This morning I was reading Marie Claire, and I came across Rebecca Traister's article about the growing number of unmarried adult women (I'm assuming that Marie Claire is responsible for the "Single Girl Revolution" header, not Ms. Traister. Every time adults are referred to as "girls," I want to yell, "I AM A GROWN-ASS WOMAN!" Seriously, that shit drives me crazy. And grown men are hardly ever referred to as "boys." End parenthetic rant). 

Traister writes:
Make no mistake, this is a seismic shift. After a long history during which living solo would get you labeled a pathetic spinster or, if you were lucky, a sexual iconoclast, being recognized as an independent person rather than as someone's daughter, wife, or mother is a new, shiny kind of liberty for women, one that has unlocked all sorts of doors. Just 50 years ago, most women needed their husband's signature to open a bank account. (Some perspective: That's within Madonna's lifetime.)

Until recently, magazines weren't running articles like this without including caveats about how singledom can go horribly, horribly wrong. For a while there, everyone who wrote about the rising numbers of single women brought up that one episode of "Sex and the City" in which Miranda almost choked to death while eating in her kitchen, and OMG SHE WAS ALL ALOOOOOOOOOOOOONE! Writers would sometimes bring up things like women having to unclog the toilet or install any sort of hardware (curtains, computers, whatever) alone. Since I have been doings these sorts of things myself for pretty much all of my life, I didn't get how this stuff was supposed to be seen as scary.

At almost 34 years old, I have never even been in a relationship that was anywhere near serious marriage proposals. I have been a very casual, very irregular dater (my last date was... um... I think maybe 4 years ago? 5 years?). This would make a lot of people sad, but it has never really bothered me. I've never had a serious checklist of life milestones and when I should reach them, and that "biological clock" thing never kicked in for me. I have never sat down and wrote out a list of what I want in a man. I rather like being alone, and I have a close circle of friends and a very close family, for when I need company. And I have a cat who adores me. And a job that I enjoy.

The perfect guy could fall into my lap today, and I would be happy (OK, he wouldn't have to be perfect, but I don't and never will settle for less than great. Because I'm pretty awesome.). But I would be happy if it didn't happen, too. And even if he appeared and was perfect, I'd be more about living in the moment than planning our future wedding. Husband-hunting has never been a priority for me - it has actually never been anywhere near my list of priorities.

I have always thought that I was just odd, which has never bothered me, but when I look around, a lot of my friends and peers aren't married. Some of them are in long-term, monogamous relationships with no wedding in sight.

I have written here about my lack of interest in marriage in the past; I guess I never really looked at the big picture. When I step back and focus on bigger things than how much I enjoy my own company, I can see that society is changing its attitudes towards women and marriage. I am not as odd as I think anymore.

Of course, there are people who think that the rising number of single women equals the death of society:
It sometimes seems that women can't win, even a little, without someone declaring their successes a threat to men — à la The Atlantic's buzzy cover story "The End of Men" — marriage, family, and society itself. That's not an exaggeration. Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has said, "We are seeing the fabric of this country fall apart, and it's ... because of single moms." That's certainly one (horrible) way to put it. The more honest take is that, as women follow more varied paths, we're all being forced to readjust our perceptions of what "normal" looks like when it comes to men, women, and families.

I never understand people who start talking about "the fabric of this country" like it's something rotten and weak. Of course, these tend to be the same people who think that gay marriage is ruining society too. So pssssssh to them.



Ami said…
Amen Sister!
Ami said…
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Great post, Sarah! It'll be a great day when telling someone you don't want to get married or that you don't want kids doesn't make that person look at you like you have three heads or something. Looks like that day just might be getting closer.

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