How do we help women understand their value outside of a traditional family?

red_coatI don’t have a good answer to this question because it’s actually one that I struggle with, myself. The fact of the matter is, however, that there are currently more single women in the world than ever before. How does one change our perception of ourselves and how we’re viewed by the world?

A recent interview with actress Jennifer Aniston set me to thinking about this topic. (again and at length). Listening to the interview I was transported to the many times someone (i.e. my married siblings) told me “You should get yourself a husband” or “Don’t you want children?” Our society accepts these sort of things as the status quo… that it’s perfectly acceptable to make such comments to single women or the childless.

Technically, it really isn’t anyone else’s business whether I get married or I join a cloister (or something less extreme in the middle). I do realize that the people asking these questions are often the ones who care about me. However, they aren’t helping with the  stereotype that we women are all just hanging around in limbo until a man marries us and we have children together.

What’s even worse is that I sometimes believe the “limbo” stereotype. Growing up we played “wedding” and would follow-up with “house” where my baby dolls were our children. It was practice for when I grew up. Unfortunately, no one ever told me what one does if you grow up and have neither a marriage or children. I had played “house” solo plenty of times but never expected that would be my reality.

When I think of single woman role models (Jennifer Aniston being a bad example because she does have a fiance) all I could come up with was a bunch of female writers who all died young (namely Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters). I’m pretty sure I have outlived both Austen and the Brontes and without creating any fantastic works of literature to at least have made my single existence at least look well-spent. (Do you suppose their mothers pressured them to enlist a matchmaker?)

Of course, there are many, many more single women living very satisfying lives but they tend to fly under the radar. Until someone pries into the reasoning behind their single status, that is. Which still begs the question why we’re so “weird” or “exotic” in the eyes of the majority of society? The more single women there are, the worse it seems to get.

So, readers, how do we change the general perception about single women? And how do we help ourselves not buy into the assumption of being half a person until we have a family?







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