Feb. 06, 2013 - Issue #903: Moment by moment
Spinsters speak out
Single and loving it despite the Valentine's marketing
It's that time of year again—the radio is filled with ads for diamond rings and just about every restaurant is offering special deals for two on February 14. With so much emphasis on coupledom, it makes it seem like the single person is the odd one out.
Eleanore Wells, blogger and author of The Spinsterlicious Life: 20 Life Lessons For Living Happily Single and Childfree begs to differ. She notes on her blog that about 30 percent of adult women in America are single—many happily so. "So many women assume that a single woman is an unhappy woman," she says. "I happen to know that isn't necessarily the case."
Wells began to write Spinsterlicious after a conversation with married co-workers made her feel like an object of pity. "I had just returned from an awesome vacation in Tuscany, was dating a great guy and had a successful business. It was unclear to me what they were "feeling sorry" about ... I began the blog because I realized that this is and should be an ongoing conversation. My readers love having a place to come to where they can have a community and share with like-minded women. We're all different in many ways, but the one thing we have in common is that we're tired of explaining ourselves."
But why do we need this now? Helen Gurley Brown was writing about Sex and the Single Girl way back in 1962, and if that wasn't enough, the turn of the century brought us the "Love Letter to the Single Woman" in Sex and the City. It may seem like we've come a long way towards embracing the single woman, but I believe we are only OK with her if her fabulous single life is just a passing phase on the road to marriage and babies. After all, even the swinging singles of Sex and the City all ended up in long-term relationships by the end of the series. Yep, we love our single ladies, but only if they're just having a good time until they decide to settle down. If there is no settling down on the horizon, we start getting judgy. I asked Wells why she thinks that.
"Marriage and kids are a tradition and when traditions start to go soft, it scares people," she says. "Sometimes when married women are confused about my being single and happy with it, I think they're processing this in their minds because they never knew they had a choice and may have taken a different path if they had the guts to."
Ouch! That seems a bit harsh, but maybe she's right. Most women these days would probably say that marriage and children are a choice, not an obligation, but as a 40-something woman with no children I can say there is massive social pressure to get married and have babies. Is it so insidious that we might make that choice because we feel there's something wrong with us if we don't? Wells thinks so and hopes her book could help change that. "My hope is that, once we make being single socially acceptable, then it will lead to better marriages because women won't feel so compelled to do it; they'll only do it if it really feels right ... which should make for better marriages."
As for Valentine's Day, Wells encourages single women to embrace it and their single lives. "I think we need to lighten up about Valentine's Day, put some fun back in it, take the angst away. Let's make it about all kinds of love, not just romantic love." V
Brenda Kerber is a sexual health educator who has worked with local not-for-profits since 1995. She is the owner of the Edmonton-based, sex-positive adult toy boutique the Traveling Tickle Trunk.
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