I was perusing the social media outlet that is Facebook and came across a photo of Lolo Jones on her Facebook fan page (if you are not familiar with that name, Lolo Jones is an olympic hurdler). She is 32 years old and is still single, a reality for her that apparently doesn’t fit the narrative many have of what is expected for a 32 year old woman. Because of this, she has been asked the following question in so many words.
Lolo Jones is definitely not the only woman to be asked this question, a question that is supposedly a compliment depending on who you ask. So how exactly is one respond to something like this? “Thanks” doesn’t seem appropriate so maybe laughing half-heartedly to hide the awkwardness you feel when this question is asked is the way to go. At least, that’s what I would do.
Perhaps it isn’t the response that calls for critique but the question itself, a question that seems to strongly imply that there is something wrong for an attractive woman to be without a man at the age of 32. In fact, it’s not uncommon for the reaction to the news of an attractive woman being single to be the assumption that she is either crazy or a lesbian (or maybe both). Now, I can’t speak for Lolo but it seems that many don’t seem to consider that an attractive woman can choose not to be in a relationship or married at age 32. That they haven’t subscribed to the narrative that calls for a boyfriend or husband and a white picket fence and they feel content about it.
Speaking of which, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that, in 2013, 53% of women aged 18 or over are single and 62% of women aged 18 and over have never been married. Pepper Schwartz, a sociologist, sexologist, professor, and author of several books and columns, wrote on CNN’s Opinion column six reasons why more women choose not to marry, one of them being that there are women who are waiting for “the one”. There are reasons she listed that are much less sentimental in comparison as she mentions three reasons women may find men to be a hindrance to their economic flourishing. Then she goes on to say how there are women who refuse to play the housewife and others who are avoiding men who cheat. Interestingly enough, there is no mention of women who are not married because they are currently healing from a previous romantic relationship and marriage would be inappropriate at the moment.
With the word “single” having its connotation change depending on whether one is talking about people who are not married or people not in committed dating relationships, I was hoping there would be some statistics regarding those who are currently not in committed dating relationships. But in the case of romantic relationships in a general sense, I can’t help but think of how more than one friend has told me that older, single men are perceived as more valuable than older single women in society. Maybe they have a point. And it’s entirely possible that this observation rings true and contributes to the existence of a question like how is someone as gorgeous as you still single? A question which, in my opinion, isn’t a compliment at all.
Do you see the question as a compliment? Have you been asked that yourself? What other reasons might a woman stay single?