2 thoughts on “Why Are You Single? International Edition

  • September 3, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Bella

    A good list, but I’m not sure how these people fit in – there are a lot of singles that are in relationships with a partner but don’t want to get married. They still identify themselves and consider themselves ‘single’ because they’re not married.

    How do these people fit in?

    If you’ve written about this topic online before, can you leave the URL here? Thanks 🙂

    Reply
  • October 4, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    Something I haven’t seen much discussion about is a significant reason why more women are single all their lives: all the leftover women after a war. I read a book some years ago by a British woman who wrote about all those women who struggled to find ways to live after WWI when so many British men died in that war or of the influenza epidemic. Some were able to get an education and have a modest career that they likely wouldn’t have had if there had been husbands available and they had married and stayed at home. But others ended up living at home with, and later caring for, their parents. Many lived and died in poverty for lack of opportunities to support themselves when there still was little acceptance for women in the workplace, especially as they got older.

    I’m in the early years of the baby boom generation. There were more girls than boys born in each of my marriage age years (guys my age or up to 6 years older) to begin with. And those were the years from which the biggest share of men were lost during 10 years of the Vietnam war, especially during the pre-lottery forced draft. The Vietnam war had the highest casualty count of any war the United States has ever been involved in except the Civil war where both sides were Americans.

    In addition to those men killed, there are those who came back paraplegic, quadriplegic, exposed to biological and chemical warfare who would live whatever short years they had left being in-and-out of VA hospitals. Even if they married, their spouses were often their care-givers and then were widowed early. There are also the large numbers of soldiers who were so psychologically damaged (and/or hooked on drugs) that they returned physically but not mentally and emotionally. They either weren’t capable of or couldn’t sustain a normal relationship. Then there are the large numbers of young men who left the country to avoid being drafted into a never-declared war, found jobs, got lives, married and raised families in other countries. Even if they returned after the amnesty, they came back with wives from other countries. Finally there are untold numbers of men in my age group who chose to marry the quiet subservient Vietnamese and Hmong refugee girls that flooded this country after the war rather than seek the better-educated, independent, speak-their-minds (and their truth) American girls of the 1960s and 70s.

    Since women don’t get a choice about whether to get out on the dance floor at the bar or disco, go on a date or get married until they are asked, if there aren’t enough men to go around, we don’t get asked. So we have no choice about being single. Our only choice is to accept the demographics and find ways to live our lives as gracefully and fruitfully as we can. I’m grateful that at least my generation was the first to accept women who had full-time jobs and careers other than homemakers and mothers, even if we didn’t get paid the same for the same work as the men.

    Obviously women leftover after all the wars have found ways to live, or at least subsist, completely outside any recognition of that situation by their own society. Where are their stories in mythology, in print, on TV or in the movies? Where are all the leftover war women ever considered, even in the bare vital statistics of the census or labor departments? As so many of my women high school and college classmates are now dying as we reach our 7th decade, their obituaries often indicate their professions and surviving siblings, but with no mention of a spouse or children. There are a lot of us who had neither because of that war.

    The fact that so many women have always been the invisible “casualties” of every war across the ages and around the world is another of the major ways that patriarchy has totally ignored women in general, but especially women who are single. It is never considered part of the cost of warfare in cultures where being coupled-up is the only valid and valued way of life for women.

    Reply
 

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