real life

"Single women are becoming a potent and growing force in society."

Poor poor me. Still single. Left on the shelf. Unlucky in love.

I know this is what some think. I’ve heard it so many times. It’s such a shame. A career won’t keep me warm at night. Maybe if I wasn’t so damn picky.

Well, here’s what I say to those who believe my lack of a committed partner is a recipe for loneliness – ha ha ha ha! Oh, and get a goddam grip.

For a long time now I have railed against such assumptions leveled at women like me, most of whom, as far as I can see, live rock’n good lives.

Our Kylie was one of “poor us” until last week. Jennifer Aniston our poster girl until she “found happiness at last”, “broke her man curse” and married Justin Theroux. We are the women who wait to be asked the relationship question at every family gathering. And, of we answer yes, a sigh of relief is heard, as if a disease has reached remission.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 04: Kylie Minogue and boyfriend Josh Sasse attend a pre-dinner reception for the Prince's Trust Invest in Futures Gala Dinner at The Old Billingsgate on February 4, 2016 in London, England. The dinner saw the financial community come together to raise vital funds for the youth charity which helps disadvantaged children turn their lives around. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Yes. Kylie is FINALLY engaged. Image via Getty.
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But it appears the alarmist tabloid headlines, archaic views and smug marrieds espousing their ticked box lives as superior are dinosaurs. There is a new T Rex in town. Single women are becoming a potent and growing force in society likely to soon dominate. One that is demanding recognition and respect – and now!

I’ll let Rebecca Traister, author of All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation, which was extracted in New York Magazine this week, explain.

In 2009, the proportion of American women who were married dropped below 50 percent. In other words, for the first time in American history, single women outnumbered married women. …. It is a radical upheaval, a national reckoning with massive social and political implications. Across classes, and races, we are seeing a wholesale revision of what female life might entail. We are living through the invention of independent female adulthood as a norm, not an aberration, and the creation of an entirely new population: adult women who are no longer economically, socially, sexually, or reproductively dependent on or defined by the men they marry. Today’s women are, for the most part, not abstaining from or delaying marriage to prove a point about equality. They are doing it because they have internalised assumptions that just a half-century ago would have seemed radical: that it’s okay for them not to be married.

woman is taking off the wedding ring
In 2009, the proportion of American women who were married dropped below 50 percent. Image via iStock.

In Australia, stats are following suit. The last Census in 2011 shows around one-half of the population aged 15 years and older as unmarried. There has been a substantial increase in lone-person households also. In 1961, around 11% of Australian households had just one resident. In 2011, lone-person households had increased to 24%, meaning one in 10 Australians live alone. Staticians cite this trend is increasing and the next Census in 2016 will show a marked increase.

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But there is something these statistics do not show and that is that governments are not acknowledging this powerful group. Actually, they are in terms of tax. We are, heavily, however without the fiscal considerations of those with children and or dependents.

Single people have the same problem as marrieds in terms of entering the real estate market. Same bills, same job insecurity. No second salary or income to assist. And all the while all we keep hearing the same political bleatings about alleviating the pressures on working families ie: those with two parents and kids.

As a single person I do not in any way believe I should not be paying for schooling, childcare and health services I will not require in my lifetime. I do so happily regardless of my firm view that children are a lifestyle choice and those who cannot afford them should reconsider having them in the first place. I am pro baby bonus and pro paid maternity leave. However, surely if singles are heading towards becoming a population majority, some compensation consideration should come our way, too? Especially considering one in three women over 65 are living alone?

wendy-squires
Wendy Squires.

And surely Australia’s disgraceful pay gap should also be taken in to consideration considering women earning 19% less than men doing the same job, meaning a superannuation gap of around 47 per cent when women retire.

Regardless of this inequality, single women are shown to not be unhappier than those coupled. In Sweden, around 46 per cent of households have one person living in them and in Western European countries, around 30 per cent. Yet the OECD Better Life Index shows people in these countries actually score well on happiness ratings.

Times have changed and it is time for others to wake up and see the nuclear family ideal is no longer a mainstream one. Feminism has made its mark, maybe not fiscally – yet – but certainly by allowing women a choice on how they want or choose to live their lives.

This doesn’t mean we singles are anti love or commitment. I know I’m not however, instead of being convinced to “settle” and “stop being so picky” I, like so many others, aren’t buying second best. Should I give up my single lifestyle it will be for an equal, respectful relationship. I will not be “settling” for anything else for the simple reasons I do not want to nor do I have to. I am happy as I am and, unless a relationship adds to that happiness, I’ll merrily pass, thanks very much.

Watch: things single girls are tired of hearing. Post continues below. 

Rebecca Traister explains this view well. I am not arguing that singleness is in and of itself a better or more desirable state than coupledom. Many single women, across classes and races, would like to marry — or at least form loving, reciprocal, long-term partnerships, and many of them do, partnering or cohabiting without actually marrying. Still, the rise of the single woman is an exciting turn of historical events because it entails a complete rethinking of who women are and what family is and who holds dominion within it — and outside it.

So, to anyone concerned single women are missing out, perhaps it is time to reconsider just what it is we are supposedly missing. Because you just might find out is nothing other than the respect and recognition of those who should know better.

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