As I prepared my nightly routine of finding a relaxing Spotify or Soundcloud playlist to listen to as I lay in the dark and addictively scroll through Tumblr until I fell asleep, an article came across my Facebook timeline “The Single American Woman” written by Rebecca Traister for The Cut vertical of NY Mag. Even in my sleepy stupor, I had to read it because me and the fellas in HIMinisms were recently talking about the imbalance between people, more specifically women wanting long term commitments to those who were single. According to a study conducted by OkCupid, more people are becoming interested in love rather than friendships based on sex, casual flings and one night stands, so why are there so many single women? According to Traister, 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 (including those who were never married, widowed, divorced, or separated) outnumbered married women. Perhaps even more strikingly, the number of adults younger than 34 who had never married was up to 46 percent, rising 12 percentage points in less than a decade. For women under 30, the likelihood of being married has become astonishingly small: Today, only around 20 percent of Americans are wed by age 29, compared to the nearly 60 percent in 1960.
According to Traister, it’s pretty simple: “adult women are no longer economically, socially, sexually, or reproductively dependent on or defined by the men they marry.” We live in a different time where thanks to the strides that feminism has made, gender roles have become neutral for both parties. Women’s demands have broadened because opportunities have broadened, but it’s no surprise that this freedom has taken a social, economical, and political toll on men, but let’s read what some of the fellas had to say.
“From what I’ve seen a lot of women of today are afraid to get into relationships due to fear of being hurt and the fear of it not working out.” ~25
“I believe the number is large because a lot of women aren’t looking to be committed just yet. More women are becoming more work oriented which causes them to set sometimes unreasonable standards for the men they want.” ~28
“Women now have more opportunities in the workplace. Up until the late 1970’s a woman’s place was thought to be at home. Thus she was a stay at home mom and care giver. The only money she really made was given to her as an allowance by her husband. So young girls during this time had the mindset to marry and find a good man with a good job to take care of them at a very early age. Now women are self-sufficient, thus can marry when they feel comfortable. Their lives aren’t dependent on men. She feels capable of affording herself a better life while being single and waiting until she’s ready.” ~33
“Some women base their list of qualifications off of what they do or don’t want from a previous relationship and hold what may be a perfectly good dude to a set of crazy standards.” ~29
“Relationships are a huge risk. You spend time and money and make sacrifices for someone who may just end up leaving or disappointing you. More women need to be willing to take that risk in order to find someone compatible.” ~25
“I think when people feel like they have choices it becomes more difficult to make a decision because there’s the fear that you could possibly be making the wrong choice or if you make a choice you lose out on other opportunities. I think that an issue that most of us men have.” ~30
“I think the older a man get, the more he realizes that he has needs that only a woman can meet, but at the same time he also understands that she has her own individual needs she has to meet for herself. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a woman deciding she wants to be single a little while longer than the average.” ~32
Whatever the reason for the high population of single women in America, I think we can all agree that women are exercising their freedom of choice and are shifting gender culture in a country built on patriarchal ideals. Most of the men felt that because of their personal experiences with dating, the common theme for the single women in their lives was fear of being hurt, but perhaps this could also be the driving force behind so many women’s decision to build her own before settling down? I mean would you want someone to show up at a potluck empty handed? Neither does she. Traister gives her final remarks “If the country is to flourish, we must make room for free women, and let go of the economic and social systems built around the presumption that no woman really counts unless she is married.”
***The question and answers were composed completely by the male participants in the HIMinisms group. If you would like to suggest topics please send them here.