way of relating to another person while singles are often described as lonely, odd, pathetic or pitiful (despite not being such) while the couple is the building block of society and can create a family. These beliefs about the single is often displaced onto the single by the "couples' culture" (p. 105).
The book is written in a very philosophical tone (and perhaps with a philosophical audience in mind). The ideas presented, as well as the material that Cobb draws, from are therefore at times not as to the point as I personally would have preferred them to be. I understand the arguments and why Cobb presents them they way that he does since his views on singlehood and coupledom are interesting, unusual and original. It would, however, have been interesting to read more about how a certain type of couple is presented as superior (especially so the married, straight and religious couple) to the less traditional couple.
Single is impressive because its focus is original and discreet and so is his arguments which center heavily on details, at times even the use of single words or on an interpretation.
The book is, as stated above, philosophical and with that, not a very easy read. It is suitable for an audience that appreciates this type of thinking (for example the book does not contain any statistical information). As it is a quite heavy read, individual chapters are probably the most suitable for use in the classroom.
© 2012 Elin Weiss
Elin Weiss has a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and a Master's Degree in Women's Studies from University College Dublin, Ireland. Elin writes for Feminists For Choice (www.feministsforchoice.com).