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What's Wrong with Nice Guys?

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Single Does Not Mean LESS

by VJ Park

The nonacceptance of women who are single by choice, especially child-free ones, is more insidious than even I thought. I have been single all my life and don't read "women's relationship" books much any more, but read this one because it challenges the soul-mate ideal and the cultural "lesser-ness" of being an uncoupled person. And I thought I was pretty free of it! You almost can't be, in this culture.

The author interviewed women with children and without, divorced and never-married, heterosexual and lesbian women. In her book "The New Single Woman", E. Kay Trimberger cites a study of divorced women by E. Mavis Hetherington, which calls remarried women with positive lives "enhancers", and calls the women with positive lives who remain single after divorce "competent loners". See how insidious this is? Why are not the single women called "enhancers"?

The very choice of language tells us that we cannot enhance our lives if we are single. If someone were to tell you that outright, you might think to challenge it, but when assumptions and prejudice are woven into the very words, you can live your whole life unaware of the unspoken assumptions.

Of course, there are also the *spoken* assumptions. I have had men call me a lesbian because I was single or uninterested in them. It was said with hostility, meant as an insult to me (which also makes it an insult to lesbians). I have read many comments considering single or child-free people as self-centered, but Trimberger posits that single people are *more* involved in the community, activities and causes. It makes sense to me that married people would tend to cocoon, and withdraw even further into their own lives - the very definition of becoming self-centered! - when they have children. But this is the opposite of popular opinion of single women.

This new insight into how even I've been brainwashed makes me puke. And here's a thought for you, women: if we're ever really secure and unbrainwashed, we won't even need an Anti-Valentine's Day!


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