It's tough being a never-married woman in your 30s. Well-meaning older people are always asking you when you're going to settle down. Self-help books imply that you're a neurotic harpy with impossibly-high standards. Married people -- especially if they happen to be your younger sister -- treat you like an incompetent child.
And now the worst humiliation of all: Larry Ganong, a professor of the University of Missouri and co-author of the new study "I'm a Loser, I'm Not Married, Let's Just All Look at Me" that "examine[s] the familial and social messages given to women who are not married by their mid-30s" (in the words of the press release) won't return my goddamned calls.
He knows. He knows about my naked ring finger. He knows that on my census form I marked that only one person lives in my apartment. Or maybe he just read my hard-hitting report on viewing the movie Valentine's Day on Valentine's Day.
He probably thinks I spend my entire life feeling invisible, thanks to my singletude, and should be used to shit like this and therefore accept his spurning my phone calls with equanimity. Such is the lot of the never-married woman in her 30s.
Thanks a lot Dr. Ganong. You fucker.
Just in case you're curious, here are the details of Ganong's study (gleaned from the press release):
Ganong and his co-researcher, Elizabeth Sharp, a professor at Texas Tech, interviewed 32 middle-class, never-married women. (There's a sample totally large enough for generalizations.)
"We found that never-married women's social environments are characterized by pressure to conform to the conventional life pathway," Ganong said, as quoted in the press release. "This pressure was manifested in women feeling highly visible and invisible. Heightened visibility came from feelings of exposure and invisibility came from assumptions made by others."
Specifically, single women's social worlds include:
- Awareness of shifting reality as they become older; for example, the shrinking pool of eligible men and increased pregnancy risks.
- Reminders that they are on different life paths than most women when others inquire about their single status and during events, including social gatherings and weddings.
- Feelings of insecurity and displacement in their families of origin when parents and siblings remark about their singlehood and make jokes or rude comments.
Ganong and Sharp found that women felt the most social stigma between the ages of 25 and 35, "a time of intense contemplation and concern for single women regarding their future family trajectories." After that, though, they become content with their lot as spinsters and presumably start adopting cats.
The great culprit, our intrepid researchers claim, is Sex and the City because it "portray[s] female protagonists who are hyper-focused on finding men, and end with the majority of those characters getting married."
Yeah, keep blaming poor old Sex and the City. Even though the series ended with two of the main characters happily unmarried and had a major plotline about a lousy marriage and subsequent divorce. What was our whipping girl before Sex and the City anyway? Jane Austen? (The version without zombies and sea monsters.)
What I am curious to know is why it's only the single women who feel like such losers? Or are made to feel like such losers? Why does nobody feel the need to speculate on the shortcomings of single men? Why has there been no study about how their brains have been warped from watching too much Entourage?
Oh, wait. Single men are cool. They're free. No wonder they avoid single women like the plague. God. I pity them. So pathetic.
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