the red and the blue

by rantywoman

The cover of Sex and the Single Girl has a quote calling it “the sensational best seller that torpedoes the myth that a girl must be married to enjoy a satisfying life,” and it is disheartening that people still seem to be torpedoing that very same myth, that anyone deviating from “normal,” or living an unconventional romantic life should be a topic of cultural curiosity and conversation. (And the idea that being single should be considered unconventional is itself a sign of the deep, unacknowledged conservatism that runs through even our blue states. In an election year we like dividing ourselves into the right-thinking and the wrong-thinking, but the right-thinking are not examining the alarming traditionalism at home.)

This cultural obsession with living alone is a sign or symptom. It fascinates and enthralls us and arouses our curiosity because the general wisdom about how to live life, even in liberal circles, is so narrow, so respectable, so uninspired. (Or as Helen Gurley Brown put it, “There are a lot of half-alive people running around in the world.”)

All the public drumrolling about deciding not to get married, or to live alone, or to have a baby on one’s own, is in direct proportion to the resistance single people still feel from the culture, the curiously old-fashioned outsider status they seem to enjoy. It is testimony to how much truth still holds in Helen Gurley Brown’s statement that the single woman’s “whole existence seems to be an apology for not being married.”