International Women's Day: Why do we still treat single women as second-class citizens?

We aren’t tragic spinsters, desperately freezing our eggs and gazing wistfully out of the windows of our cold, stark bedsits, humming ‘someday my Prince will come’

Share
Related Topics

If Shakespeare were alive today, I’d hunt him down and poke him in the eye.

As it is, he is ‘dwelling with vilest worms’, blissfully unaware of the hours of torturous frustration one of his most notorious iambic pentameters has caused me:

“Methinks the lady doth protest too much.”

Even the most theatre-eschewing luddite will miraculously whop this quote out in conversation if I dare so much as hint that I might be ….wait for it….single and happy. People are unable to digest the notion that any woman in her thirties would navigate life without a co-Captain through choice.

The Hollywood notion of happy ending = ensnaring of love interest is all-pervading. We never, ever accuse couples of ‘protesting too much’ when they wax lyrical about their domestic or conjugal bliss. We simply ram our fingers down our throats and vomit into the nearest receptacle in protest against the harsh light their bragging throws our own perceived inadequacies.

Recently, I learned that I fall within a demographic of 46% of female graduates aged 26-40 in the UK who have chosen to remain single and childless. CHOSEN. We aren’t tragic spinsters, desperately freezing our eggs and gazing wistfully out of the windows of our cold, stark bedsits, humming ‘someday my Prince will come’. We are intelligent, independent women who have decided that, for us, right now life is better not in a relationship.

It’s 2013, an entire decade-and-a-bit since Bridget Jones’ ‘shocking’ size 12 bee-hind first burst onto our screens and into our collective consciousness. We have space travel, Facebook, desk hoovers, breakfast biscuits, decent at-home hair dye, Google Earth and we’ve almost invented a car that can drive itself. So why do we STILL treat single women as second-class citizens? Why must I endure endless drinks parties in which I’m questioned relentlessly about my “weird” non-desire for offspring, or reassured in condescending tones that I ‘shouldn’t worry’ because ‘the right one will come along when I least expect it’? Why do we live in a world in which the media actively pitied Jennifer Aniston when she was between partners - a woman who is rich beyond most people’s wildest imaginations, successful, popular, talented and beautiful?

Is it that romantic convention is so deeply entrenched in all of us that we simply cannot fathom why anyone wouldn’t follow the date-boyfriend-marriage-babies-grandbabies-retirement-death life-route? Do we secretly believe that there is something wrong with single women – something which renders them fundamentally unlovable? Or is it, as I suspect, in fact a fear of single women?

I have a theory and it’s one I’m fairly sure Germaine Greer would be proud of: A female who is capable of supporting herself is still a terrifying prospect for most and for that reason we are, as a culture, still inherently misogynist, however much Beyoncé might sing songs which infer the contrary.

I am frequently told that I am ‘too pretty’ to be single, or that I will ‘get snapped up soon’, as though I am wandering along a metaphorical love-motorway with a sign around my neck reading “I might appear to have it all but really I’m just desperate for someone to take out my bins and catch my spiders. Please donate generously”.

Let’s examine what was REALLY happening in that iconic ‘All by Myself’ scene in Bridget Jones. (You know, the one that has become synonymous with the notion of a pathetic singleton). She is, in her own words, “totally sh*tfaced, listening to sad FM”. She’s wearing what appear to be ludicrously comfy pyjamas, without a scrap of makeup, smoking in the house. Objectively, one has to admit that sounds like a pretty fun evening. She has no one to judge her and no one to impress.

That is the reality of single life. We do what we want, when we feel like it.

Single people are answerable to no one (excluding the Grim Reaper and the Tax Man). We make our own rules. If we want to spend an entire Saturday reading frothy chick-lit, or the complete works of Lord Byron, or the Financial Times whilst sucking the chocolate off Kit Kat Chunkies and pinging the wafer at the cat, we can.

I can devote my weekend to stomping around East London in my Kurt Gieger ankle boots (which I can afford because all my disposable income is for my own, private pleasure), just people watching and exploring never-before-ventured side-roads, listening to Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars louder-than-medically-advisable on my iPod.

If I’m in a bad mood, I don’t have to say “I’m so sorry, I’m in a bad mood” before being forced to have a Dawson’s Creek style ‘heart-to-heart’ concerning the possible genesis of my bad mood, resulting in me chucking his collectors-edition miniature replica Aston Martin DB5 at the wall in violent disgust when he suggests it might be PMT (even though it definitely is PMT). I just take to my bed, redirect my anger and rant on Twitter about David Cameron’s stupid face (or, if I’m in a more intellectual grump, David Cameron’s stupid policies). A bed I will later sleep in with my head in the dip between the pillows and my body in the shape of a starfish, just like we all did when we were children and still wish we could today.

So, you can stop pitying me, now. Especially as I’m probably having more sex than you, too.

Natasha's book 'Table for One' published by Sassy Books is out later this year

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Dom Joly owns a pig. That thinks it's a dog.  

I'll bow out. Let Wilbur, the pig that thinks it's a dog, bring home the bacon

Dom Joly
 

Forget charging by the page - with books, heart matters more than heft

Katy Guest
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'